11 Indie Things to Do in Saugerties NY: The Only Saugerties in the USA

WHY GO: Did you know that Saugerties NY in Ulster County is the only town named Saugerties in the United States? It was named for an early settler – Barent Cornelis Volge – who ran a sawmill here in the 1650’s: which is also why Saugerties is pronounced “Saw-ger-tees.”

Budget Travel Magazine once deemed Saugerties NY one of the Ten Coolest Towns in America. However,  I’ll also add that it’s one of the most down-to-earth, friendly, and community-minded, with not just one, but two independent bookstores. (As well as an indie movie theater and a slew of owner-run shops).

It’s also, like neighboring Woodstock, a bit hippy-dippy. Woodstock Music Festival ’94, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the original, was held here. (Didn’t know about that one? Join the club).

Interior The Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea Shop Saugerties NY
The Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea Shop Saugerties NY

So, it’s no big surprise that Jimmy Fallon, the kindest and most gracious late-night talk show host, was raised in Saugerties, New York. And that Bob Dylan lived in what became known as The Pink House, when he and The Band recorded The Basement Tapes.

Interior Emerge Gallery Saugerties NY
Emerge Gallery Saugerties NY

Now, there’s a wonderfully inviting yarn and tea shop where even the biggest klutz (me) can learn to knit.  Plus, you’ll find emerging artist galleries and home to one of the very first gatherings to celebrate the locally grown “Stinking Rose” – The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival.

That’s in addition to a beautifully restored lighthouse offering overnight accommodations, a sanctuary for abused and neglected farm animals, an inn and event venue resurrected on the footprint of an old paper mill, and plenty of great places to eat. Saugerties folks are deeply tied to and proud of their town. With good reason. Come see why. It’s a mere 100 miles from New York City.

Looking for more quickie trips for couples to take in New York State? Check out our Best Romantic Getaways in NY.

Things to Do in Saugerties NY

Mary Ebel Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea Shop Saugerties NY
Mary Ebel – Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea Shop

DO: Learn to knit at The Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea Shop

The Perfect Blend Yarn Shop owner, Mary Ebel, never met a person who couldn’t learn to knit under her tutelage. She certainly had quite the challenge with uncoordinated me. Ebel totally rose to it.

Within an hour, I learned to cast on and knit a rudimentary stitch, all while sipping freshly made tea and yakking with fellow knitters. When I messed up, she was right there to help.

Roll of wool at The Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea Shop Saugerties NY
The Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea Shop Saugerties NY

Ebel’s shop is colorful and warm (both in temperature and temperament), with a variety of yarn at different price points. Some are even locally dyed. Needle workers drop in all the time for advice; to purchase knitting material; or to take one of the classes offered five days a week ($10 per class, $20 for “specialty” classes).

During the famous New York Sheep and Wool Festival – 30 minutes away in Rhinebeck – Ebels estimates that over 2,000 people come into her small shop throughout the week.

Robert Langdon Emerge Gallery Saugerties NY
Robert Langdon Emerge Gallery Saugerties NY

Emerge Gallery owner, Robert Langdon, believes that “art is for everyone,” and all emerging artists should get a shot at presenting their creations to the world.

And so, by giving local artists an opportunity to do so, and pricing their ceramics, paintings, jewelry, and mixed media fairly ($20 and up), Langdon is making art accessible to all. “People connect with art and nature– it’s why many people are moving up here from the metropolitan area.”

Each month, Langdon challenges 25-50 exhibiting artists to create a piece of work around a theme (e.g. “How art inspires poetry and poetry inspires art”). He’s become very inspiring for a growing number of Saugerties creatives.

For a week in August every year, 45 area artists open their studios for the very popular Artist Studio Tour. Every October, the town celebrates “Shout Out Saugerties” to bring awareness to all forms of art (culinary, literary, fine arts).

Saugerties Lighthouse reflected on the Hudson River, just north of Saugerties, New York.

VISIT: Saugerties Lighthouse

You’ve got to hike ½ mile each way to get to the Saugerties Lighthouse, an 1869 Italianate gem (that also serves as a 2-bedroom B&B) right on the Hudson River.

Left vacant in 1954 after it was automated, the shambled lighthouse was placed on the National Historic Register in 1979. It was renovated in the late 1980’s and has been operating as a year-round B&B for nearly 20 years.

Saugerties Lighthouse Trail Sign

On Sunday afternoon, come for a tour, or plan to stay – even in wintertime. Heated by coal stoves, it’s a cozy retreat when the Hudson River flows with ice.

You’ve got to hike in with your stuff (a small backpack is perfect – no need to get gussied up). But the effort, for the most fantastic views in Upstate New York, is so worth it.

Opus 40, Saugerties

TOUR: Opus 40

If you love eccentric characters with passions expressed as enduring attractions, you’ll love Opus 40, a 63-acre, in-the-woods expanse of bluestone ramps, stairs, pedestals, statues, and ledges – all created by one man, Harvey Fite. It’s a sculpture park the likes you’ve never seen before.

Born to a poor family in 1903, Fite moved to upstate NY to enter the ministry but abandoned holy rolling to become an actor. Too antsy for backstage downtime, Fite realized his talents would be best served in the fine arts. Specifically, as a sculptor.

In his quest to find a “huge pile of rocks,” Fite stumbled on an abandoned bluestone quarry (from which many New York City sidewalks of the day were sourced).  Fite purchased the property, built a beautiful home, sculpted statuary from abandoned quarry stone, and became a Professor of Art at nearby Bard College.

A Lifelong Pursuit

Opus 40 from back

Using traditional quarryman’s tools – hammers, chisels, drills, crowbars, and a boom and pulley system – Fite singlehandedly fashioned a six-acre ramped and stair-stepped bluestone terrace. He was somehow able to stand a huge monolith, that he found in a nearby streambed, on a central pedestal.

Fite was 37 years into his planned 40-year “opus” when he fell to his death at the age of 72. Fite’s stepson, Tad Richards, and Tad’s wife Pat were stewards of Opus 40 until 2018. It remains a non-profit organization.

Happily, Opus 40 produces many concerts and performances, and welcome visitors to explore the property. Sonny Rollins, Richie Havens, and Jimmy Cliff have all played on these rocks.

It’s a fantastic, one-of-a-kind venue, and apparently, one worth preserving. Check the Opus 40 website for events, and for days/hours open and to purchase tickets.

Catskill Animal Sanctuary

TOUR: Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Since it opened in 2001, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS) has rescued about 3,500 farm animals. Many run underfoot on these 110 acres, like the free-ranging creatures they are now fortunate to be. Guests are invited on weekends to interact with an assortment of animals on a 1 ½-hour tour – but you must sign up in advance.

Kelly Mullins and Friend, Catskill Animal Sanctuary

You’ll hold chickens, pet sheep, pigs, and cows. And you’ll also learn about the “special needs” animals – like blind horses and rescued veal calves. Sign up for day pass on website, when you’ll find info on days open, day pass fees, and cost for private tours.

STOP IN: Dutch Barn at Kiersted House – Saugerties Historical Society

This 1727 stone house and barn out back (the Dutch Barn at Kiersted House) have been newly renovated. Thankfully, much – like the original wide plank floors and 18th-century glass paned windows (some with family inscriptions) – has been preserved.

The newly reassembled Dutch Barn once served as Art and Cultural Heritage Gallery, and is now an event venue. A cool spot to wed, it’s one of the oldest barns in the county.

Brooke Michaels - Little Blueberry Saugerties NY
Brooke Michaels – Little Blueberry Saugerties NY

YOGA/SHOP: Little Blueberryy Boutique and Yoga Studi0

The spelling of blueberry with two y’s is not a typo. It’s just Little Blueberry’s owner, Brooke Michaels’ way of declaring her individuality. The 25-year-old Michaels makes most of the crystal-based jewelry on display and teaches all the yoga classes in the back-room studio. After each session, “people will stay awhile just to shop.”

Interior Bosco's Mercantile Saugerties NY
Bosco’s Mercantile Saugerties NY

SHOP: Bosco’s Mercantile

There are “all kinds of goodies” in Bosco’s Mercantile – what is ostensibly a bedding store. Peruse throws, pillows, slippers, robes – all things for a good night’s sleep – as well as kitchen tools. A fun place to browse.

Interior Inquiring Minds Bookstore, Saugerties NY

SHOP: Two Indie Bookstores Within the Saugerties Business District

Inquiring Minds (helpful staff and coffee/soda bar). And, Our Bookshop (rare and used books in a parlor-like room).

Lucky Chocolates, Saugerties NY

SHOP:  Lucky Chocolates 

Rae Stang owns the very delicious Lucky Chocolates. You’ll find not just “small batch organic chocolates,” but also croissants, chili, soups and other delights.

Orpheum Theater Saugerties NY

SEE: Orpheum Theater

Woman in Gold on the billing with Mall Cop 2? That’s the beauty of this indie-pop movie theater right in town. Future pairings would be just as weird.

Best Restaurants in Saugerties NY

EAT: The Dutch

Opened the day after Prohibition was repealed in December 1933, the Dutch Ale House was a Saugerties “dive bar” for generations. It remained the place for a pint, even as it became more and more run down. Shunned by foodies, the menu featured mostly “frozen food.”

That all changed when Dallas and Ted Gilpin purchased “The Dutch” in 2018.

From NYC to Country Restauranteurs

The Gilpins were “weekenders from NYC,” with a country house a bit north. They’d stop in Saugerties on their way up for a burger and beer because they “loved the bartender.” So much so,  they held their wedding rehearsal dinner in the space.

So, when the Dutch went up for sale, Dallas left her job at Goldman Sachs, and she and Ted moved here full-time. (He still commutes into NYC).

The couple expanded the restaurant into the t-shirt shop next door and demoed the walls to reveal “original Saugerties-made brick.” Then, they brought in an esteemed Southern chef and BBQ king, Jonathan Botta to run the kitchen.

Beet Salad Dutch Ale House Saugerties NY
Beet salad at The Dutch

Botta’s menu is as far from frozen as it gets. He smokes his own meats in-house, makes his sausages from scratch, and crafts his own beer-based mustards (heavy on IPA). If nothing else, you must order the Truffle Garlic Parm Frites. It’s an outlandishly mouthwatering amalgam of finely sliced parmesan cheese, grated fresh garlic, and long thin golden brown fries.

But you can’t go wrong with other dishes that are quite enticing, including the Smoke Pastrami Sandwich, and Dutch Onion Soup finished with Guinness Stout.

Marianne Olsen, owner, O and Co Saugerties NY
Marianne Olsen, owner, O&Co. Saugerties NY


The “O” stands for Olsen, as in the mother-daughter duo Marianne and Elizabeth Olsen. They, with their cousin, Janelle, opened this tiny but mighty women-owned gourmet store, Olsen & Company, specializing in local cheese, pasta, bread, eggs, meats, and coffee.

Marianne got her to start making goat milk soaps on her family goat farm. She soon realized that Saugerties needed a little provision shop so that locals had a place to sell their own homemade products and food items, and visitors could pick up gifts, cheese, and bread for dinner parties and picnics.

It’s a win-win for all. And now, especially, for foodies who have deemed both the Breakfast Sandwich (two local eggs, melted gruyere, sprouts, pesto mayo, and uncured maple bacon on Sourdough bread) and Chicken Salad worthy of a long drive.

Sue's Wine Pairing Dinner, Saugerties NY

EAT: Sue’s

If you want to find the locals in Saugerties, go to Sue’s on any given night. It might not offer the most innovative or obsessed-over cuisine, but recently renovated Sue’s, on 9w, a mile or so from downtown, is packed and quite boisterous every day of the week because it does offer the perfect kind of food and venue for family and group get-togethers.

There are actually people who go a few times a week for the meatballs alone. Though Momma Costello still cooks her authentic Italian meatballs and other Italian specialties, she’s got a couple of CIA-grad relatives in the kitchen as well. And it shows.

Interior Slices Saugerties NY

EAT: Slices

Though deep-seated pizza traditionalists might eschew the light and crispy crusts here, I’m not alone in singing the praises of a slice of Slice’s pie. It is fantastic. One piece makes for a very tasty lunch break.

Miss Lucys Kitchen, Saugerties NY

EAT: Locals recommend

Miss Lucy’s Kitchen for down-home, stovetop goodness; Annarella Ristorante for Italian, and Ohanna Cafe for breakfast/brunch.

Saugerties NY Hotels

Diamond Mill Hotel View From Room - Saugerties NY
Diamond Mill Hotel View From Room

STAY: Diamond Mills Hotel

Tom Struzzieri, founder/producer of the Hunter/Jumper competition Horses in the Sun (HITS), resurrected the spirit of the paper mill that used to command this dogleg turn on Partition St. (before it burned down in the mid- ’70s).

Dusting it with understated glitz, Struzzieri opened the 30-room Diamond Mills Hotel, perched on a cliff overlooking the Esopus Creek, to house horse show competitors, horse owners, and enthusiasts. It’s since become a go-to for weddings and special events for both locals and NYC Brides and Grooms.

Welcome to Diamond Mills Saugerties NY
Welcome to Diamond Mills Saugerties NY

There are “winks to” the former mill – gears, weights, pulleys, brick and stone walls – throughout the small lobby, public areas, and on-site restaurant.

First Impressions of Diamond Mills Hotel

Diamond Mills Hotel exterior Saugerties NY
Diamond Mills Hotel exterior Saugerties NY

Diamond Mills is divided into three sections; the fortress-like hotel itself. A large event space perched right on the creek. And, the new on-site restaurant, Blackbarn – Hudson Valley.

The hotel lobby is small and intimate, with one friendly and helpful staff person at a casual reception desk. In the off-season, there is no valet. Unless there’s an event (and especially off-season), plan to park your own car in the very convenient lot, and roll your luggage in yourself.

Rooms at Diamond Mills Hotel

Guest Room Diamond Mills Hotel Saugerties NY
Guest Room Diamond Mills Hotel Saugerties NY

Subdued and classy, each sizable room is angled for optimized views of the surging water over a man-made dam, and the woodsy Esopus Bend Nature Preserve beyond.

Unwind on your private balcony. Rooms are clad in tawny, sea-foam, and cream shades.  Extras like Kerug coffee maker, mosaic tile radiant heat in the bathroom, glass rain shower, and custom “DM” toiletries enhance your overnight experience.

Dining at Diamond Mills Hotel

Tavern Bar Diamond Mills Hotel Saugerties NY
Blackbarn Bar Diamond Mills Hotel Saugerties NY

Though the rooms at Diamond Mills are upscale and wonderful, the in-house restaurant, formerly the Tavern – now Blackbarn Hudson Valley, is really where this place shines.

Blackbarn Hudson Valley – sister property to Blackbarn NYC – sits within a soaring, bright two-story atrium, with espresso-dark wood floors, stone slab fireplace, contemporary tableware, and views out to the overflowing dam and river. A change of chef has brought a more Hudson Valley vibe to the menu, with ingredients source from local farms.

STAY: Smythe House

Smythe House Parlor, Saugerties NY

Walk into the whimsical 6-room Smythe House – an “anti-Queen Anne” Victorian – to a “sensory orgy.” Built in 1890 in a hodgepodge of styles – the home represented a backlash to the ostentatiousness of the Victorian era. And, to “blend into nature.”

Knickknacks and art abound, reflecting the interests of the globetrotting and spiritually-minded owners David and Justine Smythe. David is an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, and Justine is a graduate of the CIA.

Justine and David Smythe, owners, Smythe House, Saugerties

You’ll find Buddhas to 300-year-old barn beams in the bedrooms (from a local barn reclamation). And in the backyard, a man-made fish pond and tremendous views of the Catskill Mountains.

Smythe House Backyard View of Catskills

This is the only B&B in this area owned and operated by professional chefs. So,  at check-in, you’re handed a personalized Breakfast Request. You can choose to have your breakfast any time between 7 am and 10 am, and from an assortment of made-to-order dishes.

Smythe House Breakfast Order Sheet

Room décor is busy, but surprisingly calming. You’ll find a plate of chocolates from Krause’s Chocolates and biscotti from Hudson Valley Dessert Company on arrival.

The bathrooms, lovingly restored by David, are the most unique aspect of this B&B. One sports a jet-age steam shower and clawfoot tub. Another features a steam-bed rock wall. Check website for rates.

STAY: More Saugerties B&B’s

For a small town, Saugerties has a good number of worthy places to stay. Watch the Hudson River go right by your back deck at the Saugerties Lighthouse. Stay in a grand mansion at Renwick Clifton House B&B.

More Weekend Getaways In Upstate New York


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine, Shape.com, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

13 thoughts on “11 Indie Things to Do in Saugerties NY: The Only Saugerties in the USA”

  1. Love living here. May I add that the Village of Saugerties also has a sandy swimming beach on the creek, ice skating rink, great athletic fields, horse shows, Zombie Crawls, and – at the risk of sounding like the biggest geek – the best small-town library I’ve ever visited. And that’s just in the Village! The surrounding township has even more…

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting, Melanie! I do rely on locals to add the “best” of their towns – so thanks so much for the tips.

  3. Thanks, CAS, for saving all of those creatures. CAS is a feel-good place for sure,

  4. I graduated Saugerties high school in 1970. I cannot believe the changes since then. I have to get back there some day.

  5. I knew Saugerties had changed a lot since I lived there. I grew up there from 1957 to 1971. I sure would like to go back to see all the great changes.

  6. I have been visiting Saugerties for over twenty five years. Each time we come up we are sorry to have to leave. Love all the great people we have gotten to know. Hoping to move up for good. Alison Hansen and Ronald Huners

  7. Great article! As a local I did want to point out one correction about the location of Sue’s Restaurant. It is actually located on Rt. 9w, which runs up and meets Main St. in the village. Rt. 9w is the main road that will take you south of the village. For GPS purposes the address is 5 Arthur Ln., Saugerties, NY. (It is located right on 9w but Arthur Ln is the adjacent side street with an entrance to the parking lot). Sue’s is definitely worth a stop!

  8. Hi Kris – thanks so much for letting me know! I already made the correction so people can find it more quickly. Malerie

  9. Hi Alison – it is a great place, for sure. Great, friendly people there! Thanks for reading and commenting. Malerie

  10. Changes for the good. But still very down to earth, amazingly friendly people. Thanks for commenting, Gerri! Malerie

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