Hometown Debrief

For an Extra Helping of Nostalgia, Head to This Quaint Town in Upstate New York

by Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge
Dairyland sign. Photo by Michelle O'Gara.

Gentleman farmers Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge are the co-founders of the lifestyle brand Beekman 1802, whose latest project is a goat-milk-based skincare range. We milked them for the lowdown on Sharon Springs, the charming old-time town in Upstate New York that they call home.

Favorite old classic: American Hotel is a restored 19th-century inn with eight guest rooms, a lively weekend pub, and a restaurant that serves generous portions of American classics. Proprietors Doug Plummer and Garth Roberts are also a fabulous hospitality floor show.

Best new spot: 204 Main Bistro, the latest restaurant in town, was started by Boston natives Jim Grinchis and Norm Phenix. Both the space and menu are designed to minimalist perfection.

Coolest spot: Origins Cafe in nearby Cooperstown is a food truck restaurant set up by two sisters in the middle of their family’s nursery greenhouse. During the season they have farm-to-table dinners and live music in the gorgeous, intimate setting.

204 Main Bistro.
A locally-sourced cheese board. Photo courtesy of 204 Main Bistro.
Origins Cafe tables.
Fancy food truck fare. Photo courtesy of Origins Cafe.

Best spot for people-watching: The steak dinners or pancake breakfasts at our volunteer firehouse.

Best book: Our memoir, of course: The Bucolic Plague.

Movie: The Model and the Marriage Broker, starring the one and only Nancy Kulp, and a B-level schlock horror movie called I Drink Your Blood. And then there are those missed opportunities: The village was visited by a location scout for Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and was considered as the setting for Northern Exposure.

Where I go to get inspired: Arkell Museum in neighboring Canajoharie is a concise but brilliant art museum in a place you would not expect.

Where I go when I need to escape: When you live on a 60-acre goat farm, you only need to walk out onto the back porch to escape it all.

Best way to start the day: There is a fantastic gentle hike up to the top of Vroman’s Nose in which you can gaze out on Schoharie Valley.

Best way to unwind at the end of the day: Sitting by the fire pit or in one of the giant rocking chairs on the porch at Otesaga Resort Hotel and gazing at the lake.

Favorite shop: As shopkeepers ourselves, we are a little partial to Beekman 1802 Mercantile; however, right beside us on Main Street in Sharon Springs is the Cobbler & Co gift shop.

Beekman 1802 Mercantile.
The authors' Main Street gift shop. Photo courtesy of Beekman 1802 Mercantile.
Otesaga Resort Hotel porch and rocking chairs.
The best view in town. Photo courtesy of Otesaga Resort Hotel.

Our local cafe: Everyone’s favorite — Black Cat Cafe. Fresh-baked bread and apple cider donuts every day. The sandwiches with house-made corned beef and oven-roasted turkey are big enough for two meals.

Best restaurant for a splurge: If you are traveling from a metropolitan area, even our “fanciest” restaurants are going to seem economical, so feel free to splurge your big-city dollars anywhere you please.

Favorite bar: For a town with a population of 547, there are a surprising number of watering holes. The liveliest bar scene for out-of-towners will be at The American Hotel. The best-curated selections of wines and beers will be at 204 Main Bistro. But to truly hang with the locals, head to Sharon Tavern.

Your office is located in Sharon Springs and our headquarters are in Schenectady, New York.

You wish your office were located at our dining room table. If it were possible to conquer the world (and ship thousands of packages) from that spot, we would never leave it.

Best local restaurant: We love everything with an extra helping of nostalgia. Dairyland is an old roadside ice cream stand with a fabulous sign on top with a kid licking an ice cream cone. The kid’s tongue is done in neon and moves back and forth. There’s also a classic roadside gift shop called The TePee. The store is in the shape of a giant tepee, and there’s always a food truck parked there serving amazing homemade chili and garlic chips. From the picnic tables outside, you have an amazing view of the entire valley.

The TePee roadside gift shop.
The place to go for classic roadside gifts. Photo courtesy of The TePee.

Your preferred mode of travel around town: Sharon Springs is nestled in the Mohawk Valley — the valley between Catskill Mountains and Adirondack Mountains. A car is generally the best way to get around and see the vistas, but for those with the glutes to do it, pedaling is nice too.

The route for your favorite city joy ride: We love to take the back roads from Sharon Springs to Cooperstown. Driving by all the old farmsteads really takes you right back in time. The Amish buggies you pass along the way help complete the image.

Where should people stay when they visit? We don’t like to play favorites, so we recommend everyone visit the Chamber of Commerce website for Sharon Springs. There’s a complete list of accommodations and something for every budget.

Current local buzz word: Hi, neighbor.

No trip to Sharon Springs is complete without: Visiting Howe Caverns, just ten miles out of town. It’s one of the largest cave systems in the USA, complete with a boat ride on an underground river.


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