Why Sharon Springs is the Best Village You’ve Never Visited
There’s something so charming about a quaint small town or village. And Upstate New York is absolutely full of them! Each has its own personality and uniqueness. But there’s one I recently visited that instantly made me feel at home. Nestled among the winding roads and rolling hills of Schoharie County is Sharon Springs. With all my travels around the world, I could easily see myself living there. So I’m sharing with you why Sharon Springs is the best place you’ve never visited – but soon will!
Thank you to Visit Schoharie County and the folks in Sharon Springs who hosted me on my visit.
The History of Sharon Springs
The area of Sharon Springs was originally discovered by its location right off of Route 20, as a popular place travelers passed by on their way to the nearby caves. But the village became famous and achieved status on both the national and state registers of historic places as an historic spa village.
Why? The sulfur springs in the area are considered to have natural healing powers. Like many other places in New York State, Sharon Springs is home to potent mineral water. The village saw visitors from all over, including the Vanderbilts and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who would come to bathe in the waters. FDR even spoke about the natural springs during a speech in Georgia in 1929.
Over time, the village became less and less inhabited, and many of the buildings became abandoned. Some for decades. But in the past twenty or so years, the residents of Sharon Springs have begun to revitalize the village. Many of the buildings have been restored to their 19th century glory, and it’s beautiful to see the progress. I can’t wait for the new spa to open!
It Truly Takes a Village
Why is every tv show set in a quaint small town as great as it is? Easy. Because of the quirky and charming cast of characters. It’s the people that makes you fall in love with a village. Stars Hollow, Everwood, Schitt’s Creek, Cicely… While those towns were fictional, they all shined because of the townspeople that gave them character. And Sharon Springs is no different!
On my visit, I was greeted by the warmest folks who showed me around. The mayor, Doug Plummer, is a cross between Lorelai Gilmore and Michel Gerard. Maybe it’s because he and his husband also own the inn in town, who knows. But his sense of humor and hospitality were infectious!
Then there is Maureen, who owns Cobbler & Co. and knows everybody in town. It’s no coincidence that her daughter and son-in-law also own the Airbnb where we stayed. (In case you’re wondering, it’s a gorgeous newly-built house that is walking distance to the village center.) She’s a fantastic story teller. If you have time, she’d love to tell you some stories about the history of Sharon Springs.
Maureen also introduced me to Tony Daou, owner of Black Cat Café. I was able to thank him for the pastries he’d left me at the house for breakfast.
It doesn’t matter who you are. The moment you step foot in Sharon Springs, everyone will make you feel at home.
Things to Do in Sharon Springs
Stay the Night at American Hotel
Have you ever walked through a town, seen a building, and immediately fallen in love with it? Because I did it not once, but twice that weekend – and one of those buildings was American Hotel. (The other was an abandoned hotel in Schoharie. I have a thing for old inns!)
Speaking of abandoned hotels, American Hotel was left unattended for 30 years before the current owners purchased and restored it. Originally built in 1842, Mayor Doug and his husband Garth bought the property in 1996 and reopened it in 2001. The are 9 guest rooms, a welcoming porch, a beautiful garden out back, and a fantastic restaurant on premise. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing weekend getaway.
Plus, if you happen to be a millionaire with a dream of owning your own hotel in a small town, the hotel is currently for sale. If only I had the funds…
Enjoy a Pastry at Black Cat Cafe
The American Hotel isn’t the only place in town with delicious foods. You’d be missing out if you didn’t enjoy a meal, or at least a pastry from Black Cat Cafe! Tony Daou is the mastermind behind the scenes – who will be just as likely to sit down and chat with his guests! The food from the cafe has become so popular that it is now sold in local shops and to-go.
Treat Yourself at Beekman 1802
No joke, when I was walking up to the front doors of Beekman 1802, two goats were walking out. THAT’s the kind of place Sharon Springs is! And exactly what makes it so charming. See, the goats are the heart and soul behind Beekman 1802 because all of the cosmetics are made using goat milk. (I should probably mention that the goats aren’t usually there. They were getting ready for a festival nearby.) Their lotion will leave your hands silkier than ever before. But I’m getting carried away…
Beekman 1802 was established by Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge after the 2008 recession saw them uprooted from their NYC life and transplanted to rural Sharon Springs. In a twist of fate, they acquired a neighboring farm. The previous doctor and NY Times best-selling writer became the proud parents to a herd of a hundred goats. What else was there to do than to create a line of skincare using their milk?
The store, located in the center of town, proudly sells a variety of goat milk skincare. In the back of the store you’ll also find a kitchen area complete with artisan foods and kitchen supplies. Treat yourself!
Go Shopping at Cobbler & Co.
Next door to Beekman you’ll find Cobbler & Co., two floors of boutique shopping. The historic building is living its third life as a gift shop. It previously was home to a milliner and then a cobbler – hats and shoes are in its bones! And Maureen has kept the heart of its history – the cash register sits upon the cobbler’s old equipment. It all adds to the charm of the store. Take the time to explore the 12 uniquely themed rooms full of gifts for everyone on your list.
As you make your way upstairs, check out the signatures on the walls – you might even find a famous one!
Remember how I said that Maureen loves to tell stories about the history of Sharon Springs? My favorite has to do with the Cobbler & Co. building. Upstairs you’ll find former living quarters from when the building housed tenants. Some of those tenants included Holocaust survivors, who were receiving reparations from the German government. This is where the story comes in.
Maureen recalls a time when she saw two family members, who hadn’t seen each other since they were in Germany. They both assumed the other had passed. But here they were, an ocean away from home, reuniting and finding their loved one was alive and well. In Sharon Springs.
See the Restoration of Klinkart Hall
Just like American Hotel and Cobbler & Co. have overcome the previous ghost town nature of the buildings, Klinkart Hall is breathing new life as well. Another village staple from the late 1800s, Klinkart’s history includes a long list of businesses. A hardware store, a post office, a milliner, an opera house, a Masonic Lodge, and a movie theatre have all called Klinkart Hall home at one point in time.
But now? Now the hall is in disrepair, like some of the other restored buildings in town once were. But the residents of Sharon Springs have fallen in love with the building and have made a vow to bring it back to life. They envision making the hall a new art center in town, complete with a theater and art gallery. Take a moment to read more about Klinkhart Hall and perhaps even make a donation toward its restoration.
Schitt’s Creek in Sharon Springs
I know I’m behind the times, but I recently started watching Schitt’s Creek. And I’m in love! David & Patrick have to be one of my favorite tv couples. Ever. I love how they balance each other out and show each other unconditional love.
But did you know that there is a connection between Schitt’s Creek and Sharon Springs? Besides their rural location not far from New York City, the fictional and real places share many similarities. So much so that the owners of Beekman 1802 worked with the crew of Schitt’s Creek to create a pop-up version of Rose Apothecary. In early 2020, Beekman – also owned by a gay couple – was transformed into the mercantile. If only I had been watching the show and known so I could have visited! Alas, I’ll have to settle with binging the show in-between visiting Sharon Springs.
On the plus side, fans can still purchase some of the Rose Apothecary branded items on Beekman’s website. And when you’re in town, be sure to enjoy the similarities between Beekman 1802 and Rose Apothecary… and the rest of the village! There’s even a Roseboro Hotel.
Schitt’s Creek may have put Sharon Springs on the map again, but I am determined to make it stay. Are you ready to plan your visit?