Image via VisitTheCatskills.com
Today’s Catskills City Guide comes to us from Jennifer Jefferson, the owner of Country Weekend in Margaretville. She currently sells antique, vintage and handcrafted goods from in and around the upstate New York region. Jennifer provides a tour through the Catskills, showing us the classic B&Bs, outdoor activities and charming bookshops this area boasts — just to name a few. Thanks, Jennifer, for this great guide! — Stephanie
Read more of the city guide after the jump . . .
The Catskill region of New York is vast, covering four large counties, and geographically diverse. It’s filled with dense woods, rugged hiking trails, craggy mountains, rolling hills, deep hollows and spectacular waterfalls. The heart of the region is the 700,000-acre Catskill Park and Forest Preserve. Natural beauty, proximity to New York City and reasonable prices make the Catskills a haven for artists, musicians, designers, writers and other creative types who have second homes here or who enjoy year-round life in the country just 150 miles from Manhattan. The small towns that dot the region are unpretentious — and even the ones that have become destinations retain their character and never feel crowded or touristy.
This guide focuses on the central Catskills, western Ulster County and Delaware County, partly because that’s the area I am most familiar with — we have a weekend house in Andes and a weekend business in Margaretville — but also because it’s an easy weekend trip from New York City. I also include very brief overviews of Greene and Sullivan Counties. Woodstock and Saugerties, in eastern Ulster County, are covered in the Design*Sponge Hudson Valley City Guide.
New York State Route 28, soon to be renamed The Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway, meanders west and north from the New York Thruway. The Central Catskills Guide stays close to a 45-mile stretch of Route 28, from Phoenicia to Delhi, and includes a special side trip for book lovers. I want to emphasize how truly rural the Catskills are — cell phone and internet services range from spotty to non-existent, so it’s a good place to disconnect from the electronic world and reconnect with the natural one. If you don’t drive, you can take an Adirondack Trailways bus from the Port Authority to Phoenicia, which won the number six spot on Budget Travel magazine’s list of America’s Coolest Small Towns, or to Andes, aka, the hip Williamsburg, Brooklyn, of the Catskills. Both are good towns to spend a summer weekend. Finally, please note that many stores in these small towns close for the winter, and some are only open in the summer or on weekends, so if you have your heart set on a particular place, call first.
I have made a Google Maps Guide to the Central Catskills that includes all the locations in this guide, but remember, with limited cell phone and internet service, once you’re there, you might have to travel the old-fashioned way with paper maps. I recommend printing out the information you need before you enter the wilderness.
(Each section is listed geographically, roughly east to west.)
Where to Stay
There are many independent motels, bed and breakfasts and small inns and lodges in the region. I’ve either seen the ones listed, or they’ve been recommended by people I know. Another good option is renting — there are good choices available for a weekend, a week or longer at A House Around the Bend.
Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel — Always wanted to sleep in an Airstream? Kate’s, co-owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52s, has Airstreams, cabins and suites outfitted with authentic 50s-style kitchens. Situated on nine acres on the Esopus Creek. 5191 Route 28, Mt. Tremper, NY (just west of Phoenicia). 845-688-7200
Phoenicia Belle — Lovely bed and breakfast in a restored 1875 Victorian house located in the heart of Phoenicia. 73 Main Street, Phoenicia, NY. 845-688-7266
Margaretville Mountain Inn — Bed and breakfast in an 1886 Queen Anne Victorian on a hill with beautiful views. Located 1.5 miles outside of the village of Margaretville. 1478 Margaretville Mountain Rd., Margaretville, NY. 845-586-3933
Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant Farm — Bead and breakfast in an old mill house on a river. On-site kayaking, canoeing and hiking. 1 Bragg Hollow Rd. Halcottsville, NY (one mile north of Margaretville). 607-326-4266
Hanah Mountain Resort — Small, moderately priced resort with a golf course, indoor and outdoor pools and a restaurant. Located between Margaretville and Roxbury. 576 West Hubbell Hill Road, Margaretville, NY. 845-586-2100
The Roxbury Motel — Recently renovated fun boutique motel has suites, kitchenettes and theme rooms such as the Shag-a-delic. Lovely small spa on the property. Located in the historic village of Roxbury. 2258 County Highway 41, Roxbury, NY. 607-326-7200.
The Mountain Brook Inn — Eight charming suites in a beautiful country setting. Rural — a great place to relax and get away from it all. Congenial host and special Saturday night dinners. 5333 County Route 6, Bovina, NY. 877-692-7665
The Andes Hotel — Comfortable old-school motel with a restaurant and tavern attached. Located in the village. 110 Main St., Andes, NY. 845-676-4008
Browsing and Shopping
There is an abundance of interesting independent stores in the region. As you drive the country roads, you will see many more than I can list. Pull over, and make some discoveries of your own.
Homer and Langley’s Mystery Spot — A must-see, marvelously quirky store overflowing with fun and funky vintage goodies. Summer concerts on the porch. Great website. 72 Main Street, Phoenicia, just before the giant statue of Davy Crockett. 845-688-7868
Tender Land Home — Lovely eclectic selection of home accessories, art, jewelry and gifts, many made by local artists and artisans. 64 Main Street, Phoenicia. 845-688-7213
The Nest Egg — A general store with everything from Minnetonka Moccasins to old-school candy. 84 Main Street, Phoenicia. 845-688-5851
Barneche — Artful handmade clothing, barnwood furniture, vintage lighting and more in a beautiful setting. 361 Route 214, Chichester (1.5 miles from Phoenicia). 845.688.5822
The Margaretville Commons — Large old mercantile that houses several stores. 785 Main Street, Margaretville.
M. Gerard Country Home — Inviting store filled with sophisticated, modern-country home furnishings and accessories. Upstairs in the Margaretville Commons, 785 Main St. 845-586-1114
Country Weekend — Country antiques, vintage and nature-related goods. Upstairs in the Margaretville Commons. 785 Main St., 845-586-2112
Home Goods — Packed to the rafters with a great selection of kitchen and dining supplies. Margaretville Commons. 785 Main St. 845-586-4177
Longyear Gallery — A bright, airy cooperative art gallery featuring work by talented regional artists. Upstairs in the Margaretville Commons. 785 Main St. 845-586-3270
Catskill Mountain Artisans Guild — A cooperative gallery of local artisans. Very fine hand-crafted goods. Margaretville Commons. 785 Main St. 845-586-3443
Bibliobarn Too — Marvelous used-books store in the barn in back of the Margaretville Commons. 607-538-1555
768 Main — Lovely store filled with jewelry, antiques, vintage clothing and much more. 768 Main Street, Margaretville. 845-586-6166
Rick’s Barn Antiques — Large selection of country antiques. Route 30, between Margaretville and Roxbury. 607-326-7700
Clementine Vintage Clothing — Inviting store filled with classic vintage clothing “selected for the Catskills lifestyle.” Martha Stewart recently stopped by and blogged about it. 7 Main Street, Andes. 845-676-3492
Tay Home and Tea Bar — Beautiful store featuring hand-blended artisanal teas, a tea bar and new home-design section. 131 Main Street, Andes. 845-676-4997
Paisleys Country Gallery — Crafts, clothing, jewelry and home décor from around the world in this cheerful store. 75 Main Street, Andes. 845-676-3533
Kabinett and Kammer — Curiosity shop filled with antiques and natural wonders curated with an eye to science and nature. 7 Main Street, Andes. 845-676-4242
Delaware Trading Post — Charming, funky store filled with a mix of new and vintage goods. 60 Main Street, Andes. 845-676-3313
The Steinway Book Company — Handsome, well-stocked used-books store and café. 114 Main Street, Delhi.
Stephen’s Antiques & Collectibles — Appealing collective filled with good vintage furniture and home décor items. 110 Main Street, Delhi. 607-746-9942
Fisk Antiques — Quality country antiques in three locations. 27 Delaware Ave., Andes. 845-676-3121; 116 Fisk Rd, at State Hwy 28, Bovina. 607-832-4544; 74 Main Street, Delhi. 607-746-9300.
Lucky Dog Farm Store — Lucky Dog is a large organic farm that sells its produce at farmers’ markets and to stores and restaurants in New York City. Their large farm store carries local products including cheese, eggs, honey, jams, bread, wool and much more. This is a little farther afield than the other places listed, but it’s a pretty drive to a special place, and you can have lunch in their café or get food to go for a picnic. 35796 State Highway 10 (Main St.) Hamden. 607-746-8383
The Bibliobarn — Also farther afield, you’ll find my favorite used-books store, and I’ve been in a lot of them. Forty thousand titles are shelved on two stories in a renovated nineteenth-century barn in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a beautiful drive to get there. Make some time to talk with the owners, H.L. and Linda Wilson, book lovers extraordinaire. They also own the wonderful Bibliobarn Too in Margaretville. 627 Roses Brook Road, South Kortwright. 607-538-1555
The Catskills are not a fine-dining destination, but there is plenty of good food — you won’t go hungry!
Mama’s Boy — Café and espresso bar with breakfast sandwiches, comfort food and desserts. Corner of Church and Main St., Phoenicia. 845-688-3050
Brio’s — Try the pizza from the wood-fired stove. 64 Main St., Phoenicia. 845-688-5370
Sweet Sue’s — Locally famous for their pancakes. 49 Main Street, Phoenicia. 845-688-7852
Peekamoose Restaurant and Tap Room — Eclectic American restaurant with sophisticated yet whimsical rustic design and delicious food. Best place in the Catskills for a special meal but also casual and welcoming to children, who can roast marshmallows around the copper firepit. Comfortable, lively tap room with food on Friday and Saturday night. 8373 Route 28, Big Indian. 12410, 845-254-6500
Mi Lupita — Mexican grocery with small restaurant in the back. Friendly owner and good food — try the quesadillas. 967 Main Street, Fleischmanns. (845) 254-4979
The Inn Between – Look past the granny décor and enjoy a well-prepared casual meal. 42377 Route 28, Margaretville. (845) 586-4265
The Cheese Barrel — Sandwiches, candy, gourmet goodies and yes, cheese. 798 Main St., Margaretville. (845) 586-4666
The Flour Patch — Bagels and good, simple sandwiches. 75 Bridge St., Margaretville. (845) 586-1919
Harry and the Hippie Chic — Eclectic Puerto Rican, Cuban and Middle Eastern menu plus a friendly atmosphere. Lunch and weekend breakfast and brunch. 746 Main St. Margaretville. 845-585-4550
Woody’s Country Kitchen — Breakfast, lunch and ice cream, diner-style. 85 Main Street, Andes. 845-676-4500
Cha Cha BBQ Hut — Tasty barbecue to eat in or take out. 103 Main St., Andes (in the back of Hogan’s General Store). 845-676-6222
Quarter Moon Café — Excellent fresh, local food served in a lovely setting. Nice for a special meal. 53 Main Street, Delhi. 607-746-8886
Crossroads Café and Coffee Bar — A friendly and comfortable café; a fine choice for breakfast, lunch and coffee. 80 Main St., Delhi. 607-676-4997
Lucky Dog Café — Soups, salads, sandwiches and specials, made with fresh local ingredients. Open for lunch. They also have a farm store with prepared foods to go — read more about Lucky Farm under “Browsing.” 35796 State Highway 10 (Main St.) Hamden, 607-746-8383
This is the country, and most activities are outdoor-oriented. Which is another way of saying that there is very little nightlife. One favorite indoor activity is the country auctions, which are very casual and a lot of fun. There are also small performing arts centers and theaters scattered around the region. Make sure you pick up a copy of the Catskill Mountain News for weekly listings of events, such as the Cauliflower Festival, International Night at the firehouse and the county fair. Another good resource is the Watershed Post.
Pakatakan Farmers’ Market — Don’t miss this terrific farmers’ market. Open Saturdays, mid-May to mid-October, from 9 to 2. I will drive for 4 hours just to have a Belgian waffle from The Waffle People. On Route 30, between Margaretville and Roxbury, approximately 5 miles north of Margaretville.
McIntosh Auction — Fun, long-standing, casual country auction. There’s an auction every weekend, but days and times vary. Great place to start if you’ve always wanted to go to an auction but were nervous about it. Call or check the website or the Catskill Mountain News the week before. Rte. 28 at the corner of Fair St. Margaretville. 845-586-1088
Roberts Auction — Casual country auction every Saturday night at 6:00. Check the website for pictures, or stop by Friday or Saturday to preview. 43311 Rte. 28, Arkville (1 mile west of Margaretville). 845 586-6070
Margaretville Bowling — The perfect activity for a retro-country vacation. 42366 Rte. 28, Margaretville. 845-586 2695
Fisk Antique Auctions — Established antique dealers who recently started holding auctions. Check their website or call for dates and times. 116 Fisk Rd, at Rte. 28, Bovina. (607) 832-4544
Roxbury Arts Group — Performing arts center offers concerts, plays and other live entertainment. Check their website for the calendar of events. 53484 Main St. Roxbury. (607) 326-7908
Belleayre Music Festival — Summer music festival with weekly outdoor concerts. This summer you can see K.D. Lang, Ravi Coltrane, Mary Chapin Carpenter and more. Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, 181 Galli Curci Rd. Highmount. 845-254-5600
West Kortwright Performing Arts Center — A little farther afield, but it’s worth checking the schedule — Michelle Shocked will be there this summer. 49 West Kortwright Church Rd. 607-278-5454
Activities, the Great Outdoors
The Catskills is an official wilderness area. You will see plenty of pretty scenery as you drive, and in the fall, it’s extraordinary (think Berkshires or Vermont without the crowds). If you want something more active:
Whitewater Tubing (and floating) on the Espopus Creek — Novice and expert courses. Town Tinker, Bridge St. Phoenicia. 845-688-5553
Hiking — There are many hiking trails in the 700,000-acre park. The Catskill Mountain Club website has maps and trail descriptions.
Kayaking and Canoeing — Susan’s Pheasant Farm has rentals. 1 Bragg Hollow Rd. Halcottsville (one mile north of Margaretville). 607-326-4266
Mountain Biking — Plattekill Mountain has 60-plus miles of lift-served bike trails.
Fly-Fishing — The Beaverkill and Delaware Rivers in the Catskills are world-class fly-fishing sites. To learn more, visit the Catskills Fly Fishing Museum in Livingston Manor.
Snow Tubing — Plattekill Mountain
Hobart Book Village: Special Side Trip For Book Lovers
The hamlet of Hobart, in a lovely setting on the Delaware River, is home to several independent bookstores. You can find more information at the Hobart Book Village website. Main St. Hobart NY.
Adams Antiquarian Books — Features everything from leather-bound, seventeenth-century volumes to signed contemporary first editions on three floors. The friendly, knowledgeable owners will offer you a cup of tea and maybe a glass of sherry. 602 Main Street, Hobart. 607 538-9080
Hobart International Bookport — A wide selection of new and used books by international authors and foreign language books. They also have a special travel section and a pleasant children’s corner. 615 Main Street, Hobart. 607-538-3010
Liberty Rock Books — Thousands of well-priced used books in a comfortable setting. 69-A Main Street, Hobart. 607-538-9222
Blenheim Hill Books — Collectible books spanning 300 years. 69-B Main Street, Hobart
Mysteries and More — The new kid on the block specializes in mysteries and science fiction. Take a break at the Crime Café if all those books leave you needing refreshments. Main Street, Hobart
The Bibliobarn — Four miles from Hobart but considered part of the Book Village. My favorite used-books store, and I’ve been in a lot of them. Forty thousand titles are shelved on two stories in a renovated nineteenth-century barn. Make some time to talk with the owners, H.L. and Linda Wilson, book lovers extraordinaire. 627 Roses Brook Road, South Kortwright. (607) 538-1555
Greene County, the northern region of the Catskills and home to Windham and Hunter Mountains, has sharp peaks, deep gorges and spectacular waterfalls. The towns of Hunter and Windham are charming destinations with plenty to see and do. Of special interest are the spectacular Kaaterskill Falls — the highest cascading falls in New York State.
Sullivan County, the southern region of the Catskills, is home to the old resorts many people think of when they hear “Catskills” and of Bethel, where the Woodstock Festival actually took place. It also hosts rustic villages, plenty of wilderness and the Beaverkill River and East Branch of the Delaware River, known for great fly-fishing. The funky, charming villages of Calicoon and Jeffersonville are second-home havens for New Yorkers.
Elinor Burkett, author, producer
Christopher Durham, actor
Edie Falco, actress
Sandy Foster, design blogger (Shabby Streamside Studio)
Stanley Fish, scholar, author
Kelsey Grammer, actor
Brian Greene, physicist, author
Kim Krans, artist (The Wild Unknown)
Laura Levine, filmmaker, photographer, proprietress of Mystery Spot Antiques
Mark Ruffalo, actor
Peter Schjeldahl, New Yorker art critic
Amy Sedaris, actress, author