For her birthday weekend, we placed a pin on the map where I found a craft brewery next to a commuter rail stop and decided to visit Peekskill, NY, a beautiful little town in north-western Westchester County right on the Hudson River. Knowing nothing about the town other than its location.
Peekskill is on Metro-North’s Hudson line, only slightly over an hour from Grand Central Terminal. Day-hiking destinations Breakneck Ridge and Garrison are located on the same line, with express departures at 7:48 and 8:48am on Saturdays for the outdoors crowd. Bear Mountain is only a short ride across the river from town and on our list of must-visit camping destinations within easy reach of the city.
Our jam-packed Saturday began with a trip to the small farmers market downtown, followed by a good standard pancakes-eggs-bacon at Burger Diner. Nicely, they also offer whole wheat pancakes and turkey bacon if you’re looking to be healthy. I was not and had some great banana-and-blueberry pancakes. Unfortunately we didn’t linger long enough to try Kathleen’s Tea Room, though the decor and grandma’s living room vibe made me want to hang out with a good book.
After meeting our incomparable CouchSurfing hosts, Susan and Glenn we did some grocery shopping before she led us back to home. We picked up a number of hard-to-find Mexican snacks, sauces, and spices from the local Latin supermarket, which also sells whole chickens – head and all – and other traditional specialties. Another traveling couple, Andre and Natalie from Germany, were staying the night as well, Andre being on a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail and needing to rest his legs and his girlfriend joining him for a few weeks along the way.
The six of us went back to downtown Peekskill to soak up the music from the weekend festival that we lucked out on. The day’s activities centered around the Paramount Theater, an old movie house from the 1930s, now a multi-purpose venue. The biggest surprise was that in this small town there are at least half a dozen live music venues, and we heard R&B, rock covers, jam band, and bluegrass all in the same evening.
Dinner was at Birdsall House (website, Yelp), which has locally sourced food and a craft beer menu to match any I’ve seen, including the latest Hill Farmstead (VT) release, the Mary pilsner. To end the night, we had coffee and listened to the strumming of banjo and mandolin at the Peekskill Coffee House before walking back in a steady, cool rain.
Waking refreshed to a leisurely breakfast and an afternoon departure, we couldn’t depart before visiting Hudson Creamery (Yelp) for some homemade ice cream and Peekskill Brewery (website, BeerAdvocate) for a handful of some of the tastiest craft beers we’ve had in the NYC area, paired with a skillet of poutine – fries, cheese curds, gravy, and topped with a burger. The Galaxy-hopped Amazeballs American Pale Ale really stood out.
After lounging along the river, we caught one of the numerous express trains back to Grand Central, and just like that we left small-town suburban Peekskill for the hustle and bustle of the city. We hope to return again soon for a breath of fresh air.