, Herman Melville writes that “meditation and water are wedded for ever,” and the celebrated writer would have had plenty of time for thought and reflection in the waterside communities of Mahopac, Garrison, and Cold Spring. In these Putnam County villages there is a rich sense of history and a vibrant arts and culture scene, all set against the backdrop of stunning water views. In Cold Spring and Garrison views of the mighty Hudson River and the surrounding hills and mountains abound, while in Mahopac the river views are replaced by views of Lake Mahopac, the hamlet’s namesake. The communities offer visitors ample opportunities for hiking, shopping, art gazing, and dining. They are all wonderful destinations for day trips, but travelers be warned: Visits to these villages may be habit forming.
This picturesque village is located in the town of Philipstown and has the exciting waterside feel of a Florida beach settlement. The village is located on a hill that slopes gently right up to the banks of the Hudson River. Because of the slope, views of the river and the mountains on the river’s west side are visible from nearly every spot on Main Street.
The scenery of Cold Spring extends well beyond the river. Outside the village center, at Stone Crop Gardens, horticulture enthusiasts can lose themselves gazing at 12 acres of painstakingly planned and manicured gardens. The community is also home to the Putnam County Historical Society & Foundry School Museum, which is located on the grounds of the historic West Point Foundry. (Read a profile of Museum Director Mindy Krazmien on page 49).
A noted destination for antique buyers, Cold Spring’s Main Street is home to many beloved antique shops, including Cold Spring Antiques Center and the charming Country Clocks, where time flows on to the beat of many different ticks, tocks, and chimes. The village is also home to an active art scene. At the Marina Art Gallery there are regular contemporary art exhibits, and the gallery also offers fine art restoration.
The Living Room is an art gallery and performance space that supports the arts in almost every discipline. Last June the place opened with a bang when indie rock stars The National—whose members are old friends of the Living Room’s owner Nathalie Jonas—performed a surprise set. Jonas said the vision for the venue could only work in a place like Cold Spring. “Cold Spring was the only place we considered opening a business. We [Nathalie and her boyfriend Philip Nobel and their 4-month-old baby] live above the store on Main Street, and we love this town and want to see it become as vibrant as it can be.”
There’s far more to Cold Spring than the shops and restaurants. Hiking paths that lead to stunning mountaintop views of the town and river are within striking (and sometimes minor climbing) distance of the village. Two popular hikes are the trails up Mount Taurus and the Breakneck Ridge Trail.
For those willing to venture onto the Hudson by boat or kayak, ample sightseeing opportunities await. Hudson Valley Outfitters on main street rents kayaks and does guided tours of the river. Kevin Semple, assistant manager of Hudson Valley Outfitters, says, “One of our most popular kayak tours is the marsh tour, which actually takes you into Constitution Marsh, which isn’t a place you can get to easily on foot and you can’t take motorized boats there.” Constitution Marsh Audubon Center & Sanctuary is a 270-acre marsh that is home to many different species of wildlife.
Outdoors men and women tired from kayaking and hiking have plenty of food and dining options to help regain their energy in Cold Spring. You can taste fine Italian dining at Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill or head to the Hudson House where you can enjoy American cuisine and also spend the night at the historic inn located only about a hundred feet from the river. You can also drink in the river view along with a cocktail at Cold Spring Depot’s large outdoor patio overlooking the Hudson.
Tired hikers can also recharge themselves on Main Street with a cup of exquisitely made coffee at Cup O Cino or refresh themselves with the unique popsicle creations of Go-Go Pops, which offers healthy and tasty frozen-juice pops. The shop is owned by husband and wife Lynn and Greg Miller. They have more than 70 different flavors of pops and about 20 flavors are offered on any given day. Many of the flavors have no or very little added sugar. “We keep the sugar content really, really low to try to let the flavors of the fruit and the vegetables that we use really come out instead of being masked by the sugar,” says Lynn Miller.
Heading south from Cold Spring on route 9D takes you through Garrison. Here the views of the Hudson River are just as spectacular. Above the two-lane road hugging the mountainside, historic estates stare out across the river.
One of these is Boscobel (Italian for “beautiful woods”), where both the house and grounds are open to the public. The house was built in 1808 for the States Dyckman family and is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the country. The mansion and surrounding estate are available for weddings and often host public events, including concerts and the annual Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, which stages professional theater six nights a week late June through early September.
Another former estate open to the public is the Manitoga/Russel Wright Design Center. Once the home of designer Wright (one of the best known industrial designers of the mid 20th century), the center offers four miles of trails on 75 acres of designed landscape. Visitors can also tour Wright’s home and studio and gain an insight into Wright’s design philosophy.
At Roundup Texas BBQ on Route 9 diners can feast on authentic smoked barbecue straight from the heart of the Lone Star State. At the Tavern at Highland Country Club, the menu features local, sustainable New American cuisine that’s sourced from the Hudson Valley, including produce from the restaurant’s own five-acre farm.
At The Stadium Sports Bar visitors enter a shrine to the hallowed halls of sports history. The bar boasts one of the largest individual sports collections in the country. On display are two Heisman trophies, Mickey Mantle’s Triple Crown award, six Gold Glove awards, two Cy Young awards, and many, many more pieces of sports history. Manager Megan Clark says that when people come in for the first time they are completely shocked by the sports memorabilia. “It’s so great to see the people who have never been here before just kind of in awe of the collection,” Clark says. “Even if you’re not a sports fan, you can definitely appreciate the surroundings.”
Mahopac is a hamlet in the town of Carmel. The town is located alongside the picturesque 587-acre Mahopac Lake. During the Revolutionary War, Mahopac served as a crossroads between key Colonial garrisons. More recently, it served as the location for several scenes in the 1982 Dustin Hoffman film Tootsie.
It’s easy to see what attracted the filmmakers to the waterside town. At the Mahopac Chamber Community Park at the corner of Routes 6 and 6N there is a gazebo, fountain, playground, and walking paths and benches. At the Dish Bistro and Wine Bar on South Lake Boulevard, husband and wife Georges and Eileen Zidi bring their passion for food, farming, wine, and entertaining to the public. Nearby, the Terrace Club at 825 South Lake Boulevard offers stunning lake views and a seafood-centric menu.
Mahopac also has a rich artistic history. In the late 1940s Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design a house on Petre Island in Lake Mahopac. Wright claimed this house would surpass his famed Fallingwater House, but the original owner could not afford the costs of the house. The design idea was scrapped until the late 1990s, when Joseph Massaro purchased the property and set out to complete Wright’s dream. Wright’s plans were incomplete, so Massaro hired Thomas A. Heinz, an architect and Wright historian, to complete the unfinished design. Today, the house, called the Massaro house, is a striking lakeside attraction.
And the arts are still expanding in Mahopac. The Look Art Gallery just opened in February. The artist-owned gallery was opened by nine area artists with the goal of making “art more accessible for people in the lower part of the county,” said Susan Zoon, the media director for the gallery and one of its founding artists. Zoon said the gallery hopes to partner with other organizations in the town that display artwork, including the Mahopac Public Library and the Putnam Arts Council’s Belle Levine Art Center. All of these venues are located relatively close to one another, and Zoon says she’d like to create “a little triangle in the middle of Mahopac to start to make Mahopac a destination for people who are looking at art.”
i Guitar Workshop iGuitarworkshop.com
Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill Tuscangrill.com
The Living Room Coldspringlivingroom.com
Pig Hill Inn Pighillinn.com
Marina Gallery (845) 264-2204
Archipelago at Home Archipelagoathome.com
The Gift Hut 914-474-9663
Art to Wear 845-265-4469
West Point Band Westpointband.com
Highland Baskets at the Country Goose Highlandbaskets.com
Hudson Valley Outfitters Hudsonvalleyoutfitters.com
Dance Therapy (845) 265-1085
Garrison Art Center Garrisonartcenter.org
The Hop Thehopbeacon
Beacon Music Factory Beaconmusicfactory.com