Upstate New York is “blowing up.” There have long been summer communities of all stripes up and down the Hudson. After all, it is a majestic river. A healthy number of people were permanently migrating north well before the pandemic. Then, the numbers multiplied. And it wasn’t just hipsters, decorators, organic foodies or denizens of hunting and fishing, but a little bit of everyone; and once they settled in, restaurants, shops, markets and essential services were needed.
I have been going upstate for many years. This year, we rented a cottage on one of the historic Livingston estates on a bluff overlooking the river and decided to stay for a full week, instead of my usual weekend stint. The grounds were expansive; and the views amazing. I also discovered why the trains run at the very edge of the river, and not inland. Along with Roosevelt and Livingston estates, there was also a Vanderbilt estate. Since The Commodore owned the railroad, he brought it to his front door — and his neighbors’. The Vanderbilts are gone, but the trains whistles still blow — all part of the romantic landscape.
We went back to visit some of our favorite spots. It was impossible not to notice that they were more polished and a healthy influx of quality shops and restaurants. Our first day was spent in Millerton, a very cool small village near the Connecticut border. Other days were spent in other surrounding villages and hamlets — all experiencing expansive growth.
Before heading out to explore the area, we stopped for a lunch at the Oakhurst Diner. Along with burgers and tuna melts, you can find Bánh mì sandwiches, pho, and other interesting offerings. The diner has been in Millerton for decades. About ten years ago it was purchased by a group, including one member of the tea-centric Harney family, refurbished, and given a more modern menu. Oakhurst always had outdoor seasonal dining before the pandemic, and now, they have added more tables.
The inside of the diner was refreshed, keeping its mid-century charm. It is located next to the railroad station, and has ample parking. The rails are still there and after service was discontinued the Harlem Valley Rail Trail was established. The Trails offers 26 miles of paved trails for biking and hiking, with extensions being planned. The trail draws a lot of visitors, many of whom fill the diner.
Oakhurst Diner, 19 Main Street, Millerton
Millerton has always had a handful of fun and interesting spots for antiquing. Hunter Bee is the work of Kent Hunter and Jonathan Bee. Along with mid century pieces, the shop is full of American country furniture and accessories mixed with industrial pieces; and anything that might catch their eyes. There is a small room of vintage clothing at the back of the shop.
Most days their dog, Garbo, is in the shop, snuggled on a daybed. I love the collection of antique luggage stacked high. This was the first time I had seen so many oriental pieces, like the figurative lamps.
The ever-evolving, always tasteful mixture is what makes this place fun. You never know what you will find on a given visit. Their business has been excellent. Everyone who is moving up is buying furniture and accessories, and people who have lived here forever found the pandemic a great time to redecorate.
The topiaries are striking, and hint at the owners’ sense of humor. And Hunter and Bee have a lot of things in storage, so if you are looking for something specific, just ask. They might have it, or something close to what you are seeking.
Hunter Bee, 21 Main Street, Millerton
The shop next door had been a vintage clothing boutique for many years. The space is now home to Cottage + Camp. This boutique is also a melange of looks, but with a completely different outlook.
African works of art, many different types of objects, lamps, country sports accents and furniture fill the space. These are items chosen to look great in a country house. A whimsical country house, that is.
You will find geometric rag rugs and folk art as well indoor and outdoor pieces. There are many different kinds of painting from different eras. Portraits, naif art, abstracts and a slew of paintings from many different periods.
Cottage+Camp, 23 Main Street, Millerton
Montage is a large space, spreading over several store fronts. It is divided into a series of “rooms” that hold different kinds of pieces. There are a variety of decorative plants for sale as you enter the store. The first room to the right showcases more traditional furniture, and lots of accessories and glassware.
As you wander about, there are rooms with interesting mid-century pieces, including a set of four of these unusual woven chairs. There are other sets of chairs, too.
Another space mixes up different styles of mid-century pieces.
Country classics fill another corner. Oriental pieces are mixed in throughout the space. I quite like the busts displayed on an etagere. They all look quite serene.
Montage, 25 Main Street, Millerton
Millerton Antiques Center is the next shop on the block. It houses spaces for 36 different dealers. Each space is full of finds. In the past I have found great Minton china, vintage cookbooks, intricate Victorian picture frames, and amusing Victorian soft core porn photos (yes, really!) and other small objets.
There is a good selection of vintage books, including artist’s monographs and auction catalogues. Many stalls feature jewelry and vintage clothing and bags, real Hermes and Vuitton included.
Upstairs a wrap-around balcony houses more dealers. At the far end of the balcony there are stacks of comics, vintage magazines, toys, baseball cards, sheet music, frameable images and toy trains.
Millerton Antiques Center, 25 Main Street, Millerton
Around the corner, Westerlind moved into the defunct Saperstein department store space last summer. Owned by Andrea Westerlind, the store started out selling outdoor gear, technical clothing and shoes in its original Spring Street location in the city. It is now a boho outdoor lifestyle department store.
The technical clothing remains a huge part of the assortment. The original store offers the same merchandise in a smaller space. There is more of everything in this location. And it is always crowded. Still, there aren’t many clothing stores up here. Maybe more will decide to open soon.
Ms. Westerlind designs some of the non-technical collections in the store, and merchandises other brands. There is a big selection of boots, Birkenstocks, shoes, and hats as well as casual clothing.
The homeware selection has grown. There is a very large selection of sheets and towels, as well as floor coverings, blankets, lighting, vases, bowls and more. There are humorous pajamas and nightshirts, too.
There is technical gear, like this pop-up tent, scattered around the store. Westerlind has converted the basement into the Pantry, selling goodies from local farms, butchers and bakers. Perfect for country living.
Westerlind, 41 Main Street, Millerton
Redux, a brand new store on Main Street, opened a few weeks ago. Their signage is paper squares. The front room was pretty much set up, but boxes were everywhere as new pieces arrived. The boutique mixes vintage furniture and art with new decorative items, and tabletop pieces from Italy and India.
Textile art from Morocco and India is worked into the mix. A look that is modern and trending.
There is quite a bit of taxidermy all over the Hudson Valley. This guy’s blanket features intricate embroidery. The back room is not yet set up, but it will be interesting when finished.
Redux, 50 Main Street, Millerton
Charlotte Taylor moved around the corner to a larger shop. Table top, items for the desk top and writing, bath, body and home scents, bags and totes, are arranged around the store.
The children’s selection is large, and nursery-themed. The toys and games are unusual. Whether you are looking for a gift, or just want to indulge your children (or yourself) there is a lot to choose from.
Charlotte Taylor, 50 Main Street, Millerton
There are plenty of food options in Millerton, too. Irving Farm serve coffee. Harney’s has a large tea room and shop at the end of Main Street. A dedicated candy store, ice cream and a bakery all draw crowds. Terni’s, a wonderful 100-year-old saloon-style sporting gear and fishing tackle/clothier closed last year. I wonder who will be moving into that space? And do not forget Oblong Books and Music at 26 Main Street. It is one of the few book stores where I can always find two or three books at a clip. Millerton may be a very small village, but it has a big footprint.
On the way back we stopped at the Obercreek Farm Stand. The stand is full of USDA certified organic fresh picked seasonal produce. Of course it is seasonal — just check the board to see what’s new.
Obercreek Farm Stand is owned and operated by Alex Reese and Alison Spear. Alex does the growing and Alison does the curating. Local breads and baked goods, pasta, cheese, dairy products and other products are arranged around the shop. It is a farm stand for gourmands.
Pick up some local organic beef or fish. We opted for some of the ground beef, and it was amazing. There are also local homemade chicken pot pies and other oven-ready products. Alex even grows his own hops and brews beer. Obercreek Brewing Company, around the corner at 59 Manorville Road, is open on weekends. He makes all his own beers, some of which are very exotic. They are small batch and tend to sell out quickly. Stop by for a tasting in a country setting, or take the beers with you.
Obercreek Farm Stand, 81 New Hamburg Road, Wappingers Falls
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.