The Catskills—about 100 miles from NYC—is easily accessible via car or train, making it an ideal weekend escape for those of us who live in a shoebox-sized apartment. The region is dotted with hipster-fied shops and restaurants (seriously, it’s like they’ve been plucked here from Bushwick), plenty of outdoor activities, and wineries, breweries, and cideries galore. Whether you’re traveling here with your SO, family, or BFFs (new bachelorette party destination inspo: unlocked), I’ve compiled the best places to stay, eat, drink, and see and do. You’re welcome in advance.
Where To Stay In The Catskills
Piaule Catskill: Catskill
Get your zen on at the effortlessly chic Piaule Catskill, where guests can hole up inside one of 24 standalone wooden cabins that seemingly float above the surrounding forest. The sleek spa—which boasts stunning Scandi-inspired architecture— is a short hike away; however, it’s well worth the trek (trust us) for the hot and cold plunge pools alone. Post-massage or yoga class, grab a bite at the on-site restaurant, which serves up haute seasonally inspired cuisine.
Wildflower Farms: Gardiner
Wildflower Farms—which opened this past fall—is, hands-down, the area’s most luxe property. Each accommodation has a private terrace and rustic-chic decor that looks like it belongs in a Pottery Barn catalog. Feeling extra fancy? Splurge on a room with a fireplace, private garden, or deep soaking tub. Chic!
Sip morning coffee out on The Great Porch (which has ‘gram-worthy river views) before partaking in on-site activities such as floral-pressed pottery, reiki, botanical baking, champagne tasting, and making your own sourdough focaccia (it’s giving COVID-slash-2020-era vibes!). But don’t say we didn’t warn you that staying here can cost upwards of half your monthly rent, so…
Scribner’s Catskill Lodge: Hunter
It seems like everyone and their mom has stayed at the hipster-esuqe Scribner’s Catskills Lodge, and it’s easy to see why. The uber-cozy boutique property boasts 38 unique guest rooms with unique touches—including bespoke furnishings, vintage rugs, dark wood flooring, and terracotta-tiled bathrooms—that’ll make you feel like you’re at your cool Brooklyn friend’s summer home (they only like to *pretend* they’re not rich). Don’t forget to check out The Library, which offers a retro-inspired circular fireplace, billiards table, communal seating, and hundreds of books, if that’s your thing.
Eastwind Hotel & Bar: Windham and Big Indian
You can’t convince me to go clamping… unless it’s at Eastwind. An Instagrammer’s dream come true, this cozy retreat offers stylish and minimalist-inspired wooden Lushna cabins and A-frames with floor-to-ceiling windows, along with standard guest rooms and suites that combine Scandinavian- and farmhouse-inspired aesthetics. Other highlights include a chic lounge and bar area, and two circular outdoor saunas (get someone to snap a photo of you inside and thank me later) Eastwind’s newest Catskills location in Big Indian is set to open in January, and, spoiler alert, it looks just as incredible.
Where To Eat & Drink In The Catskills
Phoenicia Diner: Phoenicia
The Phoenicia Diner is even better than your current neighborhood one (sorry, not sorry: it needed to be said). This decades-old eatery, a fav amongst locals and travelers, actually dates back to the ‘60s—although it wasn’t moved to the Catskills until the ‘80s. Expect classic diner comfort food made with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients like bagels with locally smoked fish and French toast served with locally made syrup. Don’t even try to make a res here—come in your comfiest clothes on a Sunday morning and wait for a table like the rest of us.
Early Terrible: Woodstock
Early Terrible is technically a wine bar, but it also serves up great cocktails (the lychee martini, negroni, and pisco sour are all favs), beers, and bar bites that range from cheese platters and Armenian meatballs to lobster mac and salmon crostini. But, while you may come for the food and drink, you’ll def stay for ~the vibe~. Snap a boomerang of the disco ball inside (you know you want to) and take a second to admire the rustic, moody, and greenery-filled interiors before making your way to the outdoor patio to people-watch.
West Kill Brewery: West Kill
Located on a historic 127-acre dairy farm in—you guessed it—West Kill, this brewery pays homage to its surroundings by incorporating locally grown ingredients ito their beers (i.e., honey, cherries, and thyme all harvested, plucked, and picked right on-site). Make your way to the taproom to sample everything IPAs, ales, and lager, as well as hard cider, wine, and even a chocolate porter. TL;DR: Even your pickiest friend will find something to sip on here.
Relive your glory days as a study abroad student in Spain (we get it! It’s actually “Barthelona”) by dining at Tabla, which serves up mostly Spanish- and Mediterranean-inspired fare. Expect mouthwatering options ranging from marinated olives and papas bravas (your faaaav, we know) to larger plates like steak with chimichurri and whole branzino. Finish off the feast with some creative cocktails, although you can’t go wrong with the classic espresso martini. Plus, the trendy interiors only add to the swanky ambiance.
What To See & Do In The Catskills
Take a Hike
…Srsly. Even if you’re a beginner like moi, there are still plenty of options. Consider Kaaterskill Falls, which, at over 260 feet, is the highest cascading waterfall in all of NY (basically, think of it as a mini Niagara Falls). The trek is just under 1.5 miles; plus, it’s relatively flat—though be sure to bring supportive sneakers or boots as it can get slippery. For something, ahem, more adventurous and challenging, consider the 4.6-mile Overlook Mountain Wild Forest trail. The way up is steep (you’ve been warned), but the mountain views more than make up for it. And, as you make your way towards the summit, you’ll come across spooky AF ruins of an old hotel.
Hit the Slopes
If you can’t make it to Aspen, Vail, or Park City this winter (bummer, I know), consider a trip to Hunter Mountain or Windham Mountain instead. Hunter, which uses 500,000,000 gallons (!) of water to create perfect snowy conditions, is famous for its ample skiing, tubing, and snowboarding opps. After working up an appetite on the slopes, treat yourself to some hot Belgian waffles or check out the local apres ski scene and sip cocktails at The Overlook. You can also head to Windham—known to be more family-friendly, for better or worse (depending on what you’re looking for, ofc)—which offers 54 trails. Don’t feel like skiing? Hit up the spa, go tubing, or take the Skyride, a 2-mile lift ride to the top of the mountain.
Go Cidery Hopping or Wine Tasting
Fun fact: The Catskills is home to over 200 cideries and wineries. (Move over, @Napa and @Sonoma.) For a fun- and booze-fueled afternoon, make your way to some of the most popular establishments—assuming you have a DD, obv. For vino, don’t miss the award-winning Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery, which has two locations (one in Hudson, one in Gardiner) and grows 20 grape varieties. Bashakill Vineyards is another popular pick for its vegan varietals (ranging from dry reds to semi-sweet whites, to rose and blush wines, and more). Best of all, you can taste any three wines for free. If you prefer cider, check out Seminary Hill, Left Bank Ciders, and Wayside Ciders.
We’ll drink to that.