We love the Catskills for so many reasons. The area is easy to get to from New York City, whether you drive, take a train or hop on a bus (check out the Catskill Carriage, which serves drinks and snacks during the ride). It’s the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to hike, fish, check out a distillery or simply relax in the gorgeous new hotels that have been popping up these last few years. Before embarking on our latest trip up north, we were super familiar with the eastern Catskills and towns like Phoenicia, Hunter, and Tannersville. But after more than a few friends suggested we check out the western Catskills, we spent a lot of our time in the small, lovely towns that line the Delaware River. This guide covers the best of both worlds, whether you want to check out the big ski resort mountains of the east or the burgeoning small towns of the west, like Callicoon, Narrowsburg, and Livingston Manor. Here are the best bars, restaurants, hotels, shops, and things to do in the Catskills.
Things to Do
This mountain town distillery branded its spirits “Bootlegger” to pay homage to the good people who kept alcohol production afloat during America’s dry years of Prohibition. The Prohibition Distillery operation is small but mighty. You can take a tour of the facilities or simply pop into the tasting room to sample their five excellent spirits. Prohibition’s vodka is one of the smoothest we’ve tasted and has won countless awards because of it. The aged gin, which is rested in used bourbon barrels, is a must-try and can only be purchased at the distillery.
Museum at Bethel Woods
Music lovers must make a pilgrimage to Bethel Woods, the historic site of the original 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair. The museum, which just celebrated its tenth birthday, is housed in a beautiful LEED-certified building atop the rolling green hills where the festival took place. Inside you’ll find original video footage from the music-filled weekend along with band set lists, costumes, newspaper clippings, posters, and even a piece of the fence that was famously pushed over so even those without tickets could enter the festival. We suggest having a tour guide show you around to get the full experience. Ours attended the festival — he even had his original ticket stubs neatly preserved in a plastic sleeve. Look out for special exhibitions that highlight the best of the era’s art and culture. Currently, a collection of Peter Max’s early paintings are on display through December 31.
Red Barn Studio at Henning’s Local
Situated above the historic Heinle’s General Store, Henning’s Local serves a Norwegian take on American comfort food from chef Henning Nordanger. While you should stop by for dishes like Beaverkill trout sashimi and Hungarian goulash with filet mignon tips, definitely plan your visit around a class from Red Barn Studio. Founded by former restaurant and bakery owner and culinary instructor Cheryl Perry, each class focuses on a different skill and emphasizes the importance of sustainability. We joined Cheryl for a cheesemaking class where we learned to make goat cheese, paneer, mozzarella, and ricotta. The hands-on experiences are taught in small groups and you can choose from a variety of topics, from bread baking and pie making to fermentation and knife skills. Cheryl is sharp, witty, and she knows her stuff inside and out.
Mongaup River Trail
Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area
The gorgeous Mongaup River Trail is relatively flat, so it’s a quick, easy hike if you’re looking to get some nature in without committing to a half-day excursion. The trail is about one mile each way and follows the Mongaup River in a fairly straight line. You’ll come across some areas where the path splits into a fork, but they quickly meet back up on this well-maintained trail. You’ll know you’ve reached the turnaround point when you come across an old cemetery in the middle of the woods. The creepy-cool watershed is dotted with headstones from the 1800s, so make sure you follow the trail all the way before turning back to the parking lot.
Ziplining at Hunter Mountain
While you might visit Hunter Mountain in the winter for some of the best snow sports in the region, the mountain has much to offer in the warmer months. Take New York Zipline Canopy Tours, which let you fly on some of the highest, fastest, and longest zip-lines in North America. We suggest the Skyrider Tour, which features five dual-racing zip-lines that span four and a half miles and take you to elevations of 600 feet above the valley. The tour starts with a scenic chairlift ride to Hunter Mountain’s Summit Lodge before you dive into the zip-lines that can reach speeds of 50 mph. If you’re looking for a thrilling three-hour adventure, this activity is not to be missed.
Kaaterskill Falls is definitely going to be littered with tourists, but even we don’t mind braving the crowds to view one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. This two-tiered waterfall has been a vacation destination since the early 1800s and has inspired everything from artist colonies to grand lodges built atop the site. The hike used to be quite dangerous — some visitors who strayed from the path have experienced serious injury or death — so we urge you to stick to the official trail during your visit. However, safety has been greatly improved since 2016 and the site features a parking lot at the top of the falls where you can safely start your descent. Check out the viewing platform at the top before making your way down the winding, rocky path. You’ll first come to a large clear pool where you can take a dip before the trail turns into stairs and leads you to the bottom of the falls. The trail can be muddy, even a couple days after it rains, so use caution and wear proper hiking shoes to experience Kaaterskill Falls in all its majesty.
This beautifully intimate bookstore asks their guest curators one question: Which 10 books would you bring along to your metaphorical desert island? The result is shelves stocked with good reads from artists, thinkers, writers, and other creative minds — think Tilda Swinton, Rene Redzepi, and Laurie Anderson — with notes on why they chose each book. Stop in One Grand to peruse the selection and find something new to read while you idle your time in the mountains.
Stepping into Maison Bergogne is like looking into the mind of owner, artist, and curator Juliette Hermant. There’s a lot to see in every nook and cranny. Taxidermy and old tools fill the space among furniture and dusty chandeliers, and the shop is stocked with ceramics and leather goods from nearby artists. The massive store is a site to see. You should definitely spend some time exploring all of its treasures. Hermant also runs a skillshare program called Fish & Bicycle, so be sure to check out the cool happenings when you’re in town.
The flagship store anchored in Narrowsburg NY offers an array of oddities, salvage & lighting from the Catskills. Check our website for interior design projects, antique sourcing & custom built. We are open Friday – Saturday 11-6pm, Sunday 11-5pm & by appointment during the week. #maisonbergogne #maisonbergogneproject #maisonbergognevoyage #narrowsburg #upstatelifestyle #interiordesign #exteriordesign
This not-so-general general store is filled with the things we love most: delicious foodstuffs, tasty cocktail ingredients, and menswear. A small section in the back of Narrowsburg Proper features locally-made men’s and children’s clothing while the front of the space is stocked with Italian specialties, freshly baked bread, charcuterie, cheese, and ingredients to help you make pro-level cocktails at home. Whether you’re looking for a gift or something to inspire your next homemade meal, Narrowsburg Proper is the place to shop.
Catskill Mountain Country Store
Tannersville and Windham
This combination restaurant and general store is our favorite place to grab homemade condiments, jams, fudge, and local honey. Catskill Mountain Country Store has an old-school soda fountain if you’re craving an egg cream or espresso milkshake. There’s also a big toy section if you need a gift or distractions for the little ones.
Restaurants and Bars
Bar Room and Restaurant at North Branch Inn
Set on a quiet road with not much around but residential houses, The North Branch Inn is a quaint and comfy place to rest your head. Even if you’re not staying overnight, pay the property’s Bar Room and Restaurant a visit for one of the best meals you’ll eat in the area. The menu changes weekly to reflect the local bounty, but some dishes — like the delicious duck, served with scallion pancakes, tomato jam and shitake mushrooms — are always on the menu. Order the cheese and charcuterie plate to start, then take a gander at the mains that are new that week. The duck breast is a hit; we loved the bavette steak with salsa verde, duck fat potatoes, and haricot verts. Check out the open-air kitchen and step up to the old-fashioned bowling alley for a quick game.
Main Street Farm
Part cafe, part market, Main Street Farm is a bustling place to grab breakfast and lunch. The sandwiches and salads are made to order and feature house-baked goods, local farmstead cheeses, smoked local trout, and organic veggies. While we had to wait quite some time for our food, the payoff was worth it. You can’t go wrong with the turkey-topped Liberty, and those who lean veggie have to try the Foragers Reuben, which is piled high with portobello mushrooms, roasted onions, house-made lacto-fermented sauerkraut, and vegan Thousand Island dressing. When you’ve had your fill, browse the store for local beef jerky, eggs, jams and jellies, and scrumptious sweets (the chocolate chip cookies are a must).
Callicoon Wine Merchant
We walked into this wine store and restaurant with the intention of simply taking home a couple bottles, but the aromas wafting from kitchen nudged us to stick around for tapas. The knowledgeable Callicoon Wine Merchant staff will guide you through the vino list to choose a glass or bottle for every palate, and the dishes are some of the tastiest and most inventive we’ve had this year. The chalkboard menu items change frequently, so always ask the staff what they would recommend. We feasted on chilled pot roast with pickled vegetables and aioli, housemade ricotta with summer’s first peppers, smoked baba ganoush topped with feta, and smoked pork shank nduja. Stop if for a full meal or grab a few tapas as appetizers before embarking on your next food adventure.
Cafe Adella Dori
This lovely cafe is the perfect place to grab breakfast or lunch if you’re spending the day in Callicoon. The food is local and seasonal — Cafe Adella Dori insists on supporting their neighboring farmers and purveyors. Everything is made in-house, from the delicious baked goods to the effervescent kombucha. We ordered the breakfast sandwich, made with two fried eggs, gouda, and seasonal greens on challah. We also tried the breakfast plate, which was loaded with kale, homefries, scrambled eggs, and sausage. If they have polenta cakes, you have to try one because they are irresistible (ours was topped with apricot). The cafe also makes an excellent cup of coffee and a variety of specialty espresso drinks.
If you’re staying in the Western Catskills, ask anyone where to eat and The Heron will likely come up in the conversation. The cozy bar and dining room are lively and the back patio offers some of the most stunning views of the Delaware in the area. The menu is diverse and delectable, which makes it difficult to decide what to order. Start with the mushroom pâté and mixed baby lettuces before sampling fresh seafood like Cajun catfish bites and peel-and-eat shrimp. You can’t go wrong with The Heron’s famous buttermilk-fried chicken or the grilled fennel dusted pork chop, which is served with roasted peppers, capers, and arugula. The extensive wine, beer, and cocktail selection offers a libation for every mood.
Mama’s Boy Burgers
Make sure Mama’s Boy Burgers is at the top of your list. When they say the food is farm to table, they actually mean it. Their delicious, humanely-raised Angus beef is sourced from a farm five miles up the road — we would know because we paid them a visit when we were done with our meal. They have something for everyone from the Big Daddy — piled high with two beef patties, blue cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, and special sauce — to the Happy Camper, an organic turkey burger with rosemary, crispy kale, Swiss cheese, tomato, and herb mayo. Sides like fries and onion rings are cooked to crispy perfection. You can’t leave without trying a milkshake (26 flavors of custard!) for dessert.
Sometimes we’re in the mood for precious pasta that’s plated ever so carefully and garnished in an artistic way. And sometimes, we’re simply craving a big bowl of noodles, topped with tangy sauce and homemade meatballs, just like Grandma used to make. Millrock serves the kind of unfussy Italian-American fare that makes us nostalgic in the best way. Classic preparations like alla vodka and puttanesca arrive with the pasta of your choice while dishes like eggplant Parmesan and veal scaloppine piccata are hearty and thoughtfully prepared. We love Millrock’s wood-fired pizzas, which come with customizable toppings and feature a thin, crispy crust. Finish the meal with a homemade limoncello to end things on a sweet, boozy note.
For years, Phoenicia Diner has been hyped to us as one of the best places to eat in the Catskills. And for years, we passed through the small mountain town without ever stopping by. Now that we’ve finally made it, we can’t believe it took us this long to check out. Phoenicia Diner may use local purveyors and organic ingredients, but the food isn’t pretentious or fancy. In fact, it’s downright diner fare, but some of the best diner fare we’ve ever had. Breakfast is served all day and the skillets come to the table in piping hot cast iron pans topped with everything from squash and eggplant to bacon and cheddar. The BLT is definitely a good move — it’s a simple, familiar preparation that benefits from the high-quality ingredients that go into it. Be sure to order a side of locally smoked trout. If you don’t finish it during your meal, it travels well and makes for an excellent breakfast when piled on toast the next morning.
Eastwind Hotel & Bar
This newly opened hotel and bar is bringing a slice of the Scandinavian lifestyle to the Catskills. It’s definitely a place that’s difficult to leave once you’ve spent a night in their tranquil, nature-driven oasis. There are three different ways you can rest your head at the well-appointed Eastwind Hotel & Bar. The first is in the Bunk House, Eastwind’s main lodge, where you can choose from a standard king room, 600-square-foot suite, or the Writer’s Studio, which comes complete with a desk and typewriter. Each room is outfitted with luxurious Frette linens, cozy wool blankets, and beautifully tiled bathrooms with rainfall showers and Zenology bath products. If you’re into glamping, the idyllic Lushna cabins are simple, single-room oases with private bathrooms next door. Rooms in the Hill House are coming soon and will accommodate up to four people each.
After a day of exploring the nearby mountains, retreat to the hotel bar for a pre-dinner drink. The gorgeous room is cozy and welcoming, boasting a small but mighty cocktail menu and friendly company. On the weekends, a traditional European breakfast spread is served with things like yogurt, granola, fruit, cheese, and charcuterie. Each night, Eastwind lights a bonfire after dark and guests gather round with their s’mores kits to bond over the nostalgic treats. Town is just a short two-minute drive away, or you can ride in with one of the complimentary house bikes. The location makes Eastwind the perfect mix of busy and quiet—all you have to do is choose your own adventure.
The Western Hotel
Turn your gaze up a small hill just off Callicoon’s main street and you’ll spot the majestic Western Hotel, a yellow and white Victorian mansion with three floors of rooms and suites. The building dates back to 1852 and is listed on the National Historic Register, so you’re experiencing a slice of history every time you step inside. Each of the inn’s 10 rooms is designed with unique furniture and antiques, handpicked by owner Irene Nickolai, so no two stays are ever the same. Some rooms feature clawfoot tubs while others boast standing showers. You can spring for a king bed, two doubles, or a queen with a sleeper sofa, depending on how many companions are traveling with you. Head downstairs to the taproom and restaurant and immerse yourself in a world of 1800s rustic glam. Taxidermy sits atop antique furniture and a small lounge with a pool table opens up to the large dining room. The bar is open Thursday to Sunday and serves twists on classic drinks (the best cocktails in town) like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned. Try to plan your visit around a concert in The Western’s newly renovated ballroom, a vast chamber with high ceilings and a gorgeous stage that also serves as the property’s private event space.
Nine River Road
This cozy eight-room retreat is the ultimate place to relax and unwind from the stresses of city life. The rooms at Nine River Road have a farmhouse chic vibe and you can choose from a king, queen, suite or loft with an open floor plan. All rooms come complete with en-suite bathrooms; some boast clawfoot tubs while others feature separate shower and toilet rooms. The common areas are plush and welcoming. Two sitting rooms offer books, games, and a potbelly stove, and a porch overlooking the river is the perfect place to take your breakfast, which is served to guests every morning. We dined on fruit, avocado toast, fresh cheese and ham, and freshly baked apple turnovers, accompanied with a personal pot of French press coffee. Use a house bike to explore downtown Callicoon, where you can take a yoga class at River Family Wellness or shop at one of the many antique stores on Main Street. When you’re ready to retire, take a drink from the honor bar out to the fire pit for the perfect nightcap.
A big thanks to Chevrolet for lending us the super fast, super fun Camaro Hot Wheels Edition to take along on this journey. Since its debut in 1968, every generation of Camaro has been replicated by Hot Wheels in a 1:64 scale. To celebrate the 50 year anniversary of these dreamy toy cars, Chevrolet returned the favor by modeling this orange beauty after the die-cast mini. The exclusive Crush color adorns the outside as well as the plush interior. For a sports car, it’s extremely comfortable riding. The 2SS version, which we experienced firsthand on our trip, features heated and ventilated leather seats (with orange accents, of course), dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, Bose speakers, and a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. The 6.2L V8 DI engine will take you from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and the Camaro features multiple driver modes to battle any kind of weather and terrain. This is just about the most fun you can have driving. It’s sure to turn more than a few heads along the way.
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