Welcome to Columbia County
Where the Hudson River, the Berkshires and the Catskills have combined to create a spectacular feast for the eyes. Come see why Frederic Church painted his Hudson River School paintings from Columbia County.
At the top of the Taconic Parkway, 2 hours from Manhattan, you will discover the settings that you imagine when you picture the “Hudson Valley.” The county remains primarily rural, with charming small towns and hamlets and one small city, Hudson. The rolling countryside is framed at every turn with distant vistas of the Berkshires and the Catskills, and the stunning pastoral views are highlighted with lakes, ponds and the some of the best roaring trout streams in the state.
Columbia County was first settled by the Dutch along the banks of the Hudson, and some of the 17th century stone Dutch houses still remain, but German and English farmers quickly discovered the rich agricultural soils, and easier tilling than the mountainous regions that surround us. The farming hamlets that are still vibrant today were largely well established by the early 1800’s and produce was carried to the city by boat along the Hudson. Soon after, the railroad arrived, making the New York City markets more available for producers of fruit, vegetables, dairy products and other goods, and Columbia County became prosperous by the standards of the time.
That agricultural heritage has enjoyed a resurgence of importance to the local economy in the 21st century. CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) have purchase large swaths of land once used for dairy production and the demand for organic foods have led to the growth of farms producing grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, organic lamb, organic fruit orchards, and even vineyards. Today, the agriculture of Columbia County is one of the big attractions for visitors from around the world.
Just as the produce of Columbia County is once again making its way to New York City markets, so has the growth benefitted local cuisine. Over the past ten years, Columbia County has become a mecca for foodies, and local restaurants have received acclaim from national restaurant critics. Even small hamlets are now boasting two or more excellent restaurants. Check out this website for activities and list of restaurants: http://www.hudson-river-valley.com/htm/Columbia/L750C042.html
Columbia County enjoys a decidedly slower pace than other Hudson Valley counties. Most residents currently work near their homes, or in many cases, in their homes, thanks to the advent of information technology that has allowed many urbanites to retreat full-time from the city. Easy access to the city via Amtrak at the Hudson station, or via the Taconic Parkway, makes satellite employment with occasional visits to an urban office a viable employment option. Many residents note that they came as second home owners, only to become full-time residents. The lack of commuters makes Columbia County blessedly traffic-jam free, and in fact, only the city of Hudson and the town of Kinderhook have more than one traffic light.
Hudson, the county seat, is famous for Warren Street, an eight block stretch of antique shops and restaurants, all walking distance from the train station. Hudson also is home to the county’s only shopping plazas with a few big box stores. The next largest villages in Columbia County are Chatham, Kinderhook and Valatie, where you can find interesting boutiques and fabulous restaurants.
The arts also thrive in Columbia County, and the county is home to many people who work in the film industry and other arts. This wealth of talent helps to support the MacHaydn summer theatre in Chatham, the Chatham Film Club, which is housed in the art-deco style Crandell movie theatre, PS 32, a dance and performing arts summer stage and the Ghent Playhouse. The arts of the Berkshires, including Tanglewood, Jacobs Pillow, the Berkshire Stage Company, the Colonial Theatre and the Albany Berkshire Ballet are all within easy reach of Columbia County.
Enjoyment of the outdoors is another dominant theme of life in Columbia County. There are many golf courses, the local Catamount ski resort, Bash Bish Falls and Taconic State Park for swimming and hiking, and many smaller parks with great hikes to enjoy the spectacular scenery. Naturally, the pastoral countryside also lends itself to equestrian pursuits and nearly every village and hamlet features several riding stables, a local US Pony Club, the Old Chatham Hunt Club, and events and horse shows throughout the summer months.
Come and visit us today and discover why so many people have come to visit,
and stayed forever!
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