Your Next Weekend Escape: Troy, New York
While certain parts of the Hudson Valley are so well trodden they can feel a little like Williamsburg North, venture a little farther and you’ll encounter another world entirely. Troy, a little gem outside of Albany, is well worth the three-hour drive (or train ride plus short cab ride) for its mix of Empire State history, gorgeously preserved architecture and a revitalized dining scene. Here’s how to spend a weekend exploring the Capital District town.
There are plenty of major hotel chains in town, but wouldn’t you rather stay in a Victorian-Gothic–style mansion? The ivy-covered Olde Judge Mansion dates back to 1892 and now operates as a cozy B&B, filled with original architectural details and antique furniture. If you’re looking for a bit more luxury, head just across the river to The Century House, a stunning three-star property set on an historic estate whose grounds include a lush nature trail. (Keep an eye out for the gravestones of the family who farmed the land centuries ago.)
Troy is in the middle of a cultural revival and that includes a thriving restaurant scene, so come hungry. Stop by Rare Form Brewing to sample its rotating tap of experimental beers, paired with meat and cheese boards from local purveyors. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in town for one of the brewery’s pop-up events with local chefs. Speaking of local, be sure to check out the farm-to-table fare at Plumb Oyster Bar. Besides an extensive selection of oysters, the restaurant serves serious cocktails (try the C’est Votre Monde, with gin, elderflower and basil) and dishes like beet tartare and a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich. Don’t leave the area without stopping for The Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream. Flavors are updated often, but look for favorites like apple cider sorbet, the beer-inspired Wit (a malt base with coriander, orange peel and banana) and an ever-changing mystery flavor.
Head to the Burden Iron Works Museum and learn about the ironwork trade, which was one of the area’s main industries through the 19th century. The site once housed the most powerful waterwheel, which may have been the inspiration for the world’s first Ferris wheel. Architecture buffs will love the town’s abundance of Tiffany stained glass: St. Paul’s Church, which was built in 1804 and is still an active place of worship today, features not just windows but chandeliers and mosaics designed by the revered glassmaking studio. More historic eye candy can be found at Proctor’s Theater, first built as a vaudeville venue in 1914. Its distinctive facade features brick and marble elements including gargoyle-esque figures. You quite literally can’t miss the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a 50-foot-tall granite column topped by a bronze statue, which overlooks Monument Square (the site of a bustling farmers’ market every Saturday). There’s plenty to be found in the surrounding area too. Check out Downtown Troy’s walking guide for more.
Troy’s waterfront is filled with scores of unique shops, all within a one-mile radius. Take a peek inside kitchenware store Culinary Square, where the mother-daughter proprietors stock all manner of unusual and useful culinary gear, much of it locally made. Collar City Sweet Shoppe is like the old-school confectionery of our dreams, with shelves of truffles and fudge (and yes, there are samples), jars of gummies and jelly beans, and even bourbon-aged caramels for your (sorta) grown-up palate. Other spots worth a browse are Hippies, Witches and Gypsies for crystals and other mystical wares, T&J Soap for artisanal bath products and Twilight Vintage Clothing for gorgeous retro goods.