Searching for a late-summer or early fall jaunt? Look no further than Chatham, NY—not to be confused with the same-named town on the southeastern tip of Cape Cod—a Lilliputian Columbia County wonderland that boasts nothing but Brobdingnagian fun.
The fact that Chatham’s just a 30-minute drive from Albany leads us to believe that you could easily jump in your car and make a day out of a trip down there. But since you’re a smarty pants and booked a cozy room at the Inn at Silver Maple Farm (silvermaplefarm.com) ahead of time, there will be no need for a DD or early dinner rez to make sure someone’s awake enough to drive home. Simply throw yourself in the car after work’s done on Friday, and you could be in Chatham before happy hour’s over.
If you’re jonesing for a little Fri-yay night Mexican food in, the place to order from is Tacos Diablo (tacosdiablo.com), which is now based in nearby Nassau, NY, after a run as a ghost kitchen in Chatham. Tacos Diablo features $10 entrees like its to-die-for tacos or bursting-at-the-seams burrito (we also hear the elote, a.k.a. grilled Mexican street corn, is not to be missed). If you’re more of the “Friday is beer o’clock” set, mosey on down to The People’s Pub (thepeoplespub.com), which serves up elevated pub fare like Flash Fried Cauliflower (honey sriracha glaze, bacon and garlic aioli); and the wondrous Not Your Mother-in-Law’s Meatballs plate (pork meatballs served with lime cilantro slaw, rice and Sambal aioli made from hot chilis). Sure, you went there to eat, but if you, say, make fast friends with the folks on either side of you at the bar, make sure to set up a “Shotski,” which is a series of five shots, taken together, set up along a wooden ski. Winter might not be coming just yet, but a good buzz sure is.
After you’ve finished your delicious breakfast at Silver Maple Farm—the second course is always a mystery but could feature favorites like blueberry buttermilk pancakes or a variety of cheese-filled quiches—we’d suggest getting a lay of the land and taking a stroll around Downtown Chatham. You’ll definitely want to poke your head into American Pie (facebook.com/americanpiechatham), which meets all of your high-end cookware needs; pookstyle (pookstyle.com), which is owned by a former museum gift shop retailer and has the whimsical inventory to prove it; and Chatham Bookstore (chathambookstore.com), where you can let loose the bibliophile in your life, while you go in search of your next savory or stinky snack at Bimi’s Cheese Shop (bimischeese.com) next door.
With lunchtime right around the corner, you’ll want to head over to Our Daily Bread, a.k.a. ODB (ourdailybreadchatham.com), which you may be familiar with from its weekly presence at the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. But whereas at the Collar City market its stand is slinging only carbs, at its Chatham outpost, ODB has a fine selection of sandwiches, soups, salads and even some out-of-left-fielders like the BBQ Pork Shoulder sandwich and Chanterelle Mushroom Tacos (it also has A1 Middle Eastern fare).
Make sure to save some room for dessert, which you can pick up at Main St. Goodness (mainstgoodness.com), a business-within-a-business that’s home to the we’re-not-worthy Pieconic (pieconicny.com), a bakery known far and wide for its parade of pies, come-to-daddy cookies, buttery biscuits and mega muffins. If you happen upon this one-two punch of amazingness on the right day, too, you might even run into Today’s weatherman extraordinaire Al Roker, who is a regular there.
Now that you’re properly stuffed and sugared, why not spend the rest of your afternoon drinking that golden elixir called beer at Chatham Brewing (chathambrewing.com)? The brewery has both indoor and outdoor seating, depending on what kind of day you’re dealt, and at press time, brews on tap included Czech’rd Past (a Bohemian-style pilsner), Dry Irish Stout (a classic dark beer) and First Draft, a lager that we hear is a writer’s best friend. If you happen to get hungry sometime between Beer No. 1 and Beer [insert your legal limit], the brewery has apps like Main Street Wings (crispy fried chicken wings with a choice of dipping sauces) and Fried Green Tomato Caprese (exactly what it sounds like), as well as more robust entrées like a Build Your Own Burger or Smoked Gouda Hoagie (smoked brisket, gouda cheese, avocado and barbecue sauce on a hoagie roll).
Hopefully, that dinner busted through your buzz, so you won’t be belching through the performance art show, musical or revue that you bought tickets for at the Mac-Haydn Theatre (machaydntheatre.org).
Since Sunday is the unofficial international day of breakfast, you could certainly get seconds at the inn, or simply head back to Main St. Goodness for a breakfast sandwich or breakfast burrito—and hey, nobody will say anything if you sneak in a hand pie, too. For a truly short Sunday drive, get in your car and go about five minutes outside town to The Chatham Berry Farm (thechathamberryfarm.com), where depending on the season, you can pick strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants or gooseberries. The farm also has a great store, too, where you can pick up handmade sausages, fresh meats and seafood to grill on your own Weber when you get back to your Capital Region backyard.
As long as you have a cold place to store those sausage links or steaks, make sure to catch the latest exhibition at Thompson Giroux Gallery (thompsongirouxgallery.com) or an early afternoon showing at the Crandell Theatre (crandelltheatre.org), a one-screen movie house. Heck, you could even Google the nearest realtor, because you may never want to leave!