Saugerties: A Small Upstate Town with Big Charm

Hung proudly in the window of Rockstar Rodeo, one of Saugerties’ many eclectic boutiques, is a sign that says “You Don’t Need Anything In This Store.” Maybe you don’t need ox horns for your mantle or a leopard print Mexican wrestling mask, but your life would sure be better with them in it. Much the same can be said for the small town Rockstar Rodeo calls home. With a rich history in labor and industry, the off-the-beaten-path town of Saugerties has become a bastion for those who like their art with a little attitude. Maybe you don’t need to visit. But you should.

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.

During any season, however, Saugerties’ affinity for hard work and creativity is painted across the community. “The Village of Saugerties is wonderful, with so many eclectic and shops and restaurants,” explains Marjorie Block, the chairperson of tourism for the town. “Many of them are owned by young people who have found Saugerties to be a great place to start a business.”

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 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 the Rock Star Rodeo, proud displayers of the aforementioned sign. The Orpheum Theater on Main Street is a retro attraction too, since it used to be a vaudeville theater. These days, the moviehouse plays first-run films and Woodstock Film Festival entries during the fall.

Saugerties expresses itself through food as well, from fine dining to takeout. Slices Pizza is a clear favorite, 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 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. For something more decadent, head down to Diamond Mills, Saugerties’ renowned hotel and restaurant overlooking the Esopus. After a stunning renovation, Diamond Mills is quickly becoming one of the region’s most popular wedding venues. With dishes like butter-poached king oyster mushrooms over polenta served up by CIA graduate Giuseppe Napoli, it’s a must-stop for visitors to the region.

Further down Partition, there’s ‘Cue, the country cousin to the charming 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.

The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival is the granddaddy of Saugerties festivals and happens every early fall at Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex (known simply by locals as Cantine Field). For two days, food vendors offer their culinary interpretations of the delectable “stinking rose.” While HITS (Horse Shows in the Sun) equestrian center isn’t a festival, it maintains a festival atmosphere by hosting eight weeks of horse shows and competitions from May through mid-September, all open to the public and hugely popular among kids dreaming of ponies.

Whether you’re dining over the falls at Diamond Mills or buying stuff you don’t need (but want so badly) at Rockstar Rodeo, Saugerties is sure become one of your favorite Hudson Valley towns.