Once a bustling vacation destination for Jewish New York City residents, the Catskills have changed quite a bit over the past 50 years. During their hay-day, the Catskills were home to some of the largest resorts of their time. Hotels such as Grossinger’s, the Raleigh, the Nevele, Tamarack Lodge, the Concord, Kutsher’s, Brown’s, Brickman’s, Granit, Pines and so many others, competed against one another to introduce the latest and greatest amenities in an attempt to lure guests away from each other. Unfortunately, when air travel became accessible to the masses and the railroad ceased transportation to this mountainous land, the Catskills all but fell of the face of the earth. Once a vacation destination for more than one million annual summer visitors, today the Catskills is a shadow of it’s former self.
Visit the Catskills now, and you will find only remnants of the glorious vacation destination that once existed. Abandoned resorts, dilapidated homes, and an eerie quietness will leave you wondering how the remaining residents of this region exist.
That said, the natural beauty of the Catskills remains unchanged. With its short commute from NYC, there are few if any places that rival the ease and beauty abundant in this mountainous region. With a recent influx of hip young people looking to escape the rigors of city life, retirees reliving the glory days of a time gone by, creative types, and farmers looking to produce small batch quality goods, life in the area seems to once again be moving forward. While progress is slow, it appears to be steady. A great restaurant here… a boutique hotel there, little by little, new life is being breathed into this amazing location.
My advice: Go now while you can still see the curious balance of what was and what will be.
Thinking about visiting the Catskills? Here are some recommendations for things to do, places to stay, where to eat, and other activities sure to make your trip all that it can be!
PHOENICIA DINER 5681 Route 28 – Phoenicia, NY 12464
An amazing lunch/brunch spot with fantastic skillets, local ingredients, and eclectic décor.
BRUSHLAND EATING HOUSE 1927 County Highway 6 – Bovina Center, NY 13740
Dedicated to revisiting classic dishes that conjure childhood memories, the Brushland Eating House is a must do!
RUSSELL’S 2099 County Route 6 in Bovina Center
Stop in for a sandwich and some conversation. In operation since 1823, it is literally the only store in town. Russell’s if chock full of vintage items from the stores original owners as well as sundries and supplies. Bee makes a great sandwich with daily specials and delicious homemade bread!
THE ROUND BARN FARMERS MARKET State Highway 30, Halcottsville, NY 12438
Saturdays from 9am – 2pm enjoy a large selection of fresh local items from a myriad of small farms. Try the cheese from Betty Acres…it’s delicious! Buy some Wayside Cider made from heirloom apples and bottled in nearby Delhi. Relax, listen to live music and enjoy the bounty of the Catskills.
A few places I didn’t get to try but are on my list for next time!
Blue Mountain Bistro
The Smoke House
THE GRAHAM AND CO. 80 Route 214 Phoenicia, New York
In the heart of Phoenicia this 20 room gem was inspired by the heritage of the Catskills and is a modern take on a classic weekend getaway. With amenities including; a swimming pool, hammocks to lounge in, a badminton court, a fire pit, picnic area, bikes to explore on and plenty of places to relax with a cocktail, this is a great spot to call home-base during your Catskills adventure. The staff is super friendly and the atmosphere is unbelievably charming!
SPRUCETON INN 2080 Spruceton Road, West Kill, NY
If you are looking for something a bit more remote Spruceton Inn is for you! Nestled in West Kill, the Spruceton Inn and the local post office are the only operating businesses in town. Located ¾ of the way down a dead end country road, you won’t be bothered by any of the daily annoyances of city life. Owned and operated by an amazing husband and wife team, the Spruceton Inn has 10 rooms, a bar, bbq areas, and a goatzebo. Once you get here you won’t want to leave!
WOODSTOCK GENERAL SUPPLY 33 Tinker St – Woodstock, New York 12498
Here you will find everything from clothing to accessories to home goods and sundries. A well curated collection this is a great place to shop in the Catskills.
ROXBURY GENERAL 53538 State Hwy. 30 Roxbury, NY
Great spot for drygoods, notions, and sundries.
THE MYSTERY SPOT 72 Main St Phoenicia, NY
A unique store chock full of vintage goods including clothing, records, and antiques.
CLEMANTINE VINTAGE 72 Main St – Andes, NY 13731
An amazing selection of vintage clothing that has been hand selected for quality and style.
KABINETT & KRAMMER 7 Main Street – Andes, New York
Kabinett & Kammer is a contemporary curiosity shop of antiques, natural wonders and art. Full of vintage photographs, charts, and home accessories this is a must stop!
ANTIQUE & ARTISAN CENTER 6045 Main Street – Tannersville, NY, 12485
Located in Tannersville check out two buildings full of local antiques and art.
TOWN TINKER TUBING 10 Bridge Street, Phoenicia, New York 12464
Try your hand at tubing down a not so lazy river.
The highest two-tiered waterfall in NY State, the water drops 260 feet in two stages. Hike up and enjoy a swim in this majestic natural wonder.
HUNTER MOUNTAIN 64 Klein Ave – Hunter , NY 12442
Ski during the winter months or zipline during the summertime. Hunter Mountain boasts the longest & highest zipline canopy tour in North America, featuring over 5 miles of ziplines, some reaching heights of nearly 600 feet above the ground. Scared of heights… the mountain is also host to numerous music and food festivals all worth attending.