When I visited the Kingston Waterfront this past week, I was immensely surprised that I had never heard of it prior; in walking around its grounds for just a few hours I discovered just how much there was to uncover. I was able to learn of its vivid history, whether through an artifact, monument or building that I would stumble upon; the entirety of the area is its own museum. As a teenager living in this rapidly changing world, I felt as though I were walking through a time period that was long before mine — an experience that will prove to be unforgettable.
The Kingston Waterfront — a staple historic district of the Hudson Valley — is the perfect destination for families seeking a unique experience. Featuring vintage-styled shops, restaurants and galleries abundant in history along the Hudson River, the waterfront has a lot to offer. In addition to the numerous museums and antiques, the district is filled with fragments of its own deeply-rich background, making visitors feel as though they are living through its many decades of history all at once. Each of its attractions a time capsule with its own story, the Kingston Waterfront encapsulates the neighborhood’s evolution from a prosperous maritime village to a dynamic center of commerce and culture alike.
The diverse history of the waterfront — located on the shore of Rondout Creek — began in 1828, when the Delaware and Hudson Canal were opened and a maritime village was established. The area flourished as a coal trading hub before merging with the Town of Kingston in 1872. While the canal closed in 1899, many of its agricultural styles have remained intact, one such noteworthy example being the Rondout Lighthouse. Since then, the waterfront has transformed into an area where small businesses and establishments can thrive, and where the public can acknowledge all of the events that have led it to where it is now. Needless to say, the Kingston waterfront’s distinct past is more than worth delving into further through a visit.
One of the waterfront’s most notable attractions is the Hudson River Maritime Museum (open Wednesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), which contains an assortment of maritime artifacts collected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from the river that it resides beside. Visitors will find a vast range of items including boat models, wheels and paintings, as well as more treasured artifacts such as a lifeboat from infamous steamboat Mary Powell. Many of these displays are also coupled with video players or written descriptions for those interested in the history behind them. Avid history lovers as well as anyone with a desire to learn more about the river that surrounds us are likely to find great appreciation in the museum’s displays.
The district’s attractions are not limited to maritime themes; visiting over the weekend or on holidays might be in a families’ best interest, for this is when the Kingston Waterfront Trolley opens its doors. The district’s trolley tours provide for a relaxing, scenic roundtrip through railroad tracks that stretch along the Hudson River. Along the ride are three main stops perfect for those seeking to pause and take a moment to appreciate the breathtaking landscape. Coupled with the trolley ride is the Trolley Museum of New York, which has been devoted towards preserving New York City trolley cars, many of which are on display. The museum features numerous exhibits, a theater, a gift shop, interactive activities for children, and more. These transit attractions have made weekends a clear hotspot for the waterfront.
The Kingston Waterfront would not be complete without its wide collection of picturesque shops and restaurants. Each store — ranging from boutiques to antiques — is within a brief walking distance of one another, making it easy for visitors to explore. In terms of dining there is a large variety of options. One can enjoy a lunch of fresh seafood or a quick treat to eat at a Half Moon Rondout Café. The Kingston waterfront has it all. Additionally, aspiring visitors to the Hudson Valley from the city or elsewhere may consider lodging in one of the waterfront’s many inns.
The Rondout waterfront has demonstrated a clear commitment towards preserving its quality for years to come. I would highly recommend the spot to families seeking an equally entertaining and educational activity for the summer.