Travel takes us to places that are out of the way and interesting. Sharon Springs in New York State may not be considered exotic; it is interesting and out of the way. Located three hours Northwest of New York City, it is close to Cooperstown, NY, home to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Glimmerglass Festival, a world renown opera, and theatre venue.
What took us to this historic town was not the restorative healing waters frequented by the American Indians. We were attracted because it has become a destination for many established LGBTQ community of persons who have come to realize that they are looking for a less fast-paced lifestyle. In Sharon Springs they have found they enjoy the company of other well educated and creative souls in a community that can be easily commuted to and from major northeast cities.
It is that sense of community along with gorgeous farmland vistas that attract many. Like lifestyle icons the Beekman Boys, who have a goat farm nearby and a mercantile in town, selling their world-famous products.
While Josh and Brent (aka The Beekman Boys) have become a hot ticket, the real town fathers are Doug and Garth, another couple who settled in Sharon Springs in the 1990’s purchasing several properties including a dilapidated historic hotel. These gentlemen are the economic engine that has inspired others and attracted investment back to this hard-scrabble, historically agricultural part of New York State.
Sharon Springs is along historic Route 20, a travel route used by Indians and settlers, and later as the automobile took hold, by travelers heading west. While today the interstate highway 90 has bypassed the fast paced traffic, this scenic byway still holds many wonders of the Empire State.
While the town of Sharon Springs is small, there are some hotspots that one should not miss while visiting:
Once well-known, The American Hotel has now become the heart and lifeblood of the Sharon Springs community. Rescued and reconceived in the 1990’s, the hey-day of home-grown Bed and Breakfasts and small country inns. Today the American is an intimate and cozy hotel, no matter if you are straight or gay. While not the largest of the town’s hotels, it is responsible for the rebirth of Sharon Spring’s vitality. With only nine guest rooms, a tiny, and we can we say adorable, copper covered bar, (just five bar stools) it adjoins a dining room that attracts guests from all over.
Staying at the hotel may not be a five-star experience one might expect, from other chic inns around the country. The American provides a welcome and warm experience from the staff and owners. Staying overnight and eating breakfast on the patio, or just stopping by for a drink at the bar, or dinner in the dining room.
204 Main Street and the Black Cat Cafe
These are two of the other eateries in town, the Black Cat Cafe is a breakfast and lunch stop, while 204 Main Street is more for lunch and dinner. On opposite sides of the street, in the center of town, both provide delicious locally sourced food. While not the fanciest of decor, expect an artistic and contemporary experience as well as finely prepared delicious meals.
The Spring Gallery, open in season has revolving shows from various local and national artists. Curated by a West Coast native with international art world connections. Be it photography, watercolor, pen, and ink or innovative sculpture.
Theater in the Park
Creative experiences include live theater, in the town’s park. And this year it was As You Like It, a well-known production that became the talk of the area, and provided free to attend performances. While a fundraising campaign helped support the project, much came in kind from the local community.
The Sharon Springs Village Gift Shop
The gift shop Cobbler & Co. features many eccentric and useful gifts. Crammed packed with interesting items that you might not think you would find in a rural town, each room has a theme, be it pets, kids, men, or women’s fashion, as well as decorative household items. Here you can find almost anything to fit any budget, for a fancy occasion or that perfect gag gift.
Beekman Boys 1802 Mercantile
You can’t come to Sharon Springs and not leave without a visit to The Mercantile. Even if you have never heard of the Beekman Boys before, after visiting you will be following their latest cookbook, internet feed or product release.
Josh and Brent became a reality show sensations after winning the Amazing Race. Investing their winnings in the Beekman 1802 brand, named after the farm they own outside of town. Here you will find soaps, salves, and lotions made from goats milk from their farm.
The TePee, Dairyland, Icons on the American Road
While not technically in the village of Sharon Springs, the Tepee is a must stop “tourist shop” on any American road trip in the mid-twentieth century. Yes it is shaped like an Indian Tepee, and yes it has tourist chachkies, interestingly enough, some things you will want to take home as mementos, as you might not find them anywhere else.
As classic a road trip stop, as there is on any roadway in America. In New York State, along historic Route 20, a visit to Dairyland is a must! Where else would you go on a summer’s evening for ice cream or a quick meal with a date? Dairyland is how you envision the original fast food places along the highway. All we need now is a 1957 Chevrolet BelAir!
A tiny town resurrected by gays may seem odd in the conservative farm country of New York State. It is often gay men who buy and spruce up areas that have fallen upon hard times. Many areas have benefited from the efforts of the LGBTQ community. Gay men, Lesbians, Transgender, and others have created inclusive communities bringing life back to neighborhoods, as well as increasing property values to areas once forgotten. No matter what your proclivities might be, a visit to Sharon Springs is well worth the drive and will give you a wonderful neighborly experience, which is not often found today.
Enjoy the Adventure!