Kingston is one of the best places in New York State to enjoy a day trip from the Big Apple. This historic city is set over 90 miles north of the city, serenely sandwiched between the captivating Catskills and sparkling Hudson River. Its historic attractions, fun things to do, and tasty restaurants sit under 60 miles from Albany, making this the perfect place to visit for a weekend. A haven for families in search of fun things to do, there are several activities to choose from in Kingston—climb aboard a boat cruise, visit the Hudson River Maritime Museum, ride a trolley, or hit the beach. Even those who visit in fall and winter will find plenty of worthwhile attractions.
A history buff? Fantastic! In 1977, Kingston became the first capital of New York, months later, over 300 of its buildings were burned by British Troops. With the grit and determination so common in New Yorkers, the city was rebuilt. Today, visitors can soak up the town’s history by touring the remaining 17th-century buildings, the Old Dutch Church, and the 18th-century Four Corners.
Learn everything there is to know about visiting Kingston in this ultimate travel guide.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Kingston?
Downtown Kingston is particularly lovely during summer.
The best time to visit Kingston is from May through October. The reason is twofold: one—the weather is warm and wonderful, and two—the top attractions are open during this high season time.
That said, many believe life was better when fewer people knew about Kingston’s charm.
Back then, the city’s historic streets were devoid of crowds, making it easy for visitors to feel as if they had the place, including its stellar shops and restaurants, to themselves. Over time, the city underwent a revamp, turning run-down buildings into charming entities begging to be photographed. With the revamp came tourists.
For those hoping to avoid crowds, the best time to visit Kingston is either during spring or fall, when the summer travelers have returned home, or on a summer weekday, when there are fewer visitors standing in line for coffee and pushing their way into the museums.
The worst time to visit Kingston is during January and February when the climate is less than stellar—think snow and temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius. But many of the city’s main attractions are also closed during winter, which is something to keep in mind.
Winter is the cheapest time to visit Kingston, though, which is a plus for those hoping to score a deal on hotel rooms.
Kingston’s Three Main Neighborhoods
The Ulster County Courthouse lies Uptown, in the Stockade Historic District.
Kingston is divided into three main neighborhoods, which is handy to know when deciding which points of interest to visit first.
- Uptown –the most historic section as well as the most vibrant. Here, tourists will find the Stockade Historic District, which stretches across nearly eight blocks and is peppered with buildings dating to the Dutch and Colonial eras, including the Senate State Historic Site and Old Dutch Church. In fact, Uptown is the “largest remaining example of early Dutch settlement in New York State.” North Front Street and Wall Street play host to many worthy restaurants, sweet shops, and boutique stores.
- Midtown—the more residential section of town and home to entertainment venues. This district is where tourists will find the revamped Ulster Performing Arts Center, Kingston City Hall, more shops and restaurants, as well as buildings dating to the Victorian and early 20th centuries.
- Downtown—the most scenic district with direct access to Rondout Creek and the Hudson River. Also known as the “Rondout” or the Historic Rondout Waterfront District, the area’s top attractions include boat tours, the Hudson River Maritime Museum, and the Trolley Museum of New York. A riverside park, inviting restaurants, and captivating architecture help make this one of the best places to visit in Kingston, especially in summer. This neighborhood is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Top Things To Do in Kingston
With so many interesting attractions packed into a beautiful Hudson River town, there’s no lack of fun things to do in Kingston. Here are the top things every tourist should add to their list of places to visit.
Ogle The Old Dutch Church
The Old Dutch Church is found Uptown.
Spending time in the Stockade District is akin to wandering the streets in the late 1700s. As mentioned earlier, this district is home to the state’s oldest Dutch settlement, including the aptly named Old Dutch Church.
Burned twice (in 1663 and 1777), the pretty landmark seen today stands as an example of the city’s resilience. It was rebuilt in 1852 and boasts the highest point in town—its steeple.
The church is within easy walking distance of many restaurants and other top attractions, like the Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum.
Tip: search the property to find the plaque commemorating George Washington’s visit to this site in 1782.
- Address: 272 Wall Street, Kingston, New York
See America’s Oldest Intersection
Four Corners, the oldest intersection in America.
While the Old Dutch Church is one of the best-known landmarks in the Stockade District, there are plenty of other historic homes and buildings worthy of a visit. The Four Corners is the most famous intersection in town, and it lies at the intersection of John Street and Crown Street.
Four stone houses lie at this juncture, all of which were built prior to the Revolutionary War, making it the oldest intersection in America.
The homes were burned by the British in 1777 but rebuilt a year later. They include the Matthewis Persen House, Kingston Academy, Franz Roggen House, and the Dr. Matthew Jansen House.
Take A Cruise On The Hudson
Hop on a cruise Downtown, in the Rondout National Historic District.
Hop aboard the Rip Van Winkle for a two-hour cruise along the Hudson River. While the boat’s name implies a sleepy trip, there’s nothing boring about this cruise. Tour guides narrate the journey, offering insight into the area’s storied past, as well as humorous anecdotes.
The views on the cruise are exceptional, especially if visiting during the height of fall’s impressive foliage. Grandiose mansions, pretty lighthouses, and picturesque villages are made even more stunning when viewed from the water.
Pack a camera, or at least be sure there’s plenty of space on the phone. The Hudson River Historic District is spectacular and deserves to be photographed.
- Address: 1 East Strand Street, Kingston, New York (at the dock)
- Hours: Seasonally on Tuesdays through Sundays from June through October. Weekends in May.
- Tickets: From $37.67
Hit The Shops Uptown
There are plenty of interesting shops on Wall Street Uptown.
There’s something extra romantic about window shopping while enjoying a homemade ice cream during a couples’ day out. When visiting Kingston’s Uptown neighborhood, this is easy to do.
Kingston Candy Bar is the place to visit for sweets lovers, they serve handmade chocolates alongside their homemade ice cream. Located on Wall Street, the candy bar is just across the street from Blue Byrd’s Haberdashery & Music, a hat shop boasting a vast collection of hats in addition to rare vinyl, t-shirts, books, and more.
Other popular shops include Exit Nineteen (don’t miss smelling the scents at the Candle Bar), Capital Vintage (take time to look through everything, there’s sure to be something magnificent), and Half Moon Books (the used books in this small shop are in excellent condition).
Build A Boat At The Hudson River Maritime Museum
Explore the exhibits at the Hudson River Maritime Museum.
Maritime lovers should schedule a visit to the Hudson River Maritime Museum. More than just a museum, this interesting attraction is home to a Wooden Boat School as well as Sailing and Rowing schools.
Learn to build a boat, sit in a rowing scull, or take a ride in a solar-powered floating classroom called the Solaris.
The museum is also home to interactive displays, a 100-year-old shad boat, and multiple exhibits that outline the importance of Kingston’s maritime history.
Don’t miss booking a boat ride through the museum. They offer tours that include an up-close look at the Rondout Lighthouse.
- Address: 1 Rondout Landing, Kingston, New York
- Hours: Thursday through Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm from May to October. Boat rides are available on weekends during this time.
- Tickets: $25 for a family of 2 adults and children under 18, $6 for seniors aged 62+ and children 18 and under, $9 for adults.
Across the parking lot is the Trolley Museum of New York, another popular attraction for families, kids of all ages will enjoy looking at the historic buses and trains. Be sure to book a trolley ride for a more memorable experience.
Where To Stay In Kingston
Downtown is home to many shops, restaurants, and hotels.
There’s no shortage of places to stay in Kingston. From quaint B&Bs near the water to luxury hotels based in historic buildings, these are a few of the best hotels in Kingston, New York.
Those looking to rough it can always opt for a Hudson Valley campsite.
- Address: 301 Wall Street, 41 Pearl Street, 270 Fair Street, and 24 John Street, Kingston, New York
- Cost: From $244 a night for two guests.
- Amenities: Choose from one of 42 rooms spread between four historic buildings dating from the 17th to 19th century—don’t worry, they’ve been renovated. There’s a top-rated restaurant and bar located at the corner of Wall Street and John Street. A massage room, gym, and sauna are also available.
- Address: 85 Abeel Street, Kingston, New York
- Cost: From $239 a night for two people.
- Amenities: Cozy and intimate, there are four chic, modern rooms on offer at this plush and comfy B & B. The breakfast here is award-winning, and guests are just steps from the waterfront.
- Address: 800 Frank Sottile Boulevard, Kingston, New York
- Cost: From $127 a night for two people.
- Amenities: Full kitchens make it easy to stay for an extended time, especially if traveling with kids. A business center, grab-and-go breakfast, fitness center, hot tub, and an indoor pool are also on-site. Another bonus, this is a pet-friendly hotel.
- Address: 500 Frank Sottile Boulevard, Kingston, New York
- Cost: From $134 a night for two people.
- Amenities: Mountain views, the Bistro restaurant and bar, an event venue, indoor pool, fitness center, hot tub, and laundry facilities.
- Address: 905 North Kentucky Street, Kingston, New York
- Cost: From $71 per night for two people, even cheaper for Wyndham Rewards members.
- Amenities: A fitness center, business center, complimentary light breakfast, and free Wi-Fi are available here. It’s also a pet-friendly hotel.
- Address: 239 Forest Hill Drive, Kingston, New York
- Cost: From $81 a night for two people.
- Amenities: A business center, fitness center, and restaurant. Each room contains a microwave and fridge. This hotel is also pet-friendly.
Where To Eat In Kingston
Books and coffee together at last at Rough Draft.
For a relatively small city, Kingston is packed with great restaurants. Whether tourists crave Asian fare, Italian pasta, or grilled dishes, they’re in for a treat. Here are a few of the top restaurants in Kingston.
Bibliophiles unite! Rough Draft Bar & Books has combined all the things book lovers enjoy most—books (obvi), coffee, pies, and beer.
A super comfy place to eat breakfast or enjoy an afternoon snack, this bright and airy spot invites travelers to buy books and sip on a cuppa while enjoying a savory hand pie made by Kingston Bread + Bar.
Visit for a nighttime event (like trivia, games, live music, or an author talk) and whet that proverbial whistle with some ale.
- Address: 82 John Street, Kingston, New York
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8 am to 8 pm
- Average Price: $10 per pie
- What To Order: Breakfast pie
Who doesn’t love an all-day breakfast? Deising’s Bakery, Restaurant, and Catering offers the most delectable offerings to tempt every tastebud.
From fresh-baked croissants and Danishes to drool-worthy quiches, there’s a lot to choose from. New Yorkers won’t miss their best breakfast spots when enjoying the food on offer here.
- Address: 111 North Front Street, Kingston, New York
- Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 6 am to 4 pm, Sundays from 6:30 am to 2 pm. The bakery is open Tuesday through Thursday from 6 am to 5:30 pm, Fridays from 6 am to 6 pm, Saturdays from 6 am to 5 pm, and Sundays from 6:30 am to 3 pm.
- Average Price: $5
- What To Order: Quiche
Come hungry when visiting Savona’s Trattoria & Bar. Famous for serving “authentic” Italian dishes, this top-rated restaurant is one of the best places to eat lunch (and dinner) in Kingston.
It also boasts a scenic location on the waterfront. Expect to enjoy mouthwateringly delicious fresh pasta and wood-fired pizza.
Can’t get enough? This restaurant is the flagship location of a chain. Others can be found nearby in Redhook, Poughkeepsie, and Hudson.
- Address: 11 Broadway, Kingston, New York
- Opening Hours: Daily. Lunch from 11:30 am to 4 pm, Dinner from 4 pm to close. Brunch on Sundays from 11:30 am to 3 pm.
- Average Price: $18
- What To Order: Nonna’s Famous Sunday Sauce
Set fittingly by the waterfront, the popular Ship to Shore restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating. The fish is perfectly cooked and incorporated into interesting and tasty dishes.
Vegetarian and non-seafood options are also available, and delicious.
- Address: 15 West Strand Street, Kingston, New York
- Opening Hours: Sunday Brunch from 11 am to 3 pm.
- Average Price: $24
- What To Order: Grilled Atlantic Salmon
It’s hard to beat the view from the rooftop deck at Front Street Tavern. It’s also hard to beat the incredible dinner menu. From egg rolls to crab cakes to lobster mac & cheese, no one will leave this gastropub disappointed.
Be sure to enjoy a drink (or two) with each meal.
- Address: 63 North Front Street, Kingston, New York
- Opening Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11:30 am to 8 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 am to 9 pm.
- Average Price: $26
- What To Order: Lobster Ravioli or Shepherd’s Pie
Tasty Italian and American fare is offered at the delectable Christina’s Restaurant, and it’s served with a smile. It’s hard to find a menu item that isn’t delicious, and the drink menu is fun.
Don’t miss Christina’s Bellini, a satisfying signature drink.
- Address: 812 Ulster Avenue, Kingston, New York
- Opening Hours: Wednesday through Monday from 3 pm. Last seating is at 8 pm. Lunch can be booked for parties of 20 or more.
- Average Price: $27
- What To Order: Chicken Parmesan
Located in the Uptown Stockade District, guests can enjoy cocktails and nibbles like fish and chips and bangers and mash at the popular Stockade Tavern.
- Address: 313 Fair Street, Kingston, New York
- Opening Hours: Wednesday through Saturday from 5 pm to 12 am
Located near the Matthewis Persen House, this laid-back bar offers beer and bites as well as live entertainment.
- Address: 59 North Front Street, Kingston, New York
- Opening Hours: 12 pm to 4 am
How To Get Around Kingston
Take a ride at The Trolley Museum of New York.
Wondering about the best way to navigate Kingston? Here are the top ways to get around this historic, small-town gem.
The best way to get around Kingston is on foot. An easily navigable town, this charming place caters to pedestrians, and it’s easy to soak up the history from the storied buildings when admiring them up close, at a slow pace.
Take one neighborhood at a time, carve out at least an hour and a half for a good meal in between, and then head to the next destination.
Driving is the easiest way to get around Kingston. There is plenty of street parking and the city is a palatable size, so once the car has been ditched in one neighborhood, it’s easy to explore that area on foot before hopping back in to drive to the next location.
Those who don’t have a car at their disposal (ahem, New Yorkers) can rent one for a decent price these days, especially if they look for deals online.
Arrive early during the summer as the street parking fills up quickly.
Although there aren’t any bike rental companies in Kingston proper, the city is easy to get around on a bicycle. Nothing is too far away, so there won’t be miles of cycling in anyone’s future, but tourists will have to transport their own bike, so be prepared.
Board a trolley at the Trolley Museum of New York for a guided tour of the waterfront. Located at 89 East Strand, these rides are one of the best things to do with the family in Kingston.
Tours are operated seasonally and leave about every half hour from nearby T.R. Gallo Park, which is located at the bottom of Broadway. They drive alongside the Hudson River to Kingston Point Park.
The Ulster County Area Transit System (UCAT) operates the Kingston Citibus, a free service that transports passengers throughout the city. It doesn’t run on holidays but operates from 5 am to 11 pm Monday through Friday, 7 am to 7 pm on Saturdays, and 8 am to 7 pm on Sundays.
This is the cheapest way to get around Kingston.
The Best Festival In Kingston
Pronksstilleven, a mural created during the O+ Festival.
Choosing the best festival in Kingston is a difficult task—there are so many fun events on offer that it is hard to choose just one. That said, the O+ Kingston Festival is an easy pick. Held over one weekend in early October, this family-friendly event is an art love fest filled with unique creations, live music, and wellness activities for all ages.
In 2022, the festival welcomed over 4,000 visitors and hosted 42 bands on six stages across the city. Twenty-six artists and 30 student artists were involved as well as 45 ensemble musicians and 15 writers.
A popular festival, the effects can be felt long after the last musician has zipped up their guitar case. Bright and captivating murals can be spotted throughout the city, including the flower-laden Pronkstilleven by Gaia Street Art and Matt, a detailed portrait by Nils Westergard, found Uptown. Seven new murals were created during 2022’s festival.
Tip: Use an online map to guide a self-led walking tour of Kingston’s O+ Festival murals.
Best Place To Cool Off During Summer In Kingston
Enjoy the quiet, and the beach, at Kingston Point Park.
Kingston Point Beach is the best place to cool off during summer in Kingston. Located downtown, this popular spot boasts a playground, picnic area, clean sand, a boat launch, and restrooms, making it one of the best beaches in the area.
With so many amenities, this beach is a haven for families looking for fun things to do with kids in the summer, and it holds up easily to other top-rated beaches in upstate New York.
In addition to easy access to the Hudson River, Kingston Point Beach is sheltered, making it a safe beach for swimming with kids. Lifeguards are on duty seasonally, so that scores extra points with parents.
Those hoping to get some exercise in should head to the Kingston Point Rail Trail, where they can hike along an easy 2.3-mile roundtrip path. Keep a lookout for the trail’s top attraction—the Rondout Lighthouse.
This beach sporadically closes due to water contamination, especially after big storms, so always heed the signs.
- Address: 102-44 Delaware Avenue, Kingston, New York
Most Memorable Thing To Do With Kids In Kingston
The Den of Marbletown is a fun place to visit with kids.
Having a teddy bear picnic is a rite of passage for many children. Whether that comes in the form of sitting a bear down at the dinner table or spreading a blanket on the soft backyard grass, there’s something magical about a child sharing a meal with their favorite bear.
At The Den of Marbletown, parents can ensure their children have an enchanted day filled with teddy bears, treats, and endless smiles. A teddy bear museum and café, this unique attraction is a sanctuary for toy lovers and home to over 5,000 Steiff toys and an original Rod Bear from 1904.
Families can travel through a secret door to find dollhouse furniture and vintage toys, explore the bear-themed exhibits, and buy a toy (or four) from the gift shop.
Afterward, they can grab a bite from the café, put it in a basket, and enjoy their own teddy bear picnic on the grounds.
- Address: 1 Basten Lane, Kingston, New York
- Hours: Thursday through Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.
How To Spend A Perfect Day In Kingston
Catch a show at Midtown’s Ulster Performing Arts Center.
The perfect day in Kingston starts with a filling and tasty breakfast of quiche from Deising’s Bakery, Restaurant, and Catering. Work off the extra helping by walking along North Front Street, and shopping along the way to Crown Street. Be sure to admire the murals passed along the way.
Walk to the Four Corners to soak up the history in this famous spot, then stop in at Rough Draft Bar & Books for a coffee, or just a peek at the interesting titles on sale.
Next, head to Old Dutch Church and search for the George Washington plaque. Enjoy a time out at nearby Academy Green Park before moving on to other area attractions like the Volunteer Fireman’s Hall and Museum.
Grab lunch at a nearby restaurant (Yum Yum Noodle Bar is a tasty treat located at 275 Fair Street). Then, head back to the car or hop on a bus to the Downtown/Historic Rondout neighborhood.
After visiting the Hudson River Maritime Museum, board a boat cruise along the Hudson and soak up the sights. After, dig tired feet into the sand at Kingston Point Park and enjoy a swim.
This is the best area for a summer dinner, especially if travelers choose a restaurant with an outdoor patio. After an early meal, head to Midtown (by car, bus, or taxi), to catch a show at the Ulster Performing Arts Center.
Q: What is Kingston famous for?
Kingston is most famous for being the first capital of New York state. Months after it was awarded this title, the city was burned by British Troops in the Revolutionary War. Its resilient citizens rebuilt the city, which became a transportation hub in the 19th Century.
Since then, Kingston has undergone a revamp, making it one of the best places to visit for a day from Albany and New York City. Here, tourists can enjoy swimming at the beach, being entertained at a stellar performing arts center, dining on delicious meals at top restaurants, and soaking up the history from preserved buildings dating to the 17th and 18th centuries.
Q: Are there beaches in Kingston NY?
Absolutely! Kingston Point Beach is a popular place to visit with the family, especially during the summer. Located in Kingston Point Park, this is an ideal place to enjoy a picnic, build a sandcastle, and hold the hands of little ones as they splash in the Hudson River.
Upstate New York is also home to many destination-worthy beaches.
Q: How long should I spend in Kingston?
While Kingston is packed with fun attractions, historic landmarks, and fine dining, tourists won’t need to spend more than a long weekend touring this adorable small town. It is best visited during the warm, summer months, and the ideal time to spend in Kingston is two days.