Kingston is a city in New York's Hudson Valley, 91 miles north of New York City and 50 miles south of Albany. It is the county seat of Ulster County and was the first capital of New York state. It was ransacked and burned by the British during the American Revolution in 1777 but has preserved its historical buildings very well from then on, and a few older buildings still exist on Green Street and some other places in the Stockade Historic District. Due to the size and beauty of its historic zones, Kingston is probably one of the best cities in the state for a 1-to-3-day trip if you are a fan of 18th- and 19th-century American architecture.
Kingston was New York state's first capital, as reflected by the existence of various historic official buildings in the Stockade District. It is a rather extensive city but only moderately built up, so its feel is of a medium-sized city as compared to much smaller Rhinebeck across the Hudson, but quite different from the impressive though compact historic downtown of Troy further north, which has much more of the feel of a former big city.
If you have a choice of days to visit, note that museums and many restaurants and shops are closed Monday and Tuesday, especially Monday, and some close Wednesday, instead. In addition, some restaurants close as early as 8 PM or even serve lunch only and close after four hours or less. However, if you like walking and seeing historic buildings, you won't lack for things to do any day, and there are enough shops and restaurants to ensure that you will have something to eat and buy any day.
- Stewart International Airport, 1180 First St, New Windsor (~40 miles south), +1 845-564-2100. The closest major airport. Allegiant Air, American Eagle, and JetBlue operate flights from Florida and Philadelphia (Mar 2021).
- Albany International Airport 737 Albany-Shaker Rd, Albany (~65 miles north), +1 518-242-2200 (information center). Offers flights from most eastern US cities.
- Westchester County Airport[dead link], 240 Airport Road, White Plains, +1 914-995-4860 (airlines). Several counties away, but an alternative to the congestion of the 3 major international airports around New York City. Rental cars available.
- Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, and LaGuardia Airport: Livery cars offer service to and from 3 major international airports, but expect very expensive rates. Getting yourself to Port Authority Bus Terminal and taking the bus to Kingston would be a lot cheaper, though a long trip.
From points north and south, access Kingston via the New York State Thruway, exit 19. From points east, use the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.
Trailways has buses from New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal to Kingston that take between 2 hours and 2 hours 10 minutes, with many departures throughout the day. Regular fares are $28 one-way. Buses from Albany take 1 hour, with several departures daily. Regular fares are $16. The Kingston Bus Station is at 400 Washington Ave between North Front St and Hurley Ave, just north of the Stockade District and easily walkable from any part of it. The station is clean, and there are benches for waiting passengers.
- Amtrak serves Rhinecliff station from New York City's Penn Station and other points. Rhinecliff is across the Hudson River, via the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, and a little bit to the south. You need to have someone pick you up, take one of the cabs in the parking lot when you arrive at the station or use a ridehailing app.
There are Ulster County bus routes, which are free, but they often run only once an hour or less and stop running after 8-9PM. That said, the Blue Line that mostly runs on Broadway is useful for connecting Uptown and Downtown, if it happens to fit your schedule.
Taxis and ride hails are available for those off hours, or you can drive your own car. If you need to get from Uptown to Downtown or vice versa and aren't up to walking, and the bus schedule doesn't well serve you, Lyfts and Ubers cost about $9-12 plus tip for the trip as of July 2023.
Kingston is a good city to walk in, but be aware that a walk between the Waterfront (Downtown) and Stockade (Uptown) Historic Districts can be about 2 miles long, and if your walk is from downtown to uptown, part of it will be uphill. That walk is best done before nightfall, so that you can see your steps better.
There are three historic districts and many gorgeous historic buildings in this city:
- Chestnut Street Historic District. This is a smaller area of town than the other two historic districts, along a few blocks of West and East Chestnut Street (map here).
- Rondout-West Strand Historic Waterfront District. Featuring the waterfront onto the Roundout Creek and extending some ways uphill from there, this district comprises the historic downtown area of the city. It's full of 19th-century low-rise brick buildings that were related to industry and river shipping, as well as ornately decorated private houses and numerous churches. Quite a few of the churches and private houses have beautiful multi-colored tiled roofs. You could easily walk through this district for an hour or more, to see all the buildings and the waterfront.
- Stockade Historic District. Called "Uptown" by locals, this district, though smaller as an official historic district than Downtown, is probably the largest of the historic districts, though that could be difficult to say because there are also historic buildings interspersed with modern ones on streets such as Broadway in what locals call Midtown, begging the question of where Uptown stops and Midtown starts. Be that as it may, the Stockade District contains a larger quantity of ornate private houses than the historic downtown, plus Academy Green Park, the town green (bounded by Albany Avenue, Clinton Avenue and Maiden Lane), which features grand, larger-than-life statues of important personages for the European settlement and development of New York (explorer Henry Hudson; Governor of New York DeWitt Clinton; and Director-General of New Netherlands, Peter Stuyvesant). This is also the neighborhood that contains the 17th-century Old Dutch Church, the 18th-century Senate House, which functioned as New York State's first capitol, and the still functioning early 19th-century Federal-style Ulster County Courthouse where Sojourner Truth won a lawsuit that freed her son from slavery in Alabama. If you want to see some of the stone houses still standing, several of them are on Green Street. Seeing all of the historic houses and other buildings in this neighborhood in a single day by foot may be challenging, but walking down several streets is itself rewarding.
- 1 Hudson River Maritime Museum, 50 Rondout Landing, ☏ . May–October, F–M 11AM–4PM. Exhibits on the maritime history of the Hudson River and the regional industries—such as agriculture, brick, and, before the advent of refrigeration, ice—that depended on the river for transportation. Also has collections of paintings and boats.
- 2 Trolley Museum of New York, 89 East Strand (Rondout waterfront), ☏ . Memorial Day Weekend–Columbus Day, Sa, Su & holidays, noon–5PM. Trolley rides Sa & Su, May-October, from the museum to Kingston Point Park.
- 1 Catskill Mountain Railroad, Westbrook Lane Station in the Kingston Plaza, 55 Kingston Plaza Road, toll-free: , [email protected]. Trains at 11AM, 1PM and 3PM. A heritage railroad. $17.00 – Adults $11.00 – Children (Ages 2-12) $16.00 – Discount Adult (Senior/Military/Veteran) $0.00 – Toddler (Under two on lap).
- Hudson River Cruises, 1 East Strand Street (under the John T. Loughran [Route 9W] Bridge overpass, just east of Broadway), ☏ . 90-minute Hudson River cruises are given aboard the Rip Van Winkle II. Tickets are usually non-refundable, but if they decide to sail during a thunderstorm or other severe weather, they are likely to make an exception and allow you a choice of a refund or exchange if you prefer. For standard Hudson River sightseeing cruise, adults: $36, seniors: $33; children 4-11: $25; for sunset cruises, adults: $41; seniors: $39; children 4-12: $24.
- NCG Cinema, 1300 Ulster Ave, ☏ . You really need a car to get to this cinema in a shopping mall, but once you get there, movies are quite inexpensive if you're used to New York City prices. As of July 2023, seats were $6 plus a $1.50 service charge for adults. The theaters are smallish but with comfortable seats, good picture and good sound.
Hudson Valley Mall
- Dietz Stadium Diner, 127 N Front St, ☏ , [email protected]. Daily, 7AM-9PM. Quite serviceable diner with a long menu and pleasant service, right next to the bus terminal. Large dining room and several outdoor tables. Most mains are in the teens, with only a few over $20.
- Opa! Gyros, 333 Wall St, ☏ . M-Sa, 11AM-8PM. Delicious mainly Greek food, advertised by the aroma of its exhaust fan, with several outdoor tables in good weather in addition to a fair-sized dining room, and friendly service. The salads are served in generous portions, and the pita comes nicely toasted and tastes of sesame seeds. One main includes locaniko sausage, not the most common offering on a Greek menu. Apps: $8.95-14.95; dips: $8.95; salads: $11.95-19.95; sides: $1-9; entrees: $16.50-24.95; pita sandwiches: $9.95-11.95; burgers: $6.00-11.95; desserts and sweet crepes: $4.95-9.95.
- Savona's Trattoria and Bar, 11 Broadway, ☏ , [email protected]. M-Th 11:30AM-9PM, F Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Delicious Italian restaurant with lots of outdoor seating that serves big portions. Sauces are of refined quality, and the menu includes some high-quality seafood offerings such as lobster ravioli with impeccable lobster filling. A couple that is not ravenously hungry can easily do well with one primo, one entree and one side, plus complimentary garlic bread. Cocktails ($13 as of July 2023) are well worth trying, too. Primi: $12.95-18.95; salads: $12.95-26.95; entrées: $21.95-38.95; sides: $7.95-9.95; pizza: $15.95-18.25.
- Ship to Shore, 15 West Strand (just west of Broadway), ☏ . M-Sa noon-4PM and 5-10PM; Su 11AM-3PM and 4-10PM. Upscale American-style restaurant (a combination of nouvelle American and traditional), a block from the Rondout Creek with a beautiful old dining room and several outdoor tables with large beach umbrellas. Lunch is significantly cheaper if money is an object, but, for example, a starter of seared Hudson Valley foie gras in a sundried cherry/bourbon demiglace is $23 for either meal and a large portion. Ingredients are of high quality, and some dishes, such as a special of Gulf shrimp ravioli with herbs and vegetables that was served on a summer day, are lighter, even if they include some butter. Service is relaxed, and you are likely to be able to hang out and drink for as long as you like, as there is ample seating.
- Sweet Maresa's, 291 Wall Street, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 10AM-4PM. Tasty bakery.
- Courtyard Kingston, 500 Frank Sottile Blvd, ☏ , fax: .
- Holiday Inn, 503 Washington Ave, ☏ .
- Hampton Inn (Hampton Inn), Ulster Ave..
- [formerly dead link] Super Lodge, 129 New York 28, ☏ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM.
Be careful when walking on the historic sidewalks of this city. They may use quaint old stone and brick, but they aren't all in good repair, so you could have a nasty fall or badly sprain your foot in an unexpected hole if you are not alert.
- The lovely, much smaller town of Rhinebeck, with its own selection of historic houses, is across the river and slightly to the south and east.
- New Paltz, about 15 miles to the south, is a much smaller town that has some of the same kinds of old stone houses you can see in Kingston, but a different feel as a somewhat New Agey college town.
|Routes through Kingston|
|Albany ← Saugerties ←||N S||→ New Paltz → New York City|
|Albany ← Saugerties ←||N S||→ Milton → Fort Lee|
|Herkimer ← Oneonta ←||W E||→ END|