Legend has it that the quaint village of Cold Spring was first named by George Washington after he took a sip of the local waters. The village didn’t flourish, however, until the 1800s when the federal government created an iron foundry here. Around the same time, tourists traveling by steamboat first discovered the glories of the Hudson Valley . Cold Spring, with the granite dome of Storm King Mountain looming across the way, was a favorite overnight stop.
Today, much of Cold Spring still dates back to its Victorian heyday. Throughout the area are a number of old inns, while along Main Street are restored 19th-century buildings housing dozens of attractive antique and gift shops. Walking tours (845/265-4010, www.pchs-fsm.org ) of the village are frequently offered on Sunday afternoon by the Putnam County Historical Society and Foundry School Museum.
At the foot of Main Street is the Hudson River, but you can’t get there without first detouring south, under the Metro-North train tracks (a sign marks the way). Once at the shore, you’ll find the Riverfront Bandstand and Dock, the latter jutting out into the river and offering outstanding views.
Originally a school for children of the Irish immigrants employed by Cold Spring’s foundry, this small 1820 building is now a local history museum (63 Chestnut St., 845/265-4010, www.pchs-fsm.org , 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun., adults $5, seniors and children $2). Run by the Putnam County Historical Society, the museum houses a re-created foundry room, school room, country store, and country kitchen, along with a dugout canoe, horse-drawn sleigh, and historic photographs.
Take a detour east from Cold Springs on Route 301 to view the largest indoor statue of the Buddha in the Western Hemisphere at the largest monastery in the eastern United States (2020 Rte. 301, Carmel, 845/225-1819, www.baus.org/baus , 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, free admission). Standing 37 feet tall, the Buddha sits surrounded by 10,000 small Buddha figurines in the Great Buddha Hall. Gravel walkways lead to several smaller halls, a lovely lake, and the Woo-Ju Library, which holds a large collection of books on Tibetan religion.
Smack on the banks of the Hudson, with close-up views of Storm King Mountain, is the boxy Hudson House Inn (2 Main St., 845/265-9355, www.hudsonhouseinn.com , $205–285 d, with continental breakfast), the second-oldest continuously operating inn in New York. Built in 1832 to house steamboat passengers, the inn features 12 renovated guest rooms nicely furnished with antiques. On site is an airy indoor-outdoor restaurant serving lunch and dinner.
The charming Pig Hill Inn (73 Main St., 914/265-9247, www.pighillinn.com , $140–245 d) is housed in a brick Georgian townhouse with antiques for sale. Six of the nine guest rooms have a fireplace or wood stove, and four have private baths. Out back is a terraced garden.
The friendly Cold Spring Depot (1 Depot Sq., 845/265-2305, $8) is a casual joint housed in an old railroad station. The Foundry Cafe (55 Main St., 845/265-4504) specializes in naturally healthy foods and regional American cooking. On the menu are lots of soups, home-baked goods, and grain dishes; next door is a gourmet health-food store.
On the shores of the Hudson River you’ll find the historic Hudson House Restaurant (2 Main St., 845/265-9355, www.hudsonhouseinn.com , $19) at the Hudson House Inn. The restaurant serves fresh seafood and regional American cuisine. In summer, an outdoor dining area opens up, and many tables have great views of the river.
One of the village’s most upscale spots is the Plumbush Inn (Rte. 9D south of the village center, 845/265-3904), housed in an 1867 building. Here you’ll dine by candlelight in a lush Victorian dining room complete with working fireplaces and dark wood paneling. The restaurant serves prix fixe dinners starting at $42.