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Well-Kept Secrets: Cold Spring, Garrison, Mahopac 

click to enlarge Boardwalk at Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary.
  • Anne Cecille Meadows
  • Boardwalk at Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary.

Within the borders of Putnam County lies some of upstate New York's most lovely scenery, with the shores of the Hudson River to the west and the Taconic Mountains along to the New York-Connecticut border to the east. Given its proximity to the city, the county's popularity as a bedroom community, a second-home vacation haven, and a year-round living destination is certainly no surprise to anyone. Cold Spring, Garrison, and Mahopac are communities rich in history and culture, and they've helped to cement Putnam County's place not only on the map, but also in the hearts and minds of so many who live, work, or visit there.

Cold Spring
Situated along the Hudson in the town of Philipstown, Cold Spring offers spectacular views across the river. But Cold Spring is so much more than just a pretty face; all one has to do is a take a drive into town (or a train ride to the Metro-North station) and spend an afternoon walking its streets, visiting its shops, and talking to its townspeople to know that within Cold Spring beats the heart of a nature-loving Bohemian artist.

Back in 2004, Putnam County was awarded the first ever Preserve America designation. A Bush-era government program, Preserve America was designed to recognize communities and entities that exemplify our national heritage. In fact, the Main Street section of Cold Spring was specifically recognized, according to Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce President Vincent Tamanga. However, aside from the variety of shops and boutiques on Main Street area that everyone knows and loves so well, there is a wealth of other destinations in Cold Spring that are slightly more off the beaten path.

The Putnam History Museum, formerly known as the Putnam County Historical Society & Foundry Museum, houses the history of Cold Spring in the form of both permanent and traveling exhibits. History lovers as well as those with a soft spot for small-town museums would be missing out on something special by not stopping in.

Cold Spring is an artists' enclave through and through, with a multitude of galleries taking their places along the streets of the village. Gallery 66 NY is one such gallery. Honing in on the Hudson Valley's myriad artistic talents, Gallery 66 NY, the newest gallery in Cold Spring, also keeps its exhibit space open to national and international artists.

Speaking of the new, the Living Room on Main Street is one of Cold Spring's freshest music and performance venues. Acts range from singer-songwriters to indie bands to drum circles, but the venue doesn't just do music. The Living Room is an art gallery, lecture hall, and performing arts center, all rolled into one neat package.

According to Tamagna, Cold Spring is styling itself to become a destination for festivals in the Hudson Valley, starting on May 5, with the "Pedaling into Spring" Bike Event. This event is being combined with a flower festival, and the village is expecting upwards of a few thousand people attending both. Later in the fall, Cold Spring will be hosting a music festival to raise awareness for antibullying efforts.

When asked to describe the village he loves, Tamagna called Cold Spring, "quaint and charming, with a nouveau twist that compares with the sophistication of Manhattan."

click to enlarge The Cold Spring Train Station.
  • Anne Cecille Meadows
  • The Cold Spring Train Station.

Garrison
The hamlet of Garrison, also located in the town of Phillipstown, is like Cold Spring's quiet older brother: The pace is slower, but the family resemblance is striking. The views across the Hudson are just easy on the eyes, and its landscape is dotted with such iconic and historical locations as the stately Boscobel mansion and gardens and the Manitoga/Russel Wright Design Center, former modernist home of designer Russel Wright, now a testament to Wright's design philosophy of "easier living" in harmony with nature.

Indeed, living in harmony with nature seems to be a key concept in Garrison. Visitors will notice immediately a distinct shortage of paved roads in the hamlet, and that's just the way people around here like it. Big-box stores and strip mall sprawl are also refreshingly absent from the Hudson Highlands community, but privacy and outdoor recreational opportunities abound, particularly if you enjoy a good walk spoiled. Garrison loves its golf, and there are two courses within Garrison itself: the Garrison Golf and Country Club, and the Hudson Highlands Country Club. For those who prefer their walks unspoiled, they can always hike the Appalachian Trail (specifically Anthony's Nose, located near the Bear Mountain Bridge) or explore one of the many New York-New Jersey Trail Conference trails nearby. Water lovers can kayak or canoe on the Hudson from Garrison or Cold Spring.

Speaking of...

  • Putnam County communities are the Hudson Valley's hidden historical gems.

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