Spend a Day in Clinton, New York and Channel Your Inner Gilmore Girl
August 14, 2020
Clinton, New York is the type of village where everyone knows everyone and outsiders are treated like family. I’m sure it’s straight out of a Hallmark movie around Christmas time. The historic district is at the center of all with a small park surrounded by quaint shops and restaurants. I’ve been in neighboring towns and villages several times, but I recently got to spend a day in Clinton, New York and I’m in love. Find out why.
Where is Clinton?
Named after George Clinton, the first governor of New York, Clinton was settled in 1787 and officially became a village in 1843. Located within the town of Kirkland in Oneida County, Clinton is about an hour east of Syracuse, and 15 minutes west of Utica. The village has been recognized as a national historic site and is now most famous for being the home of Hamilton College.
With a population under 2,000 people, Clinton is overflowing with charm. Standing next to the gazebo in the village green will make you feel like you’re at the center of Stars Hollow. Add to it the Christmas decorations and other festivals throughout the year, and I’d be surprised if Luke’s Diner wasn’t around the corner.
The Cutest Shops Around
To be honest, the whole reason I visited Clinton in the first place was to go to Almost Local and The Cremeria in person. Having fallen in love with both of the businesses on Instagram, I knew I had to visit them for myself.
The outdoorsy adventure shop is everything I love. If I could move into Almost Local‘s home on Park Row, I would in a heartbeat. Created by Rachel Bartunek (the designer behind Handmade Darling), the adorable shop is filled with travel-themed goodies, stationery supplies, and other home decor. Can you say heaven??? While some of the items in the shop are Rachel’s designs, there are several other artists and outdoors companies in stock, including a few honoring Upstate NY.
Rose Petal Gifts
A few shops down from Almost Local is Rose Petal Gifts, another cute shop filled with tons of goodies. Featuring brands like Beekman 1802, Ivory Ella, and Simply Southern, it’s the perfect spot to do some gift shopping or treat yourself. Owned by Jennien Colozzi, she’ll make you feel at home the moment you walk in the door.
More Shops in Clinton
Can’t find what you’re looking for yet? No worries! There are more options for shopping in Clinton. Artisans’ Corner is literally on the corner of Park Row and College Street. Inside you’ll find a collection of crafts from a wide variety of artists. For toys, gifts, and stationery, check out Paddywacks. Need some children’s clothing? Or maybe something cute for yourself? Krizia Martin is the place for you.
Local Food & Drink
While there is no Luke’s Diner or Al’s Pancake World in Clinton, there are some great spots for local food and drink. With the current pandemic restrictions, many of the main restaurants (like Nola’s) are currently only doing takeout. But there is an adorable new outdoor seating area along Park Row where you can relax and eat your meals.
As I mentioned, The Cremeria is the other place that brought me to Clinton. Opened in 2019, this instagrammable spot in town is well worth the hour drive it took to get there! The authentic Italian gelato is not only boldly beautiful, but super delicious as well. Owned by the Macrina family, Maria actually traveled to Italy to learn the craft of making authentic gelato. Let me tell you, you can taste the difference! The flavors rotate, so be sure to check their Facebook page for the latest. My favorite? A combination of stracciatella (Italian chocolate chip) and dark chocolate with sea salt. Yum!
Five seconds into my visit to Utica Coffee, I was ready to spend all my money. The café, unsurprisingly, serves a variety of coffee and espresso drinks. But the kicker? The wide variety of creative flavors available! And if you want some to go, there are cans of coffee grounds and boxes of kcups to take home. Peanut butter cup, cannoli, and apple pie are just some of the incredible flavors. And yes, they are just as delicious as they sound!
Clinton Farmers Market
Every Thursday from 10am til 4pm, the village green transforms into a farmers market. Filled with local artists, farmers, and other vendors, it’s a great place to stock up on your favorites. Artisan bread, local honey, lavender products, home decor and more are waiting for you.
Looking for something truly unique? Get yourself a Utica Greens bagel from Utica Bagel Company. Inspired by the local dish of the same name, the savory bagel contains peppers and sauteed greens. If you’re not feeling as bold, opt for one of the other flavors. Made in small batches with fresh ingredients, they are all delicious!
Other Gems in the Clinton Historic District
Fans of the musical Hamilton and American history buffs can both celebrate the creation of the Alexander Hamilton Institute in Clinton. Inspired by the famous politician, the center focuses on furthering the study of democracy, freedom, and capitalism.
The Kirkland Art Center lets out your inner creative side with art exhibitions, classes, and events. Please note that the center is currently closed due to the pandemic, but is offering some online activities.
Another gem can be found in the alley that goes behind Park Row, where you’ll find a Beatles mural on the wall.
As previously mentioned, Clinton is home to Hamilton College. And like most college campuses, there are public things to do. I’ve recently discovered my new magical escape at Root Glen on the Hamilton campus. The shale-lined trails go through the forests surrounding the college, but you’ll feel like you’re a world away. A trickling stream winds among a wide variety of trees, flowers, and ferns. I wouldn’t be surprised if fairies and nymphs appeared along the pathways.
Ready to Visit Clinton?
With so much to do on a day in Clinton, New York, you’re sure to fall in love. So when are you going?