If Saugerties and Woodstock were best friends in a Hollywood movie, Saugerties would be the workaholic who spends the evenings and weekends making furniture, while Woodstock would be the wood sprite, always dancing around to music only it can hear and wearing Stevie Nicks shawls. Or so it would appear on the surface. In fact, both Ulster County towns are a complex wash of history, arts, music, and culture, with old-fashioned country sensibilities rubbing elbows with hipsters and millennials as their popularity as destinations continues to grow.
Saugerties was once a mill town, steeped in labor, industry, and the business opportunities that access to both the Hudson River and the Esopus Creek had to offer, owed in part to a lot of lucrative bluestone. Woodstock had its own industries like glassmaking and leather tanning, and eventually evolved into a resort/vacation town. Byrdcliffe Art Colony established itself in 1902, but artists were in Woodstock long before that, feasting sumptuously from the boundless inspiration bubbling forth from the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley that lie at Woodstock's doorstep.
In a sense, the arts had Saugerties surrounded, from Palenville in Greene County to Woodstock eight miles to the west, so it's no shock that Saugerties boasts its own art community, which is apparent during the spring and summer, when the village sidewalks are populated with artistic interpretations of horses, chairs, or lighthouses, each piece auctioned off in the fall by the town's chamber of commerce.
During any season, however, Saugerties's affinity for hard work and creative pursuits is painted across the community. "The Village of Saugerties is wonderful, with so many eclectic and new shops and restaurants," explains Marjorie Block, the chairperson of tourism for the Town of Saugerties. "Many of them are owned by young people who have found Saugerties to be a great place to start a business."
While she acknowledges the connection between Saugerties and Woodstock, Block also stresses that Saugerties is its own place. "We have been considered 'Woodstock's little brother,'" says Block. "But I don't think that's a correct interpretation. Saugerties is very diverse. We have the arts, but also a strong sports presence. I believe also, because of the size of the community as well as our location, we have a strong business and manufacturing background."
While new retail ventures might be skewing young in Saugerties, the town has a healthy appreciation for the past. The Saugerties Antiques Center on Main Street, for example, with its storefront windows, offers a tantalizing peek at the good stuff inside, like funky vintage clothing, old postcards, and handmade items from local artisans. Likewise, vintage clothing store the Pink Chandelier, located on Partition Street, is part of Saugerties's cadre of vintage and couture boutiques, which also includes Juda Leah Atelier & Boutique, Capsule Collection, and the Well. The vintage lovefest continues at Rock Star Rodeo, also on Partition Street, where the sign on the front door reads, "You Don't Need Anything in This Store." Oh, but you do need a pair of vintage cowboy boots (of course) and some gifts of the "wacky" variety—you just didn't know it. The Orpheum Theater, on Main Street, is a retro attraction too, since it used to be a vaudeville theater. These days, the movie house plays first-run films and Woodstock Film Festival entries during the fall. Best of all: It's cheaper than the theater at the Hudson Valley Mall.
Saugerties expresses itself through food as well, from fine dining to standard takeout. Slices Pizza is a clear favorite among many pizza options, thanks to offerings like the authentic Grandma Sicilian, caprese, and vegan and salad pies. Across the street, on the corner of Partition and Main, Rock Da Casbah (formerly Rock Da Pasta in New Paltz) is renowned for its pasta-packed menu; vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options; and rock 'n' roll-themed ambiance apparent in both its decor and menu ("Fleetwood Mac & Cheese"; the joke was there all along), plus frequent live music.
Further down Partition, there's 'Cue, the country cousin to Miss Lucy's Kitchen. 'Cue is all about casual, backyard-style dining complete with half racks of ribs served on paper plates, outdoor seating at picnic tables, live music, and Miss Lucy's Kitchen's famous desserts served in mason jars. Out of the village, over in Malden, a Hudson River-side hamlet in the town of Saugerties, Annarella Ristorante serves up Tuscan-influenced dishes like jumbo shrimp prepared with cannellini beans, tomato, and sage.