Fifty miles north of New York City, in the picturesque Hudson Valley, the small city of Peekskill is waiting to charm your socks off. The town’s population of 24,000 is growing quickly, as it continues to woo recovering workaholics looking to leave the Big Apple. But, lucky for city lovers wishing to stay put, Peekskill is an easy visit for just a day or two.
Where to eat (and get your happy hour on)
In Westchester County, Peekskill is garnering a reputation for world-class cuisine that ranges from casual to classy. The menu at Zephs’ Restaurant, open Thursday through Sunday, reads like an around-the-world journey through eclectic soul food. Dig into apps like creole oyster cassoulet ($12) and entrees like chicken paprikash ($24) or cod shakshuka ($28). Or, for Japanese-Italian fusion, head to the Hudson Room, where sushi mains start at $10 and others at $19.
If you want to pair your meal with a good craft beer, look no further than Peekskill Brewery and Birdsall House for happy hour. Kick off the weekend at Peekskill Brewery with two-for-one draught beers and $2 sliders (and these aren’t just any sliders; think: buffalo chicken, short ribs, bratwurst, and falafel) before 6 p.m. on Friday. Other elevated pub fare includes porchetta ($20), fish stew ($19), and curried cauliflower steak ($18).
The gourmet gastropub Birdsall offers not just one, but two happy hours. Stop in between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weeknights for $5 draughts and $5 off appetizers like smoked brisket nachos ($10) and fried calamari ($9), or between 10 p.m. and midnight daily for $3 pints and $5 well drinks.
What to see and do
A short cab ride gets you from Peekskill to Bear Mountain, a beautiful state park overlooking the Hudson. Go there for the abundance of outdoor activities, including picnicking, biking, and hiking. At the top of the mountain, you can climb the Perkins Memorial Tower for birds-eye views of the park below.
Animal lovers can head to the Birding Conservation Area to catch a glimpse of threatened species like bald eagles and warblers, or head to the free Trailside Museum & Zoo to see black bears, turtles, and fish. Kids — and the young at heart — can ride the park’s lovely hand-carved and painted merry-go-round for $1 per ride. In June, take a dip in the Bear Mountain Pool ($2) or rent a boat and paddle on the lake for $5 per half hour or $8 per hour, per person.
After you’ve had your fill of the great outdoors, head downtown to check out Peekskill’s Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art or the historic Paramount Hudson Valley Theater, where you can catch a live concert, theatrical performance, or film (the Peekskill Film Festival runs there May 13 to 14). You can also go shopping at a variety of boutiques, the Peekskill Flea Market, and, come June, the Peekskill Farmers’ Market.
Where to rest your head
Much of Peekskill’s appeal is that it’s not a luxury getaway; its industrial roots are still visible in historic factories converted into artsy lofts. So, though you could stay at one of Peekskill’s run-of-the-mill hotels, we recommend you go for an Airbnb rental. Check out the listings and you’ll find there are some charming homes available — not only can you get that whole neighborhood vibe, but you can also rent an entire house for less than a hotel room.
From New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Peekskill is an easy hour-long train ride on Metro-North. Tickets cost $24.50 for round-trip off-peak.