Planning a rad trip to Kingston but not exactly sure about what the best things to do in Kingston NY are?
Well, if you’re emphatically nodding your head, “yes” right now then this is the post for you.
Not only have I been a New York resident for 30+ years, but I’ve been to Kingston more times than I can count.
And that makes sense since my brother lives right next door and my friend owns a house there.
That’s why, if you’re looking to enjoy all the top things to do in Kingston NY then I’m you’re girl.
After all, I know exactly how to get you away from the standard AF guidebook so that you can enjoy Kingston like a real local.
So, buckle up because it’s gonna be one hella epic ride as we plan the perfect Kingston NY itinerary for you.
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Best Hotels in Kingston NY
Want to enjoy some of the best things to do in Kingston NY but not 100% sure where to stay? If so then check out this down-and-dirty guide to the best hotels in Kingston.
Not only are they well located near top Kingston attractions, but they represent a variety of price points that will be perfect for you, regardless of your budget.
So, have a look at these mega epic hotels and be the supremely happy traveler that I know you are.
- Super 8 by Wyndham Kingston (budget) – Is this the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at? No. But if your budget is limited and you’re looking for a simple hotel with everything you need for a comfy stay then this place is fine. Plus, they offer a decent complimentary continental breakfast to help you start your day off right.
- Hampton Inn Kingston (mid-range) – This chill hotel sits at the base of the Catskill Mountains and offers low-key rooms with coffeemakers, flat-screen TVs, and custom-designed beds. Guests also enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast and can use a fitness center, lounge with a fireplace, and an indoor saltwater pool.
- Hotel Kinsley (Luxury) – Located right in the center of town, Hotel Kinsley is a refined, mid-century modern hotel featuring four distinct 19th-century buildings with 43 different guest rooms. All accommodations come with top-notch amenities and include access to a sleek, plant-filled restaurant and an infrared sauna.
1. Stockade Historic District
Also known as Uptown Kingston, the Stockade Historic District spans eight blocks west of downtown Kingston.
Now, if you’re a sucker for history and antique buildings, roaming this area is one of the best things to do in Kingston NY for you.
See, the Stockade Historic District marks the spot originally occupied by the Dutch Settlement of Wiltwyck – a trading outpost in the colony of New Netherland.
Naturally, the milestones include the Senate House State Historic Site, the Old Dutch Church, and the Persen House.
Besides these landmark buildings, you can also explore other colonial-era buildings and check out the various boutiques and cafes that make Kingston a wicked awesome place to be.
In particular, Rough Draft Bar & Books is a must-visit if you’re fanatical about literature and excellent coffee. But, also, beer and cake. Yeah, they kind of serve a little bit of everything.
And if you happen to visit Kingston on a Saturday, swing by the Kingston Farmers Market and stock up on scrumptious local cheese.
2. Senate House State Historic Site
And now, let’s dive a litt;e deeper into the first main attraction in the Stockade Historic District.
Because the Senate House State Historic Site is a testament to what life was like during the 18th century.
In fact, the complex includes the Senate House of 1676 and the more recently constructed Senate House Museum.
But, your admission ticket is good for both of them.
Plus, this place is regularly open for tours. So, you can easily enjoy both a house and a museum that are brimming over with incredible artifacts, furniture, and portraits from the Dutch colonial period.
Then, once you step inside the Senate House itself, you’ll uncover the kitchen, the family room, and the parlor of a Dutch residence that existed when the first New York State Senate actually met in 1777.
On the other hand, the museum is focused on the artwork of American neoclassicist painter, John Vanderlyn.
Address: 296 Fair St, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm (seasonally only from April 15th through October 31st).
Price: Tickets are $7.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors, and free for kids 12 and under.
3. Old Dutch Church
So, the Old Dutch Church is often referred to as the “Cathedral” of Kingston.
Erected in 1660, the original house of worship was part of the colonial Dutch village of Wiltwyck and is easily one of the best things to do in Kingston NY.
But, it didn’t last long and was largely consumed by a fire in 1663.
And after several attempts to rebuild and enlarge the church, it was once again burned to the ground in 1777. This time, at the hands of British forces during the American Revolution.
So, the Old Dutch Church that you’ll see today was drawn up and built in the 19th century. Completed in 1852, the church was the work of esteemed architect Minard LaFever.
Another tidbit; according to the city ordinance, no structure in Uptown Kingston is permitted to stand taller than the steeple of Old Dutch Church.
It’s also set within a cemetery and you can visit both for a moment of solitude while enjoying some of the top things to do in Kingston NY.
Address: 272 Wall St, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Services are Sundays at 10:30 am.
4. Kingston Street Art
In between your museum and heritage hopping endeavors, you can inject a bit of colorful street art into your Kingston itinerary.
After all, government-sanctioned murals extend all the way from Uptown Kingston through to Midtown and into the Downtown area.
Depicting a variety of themes and motifs, you’ll spot peacocks, the Greek goddess Artemis, and blooming floral imagery. And of course, many works are politically charged or offer a unique social commentary.
Años de Soledad, a collaboration between three artists, calls for the protection of the Amazon. Elsewhere, Between Realms We Grow Roots refers to living between different cultures and countries.
However, this cool influx of local street art started with the annual O+ Festival. Back then, pro street artists from across the state pitched in to bring a little color and creativity to Ulster County.
So, if you can’t resist chasing down thought-provoking murals, street art hopping is one of the best things to do in Kingston NY.
And if you’re not sure where to start, just check out this map of the Kingston street art scene, grab a coffee to go, and you’re all set.
5. Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum
Founded in 1980 within the original Wiltwyck Fire Station, the Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum officially opened to the public in 1982.
Staffed entirely by volunteers, the organization is committed to preserving the legacy of firefighters in Ulster County.
However, step back in time with me because the Kingston Fire Department was initially formed in 1757. At that time, firefighting equipment was imported all the way from England.
Later, in 1800, the village reorganized the fire department – before eventually joining forces and combining resources with Rondout village to form the City of Kingston of Fire Department.
A little over a century later, the department was spread across paid and volunteer staff. Nowadays, Kingston is set up with paid firehouses and one volunteer organization.
So, step inside this incredible museum to explore firefighting equipment and artifacts as well as photos and documents.
Quite incredibly, the museum is free to visit. However, the facility welcomes donations in order to keep it that way so that everyone can enjoy one of the best things to do in Kingston NY.
Address: 265 Fair St, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Open Wednesday through Friday from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
6. Shop in Uptown Kingston
If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, then browsing through the shops of Uptown Kingston is one of the best things to do in Kingston NY.
In fact, many New Yorkers consider Kingston to be one of the hottest shopping destinations in the state.
Therefore, a wealth of independent entrepreneurs and one-off boutiques have moved in and set up shop (so to speak), breathing new life into this historic neighborhood.
So, look through the merchandise at a wide variety of thrift stores that include Lovefield Vintage, Capital Vintage, and the Fairly New Thrift Store.
However, if you’re in the mood for some new threads, don’t pass up the chance to stop at Karina Dresses.
Next, pop into Hamilton & Adams for menswear and apparel as well as grooming items and books too.
And all my fellow book nerds out there will love that Half Moon Books is a treasure trove for readers – one of the best things to do in Kingston NY that is known for their excellent prices.
However, these eight glorious blocks are teeming with everything you could possibly want, including comics, hats, kids’ toys, florists, and beauty stores all fighting for your hard-earned dollars.
7. Matthewis Persen House Museum & Cultural Heritage Center
Now, if walls really could talk, the walls at this house would tell you a lot.
Because the Matthewis Persen House Museum & Cultural Heritage Center has borne witness to countless moments throughout the history of Ulster County.
In fact, this building was burned almost to the ground at least twice. Plus, it’s stood strong throughout wars and revolutions – all while housing doctors, tailors, grocers, pharmacists, innkeepers, and more.
Incidentally, it is named in honor of its longest-serving resident – Matthewis Persen.
As it happens, the earliest section of the Persen House dates to around 1661. But, various renovations over subsequent centuries explain why the architecture is so mixed.
So, you’ll spot a wealth of diverse architectural details from the Dutch colonists, the Revolutionary War and even the Industrial Period.
Also, Person House is where you will find the Ulster County Memorial Roll of Honor.
Address: 74 John St, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Open Thursday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Only open seasonally from May 26h through September 3rd.
8. Forsyth Nature Center
Soak up some vitamin D and clean air while making new friends at the Forsyth Nature Center in Uptown Kingston.
See, back in 1855, the Forsyth sisters donated this plot of land as a tribute to their father, Ulster County Judge James C. Forsyth.
And after serving as a super snazzy community park, it was reimagined as a zoo during the 1930s – after a bear wandered into the park.
Since then, the green space has blossomed into a micro zoo and nature center complete with peacocks, turtles, bunnies, alpacas, and more.
Which makes sense since their mission is to foster a connection between visitors, fauna, and flora.
So, animal exhibits are interspersed with gardens, reading nooks, and picnic areas aplenty. Plus, don’t miss the Free Little Library if you have a book to exchange!
Also, because admission is free, the Forsyth Nature Center is one of the best things to do in Kingston NY, on a budget or with kids. Especially if you factor in a side trip to the playground at Forsyth Park.
That being said, donations are always welcome.
Address: 125 Lucas Ave Ext, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
9. Rondout National Historic District
So, as you may know, the Hudson River breezes through Kingston on its route south to the Big Apple.
And, its tributary, Rondout Creek, starts – or ends, depending on how you look at it – in Kingston.
So, one of the best things to do in Kingston NY, in summer is to explore the Rondout National Historic District on foot, by bicycle, or via a cruise.
And if you need a set of wheels, you can rent a bike locally from New Paltz Biking. This way, you can cycle as far along the waterfront as your legs will carry you.
On the other hand, Hudson River Cruises operate sightseeing tours from Rondout Landing that include light narration on the area and its incredible history.
Usually, the cruise heads south on the Hudson River until the Staatsburg Mansion before circling back to Kingston.
Along the way, you’ll spot lighthouses, waterfront estates, and the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, among other key sights.
But, remember these tours only operate seasonally from mid-May through October, so plan accordingly.
10. Hudson River Maritime Museum
So, the Hudson River Maritime Museum is actually located in the Rondout National Historic District.
Therefore, don’t give this place a miss while exploring the waterfront and enjoying all the best things to do in Kingston NY.
Because this epic museum features a fleet of historic boats and maritime artifacts that are well worth a look.
In fact, dry-docked in the museum’s courtyard is Mathilda, one of the last remaining steam tugboats in existence and the main attraction here.
Elsewhere you’ll find a gallery devoted to the archive of model boats curated by avid collector Charlie Niles.
Plus, the museum is involved in a cool new initiative to create a documentary about the legacy of the Hudson River lighthouses.
Also, don’t forget that the museum also operates boat tours of Rondout Lighthouse as well as atmospheric Lantern Cruises after sunset.
And if you’re planning for a longer stay in town, the museum has an awesome line-up of special events and workshops.
So, take your pick from sailing lessons, boatbuilding, woodworking classes, and lectures too.
Address: 50 Rondout Landing, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $9.00 for adults, $6.00 for seniors/kids, and free for kids 4 and under.
11. Rondout Lighthouse
The Rondout Lighthouse is located right off the tip of Kingston Point Park, where the Hudson River meets Rondout Creek.
In fact, this one is the last of three lighthouses that mark the entrance to the creek. Furthermore, it’s one of only seven still-standing structures on the Hudson.
It was also completed and first illuminated in 1915 and continues to do its job over a century later.
So, follow the Kingston Point Rail Trail, from the Rondout National Historic District, for an epic view of this lighthouse from across the water.
Also, because it floats offshore, the only way to get a closer peek is by taking a boat tour.
Enter – again – the Hudson River Maritime Museum. The facility operates solar-powered boat tours onboard its vessel, Solaris.
These seasonal tours permit you to get out on the island, tour the interior of the lighthouse, and climb up to the upper observation deck.
Address: Hudson River, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Tours are about one hour and fifteen minutes long and are offered by boat multiple days throughout the summer.
Price: Tickets are $30.00 for adults, $28.00 for seniors, and $25.00 for kids.
12. Trolley Museum of New York
The Trolley Museum of New York is another star attraction of the Waterfront District and one of the best things to do in Kingston NY.
After all, this incredible complex is devoted to the history of railway travel and is divided into an indoor museum and an external showcase of vintage trolley carriages.
Plus, the static exhibition isn’t just limited to North American engines. In fact, the collection spans trains from Europe and beyond.
You’ll also love that volunteers at the museum are passionate about preserving railroad heritage and making this part of history accessible to everyone.
However, what’s a train museum without a fun ride on one of the trolleys?
So, hop aboard the carriage on Broadway and sit back as you chug away along the 1.5-mile-long waterfront track. Rest assured, the ride is open to children (and adults) of all ages!
What’s particularly awesome about this museum is that your tickets are good all day long. Therefore, once you’ve picked them up, you can come and go as you wish.
Address: 89 E Strand St, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Open weekends from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $12.00 for adults, $10.00 for seniors/children, and free for children 5 and under.
13. Ulster Performing Arts Center
Catching what’s on at the Ulster Performing Arts Center is one of the best things to do in Kingston NY, at night.
Because this long-standing performance venue hosts a variety of music acts, dance recitals, symphonies, and even film screenings.
In fact, the place attracts huge names from showbiz with past performers including Patti Smith and the Mavericks.
The center also seats up to 1,510 patrons without losing that intimate vibe you only get from smaller venues.
Of course, if you want to see a specific act or theatrical performance, you’ll need to get organized and snap up tickets ahead of time.
Because seats here do tend to sell out quickly. Especially for seasonal and holiday-themed programs, such as Halloween and Christmas events.
However, if you show up for an impromptu Kingston weekend getaway, you can always ring up the box office and find out what’s on.
Address: 601 Broadway, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
14. The Den of Marbletown
The Den of Marbletown is a museum like no other in the state. Because this one, right on the outskirts of the city, is dedicated to teddy bears!
Housed in an 1860-built farmhouse, this family-owned museum details the history of this classic stuffed toy.
Actually, the gallery started out as a place to exhibit the private collection of “Gracebear” who teamed up with her daughter and son-in-law.
Now, they all work alongside local artists to create dioramas and intriguing exhibitions.
Naturally, the Den is one of the best things to do in Kingston NY, with younger kids. But, it’s an equally awesome choice for nostalgic souls and collectors.
And in addition to the museum, the property has a gift shop where you can buy Steiff teddy bears and other collectibles.
So, if you’re in the market for a posh plush toy – this is the place to add to your list of Kingston things to do.
Also, don’t skip the funky supply of bubble teas, farm-to-table bites, and vegan desserts in the cafe.
Address: 1 Basten Ln, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Open Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $4.00 for adults and $2.00 for seniors/kids.
15. Catskill Mountain Railroad
The Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) is a heritage railway line that first started operating in 1982.
Now, it is preserved through the use of the railroad as a touristic and recreational attraction.
Excursions operate at select times during the year that are usually seasonal or over the holidays.
For example, fall generally sees fall foliage trips and pumpkin-themed rides aplenty.
Meanwhile, the carriages get a festive makeover at Christmas and are reenvisioned as the Polar Express a la Chris Van Allsburg’s classic book.
Trains also consist of three open cars and three traditional covered cars.
Plus, all train rides depart from Westbrook Station at Kingston Plaza. They then make a voyage northwest through the Hurley Flats and eventually circle back into town.
Naturally, the views are beyond spectacular and it’s an epic way to drink up the scenery of the Catskills while enjoying one of the best things to do in Kingston NY.
Typically, the 8-mile round trip takes around an hour and fifteen minutes to complete. Oh, and advance booking is highly recommended to avoid disappointment.
Address: 55 Kingston Plaza, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Open Saturday from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Price: Varies by journey but starts at $16.00 for adults, $10.00 for kids, $15.00 for seniors/veterans/military, and free for kids under 2.
16. Kingston Point Rotary Park and Beach
The Kingston Point Rotary Park is a wonderful public park right at the eastern endpoint of the Kingston Point Rail Trail.
And hanging around these parts is one of the best things to do in Kingston NY, with dogs or during summer.
In fact, the complex features a dog park where pooches can play off-leash and socialize.
Plus, there is a small patch of sandy beach where dogs are welcome too. Or, if you rather find a shady spot, the trees have you covered.
Plus, swimming is possible at Kingston Point Beach since conditions are calm and there are lifeguards on duty during the peak summer months.
So, if you plan to visit Kingston in the summer, pack a picnic lunch since there are a couple of grills available for public use, too!
Even in winter, the park and beach are worthy of a visit in conjunction with a trip to the Waterside District.
Address: Delaware Ave, Kingston, NY 12401, United States
Hours: Open all day every day.
Map of the Best Things to do in Kingston NY
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