10 Awesome Reasons You Need to Hop in Your Car and Visit the Catskills
From foliage to farm-to-table fare, there are so many reasons to take a trip to upstate New York this fall.
Easy access from NYC
The Catskills is super accessible from New York City. It’s a two-hour drive north and you can also get there by bus or train. Whichever mode of transport you choose, the scenic trip is sure to start your fall getaway off right. Enjoy every minute of your weekend with these must-do fall activities.
The Catskills offers tons of unique dining options—connected by their farm-to-table philosophy. This is an area where seasonality reigns supreme. Butterfield in Stone Ridge pays homage to locally sourced ingredients with dishes like ember roasted beets with crispy quinoa, herb créme fraîche, and greens and foraged oyster mushrooms with radish top ranch. Another standout is Gracie’s Luncheonette in Leeds. Famed for its American classics, the new establishment—which began as a food truck and expanded to a brick-and-mortar location in 2016—delights diners with hand-cut french fries made from potatoes grown at Story Farm in Catskill and homemade ice cream.
The fall offers a bounty of seasonal ingredients. And where better to score fresh fruits and veggies than local farmer’s market and roadside stands? In addition to produce, you’ll also find freshly-baked bread, house-smoked meats, and cheeses. The Hudson Valley Farmer’s Market at Greig Farm is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
One of the most compelling reasons to visit the Catskills this fall is the splendor of the foliage. For a great view of the tree tops, consider a zipline canopy tour of Hunter Mountain. It claims to be the longest, fastest and highest zipline in North America. Want to know when leaves will be at peak in your area? This interactive map predicts when leaves will change color in your area.
The best way to explore the foliage? On foot. The diverse terrain, proximity to the Adirondacks, crisp fall air, and plethora of trails makes hiking one of the most popular activities in autumn. Explore Catskill Park, which encompasses a sprawling 700,000 acres. While Hunter Mountain may be best known for skiing, it’s offers scenic views and majestic beauty throughout the year and is a popular hiking destination. Outdoor enthusiasts can trek two miles up to the highest fire tower in New York State. Short on time? The “scenic skyride” is a quick 11-minutes up to the summit.
Perhaps no activity is as quintessentially fall as apple picking. Lucky for visitors and locals of the area, the Catskills abounds with orchards. At Stone Ridge Orchard in Stone Ridge, you pick your own apples (or purchase them at the farmstand) seven days a week. Plus, pups on leashes are welcome. Chester Khon planted the first seed at Westwind Orchard in the 1930s. Today, the Accord institution invites guests to pick apples on weekends in September and October. Here are all the ways you can use apples besides eat them.
Once home to Thomas Cole, who started the Hudson River Art School, the Catskills has long been a center of the arts. Today, the area continues this legacy, with many galleries, museum, and artisan shops. The Catskill Art Society Center in Livingston Manor holds numerous exhibitions as well as artist talks and special events. Connoisseurs of contemporary art can enjoy the progressive pieces at Atelier Progressif Art Gallery in Catskill. Travel the Hudson River School Art Trail and see the locations that inspired so many famed American landscape paintings.
Perhaps the most important decision (after choosing your location) for any getaway? Where to stay. The Catskills boasts a bevy of quaint B&Bs and renovated historic inns. Situated on a bucolic estate in Stone Ridge, Hasbrouck House offers guests the opportunity to stay in one of twenty elegantly designed rooms within the main house, an 18th century Dutch Colonial mansion, or nearby carriage and stable houses. For charming accommodations in a country setting, look no further than Brookside Bed and Breakfast. This renovated 1890 inn—surrounded by the Catskill High Peaks and Kaaterskill Creek—has a hospitality tradition dating back over a hundred years. Here are eight more super cozy inns to book right now during peak fall foliage season.
Wineries and breweries
Calling all oenophiles and cerevisaphiles! The Catskills is ripe with quality vino and beer, from the small batch-made vintages at Windham Vineyard & Winery to the fresh ales and lagers at Catskill Brewery, there’s plenty of places to quench your thirst. Make a day of it with a tour of the Catskills Beverage Trail—a series of microbreweries, including Crossroads Brewing Company and Rip Van Winkle Brewing Company, plus Hudson-Chatham Winery. Before you go, brush up on the 20 terms true wine lovers should know how to use.
The Catskills is a region steeped in history, and as such there are plenty of significant sites, like Thomas Cole’s house and Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. Another great way to explore the past—and perhaps bring a piece home with you—is at one of the region’s many antique shops. Here are the tag sale finds you should always snap up when you see them.