Guided by Heidi’s Bridge: Keene, NY
With warm weather just around the corner, our thoughts turn to balmy evenings spent wading barefoot in nearby creeks and zipping down country roads with the windows open. When we daydream of such moments, one town in particular comes to mind: Keene, NY. Often overshadowed by the neighboring Adirondack town of Lake Placid, Keene is one of the North Country’s best kept secrets. Located in the Adirondack High Peaks region, the town has a wealth of natural wonders to explore, amazing local eateries, a great artist community, and inspirational shops. Here’s our roundup of the best places to eat, hike, explore, and shop in Keene, NY.
Emily Hirsch and Erick Steinberg are Heidi’s Bridge, a photography and styling duo who host workshops and dinners in addition to running their lifestyle blog.
Learn more about Heidi’s Bridge and Peek inside their rustic Adirondacks cabin.
Fight the temptation to sleep in and head over to ADK Market as soon as they open for strong coffee and warm sugared donuts fresh from the oven. This charming, well-curated market features an incredible selection of artisan snacks, craft beer, and prepared foods. Take your breakfast out on the porch, settle into a comfy Adirondack chair, and watch this sleepy town come to life.
Once you’re caffeinated up, beat the crowds to the trailhead of Owl’s Head Mountain, a five minute drive west on 1-73 (you’ll see a dirt road marked Owl’s Head Lane on the left). Aptly named for the 360 degree lookout at the summit, Owl’s Head is one of the best short hikes in the Adirondacks thanks to sweeping views, gained with minimal effort. While Keene is home to many of the Adirondack’s 46 tallest peaks, if you don’t have a day or more to spend climbing difficult terrain, this hike is for you. At .6 miles and roughly 30-45 minutes to the top, Owl’s Head offers a series of lookouts and great photo opts. Bring some film!
If you’re like us, by the time you reach the bottom of the mountain, you’ll be starving. Head over to ADK Cafe for a hearty brunch made from locally sourced ingredients. Ask to be seated outside so you can soak up the sun over cold brew coffee as you dine alongside fellow carbo-loading hikers. Choose from their impressive breakfast menu, which includes “the Climber,” a delicious plate of pancakes, thick cut bacon, crispy potatoes, fresh juice, and coffee. ADK Cafe makes their own bread and pastries, so make sure to order a scone while you wait for your food to come out.
Mid-Day Farmers Market
Ten minutes away in neighboring Keene Valley, you’ll find one of the best farmer’s markets in upstate NY: the Keene Valley Farmer’s Market. Located in Marcy Field, an active airfield (watch where you park!), this farmer’s market is a winning combination of breathtaking scenery and North Country’s best vendors. Bring home edible treats like yellow plums, local heirloom tomatoes, goat’s milk caramels from Asgaard Farm, buttery cheese from Sugar House Creamery, wood-fired bread from The Clay Hearth, and root beer from Ausable Brewing Co. Stop by Underwood Herbs for unusual medicinal tea, herbs, and botanicals. Once you’re all shopped out, sprawl out in the field and gaze up at the surrounding peaks while you listen to local musicians play, or cool off by dipping your feet in the babbling stream across the street.
Late Afternoon Shopping
After the Farmer’s Market, make your way back to Keene for some late afternoon shopping. Dartbrook Rustic Goods is a fun shop with great new and vintage finds. Reminiscent of the great camps of the Adirondacks, this shop has a warm, old school charm: think Pendleton blankets, sheepskins, birch furniture, etc. We particularly love the vintage signs from the Adirondack Park and Land of Makebelieve, an abandoned child’s theme park that was once popular in the 1960s. Pick up some rainwater soap, a vintage Adirondack trapper basket, or campfire incense to remind you of your trip. Spend an hour or two walking up and down the mini shopping strip and you’re sure to find some unique keepsakes.
Before packing up for your next stop, head to the Noonmark Diner to rub elbows with locals and foreign triathletes at Keene Valley’s resident hangout spot. This busy eatery serves up classic diner fare with a side of town gossip and arguably the best pie you’ll ever have (seriously, their pie is so famous that they mail order it all across the country). The pie, made from scratch everyday, has 41 different variations and whole pies to take home. Our favorites are: the strawberry rhubarb crumb pie, blackberry pie, or blueberry pie. Remember to order a-la-mode if you want the full experience.