Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful regions in New York State, the Catskills mountains are an easy and convenient getaway from NYC. Just a quick three-hour drive from the Big Apple, the Catskills serve tourists all year round and have plenty to offer in any season. In the summer, when the city is steaming and breathless the Catskills provide a cool respite.
The Catskills are Halloween central in the fall, decorated with leaves and pumpkins galore. In the winter, the mountain offers skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh riding and all the winter wonderland activities that might be denied to a city dweller. In the spring, as the flowers begin to bud hiking becomes the most popular activity.
Getaway from NYC, Day 1
For a winter getaway from NYC, the Catskills is a perfect choice. There is so much to do here, and every time you come you are bound to discover something new and interesting. A great time to get started on any road trip from the city is 9 am – any New Yorker knows a great road trip is a traffic free road trip, and you are least likely to encounter traffic out of the city at nine. Enjoy the easy drive and scenic highways as you take in all the nature New York has to offer.
For your first stop, visit New Paltz University. Not many people know this, but quite a few public universities in the United States host a museum on the premises and SUNY, New Paltz is one of them. These high quality art museums are always free and often have qualified docents who can show you around. The museums are usually open while school is in session and close when the schools are. Your first stop in New Paltz should be a visit to the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art which will be hosting an Andy Warhol collection due to open in February 2018.
A collection from the world renowned architect (and Catskills native) Steven Holl is also set to open in early 2018. This diverse museum also hosts an impressive assemblage of contemporary African American artwork and a permanent collection of architectural finds, including but not limited to those found on the grounds of the university.
If you have a few minutes to spare, take a walk around this beautiful campus. If you are visiting between semesters you are likely to have the place almost to yourself. The location is absolutely gorgeous – and very insta worthy.
We all know great weekend getaways from NYC must have great food. If you visited New Paltz University, you are not far from the famous “The Station” restaurant in the same town. The Station is a historical train station converted to a high end Italian eatery. It’s always fun to combine a bit of history with your meal so, here is a bit of a background on the restaurant.
*Fun Fact- President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed through this station many times on his way to the Top Cottage, his retreat and getaway from the hustle and bustle of his third term of presidency. FDR’s old home is located just a few miles away and belongs to the National Park Service. The house is open to tourist and would make for a nice excursion during your trip.*
Before we get carried away with history, let’s get back to the food! The lobster bisque here just might be the best you’ll ever have. I definitely recommend trying the Shrimp and Spinach as well as Tilapia Franchise – both are outstanding. Finish your delicious meal off with a scrumptious desert and some great Italian coffee.
After lunch, walk across the street to the Water Street Market. This little street hosts local boutiques, galleries, cafes and art installations. This is the perfect stop to pick up souvenirs or a large art piece to remember you trip by! if art isn’t your thing simply enjoy a cup of coffee before heading further up north.
Now, if you are planning on coming to the Catskills for a getaway from NYC you probably already know that there is no shortage of hotels here. Although there are many hotels, there is only one (that I know of) that can trace its history all the way back to the Revolutionary War – and George Washington himself; that hotel is The Winter Clove Inn.
In the late 1700s, as the country was recovering from war, families that had served the country well could expect to receive a reward in the form of land. And so, the Slater family who had been noted for their bravery and sacrifice in the American fight for independence received a 400 acre tract of land in one of the former colonies – New York. This gift was signed by George Washington himself.
The family created a small homestead on the tract of land which would later be known as the Catskills region, and like many of their time, they set up a farm. In the 1800s, when a new boom of tourists were looking for a getaway from NYC, part of the home was converted into an inn. The inn became more popular with time which led to more and more property being converted. The inn, which has gone through many transformations is still owned by the same family whose heroism earned them this gift from George Washington himself.
In addition to its fascinating history, the Winter Clove Inn, features a restaurant/bar, bowling alley (really! and yes, there is history here too, just ask the owners), tons of hiking trails (400 acres generates many hiking trails), multiple pools, as well as a tennis court and other activities.
In fact, many of the tourists who visit here chose to stay on the Winter Clove’s all-inclusive plan that includes all the activities mentioned and 3 meals a day. It’s a reasonably priced vacation spot that is close to home and has so much to offer – it sounds so tempting I might take advantage on our next visit.
The Winter Clove Inn is decorated in the simple yet traditional American style so popular amongst historical homes in upstate New York. You’ll find many antiques here, including original pieces from the old farm. If a quaint and peaceful getaway from NYC is what you are seeking, the Winter Clove is a fantastic choice for a stay.
Getaway from NYC, Day 2
The Catskills offer a wide variety of activities in any season. Considering we visited in the winter, it would be a shame to come to the Catskills and not go skiing so on our second day we decided to get out and have some fun in the snow.
Established 55 years ago, Windham Ski Resort is the premier Northeast destination for skiing – and it just so happens to be located in the Catskills. Although there is no shortage of ski resorts in the North East, I really love to come to Windham, for a variety of reasons.
First, of course, is the skiing. There are over 50 trails, a dozen lifts and great snowmaking that gives you solid conditions in almost any weather, But, more than that is the people of this mountain that make it worth the visit. The staff is friendly, funny and super helpful due to the emphasis Windham Mountain puts on family-friendly skiing.
When one of my boys was stuck on a slope that turned out to be a bit too advanced for him, he was rescued by an off-duty employee – one who was out on the slopes with his own son. The gentleman stopped, offered his help and got Benny down a steep hill all while his little son followed us. This experience alone shows you the kind of place Windham is; truly special with staff that sees you are struggling and is willing to stop and happily help even if its not part of their current duties.
Another reminder of what kind of place Windham is, is that it also works very closely with many organizations that support people living with disabilities. While on the slopes we saw several ski classes that helped enable children and adults who wouldn’t normally be able to ski. Besides the great skiing, it’s nice to support a company that does good things.
But, back to skiing – no winter getaway from NYC can be complete without at least one day of skiing.
To make the most out of your vacation consider enrolling in the ski and snowboard school. The school has an impressively small teacher to student ratio and the instructors really pay attention to teach skills the right way.
If you’ve never tried snowboarding this is a great opportunity to give it a shot. There are private and group lessons available for a reasonable price. Group classes are offered twice a day at 10am and 1pm. They are popular so reservations are strongly suggested.
After the lesson enjoy a quick lunch and get back on the slopes. Windham has tons of snow being manufactured all day into the night so you are likely to encounter fresh powder whenever you decide to go out. Night skiing is also available and a great way to get a view of the slopes few others are able to enjoy.
The town where you are staying, Round Top, was home to a vibrant German community over a hundred years ago. Although the community has long since integrated into mainstream American society, one thing remains – a plethora of German restaurants scattered across Round Top.
In fact, in all my travels I have never seen such a large selection of German restaurants anywhere in the US. If you are a fan of sausage, beer and other traditional German dishes, you must devote at least one dinner to trying the local German cuisine.
Some popular German restaurants in the area include Maassmans (only open in the spring, summer and early fall), Hartmann’s, Bavarian Manor and Nussy’s. We picked the low key Nussy’s for our family meal and enjoyed quality German sausage for dinner, as we completed day 2 of our getaway from NYC with a German flavor.
Getaway from NYC, Day 3
You are heading home today, but there is so much left to fill up the last day of your getaway from NYC so savor the afternoon and head home at night instead.
Before turning south, take route 23A further north. This scenic highway is lined with waterfalls, hiking trails, lakes and picturesque views. No matter the weather the drive is gorgeous and almost never crowded.
Via 23A, make your way up to the famous Prospects restaurant, located in Scribner’s lodge. This is probably one of my top 3 favorite brunch places of all time. If you are here, try the avocado tartine, it’s absolutely out of this world. Prospects is as famous for its view as it is for the food, and there are few things better than eating brunch with your family on a sunny Sunday morning while watching skiers out on the slopes. If you are in the area, make it a point to eat here at least once – you won’t regret it.
For your next stop you won’t have to go far. On Sundays in January and February, Scribner’s hosts the Phoenician Flea Market. At first you might be a little surprised to see a flea market in such an upscale hotel, but once you walk through you’ll figure out why they are here.
Unlike most flea markets, this one only hosts the best vendors around. All the vendors offer either handmade goods, locally produced alcohol and food or a high-end selection of pristine vintage finds. This is the kind of flea market where you actually want to shop.
They do change locations frequently, so be sure to check where they will be during your weekend getaway from NYC to the Catskills.
Since you are taking the long way home, start driving south and make your way to the tip of the Catskills: Roscoe. For your first stop in Roscoe, visit a little Alpaca farm called Buck Brook Alpacas. The owners offer free tours year-round, and give you the chance to meet and play with the baby alpacas, learn a little bit about how they are raised and buy some high quality homemade Alpaca goods. This is an awesome stop for kids of any age, and my boys really enjoyed it.
The second stop in Roscoe is a bit more on the adult side. The Prohibition Distillery is located in a former firehouse and produces some outstanding vodka, gin and bourbon. Here, they offer a free tour of the facility. One thing that makes this distillery unique is that the tastings are 100% free but the facility does accept voluntary contributions.
All of the proceeds from the tastings go to support several charities that help the families of fallen soldiers. Besides the feel-good factor, this distillery has some great design features and the bottles are as high quality as the alcohol they hold – a perfect present for someone who has everything.
For your last stop of the day have a late lunch in Roscoe’s famous diner. As one of the first diners in the state it has been continually in operations since 1962 and serves terrific french fries and dinner favorites. Stop in here on your way back home for a quick and lowkey lunch or dinner.
I hope you have enjoyed and found this itinerary for a weekend getaway from NYC to the Catskills to be useful. Please let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more like this! Thank you for following us and I hope to meet you on the road soon!
Viktoria aka Traveltipster