What to Do in the Catskills, New York

Plan a weekend side-trip on your visit to New York City to drink cider, stay in a cool boutique hotel and eat at an old-school diner.
 

Wayside Cider, photo by Natalie Chitwood

The Catskills is no longer the home of grandma’s cushy and old-fashioned digs. Located two hours north of New York City, this region has recently gained a cooler, younger reputation. It’s an affordable, four-season destination fit for families, couples, foodies and anyone looking for an escape from the frenzied city grind. Known as a land of wilderness and discovery, the Catskills has mountain peaks, a state park and the legend of Rip Van Winkle. Here’s what to do during your visit.

Stay at Scribner’s Catskill Lodge

This contemporary, 38-room lodge sits on 20 acres and offers coveted mountainside views. It re-opened in 2016 after a massive renovation to transform its 1966-era digs into a refuge that caters to young, urban dwellers. At Prospect, the onsite restaurant and bar, toast to your surroundings with an M.I.A cocktail made with mezcal, Aperol, Meletti Amaro and lime. Then make a splash at the new-and-improved outdoor pool, which doubles as a natural amphitheatre for parties and live performances.

scribnerslodge.com

Drink and explore at Wayside Cider

At the cidery’s taproom, taste the wilds of the Catskills in three varietals (Half Wild, Catskill, and Dry Town) made with fresh, crisp orchard apples from the surrounding Catskills Mountains. To pair with these aromatic sips, co-owner Alex Wilson puts on monthly whole-animal cookouts and bonfire roasts throughout the summer in the outdoor courtyard and garden. Guests can also sign up for the Sunday hiking club on the first and third Sunday of each month. Soak up the sun and nature through guided walks then return to the cidery for drinks and farm-to fork meals made with organic produce and pork from nearby High Meadows Farm in Delhi.

waysidecider.com

Explore the town of Tannersville

This tiny town (whose population is a mere 539) in Catskill State Park is known as “The Painted Village in the Sky” for its colourful storefronts, famous Rip Van Winkle mural and nine Dutchmen paintings on buildings throughout town. Be sure to swing by Mama’s Boy Burgers for juicy grass-fed Angus beef burgers and legendary thick malt milkshakes. Then stroll over to Bones & Stones for trinkets and curios. Check out owner Randy Tompkins’ handmade jewelry, carvings and knives.

Eat at the Phoenicia Diner

This classic, all-American diner offers 270-degree wraparound views of the wilderness with Slide Mountain to the south and Hunter Mountain to the north. Owner Mike Cioffi satisfies stomachs and supports the local community by sourcing most of his ingredients from Catskill and Hudson Valley farms. Tuck into hearty delights such as the Pork Belly Skillet, with slices of heritage breed pork belly draped over sweet potatoes and scallions and topped with two sunny-side-up eggs. The Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich is another highlight and uses free-range chicken that’s spiced, breaded and deep fried then sandwiched with lettuce, tomato, bread-and-butter pickles and buttermilk herb aioli.