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Ulster County, New York Guide

by Grace Bonney

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They say it takes 10 years to be considered a real “New Yorker” and after a little over a decade, I finally felt ready to say goodbye to New York City. I’ll always go back for work and to see friends, but I knew that open spaces and fresh air were exactly what I needed. So a little over a year ago, Julia and I headed upstate to Ulster County to look at houses. We ended up falling in love with the last house we saw on our first day of looking and made an offer the next day. We moved early in December and I haven’t looked back since. Ulster County has been such a welcoming place to live and each season brings something incredible — and another reason to fall in love with this beautiful place.

Located two hours north of NYC, Ulster County is home to 20 towns, 3 villages and dozens of tiny hamlets that make up just over 1,000 square miles. This area felt like home to me immediately because it reminds me of the diverse landscape I grew up with in Virginia. Ulster County has stunning mountains, lakes (including my favorite, Sky Lake), rivers, farm land, wine country, river views and much, much more. From climbing in the Shawangunk Range to hiking in the Mohonk Preserve to kayaking on the Rondout, there’s no shortage of ways to get your fix of outdoor life up here. But if you’re like me and enjoy indoor life as much as the outside, I’ve rounded up my favorite places to eat, stay, shop and visit if you’re in the area. In such a huge area it’s impossible to cover everything (although I managed to write 5k words), but these are the places I personally love and visit on a regular basis now that we call this gorgeous county our home. Thanks so much to everyone who has made us feel so at home here. xo, grace

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg (you can now buy a copy of this map here!)

I’ve chosen to break up this guide based upon geographic area, because even though you can easily drive across the county in a day, you wouldn’t be able to do all of these things in one day. This way, if you want to head north and focus on one area (say, Stone Ridge/Kingston or Woodstock/Phoenicia) you’ve got everything you need in one tidy area. I didn’t give each and every city a write-up, because these are the areas I know best. I know a lot of you reading grew up in this area, so feel free to add in your favorite spots in the comments below — or, if you want to add a part 2 to this guide to cover areas I haven’t spent time in yet, drop us a line!

How to Get Here:

Unlike the east side of the Hudson River, Ulster County doesn’t have a train line. But we do have an (almost) hourly bus service via Trailways (with stops in New Paltz, Rosendale and Kingston) and you can always take a shuttle or taxi (be warned, it’s a 20-40 min drive depending on location) from the train stops at Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck (Metro North goes to Poughkeepsie, Amtrak goes to Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck and is usually a little more expensive).

Where to Stay:

Except for a few towns, I find that AirBnb has the best options for staying in Ulster County (AndNorth mapped out some great ones). There are some b&bs and hotels here, but none of them are quite as nice as I’d hope. Here are my favorite places to stay:

Graham & Co (Phoenicia, NY): If you live in NYC, this is where you’ll see all of your other fellow New Yorkers of a certain age and style. This hip little motel got a makeover and is now the go-to place to stay when people head to the Catskills. Think IKEA-meets-Brooklyn-chic. They even have a pool and rental bikes.

Spruceton Inn (West Kill, NY): A bit further up the road is Spruceton Inn, which we did a profile of a while back when they first opened. Spruceton Inn is a bit more “in the woods” than Graham & Co., but they both offer chic, minimal accommodations for people looking to get away from the city for a while.

Mohonk Mountain House: I hesitated to put Mohonk Mountain House on this list because I’ve stayed here before and the experience left a lot to be desired. And for a place that costs as much as a luxury hotel, it’s not quite it for me. But… if you want an all-inclusive experience set in the most picturesque location, this is it. Mohonk Mountain House has hundreds of rooms that still feel sort of like they probably did when the hotel first opened in 1879. The food is so-so, but the location is stunning. Private land with soaring views of the valley and amazing trails for hiking and all sorts of winter activities (summer, too) make this a location that’s hard to beat.

Hasbrouck House**: This historic inn is being renovated by a big-time NYC group, so it’s supposed to be pretty hip and up-to-date when it reopens in 2016. So if you’re planning a trip next year, check out their site to see if it’s open.

There are a few big chain hotels in the area (Courtyard Kingston, etc.) but I highly recommend trying an AirBnB for a really great local experience in the area.

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The view from The Graham & Co.’s pool in Phoenicia

New Paltz

To Do:

SUNY New Paltz: New Paltz is home to one of New York’s great state schools, SUNY New Paltz. There are great shows and lectures on a regular basis and you can also get a pass to use the school’s pool in the winter if you want to keep in shape. So if you’re staying close to the area for a while and want to see what’s happening on campus, be sure to check out their schedule.

Historic Huguenot Street: I went to college in Colonial Williamsburg, so I have a soft spot for historic villages like this one. The buildings are stunning and this is a great spot to head for a nice walk and some history.

Rail Trail: Ulster County is home to an extensive rail trail system, which used to be an active train rail system, now turned into beautiful walking trails. The New Paltz section is fairly flat and easy to walk, especially with dogs (keep them on leash, though!)

Movies: If you’re staying close, New Paltz has a little movie theater that plays current blockbuster films. Not the prettiest place, but if you’re here on a rainy day, it’s a nice option.

Climbing and Hiking: If you like to climb or hike, the Mohonk Preserve offers some epic trails and some of the most famous climbing around. Ever seen a bumper sticker that says “THE GUNKS”? That’s this range, the Shawangunk Mountain Range. You do have to pay for a day pass, so keep that in mind.

The Mohonk Mountain House: This is allegedly the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s legendary film, The Shining. It is indeed a bit creepy, but it’s sort of a must-see if you’re in the area. This HUGE hotel (259+ rooms) is an all-inclusive sort of place where you can stay, eat, spa (they have an excellent spa) and do a range of outdoor activities on the property, from snowshoeing and hiking to golf. If it’s not in the budget to stay here (it is indeed pricey), you can get a day pass to use the facilities (they have gorgeous trails and great ski rentals) instead. My ideal day here is to make a spa appointment (which gives you access to the grounds for a full day) and then show up early for a long hike, a dip in the spa and another spin around the lake or hike up to see their amazing views of the valley. The food leaves a lot to be desired, so I like to bring a lunch if I’m going there to hike.

Audrey’s Farm House (New Paltz): This B&B is ranked #1 for people traveling with pets. So if you want stay somewhere other than a rental house, but don’t want to leave your fuzzy friends, this is a great option. Be sure to call ahead to ensure your pet is allowed.

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The Shawangunk Ridge (Photo by Jarek Tuszynski)

Food & Drink

A Tavola: This award-winning restaurant is a popular date spot and serves great Italian food.

The Village Tea Room: One of my favorite spots to grab a quiet lunch during the week. Their tea selection is fantastic, as are the giant bowls of chicken soup they serve in the winter.

Mudd Puddle Coffee Roasters (and Cafe): This spot reminds me of my favorite college lunch/coffee places, and I mean that in a good way. It always smells like good coffee and a pressed sandwich and everyone who works there is friendly and laid-back.

Gomen Kudasai: House-made ramen and a wide selection of Japanese and Korean-influenced dishes make this one of my favorite spots to pick up take-out. You can eat-in too, though.

Gilded Otter: I have yet to eat here, but everyone I know says it’s great. So I’d feel remiss leaving it out. This corner restaurant is always full of families enjoying good, casual pub-style food.

Mountain Brauhaus: If you’re a climber, you probably already know this spot. It’s right next to the mountain range and has a huge selection of warm, comforting German food. My cousin-in-law (is that a thing?) has a picture of this restaurant’s menu on his phone all the time, it’s that beloved.

Jar’d Wine Pub: I don’t drink, but this wine bar is a favorite among friends and has a great selection of bar snacks to eat while you meet with friends for a drink.

Lagusta’s Luscious: Hello, handmade chocolate. New Paltz is also home to Krauses‘ handmade chocolate, but I prefer Lagusta’s. It’s also next to the New Paltz Rail Trail, which is a great way to walk off a box of chocolates.

The Cheese Plate: I love a fancy cheese and prepared-food stop. It’s the perfect place to grab snacks for a long walk or day in the woods, and they also have a great selection of Jane’s Ice Cream on hand for casual strolling.

Wallkill View Farmer’s Stand: This is one of my favorite area farm stands, which has a great greenhouse attached, as well. You can get fresh cider donuts, cheese, produce and a great daily pie special, too.

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The Village Tea Room in New Paltz

To Shop:

New Paltz isn’t a huge shopping destination for me, but I do like the downtown Water Street Market for great antique store deals.

If patchwork and Dead t-shirts are your thing, The Groovy Blueberry is a pretty funny local spot to try.

There’s also an excellent record store called Rhino Records and a great book store called Inquiring Minds.

 

Kingston

I know Kingston mainly because it’s the town where Max and Daniel moved a few years ago. To me, Kingston reminds me a bit of Brooklyn with its wealth of hip-bearded people with tattoos, great music venues, artist spots and coffee shops. There is so much to do and see here, but here are my go-to spots:

Food & Drink:

Duo: I love Duo for brunch. They have great house-made bread and kimchi and their menu has a nice range of food that’s always good.

Diego’s: Tacos! I miss great Mexican food and it’s nice to have this spot nearby.

Brunette: Brunette is a super chic new wine bar that just opened in Kingston by the water. Owner Tracy Kennard (stay tuned for her home tour soon!) has incredible style and it’s no surprise the space is so beautiful.

Boitson’s: Daniel told us to try Boitson’s deep fried cauliflower “vegan buffalo wings” and they did not disappoint. Boitson’s has a great back deck with a beautiful view if you are in the mood for eating outside.

Outdated: I go to Outdated more often than any other place in Kingston because it’s one part antique shop and one part coffee/lunch spot. I love their “Faux-reo” cookies.

Yum Yum Noodle Bar: I felt hit-or-miss about this spot until we ate the Korean Tacos. They are DELICIOUS. If you’re visiting in the winter and need to warm up, their huge bowls of noodle soup are a great option.

Sissy’s: Sissy’s doesn’t always get a lot of love, but I’ve popped in here a few times for tea and snacks and it’s always been great. They do a good breakfast wrap, too.

Elephant: I haven’t been to Elephant yet, but my friends in town love their tapas menu.

Kingston Farmers’ Market (Saturdays until November): Almost every town in Ulster has its own farmers’ market (or two), but Kingston’s is especially great. The main road downtown is shut down and local vendors line the road. If you happen to like hotdogs, there’s a seller here that has the BEST hotdogs. Maybe more of a summer thing, but worth noting….

Kingston Wine Co.: I don’t drink, but this shop is incredibly well designed and all of Julia’s friends loved their rosé selection this summer.

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Brunette Wine Bar. Photo by Katie Lobel via And North.

To Shop:

Hop’s Petunia: Kelly has the best taste in flowers. I love her shop as much as I love her floral work. If you’re in town and need a cute gift (they carry home accessories, too) this is your perfect stop.

Zaborski Emporium: This place has to be seen to be believed. It’s a 40,000 (!)-square-foot warehouse with every type of amazing vintage or antique find you could think of. It’s a major “dig around” shop (Julia and I went through 6,000 doors in their basement alone to find a new back porch door), but the prices are decent and you can often find some really special pieces. If you’ve got a truck you can haul with, you can get a great deal on old clawfoot tubs and sinks here.

Milne At Home Antiques: I got a great deal on a stack of antique cutting boards (a shared favorite of Julia’s and mine) here and their selection is really fantastic. They carry a mix of styles and time periods, so there’s something here for everyone.

P&T Surplus: If there was ever a shop just waiting to be used for a Project Runway challenge, this is it. This hole in the wall hardware/supply store has everything from copper sheets and rope to sailing supplies, hardware and old tools and machine bits. I almost always want to leave with some old acrylic bit or a bit of shiny brass.

Jay Teske: This local leather shop carries really beautiful bags and all sorts of leather accessories.

Vernacular Design: Jack Decker is one of my favorite local artisans. He does beautiful reproduction (and new) woodwork. We worked with him for several projects on our home and love each one so much.

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Hops Petunia in Kingston

To Do:

BSP: This music venue gets AMAZING shows. It makes me not miss giving up NYC venues for the country. Some of my favorite bands have played here twice already this year.

O+ Festival: This festival is a great celebration of the creative community in Kingston. Artists create work (and murals) in exchange for health and wellness services — a win-win. The festival happens every fall; check their site for up-to-date details.

Kayaking on the Rondout (Warning, their site plays annoying party music when it launches): This became one of our favorite summer activities this year. $20 an hour for the first hour and $10 an hour after that. It’s a great way to get outside, be near the water and see the city from a different perspective. (You can tandem kayak, too!)

Woodstock/Phoenicia

I first fell in love with Woodstock during a vacation upstate in 2006. I felt immediately home there in a way I never expected- but so appreciated. Maybe it’s because I used to host a jam band radio show and make my own hemp belts, but I just feel happy here.

To Do:

Swimming holes are my favorite thing about the Catskills (which we’re now entering). The Big Deep in Woodstock is my favorite. Plenty of room and quiet on the weekdays — and dog-friendly!

Hiking, climbing and boating are the major attractions in all of these towns. You cannot believe the beauty of this county until you’ve checked out all of the incredible mountains, rivers and valleys it has to offer. The Catskill Mountains are a very special place and you can check out local trails and mountain guides here and be sure to visit The Town Tinker in Phoenicia if you want to tube down the river in warmer weather! You can also hire private guides for fly fishing, which is a pretty picturesque way to spend the day if you enjoy fishing.

Woodstock Film Festival / Upstate Films: Julia and I saw a movie at Upstate Films in Woodstock while we were vacationing in West Hurley last year, and that night sealed the deal for me wanting to move here full-time. Everyone there was so nice, the film selection was excellent and it’s got that great community art house feel I like in a movie theater. Also — excellent (and quirky) snack selection. Every year the widely acclaimed Woodstock Film Festival happens here. It’s definitely worth the drive into town.

The Woodstock Drum Circle + Free Concerts: Every Sunday at 4pm in Woodstock, people wander into the main street circle with their own bongos and drums to create a seemingly spontaneous drum circle. The former hippie in me can’t resist how funny and sweet and sincere this is for this town. It’s definitely worth watching — and participating in if you happen to have an instrument with you. The same area also hosts free concerts year-round. If you happen to be in town during one of the Paul Green Rock Academy (which the Jack Black movie was based on) concerts, don’t miss it!

The Woodstock Artist Museum, Byrdcliffe Guild and Center for Photography: Woodstock is an incredible town of artists, makers and musicians. If you’re in town, please check out these amazing societies and museums for a taste of what’s happening in the art scene here.

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Upstate Films in Woodstock. Photo via The Woodstock Inn.

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The Town Tinker tubing! These buses are everywhere in the summer. Photo via Belleayre Mountain Lodging.

To Shop:

The Phoenicia Flea: This flea market originally started as an off-shoot of the Graham & Co. and now changes locations throughout Ulster County and even New Jersey! Check out their site to find the next pop-up location to shop their roster of local (and NYC area) vendors.

The Nest Egg County Store: I love this friendly country store for candy, maps, trail guides and little odds and ends to keep your weekend getaways fun (think Jenga and great puzzles).

Woodstock General Store: This shop always feels more like Brooklyn than Woodstock to me, but I can’t resist their great selection of clothing, hiking goods and pretty odds and ends for home. They have a location in Hudson, NY and in Chelsea (Manhattan), too.

Pacama Handmade: Cedric Martin makes stunning modern furniture. His studio is a great spot to visit and check out his beautiful dining tables (my favs).

Scandinavian Grace: This spot is technically between Woodstock and Phoenicia in Shokan, NY, but it’s a must-visit. They have a cute coffee shop serving excellent coffee drinks (rare in this area) AND an awesome collection of Scandinavian Modern furniture. (They used to have a location in Park Slope, Brooklyn, too!)

Mystery Spot Antiques: This fun antique shop in Phoenicia always feels a little whacky and quirky, but it’s a great place to pick through pins and see if you can find something special.

Woodstock Music Shop: Julia and I bought a banjo (me) and tambourine (her) here during our honeymoon. When in Woodstock, right? It’s a fun place to visit with kids and check out cool instruments (and vinyl records).

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Scandinavian Grace. Photo by Stacy at LeifShop.

To Eat:

The Bear Cafe (and The Little Bear): I’ve had so many special moments in my life creekside at this cafe. It’s standard (but delicious) American food in a great setting with friendly people. If you’re in the mood for takeout, the Little Bear next door does Chinese food!

Phoenicia Diner: Walking into The Phoenicia Diner in the height of summer feels like walking into Williamsburg. The diner got a hip makeover a few years ago and now it’s chock-full of visitors almost year-round. It’s a great place to grab a meal off-hours (we waited almost two hours this summer for brunch — yikes). My favorite is the tortilla soup — yum.

Mama’s Boy Market and Cafe: The tiny spot behind the Graham & Co. in Phoenicia has good BBQ and fun desserts behind the counter.

Shindig: This spot just opened up this year right on the corner in downtown Woodstock. Their comfort-style American food is delicious and it’s a really sweet space, too.

Oriole 9: Great breakfast and lunch from the same people who brought you Yum Yum Noodles in Kingston (also in Woodstock in a smaller corner spot).

Cucina Woodstock: This seems to be everyone’s favorite place in Woodstock, especially if you have children. The food is wonderful and there’s plenty of space for big parties. They do classic farm-to-table food. If the salmon and corn is still on the menu, go for it.

Bread Alone: This Catskills legend is worth every bit of hype. Their chocolate cupcakes are my favorite (go early to get those, they sell out!) and their sandwiches are great for summer picnics. They have several locations, but the Woodstock location is my favorite.

Catskill Mountain Pizza: Julia and I have been hunting for the best classic slice in Ulster County since we moved, and this is our favorite after trying every recommended place in the area. Fun to grab before a movie at Upstate Films.

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The Bear Cafe. Photo by Dion Ogust.

Saugerties

To Do:

Opus40: A beautiful outdoor sculpture park (no pets allowed, fyi).

Saugerties Lighthouse: The short hike to this lighthouse is a beautiful and the historic lighthouse, built in 1869, is stunning. You can actually stay here, too!

To Eat:

Miss Lucy’s: This local/seasonal restaurant is a favorite of locals and while I haven’t been yet, it’s on my to-do list.

Rosendale

I pass through Rosendale almost every week going to and from the bus we take into the city for work meetings. It’s a sweet town with a major hippie vibe and a lot of beautiful views.

To Do:

The Rosendale section of the Rail Trail (which goes over the Rosendale Trestle, 150 feet above the Rondout Creek) is a lovely walk any time of year. The view from the trestle is stunning and it’s a perfect way to get a bird’s eye view of the land.

The Rosendale Theater Collective: This community-run theater shows excellent indie movies year-round and is staffed by local volunteers.

Rosendale Farmers’ Market (every Sunday): If you’re staying in town and want to grab fresh local produce, this is your place.

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The Rosendale Movie Theater Collective

Women’s Studio Workshop: If you want to check out a collective space full of talented women when you’re in town, give this workshop a call to see if they’re open for visitors. I’ve never visited in person but this is a highly respected space and a great part of Rosendale.

To Eat:

The Big Cheese: This local favorite has awesome sandwiches and prepared foods and a great “fancy grocery store” selection if you want to make a nice picnic lunch and head out on a hike.

Market Market: This modern restaurant is right across the street from the Trailways bus (that takes you to and from NYC — in fact, you can buy bus tickets at Market Market) and has a nice selection of food. I love their veggie bahn mi, but they do a nice roast chicken, too.

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Market Market in Rosendale (Photo by AndNorth)

To Shop:

Victoria’s Gardens: This plant shop is one of my favorites in the area. If you’re looking to take some pretty plants home, this is a great place to check.

High Falls

I love High Falls. It’s a quiet little hamlet with beautiful waterfalls, an historic lock system and some great shopping and a wonderful museum. It’s also the home of one of the area’s best local co-ops (non-members can shop there, too!)

To Do:

Field + Supply: Designer Brad Ford (who also lives in the area part-time) puts together an incredibly beautiful upscale flea market (think BDDW and Remodelista) every year. I’ll be working in Julia’s booth there this coming weekend! The show takes place throughout High Falls, but is mainly on the grounds at Ron Sharkey’s black barn.

The 5 Lock Walk: This (self-guided) tour of the area’s former canal locks is a cool little snippet of local history.

The D&H Canal Museum: This museum is a very special place. It’s dedicated to preserving the history of the original Delaware & Hudson Canal and has an amazing collection of photographs and artifacts from the early settled area.

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Field + Supply at the Black Barn in High Falls (Photo via Brad Ford)

To Shop:

Almost every weekend there’s some sort of awesome mix of vendors selling things at The Black Barn. Check out Ron’s Facebook page for more info.

Fred: A great new antique shop that carries a nice range of high-end goods.

Nectar: A nice mix of home and personal goods with an earth-friendly focus.

The Green Cottage: This shop has a solid selection of fresh flowers, gifts, cookbooks, candles and jewelry.

To Eat:

Kitchenette: A comfort food heaven for anyone who loves a biscuit, melted cheese and desserts aplenty. You can get chocolate pudding in a mason jar to go.

The Last Bite: A friendly local cafe with coffee and food. Perfect for stocking up pre-hike.

The Egg’s Nest: I have admittedly not eaten here yet. But I’ve been told I need to get there quickly for their potatoes.

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Kitchenette High Falls

Stone Ridge/Accord/Kerhonkson/Ellenville/Cragsmoor

Julia and I call this mid-Ulster County area home, and while it may not be as fancy (although Stone Ridge has some majorly posh homes), it’s where my heart is. The people here are so kind, the farms are beautiful and the views from the heart of the Rondout Valley are breathtaking.

To Do:

Minnewaska State Park: For me, this is the best part of Ulster County. The views are stunning, the sky lake is gorgeous, there are endless trails to hike and plenty of rocks to perch on while you watch birds fly by. You can also bring kayaks and small canoes into Lake Minnewaska if you have a permit! We take our dogs here as often as we can.

Vernooy Falls: This is a sort of scrambly hike with some loose rocks, but it’s totally worth doing because the Vernooy Falls are a gorgeous place to spend an afternoon by the water.

Kelder’s Farm: This local farmstand has a petting zoo and in-ground jumping pillow (picture a bouncy castle set into the ground) that’s great fun for big and little kids.

Cragsmoor: This hilltop artist community has one of the most beautiful churches in the area with a view that can’t be beat. If you have a rental car, I highly recommend heading up here for the view at sunset or sunrise.

Westwind Orchard: This very special orchard is run by an Italian fashion photographer and an Italian-American stylist. So everything is pretty much a gorgeous photoshoot in the making. The family lives on the property part-time and has a full-time farmer that keeps the orchard running (you can come pick apples or check out their honeybees, pigs and chickens) and maple syrup production happening. On the weekends (from late summer until late fall), you can visit, hang out, order a fresh brick-oven pizza (they have a pizza oven!), doughnuts (made by one of the owner’s mother’s all the way from Italy!) and drinks and enjoy the weather in between picking apples and wandering around their lovely property.

The Accord Rail Trail: Part of the same rail trail system that goes throughout the county, this rail trail is primarily wooded and is a nice way to enjoy the calmness of nature, especially in the winter.

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Lake Minnewaska (via Wikipedia)

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The modern barn at Westwind Orchard

To Eat:

Cherrie’s Deli: If I’m being 100% honest, this is our favorite local restaurant. It’s a classic deli/ice cream stand that is packed with locals every afternoon. We love to stop by during the week for soft-serve or great french fries.

Davenport Farms: This is my favorite farm stand in the area. Good people, great artwork on the signs by Joe Eula and hot lunch if you want to grab something to go. They also have soft-serve in the back! They also have an excellent plant nursery in the back.

Saunderskill Farms: Saunderskill is another local farm stand run by a local family with fresh produce, hot food (they have a sweet “make your own” oatmeal bar in the mornings and decent bagels) and a beautiful view. They also have a plant nursery attached.

Lydia’s Deli: If my grandmother owned a deli, it would be like this one. Homespun, sweet and with good, down-home food, this is a real local’s spot. Their Mexican night (which seems to be a trend right now in the county) is pretty good — but we like their brunch (free beignets!) best.

Friends & Family: What this restaurant lacks in decor, it makes up for with heart. The chef, Salah Alygad, used to work at the UN and knows his way around a comfy meal. We love his stuffed chicken breasts and au gratin potatoes. Real “stick to your ribs” kind of food. One note: a lot of the water in this county has a strong sulfur smell. Some restaurants have sprung for a water system to get rid of the smell, some haven’t. This one hasn’t. So if it smells weird when you walk in, that’s why…

The Roost: A great casual spot for breakfast (though they recently started serving dinner, I haven’t tried it yet).

Lekker: This restaurant is from the same group that owns Oriole9 and Yum Yum Noodle Bar. I think they do brunch/breakfast best.

Graze: This new restaurant is still getting its footing, but it’s located inside of the old Accord train station (with a caboose!) so I’m hoping it will come together and find its voice here.

Cohen’s Bakery (Ellenville): Our good friend Larry buys all sorts of delicious bread here. Southern Ulster County has a large population of Orthodox and Hasidic Jews so this bakery has a long history of traditional recipes and breads being made in-house.

Aroma Thyme Bistro (Warning: another annoying website with auto-music): This is a favorite of friends down here and they’re known for fresh, farm-to-table meals.

Il Paradiso: This tiny family-run Italian restaurant is next to a giant Shoprite — not exactly a romantic location. But we love their pizza. If you’re staying further south in Ulster County, this is a nice spot to great a pie.

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Our beloved Cherries Deli in Stone Ridge (photo via Visit Vortex)

To Shop:

Downtown Antiques (Accord): If I could only ever shop at one place in this county, it would be this shop. Ron Sharkey is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and in addition to an excellent eye for antiques, he has fair pricing. Really fair. It’s rare to find those things together, so it’s no wonder that we visit every single weekend. Just tell Ron that Design*Sponge sent you ;)

Materia Design: Matt and Megan design some of the most gorgeous modern furniture and lighting. I feel so lucky that we have them in our area. They just opened a beautiful showroom in Accord that is open most weekends.

The Hudson Valley Seed Library: This is a very special place that archives and collects seeds for plants and veggies, with packages designed by local artists. You can find their seeds throughout local shops, like Davenport Farmers’ Market.

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Ron Sharkey in front of Downtown Antiques in Accord

[If you want an even more in-depth guide, the friendly folks at Visit Vortex do a great job of profiling local businesses and makers.]

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Comments

  • I loved seeing the signs by one of my absolute favorites, Joe Eula! If you’re interested in his other work, I highly recommend Cathy Horyn’s beautiful book, Joe Eula: Master of Twentieth-Century Fashion Illustration.

  • Thanks for the amazing guide! I climb at the Gunks frequently and its great to learn more about what’s nearby. I did want to make a note about Mohonk Preserve. You don’t have to pay to park, but you pay a day use fee to enter the preserve ($14 for hikers and $17 for bikers, climbers, horseback riders.) Parking is included.

  • Am I the only one who is not seeing the illustration? I saw it on Instagram, but it is not showing up over here. I only mention it because the map is amazing, I love it, and I want everyone to see it over here on the blog too! I especially loved Hope and Winky on a walk with Grace.

  • Grace – I used to live in Ulster County and was back there this August. Do you know about the Pierogi lady in Kerhonkson? She’s right across 209 from Kelders Farm! (I tagged you in an instagram about this once – so if this is repetitive, forgive me – but I am very passionate about those pierogis. I dream about them.) I think she may only be open only Thursday through Sunday, but she makes the freshest most delicious pierogies. They’re pre boiled so you can just fry them up in a pan with butter. Seriously the best, not to be missed.

    Also – Woodstock Meats is a really great butcher shop, and the shrimp salad there is very special.

    And – Aba’s Falafel at the Woodstock farmers market is hands down the best falafel sandwich I have ever had in my life. I also dream about them.

    And – Miss Lucy’s Kitchen in Saugerties!

    Loved reading this guide :)

    • Hi Merida!

      I haven’t been yet, but I will totally check them out. After living in a Polish neighborhood for the better part of 10 years I needed a little break from pierogis for a while, but it might be time to start up again ;)

      Grace

  • Sweet Sue’s is closed down – due to some unfortunate reasons. Don’t send readers there!

    Great list! Love the Catskills!

  • Grace — I grew up in Ulster County (West Shokan and Woodstock/ Saugerties) and it’s so nice to see all these beautiful places highlighted on DS. I’m in Chicago now, but hope to get back to New York someday. Bread Alone is my family’s business so it is extra special to know you like the cafe in Woodstock. We just opened our fourth cafe this week at the new bakery in Lake Katrine. You should stop by and enjoy the beautiful new space.

  • Ah! Let me add Cheese Louise on Route 28 in Kingston and Peekamoose Blue Hole, a wonderful cold spring in between Shokan and Sundown

  • Ah, my neck of the woods! We love it here. Thanks so much for this guide. I’m familiar with many of the places you recommend, but certainly not all, so I’m bookmarking this post for future reference. My husband used to perform a lot in the High Falls Cafe which used to be in the building that Kitchenette is now in.

    Yes, you absolute must try breakfast at The Egg’s Nest – the decor alone (which is wildly eccentric) is worth it – but we love the food, too.

  • Grace, when you mention Wallkill Farm Stand, do you mean the Wallkill View Farm Stand? On 299 in New Paltz? I’m pretty sure that ‘View’ is part of the name.

    (I buy most of my plants there, eat cider donuts in front of that roaring fire, and it is the only place we will buy our Christmas tree.)

  • I have so much to add. My husband is from Kingston , we live in Brooklyn but have a house in Stone Ridge. First is the architecture, all the great stone houses in Old Hurley, Stockade area in uptown Kingston, Huegonot Street in New Paltz not to mention around every bend! Rosendale has The 1850 House Inn & Tavern, By Water Bistro & Alternative Bakery. There are some good small museums like the Fred Johnston , Hudson River Maritime & Stockade museums in Kingston. I think I have to stop…..but another great nursery is Catskill Native!!!

    • Diane

      I wanted to add Catskill Native Nursery but I had two less than pleasant experiences there. I started going to others instead. Ditto with Alternative Baker- don’t get me started on the lack of friendly service. :(

      I’m going to add Huegonot Street! I can’t believe I forgot that, thanks!

      Grace

  • As a life long Ulster County resident (minus 6 years spent in Rhode Island for college/grad school) I must say, what a wonderful job highlighting the area!

    But I’m dying to know…is that map available for purchase? I would absolutely LOVE to get my hands on a print of it to frame! Any information about it would be greatly appreciated!

    xx – Gabby

  • Wow! What a great list! I love visiting Ulster County, especially Kingston & New Paltz. If I can make a suggestion :) my go to place for some really really really good food in Kingston is The Anchor (http://theanchorkingston.com/). It ties in to that “Brooklyn” vibe you talked about with a great bar and live music to boot!

    • Don’t forget Applestone meats in accord! Amazing butcher with all local meat. One of the founders of Fleisher’s AND they deliver. They just leave it right in the cooler on my porch.

      • Zac

        I want to love Applestone but have called them twice to place an order and never got a call back. It’s always frustrating because we drive past their giant phone number sign all the time. I heard they’re taking over the auto body shop across from Stone Ridge hardware so maybe they’re just overworked right now? Which is totally possible. I’m happy to have something with a good local mission so close…and I’m very curious about those meat-o-mat machines happening ;)

        Grace

  • Lovely list! My fiancé and I bought property up in Kerhonkson last June. No house, just land. We’re slowly working on getting settled there. We’re doing everything ourselves, so every weekend is spent working; however, I’m trying to take a tiny break this weekend to check out field + supply. Hopefully it works out, and if it does, we will definitely stop by!

    Best, Justine

  • As a weekender for five years now we love ulster county. Can’t wait for the day we can move up full time.
    We have been to quite a few places listed and can’t wait to try the rest.
    It’s also a great list to offer our airbnb guests as well.

  • Great roundup! A few other favorites (I have a house in High Falls!):

    The swimming hole / jump in High Falls (entrance through the woods right across from The Last Bite).

    Widow Jane Quarry – the old mine in Rosendale where the water for the whiskey of the same name comes from (the quarry occasionally has shows and performance inside of it but is fun to see and explore even when empty)

    Country Inn (In Olivebridge/Krumville) – really good selection of beer on tap and they offer 500 different bottles. Good homey food + pizza as well: http://www.krumville.com/

    And, totally agree with you about the service at Alternative Baker :(

    The chocolate sea salt pretzel croissants by Twisted Jeanne at the Sunday farmers’ market in Rosendale are also worth the trip alone, though you have to get them fresh in the a.m.

  • I grew up in the area, and enjoyed reading this list. Re: New Paltz: The food at the Gilded Otter never used to be that great (P&Gs fare was better), but their brews are tasty. For hiking, there’s the Mohonk Preserve, but also the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. FYI–the hotel that inspired The Shining isn’t Mohonk Mountain House, but a hotel in Estes Park, CO. :)

  • I LOVE The Alternative Baker in Rosendale! And I think what most of our mothers said to us “If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all” applies here, Grace.

    • Valerie

      This is a guide to an area based on trust- people look to us for places they know they can go and will enjoy. I have only had bad experiences at that bakery and would not send anyone there for that reason. I think that’s worth nothing as much as good experiences elsewhere.

      Grace

  • Love this list! I’m seconding the 1850 House in Rosendale as a great place to stay. Also love the illustration, but Rosendale Trestle is missing the second “t.”

  • Thanks for the Farmers Market shoutout! Kingston Farmers’ Market will continue through the winter every other Saturday at the Old Dutch Church on Wall Street, from 10-2. Check kingstonfarmersmarket.org to confirm. Lotsa produce, baked goods, meals to go, and coffee.

  • Moved from Washington, D.C., to the hamlet of Cottekill (between Stone Ridge and Rosendale) a year ago and absolutely love it. The vibe here is wonderful. Wanted to add a few other restaurant choices: Gunk Haus in Highland and the Mountain Brauhaus in Gardiner for great German food; and The Roost in Stone Ridge, especially for breakfast and lunch. Stone Ridge also has a great B&B called the Blue Willow.

  • Dear Grace. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful places in our beloved Ulster County. This is, without question, the best guide I’ve seen in twenty years of living here.

    May I humbly suggest including a mention and link to Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale? Though not necessarily always open to visitors it’s such a special place and I dare say your readers would love to discover it.

  • We are former NYers and spent a lot of weekend time in Ulster County–and looked at buying real estate ourselves–before a job move took us to CO. We still got married there though! This guide is making me nostalgic.
    One additional lodging suggestion is the Maplestone Inn just outside of New Paltz. The property and historic building are gorgeous and the hosts very welcoming. Staying there is a treat.

  • Thanks for this wonderful guide! I’ll add my must-see place in Ulster County: Opus 40 in Saugerties. A massive land art sculpture, built into & out of an abandoned stone quarry, it is the life work of sculptor Harry Fite: http://www.opus40.org Working alone for over 38 years on 6.5 acres using the dry stone technique of the Mayans, Fite created a place that is truly awe-inspiring.

  • What an amaaaaaaazingly in depth round up Grace! Practical, fun, easy to digest. And thank you for the shout out! I always ask guests how they found out about the Spruceton Inn and your interview with us has sent many folks our way, so thank you. All of your readers who I’ve met over the past year have only the nicest things to say about Design*Sponge’s style, tone, content, and ambition. I’m looking forward to visiting all the places on your list I haven’t hit up yet!

  • Thank you for such a wonderful — and thorough — guide to the county. My husband and I are moving from the city to the Stone Ridge/High Falls area this winter, which is both exciting and stressful :) Thanks for all inspiring things we can enjoy in our new ‘hood!

  • Another place to stay is in Shandaken, about 10 minute from Phoenicia, called the Slide Mountain Motel. While it doesn’t have the hipster/urban feel like Graham & Co. or Spruceton Inn it’s a great homey Catskills feeling place with lots of great wood paneling and cute kitchenettes for long term vacation stays! I highly recommend!

  • This is one of my favorite guides yet!! I went to school at SUNY New Paltz and the area holds such a special place in my heart. We go back several times a year and this guide is spot on. Have you gone to Cocoon on Main St? Such a cute little home goods shop.

  • Great article. I was reading this on my iPad when all of the sudden I saw a picture of myself in the Field & Supply photo. Now I feel famous :)

  • What a delightful guide! I fell in love with Ulster County/The Catskills on my first visit a few years ago and my heart has been there ever since. I am hoping one day to find the perfect little space to call my home away from home. Cannot wait to check out some of the places on your list whenever I am in the area again. Thank you!

  • I find myself visiting this area a few times a year and love it and would love to live there permanently.

    But I am wondering.. especially for those of you with two homes, how do you afford it? Is there a good job market in the area?
    I dream of living there but financially it seems difficult job wise.

  • It’s so nice to see Kerhonkson and Accord finally get their due! We have such a special area. Another place to mention is the Country Inn. They’ve gone through many many changes, but it’s a local restaurant run by a wonderful family on County Rt 2.

  • Love all your New Paltz references. I’ve lived here since I’m 19, just more than two decades now. I’ve been going to Mudd Puddle since they opened. Their coffe, food and service is fabulous. The owners are wonderful too!

  • What a nice suprise to see Upstate Films in Woodstock on the lovely illustration. My dad founded and ran for many years the orginal theater then called the Tinker Street Cinema in the old church. Our house was in the back of the building in the old church offices. We had a door that connected our house to the theater and my dog Harpo and I spent most evenings in the theater watching movies.

    Thanks for the great guide. x R

  • hi Grace- I came across this place online: http://www.thenovogratz.com/hotel-dylan-woodstock/
    Hotel Dylan- only driven by and the big peace sign on the building I suspect belies the thoughtful design inside- a simple motel building that was renovated (a la Graham & Co) – and a located a little more central to the villages of Woodstock & Saugerties… In case any of your readers are looking for accomo that’s a wee bit closer than those sweet places deeper in Catskills.

  • Grace,

    I’ve been noticing your posts about your new home in the area. I’ve been following Design Sponge for a really long time and I was super psyched (to the point of dorkiness) to see you’ve joined us in Ulster County. Welcome! And thanks for the great guide and the terrific map!

  • We spent some time in Ulster County for my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary a few years back and hit a bunch of these spots…this is such a great guide! I am wondering if Hudson is not considered Ulster County? We stopped there for a few hours during our trip before and enjoyed it. My husband and I are about to celebrate our 5th anniversary and are expecting our first baby this winter (his name will be Hudson). SO I am wondering if you have any recommendations for places to eat, shop, do in Hudson. I am thinking it may be nice to celebrate our 5th where my grandparents celebrated their 50th.

  • Dear Grace,

    Thank you for providing the most comprehensive guide to the area that we are just getting the chance to explore! You have given us a great cheat sheet.

    We were at the lovely Westwind Orchards two weekends ago and fell in love. What a magical place. This weekend, we are headed to Field + Supply and will use your guide to figure out where else to eat besides stopping off at Westwind for apples, pizza and cider on our way back to the city.

    All the best,
    Tanya

  • What an awesome map and article on Ulster County! My husband grew up in New Paltz and when I moved to the US from the Netherlands, it was the first place I lived in the US. As a foreigner you’re inclined to think New York is just NYC, but there is so much more beauty. May I suggest Hokkaido Sushi in New Paltz? Delicious food! Also, Dressel Farms in NP has great apple cider donuts :-)

  • Hi Grace!

    Love the guide. I feel so lucky to have grown up in Woodstock and now to own property in Saugerties. Ulster County indeed has so much natural beauty to explore!

    Another place to get your Mexican fix might be Mole Mole – on Broadway in Kingston just down from Brunette – had some good guacamole, fish tacos and margaritas there this summer.

    Also in Woodstock, the Garden Cafe on the village green is good. In warm weather, the garden is a nice setting to relax with a cold beer and one of the best black bean burgers I’ve had – especially after hiking Overlook – and they have good smoothies too. (They are vegan/veg, but everyone I bring finds something to enjoy.)

    And I recently discovered http://www.thecommunesaloon.com in Bearsvillle – good vibe with casual picnic table dining surrounding a large fire pit (s’mores basket on menu). We just had drinks by the fire, but the food looks good too.

    In Saugerties, you won’t be disappointed with Miss Lucy’s when you do go, very good. I also like the Tavern at Diamond Mills. I have had mostly good experiences with the food/service and the view on the patio overlooking the falls/bridge is a nice setting. You can also put in kayaks at the town beach on the Esopus Creek here. I bought two kayaks for Christmas and we’ve had a lot of fun with them this season (will have to try the Roundout!) but http://www.ipaddlenewyork.com does rentals and tours too.

    Looking forward to checking out your recommendations and exploring more. Have a great fall!

    /Jill

  • Hello Grace,

    Thank you so much for creating this list. I expect people will refer to it for years to come!

    I checked out the festival today as well, and got to go in the Black Barn, what a treat!

    I’m glad you thought to include Mohonk Mountain House and found the beauty of the grounds (glacial lake, cliffs, forests) is so stunning… and the spa so relaxing. I was sorry to read you didn’t love the food or that you would hesitate to include it on this amazing list. There are several restaurants there but it sounds like it just wasn’t what you expected, I hope you’ll give it another chance sometime, but it sounds like you do make appearances at the spa.

    Mohonk is an amazing getaway for old souls…. The amazing thing about Mohonk MH is that its’s a 146 year old Victorian castle resort, *and* family owned and operated for all that time. That kind of staying power is so incredibly rare. If you look at the old pictures, it’s uncanny how well simpler times have been preserved, (except now there’s WiFi, A/C and Alcohol.) It’s such a grand dame and beloved by so many. It also employs many of us in the region (up to 700 in peak) and so it’s near and dear to my heart.

    I’ll look forward to continuing to use this list, exploring and appreciating the amazing places and people in the place we call home.

    Welcome to Ulster!

    Laura
    Twitter @NowItsLaura

  • Very happy to have this list and the helpful comments. The timing is great for the upcoming NYSW Festival at Duchess County Fairgrounds. We head down to the Hudson Valley from Ontario twice a year, even with the eye watering exchange rate. Exceptionally beautiful environs.

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