The NYSOM girls have a big crush on Sharon Springs. With an idyllic Main Street, hints of a Victorian heyday (its eponymous springs were once a major draw), and 547 residents who all seem to know each other, it’s the quintessential New York village. Ed Koch worked as a waiter in this Central New York town before he became the revered mayor of New York City. Reversing Koch’s footsteps, Sharon Springs’ mayor, Doug Plummer, emigrated from NYC to Sharon Springs in 1996. That you can sweep into the lobby of the American Hotel and breezily gab with him (he and Garth Roberts, his partner in both life and business, are the inn’s proprietors) is symptomatic of the town’s charm.
Summer in Sharon Springs is “[our] most productive time,” says Josh Kilmer-Purcell, co-owner of the Beekman 1802 Mercantile, located on Main Street. Conversely, his husband Brent Ridge rhetorically ponders, “Who doesn’t love autumn in New York?” We think you really can’t go wrong with the timing of a visit to this historic village. If traveling from NYC, “it’s very simple to get on Amtrak and take the train up the Hudson River and see the entire Hudson Valley [en route].” Brent and Josh recommend taking the train to Albany and renting a car to explore the surrounding area to the west, “using Sharon Springs as your basecamp.”
Brent recommends that visitors spend an hour walking along both sides of the town’s Main Street. Placards that line the street in between storefronts reveal the history of the old upstate spa town: “The Iroquois tribe used to congregate here because of the magic qualities of the waters,” says Brent, and “Then it became this amazing spa town.” 90,000 people used to visit Sharon Springs every summer, and while those businesses have closed, many buildings from that period still stand. “It’s sort of a time capsule of history,” says Josh. Sharon Springs is also “one of the only places where there are three different mineral springs, and on Main Street, there are three different temples that mark the different minerals.” Want to explore beyond this village? Locals of Sharon Springs often flock to nearby Cooperstown for world class opera, or Cobleskill for the intrigue of the Howe Caverns.
ELIMINATING THE GUESSWORK:
STAY at the American Hotel, where Brent and Josh spent their first night in Sharon Springs. You’ll check in with Mayor Doug and his partner Garth. Though the hotel will be closed from February 16 until April 11, 2014, this favorite local lodge is offering $99 rooms from April 11th until May 18th and boasts a fabulous restaurant. Book now for your spring stay! Searching for other lodging options? Click HERE.
EAT Brent’s favorite: beef tips with blue cheese at the American Hotel. For dessert, indulge in Beekman goat milk cheesecake (available on both the American Hotel’s menu and at the Beekman 1802 Mercantile, located across the street). “We are fortunate to have an amazing Chef, Lee Woolver, who creates classic American fare from local farms and a large selection of fresh seafood that comes to us several times a week directly from the fish market in Boston,” says Mayor Plummer of his hotel’s cuisine. Open Thursdays through Sundays for dinner at 5 p.m.; Sundays for brunch and afternoon meals from 8 til 4 p.m. Head to local favorite The Black Cat Café & Bakery for lunch or breakfast. Classic eggs, french toast, or Goldie Locks-inspired oatmeal are a surefire way to begin your day of exploring Sharon Springs. Sleeping in? Select the savories: an artful sandwich (we give a thumbs up to the curry chicken salad sandwich), platter (the Blaak [sic] & Mac uses Beekman’s Blaak cheese and goat milk), or salad. For an afternoon pick-me-up, indulge in a mocha lava cookie or slice of their famous carrot cake. You can even order a picnic to take with you on a sunny outing.
For local, contemporary cuisine, head to Mayor Plummer’s other favorite dinner spot, 204 Main Bar & Bistro. “[It’s] a chef-owned and operated bistro that serves locally sourced, beautifully crafted food,” says Plummer. The NYSOM Girls warmed up over bowls of silky tomato soup on a rainy day before heading to Beekman Farm. Doug’s favorites right outside of Sharon Springs are Cantina de Salsa in Cherry Valley for excellent Latin American cuisine and The Tepee “a kitschy 50s metal teepee on Route 20, full of great stuff” like handcrafted Native American items like instruments and jewelry. The “vintage roadside treasure” includes Teepee Pete's Chow Wagon, a food truck with a chuckwagon aesthetic, serving up what Doug deems “the best chili around.”
SHOP At some of Mayor Plummer’s favorite local businesses: Cobble & Co., “a 12-room eclectic gift shop” in an old cobble shop; the “Christmas room” is filled with ornaments and holiday cheer. The American Emporium, right next to the Black Cat Café & Bakery, contains 4 individual shops; we love the intricately molded offerings at McGillycuddy’s Soaps, where the Beekman 1802 soap is crafted. Sustainable's, Sharon Springs’ newest establishment, features “the best local farm meats, eggs, produce,” says Doug. “[We’re] thrilled to have [the store] in the village.” And of course, visit the Beekman 1802 Mercantile for products made and selected by the team (and goats) at Beekman Farm. We would buy: the Mortgage Lifter Tomato Sauce, the “Good Neighbor” Pie Gift Set, the goatmilk soaps from the Soap Bar, and all of the paraphernalia inspired by Brent and Josh’s llama, Polka Spot.
CHILL by ending your day of walking, shopping and eating with a visit to the Spring House Spa, next door to the American Hotel. Enjoy a signature body treatment and get a true taste of the town’s spa history before you leave!
FALL HARVEST FESTIVAL Visitors from all over the world gather in Sharon Springs over the third weekend in September to celebrate the rich agricultural history of the area. What began as a Beekman 1802-organized gathering of only about 500 people became a flock of 10,000 visitors from the world over, and leads to a greater exploration of Schoharie County.
VICTORIAN HOLIDAY CELEBRATION See what Sharon Springs might have looked like during the late-1800s when, on the first Saturday in December, the village dresses up in Victorian garb for a promenade along Main Street. And, “all of the architecture is still pretty original — there’s no modern architecture,” says Brent. “We love to dress up here in Sharon Springs.”