When you’re en route this month to Gore Mountain, Potsdam, Canton or Clarkson to watch the best college athletes from around the globe compete in the World University Games, you’ll undoubtedly pass through Warrensburg. While you could certainly blink and miss the small town located right off exit 23 of the Northway, consider this your sign: Don’t.
For a town of only 4,500, Warrensburg has a heck of a lot going on. From Christmas in Warrensburg, a festive two-day celebration that took over the town this past December, and the World’s Largest Garage Sale, which boasts more than 500 vendors stretching the length of Main Street and beyond each fall, to a slew of festivals—apple, garlic, rhubarb—at the Riverfront Farmers’ Market, Warrensburg is becoming more than just a place you drive through to get somewhere else. “More and more people are stopping for longer and longer,” says Suzanne Tyler, executive director of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce. “Over the last year and a half, especially—after Covid—Warrensburg’s just growing leaps and bounds.” And it’s not just the annual festivals drawing crowds. “We’re the best-kept secret in the Adirondacks because we’re actually a vibrant, working community,” Tyler continues. “It’s not like it’s just open in the winter or the summer…We’re here 365.”
Indeed, unlike seasonal Adirondack towns Lake George and Old Forge, which die down in the off season, Warrensburg’s businesses stay open, supported by the small population that lives there year-round. There’s Sulla Terra, a pastry shop that recently moved to a larger location and has food that Tyler, a former Saratogian, says would rival anything in the Spa City. There’s Junk & Java, a new-ish home goods and consignment shop; Sun Canyon Kitchen, a breakfast and lunch spot that opened this past fall; and The Bond 1786, a hidden-in-plain-sight boutique inn and restaurant that has been reimagined since it changed ownership in 2021. (We can confirm—it’s well worth the trip from the Capital Region!) And that’s not to mention Oscar’s Adirondack Smokehouse, a beloved meat-lover’s mecca that has long been praised by Upstate native and culinary A-lister Rachael Ray and the general public alike.
While winter is never slow in Warrensburg, what with all the skiers passing through, this season is shaping up to be especially busy, given the World University Games, the Ice Castles returning to neighboring town Lake George, and one more potential boon for the local economy: the reopening of Hickory Ski Center, a relic of a ski mountain dating back to the 1940s that has operated on and off throughout the 21st century. With aging lifts and no snowmaking, it’s been an uphill battle to reopen Hickory (hundreds of mid-century ski hills like it have long since been shut down permanently), but thanks to a grassroots effort aided by community leaders and a new nonprofit called the Hickory Legacy Foundation, this may be the year. “People are anxious to know when we’re going to open,” manager Sue Catana says. “My only response is when Mother Nature gives us her white blanket, when the insurance gods choose to give us a policy, and when the state blesses us with a certification.” At press time, Hickory was open for sledding and skinning/uphill skiing, and its 3 Sisters Café, located in the recently renovated lodge, was open Thursday-Sunday from 9am-2pm.
Sure, Warrensburg is charming, especially when covered in sparkling snow. But it sounds like there’s even more to come. “There’s always room for improvement, and the community is excited to tackle that,” Tyler says. “I’ve never lived in a place where people are so personally involved with their community’s growth. Warrensburg is that small town that everybody dreams about living in.”