We’ve been more than ready for a cruise on a back country road with the windows down, so when the sun finally came out this past weekend, we couldn’t pile into the Jeep fast enough. This time, we headed south. And while we travel the Northway between Glens Falls and Albany frequently, it’s rare that we venture off the beaten path once we get to the Albany area. So, we were excited to partner with Discover Albany to explore some of the hilltowns west of the city of Albany, especially since it just so happens there’s one town in particular that we’ve got heartstrings attached to…
Turns out, a love for small towns runs in the family. Tom’s great-grandfather, Dr. Thomas Ordway, was the Dean of Albany Medical College from 1915-1937. During that time, his friend and colleague Edmund Niles Huyck introduced him to the beauty that was Rensselaerville, New York. Dr. Ordway purchased a farmhouse on Pond Hill Road as a vacation home away from the hospital in Albany, which the family enjoyed for years to come. I’ve always loved hearing stories about Rensselaerville from Tom’s mother and his Grandma Jane, and it was clear from our first visit that it’s a truly special place.
So, history lesson aside, we’re excited to share some stops from our most recent day trip with you! Off we go!
EAT + DRINK
Breakfast, Lunch, + Sweets | Kuhar Family Farm Café: The sweetest people and the best food, this is the place to grab brunch in town on Saturday morning. It’s also the only place, but even if it wasn’t, we’d still be here ;) Tom ran in to grab us a couple of breakfast sandwiches (egg and cheese, loaded up with veggies on a perfectly toasted brioche bun) while I stayed back with the pups, and when I looked at the photos he snapped later, I couldn’t believe he hadn’t grabbed one of those pastries on the counter! Next time, for sure (ahem, right Tom?!). They’re open for dinner on Wednesday evenings and brunch on Saturdays, so if you go, be sure to plan your visit around their schedule if you’d like to grab a bite. And if you’re there for dinner, get the chickpea and spinach fritters - so good!
Post-Hike Drinks | Helderberg Brewery Taproom: Conveniently located right next to the Kuhar Café, this was the perfect spot to grab drinks after our hike (and bonus - they’re dog friendly!). We loved the vintage chairs out on the porch, where we sat sipping our drinks and enjoying the breeze up on the hill. The farm brewery is operated by the Carey Institute as part of their Sustainable Communities program with over 90% of their hops and grain coming from local farms. And, if you’re not into craft beer, they also have New York State wines and ciders (Nine Pin for me, please!).
SEE + DO
Hike | The Huyck Preserve: The big draw for us on that sunny Saturday was the Huyck Preserve, a gorgeously maintained nature preserve with over 12 miles of trails, which meander through forests, fields, wetlands, and around beautiful Lake Myosotis. The gem of the Preserve is Rensselaerville Falls - a 120 foot waterfall - and that was the trail we picked for the day, along with a portion of the Lake Myosotis Trail.
It’s been a while since we’ve taken the dogs on a hike, and the Lake Myosotis Trail was especially great for our (dare I say - senior?!) boys. With just the sounds of the birds and the waterfalls beyond, it was the perfect peaceful afternoon away from it all.
Next time, we’re looking forward to checking out the Ordway Trail, which runs behind Tom’s great-grandparents’ old farmhouse on Pond Hill Road and connects with the Race Track, which his great-grandfather built behind their house for the locals to enjoy horse races.
Picnic | Lake Myosotis: The picnic tables and rustic wooden benches lining the east side of Lake Myosotis were the ideal spot for us to finally dive into those sandwiches from Kuhar Café. The lake was quiet, aside from one couple gliding along the shoreline in their canoe. The lake allows non-motorized boats only, which we love, and we made a mental note to bring our canoe down with us when we return.
See | Carey Institute for Global Good: We were lucky to get a tour of this beautiful and historic country estate, which is now a multi-faceted creative institute housing the Logan Nonfiction Program for writers and filmmakers, the Sustainable Communities Program, the Center for Learning in Practice, an Art and Music Program, and a meeting and retreat center. They host a variety of events throughout the year (like this Historic Walking Tour and this Pub Crawl), as well as hosting featured artists monthly in their Guggenheim Gallery.
Browse | Rensselaerville Library: There’s just something special about a small town library, and this one was particularly charming (just look at that exterior!). We couldn’t resist popping in to browse, and were immediately drawn to the sitting room on the second floor and a sweet vintage yellow sofa overlooking the back lawn, which slopes down to the creek below. Perfect place to curl up with a book for the afternoon.
Tour | Rensselaerville Historical Society: Housed in the old red grist mill on Main Street, it was so neat to take a peek at how the Grist Mill would have run back in the day. That, and we loved the old signage displayed on the walls.
Stroll | Historic Main Street: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the hamlet of Rensselaerville is filled with historic homes and beautiful architecture. While you can easily drive through, getting out of the car gave us a completely different perspective, and we loved seeing the details of the old homes up close (especially the old door knockers, carriage houses and gardens!).
Art | Way Out Gallery: Just across the street from The Historical Society, it was fun to pop in to see some work from local artists (like this exhibit - Photographs and Schrapnel!).
Antiques | Chipped, Tarnished & Torn, South Westerlo: We couldn’t let the day go by without finding ourselves an antique shop, and we were so happy to stumble upon this one on our way home. I was, of course, drawn to this wall of blue and white, and we were excited to find out that he has a barn sale across the street most every weekend during the summer! We’ll be back for that, without a doubt.
Until next time, Rensselaerville! We’ll see you again sooner than later. And if you’ve visited any of the hilltowns, outside Albany, we’d love to hear your suggestions for next trip!
*This post is in partnership with our friends at Discover Albany. We were so thrilled for the opportunity to share a place that is near and dear to our hearts with you!