The Catskills is an area in southeastern New York, about 100 miles from NYC and 40 miles from Albany, just west of the Hudson River. Most of the Catskills, NY, are protected within the Catskill Park, a 700,000-acre forest preserve. The Catskills left a significant mark in American culture and the timeless beauty of the area has been immortalized by many 19th century Hudson River School painters. From great attractions, museums, restaurants and wedding venues, here are the best things to do in the Catskill mountains.
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At 4,180 feet, Slide Mountain is the highest mountain peak, not only in the Catskills but in Ulster County as well as in all of New York State if you do not count the Adirondack High Peaks and the Delaware River watershed. Located in the small town of Shandaken in Ulster County, Slide Mountain is a very popular hiking destination, and can be reached from three different approaches if you want a well-marked trail, and many more if you prefer bushwhacks.
The difficulty of the hike and the distance depends on the trail chosen, and it varies significantly. Like other peaks in the Catskills, the summit is rounded and gentle, and forms a narrow ridge that turns into a wider space on the eastern end. The mountain is covered with many kinds of maples, beech and yellow birch. Boreal forests at higher elevations mostly consist of balsam fir.
2.Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
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The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is a museum and performing arts center located in Bethel, less than 90 miles from New York City, at the site of the legendary 1969 Woodstock festival. The center has a large outdoor amphitheater for 15,000 people, a smaller indoor Event Gallery for 400 guests, a Conservatory that is used for arts education and the Museum.
A 2,000-acre campus offers a range of community and educational programs and performances, such as the annual Harvest Festival, concerts, lectures and discussions. The Center draws its philosophy and inspiration from the political, social and cultural events of the 1960s, including the historic Woodstock Music and Art Fair.
200 Hurd Rd, Bethel, New York 12720, Phone: 866-781-2922
3.Catskill Mountains: Hunter Mountain
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Only two hours from New York City and one hour from Albany, Hunter Mountain has fun for the whole family, year round. A part of the Great Northern Catskill Mountains, Hunter Mountain offers such adventures as the longest and highest zipline in North America, a scenic Skyride chair lift to the mountain summit at 3,200 feet, guide services for fly fishing, exciting off-road rides, miles of hiking through the dense forests and much more.
If you time it right, you can take part in some of the best festivals in the area such Mountain Jam, the German Alps Festival, the TAP New York Craft Beer and Food Festival, the International Celtic Festival, the Taste of Country Music Festival, Oktoberfest Weekends and many others. Hunter Mountain Resort on the banks of the Dolans Lake offers affordable and comfortable accommodations with condos featuring kitchens and fireplaces. The Resort has its own ski school, gym, spa, three bars, two restaurants and a food court.
7740 Main St, Hunter, New York 12442, Phone: 518-263-4223
4.Minisink Battlefield County Park
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Minisink Battlefield County Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its role in the Revolutionary War. As the site of the Battle of Minisink, the park is built on the only Revolutionary War battlefield that is north of the Upper Delaware River.
This 57-acre park boasts picnic areas, a large pavilion, and restrooms. There are also scenic walking trails throughout the park. At the interpretive center, guests can learn about the Battle of Minisink as well as the plant and animal life in the county park. There is no admission fee and the park is open from 8:00 AM until sunset.
Route 97 Country Road 168, Barryville, New York 12719, Phone: 845-807-0261
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Located in New York's Northern Catskills, Windham Mountain is a popular family friendly resort in the charming town of Windham, only two hours from New York City. The resort offers a superb ski experience with 54 trails over two peaks, six terrain parks and 12 lifts over 278 acres of diverse ski terrain, with a 1,600 foot vertical rise and the most riding and skiing within 200 miles of the Big Apple.
Windham Mountain Resort offers year round fun with an inn, alpine spa, night skiing, a golf course, adventure park, three restaurants and a mountain bike park you can reach by a chair lift.
19 Resort Dr, Windham, New York 12496, Phone: 518-734-4300
6.Falling Waters Preserve
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Covering 149 acres of undeveloped land, Falling Waters Preserve is home to some of the most scenic and tranquil areas along the banks of the Hudson River. The preserve has a unique history as the former site of the Mulford Ice House, a massive structure that held more than 10,000 tons of ice harvested from the Hudson River during winter months.
Now Falling Waters Preserve is a popular destination for hikers, fishing enthusiasts, and skiers. There are two miles of trails on the preserve that treat guests to views of tumbling waterfalls, vast meadows, and placid stretches of the Hudson River.
Dominican Lane, Saugerties, New York 12477, Phone: 845-473-4440
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Located in the town of Roxbury, New York, not far from Catskill Park, Plattekill Mountain is a private family friendly resort that offers great skiing in the winter and fantastic trails for mountain biking when the snow melts. The mountain has a vertical drop of 1,100 feet and 38 trails ranging from beginner to truly challenging.
There are two chair lifts to the mountain peaks and surface lifts in the snow tubing park and at the beginner's area. Every summer a series of free concerts called Music on the Mountain brings thousands to the grassy slopes. Besides mountain biking, summer also offers kayaking, guided hikes, fly fishing and overnight camping.
469 Plattekill Rd, Roxbury, New York 12474, Phone: 607-326-3500
8.Empire State Railway Museum, Catskill Mountains
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High up in the mountains, in the heart of the magnificent Catskills in upstate New York, the Empire State Railway Museum stands as a vivid reminder of more romantic times, when one could hear the hoot of the train as it traveled through high mountain passes to destinations unknown. In 1899, the classic Phoenicia Junction railroad station looked just like so many others, connecting small upstate New York towns from Kingston Point on the Hudson River to a shared station with the New York, West Shore & Buffalo.
Little station has been lovingly restored and converted into a museum dedicated to preserving the memory of historic Ulster & Delaware Railroad and Phoenicia station. What used to be a baggage room is now a gallery exhibiting the Museum's collection of historic photographs and railroad artifacts collected locally. The former waiting room is the venue for regular seminars and meetings. When the weather allows, from May to October, visitors can board a train at the Phoenicia station for a short but scenic ride through the Catskill Mountains.
70 Lower High St, Phoenicia, New York 12464, Phone: 845-688-7501
9.Fort Delaware Museum
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Fort Delaware Museum is a living history site, a replica of the fort-settlement called Cushetunk, built in 1755 by the Delaware Company Pioneers who settled in the Upper Delaware Valley. It was the first settlement of white people in the Delaware River valley. The museum consists of cabins, blockhouses and gardens, creating a vivid picture of the life of an 18thcentury settler.
A tour of the museum is guided by costumed interpreters who tell the story of the first Europeans who settled in the Upper Delaware River Valley and their place in local and early American history. The tour includes demonstrations of blacksmithing, cabin keeping, farming, candle making, musketry drills, cannon firings and more.
6615 New York 97, Narrowsburg, New York 12764, Phone: 845-252-6660
10.Hanford Mills Museum, Catskills, New York
© Hanford Mills Museum
Hanford Mills is one of the few places to see a water- and steam-powered historic mill in action. Founded in the 1840s, the sawmill eventually included a gristmill, a feedmill, a woodworking shop, and a hardware store. Hanford Mills quickly gained a reputation for being innovative and creative by using tools like waterwheels, water turbines, and gas engines.
Visitors can tour several buildings on their own, however, the best way to experience the museum is on a guided tour which includes the sawmill, gristmill and woodworking shop. The site includes the Will Hanford House, the John and Lizzie Hanford Farmstead, and the Walter J. Smith Hardware Store. Read more
51 County Route 12, East Meredith, NY 13757, Phone: 607-278-5744
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Zoom Flume is a popular family water park in East Durham. The park's most unique attraction is the Gravity Gorge Zipline; a one-of-a-kind water park zipline that rises more than 100 feet above park grounds. Zoom Flume also contains an array of exciting waterslides that are built for speed and fun.
The park has space for birthday parties, family reunions, corporate events, and other types of get-togethers. Families can also get special deals on nearby accommodations and season passes at Zoom Flume. The park is open from late June to early September each year.
91 Shady Glen Road, East Durham, New York 12423, Phone: 518-239-6271
12.Time and the Valleys Museum
© Time and the Valleys Museum
The Time and the Valleys Museum in Grahamsville tells the story of the price of water. It preserves the history and educates visitors about the value and the uniqueness of the Rond out and Neversink watersheds and the communities that were lost for the building of the New York City water reservoir. The museum's three floors contain a range of exhibits that include the building of the reservoirs, how it affected residents, early settlers, the history of the area's farming industry and more.
The Museum also has a Local History Resource Center and, behind the museum, a reconstructed 1930 farm with a house, woodworking shop, a barn and blacksmith's shop. Some of the more popular exhibitions are The Impact of Water on the Life and Growth of the Valleys; Tunnels, Toil & Trouble: New York City's Quest for Waterand the Rondout-Neversink Story; and Celebrating Catskill Waters: Past and Present.
332 Main St, Grahamsville, NY 12740, Phone: 845-985-7700
13.Tivoli Sailing Company
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Located in Saugerties, New York, Tivoli Sailing Company offers charters as well as sailing lessons for adults and children. One of the company's most popular offerings is its Adventure Sailing School. This program is geared toward young sailors and runs from June to September each year. Tivoli Sailing Company also organizes lessons for adults on the Hudson River, a body of water that is known for its fast-changing conditions and tricky currents.
The staff at Tivoli Sailing Company believes that people who learn how to sail on the Hudson will be able to sail with confidence everywhere else. Adults can take lessons one-by-one with the a la carte option. For more experience, they can enroll in the multi-week beginner's program or purchase the Club Package.
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Located in the quaint village of Ellenville, about 100 miles from New York City, in an arrow picturesque valley between the Catskill and Shawangunk Mountains, Shadowland Theatre is a beautiful, intimate, meticulously renovated 1920 art-deco theater. It has been home to the Shadowland Theatre Company since 1984, offering professionally produced musicals and contemporary plays.
The theatre originally had 900 seats and was opened as a movie house and a vaudeville. The number of seats has been reduced to 148 during the renovation, while keeping most of the theatre's original look. Shadowland Theatre is considered the leading professional non-profit theatre company in the Hudson Valley.
157 Canal St, Ellenville, New York 12428, Phone: 845-647-5511
© Forestburgh Playhouse
Every summer, the Forestburgh Playhouse brings great Broadway musicals to Forestburgh residents in its cozy 292-seat theatre, a dinner Cabaret in the Forestburgh Tavern and original kids' musicals several mornings a week. This oldest New York professional summer theater, located about seven miles from Monticello, was founded in 1947 in the old refurbished Klebs farm, and is one of the last small summer theatres left in the United States.
The Playhouse hires the entire new 50-people team every year, from actors, directors and musicians to technicians and designers, occasionally bringing some great names straight from the Big Apple stage. Since the first production of Blithe Spirit in 1947, the Playhouse has presented more than 250 shows.
39 Forestburgh Rd, Forestburgh, New York 12777, Phone: 845-794-1194
16.The Belleayre Beach at Belleayre Mountain
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The Belleayre Beach at Belleayre Mountain is a waterside adventure park in the Hamlet of Pine Hill. Open to guests of all ages for a small fee, the park includes a spacious beach where visitors can rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards, row boats, and more. There are pavilions for large groups as well as barbecue grills, a basketball court and a volleyball court.
Aside from swimming, fishing and paddling around the lake, visitors also enjoy checking out the hiking trails around Belleayre Mountain. Some of the trails are short and simple while others are lengthy and challenging. Lastly, the park holds family-friendly parties and special events throughout the summer months.
33 Friendship Manor Road, Pine Hill, New York 12465, Phone: 845-254-5202
More things to do in the Catskills: Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties
17.Catskill Scenic Trail
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Located in Delaware County, the Catskill Scenic Trail is a prime area for running, hiking, horseback riding, and biking. The Delaware River winds through the forests, hills and farms that line the 26-mile-long trail.
Once known as the Ulster & Delaware Railroad, the Catskill Scenic Trail (CST) was converted into a recreational trail in the 1990s with help from several generous organizations. The “rails to trails” project has been successful as thousands of people utilize the CST each year. In the winter, visitors enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the path's flat surface.
18.Esopus Bend Nature Preserve
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This 161-acre nature preserve is located in the town of Saugerties. Hugging a curve in the Esopus Creek, the Esopus Bend Nature Preserve was mainly used for agricultural projects 40 years ago. It has since been turned into a protected ecosystem that is home to turkeys, deer, toads, dragonflies and even eagles at different times of the year.
The unique plants at the preserve are a testament to the environmental diversity of the area. Also used for recreational purposes, the Esopus Bend Nature Preserve has a wealth of hiking trails. Guests can canoe or kayak on the water or spend an afternoon wildlife watching. The preserve is open to the public from dawn to dusk each day.
Kalina Drive, Saugerties, New York 12477, Phone: 845-247-0664
19.New York Zipline Adventure Tours
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This adventure tour company offers four different zipline trips that are designed with fun in mind. The Skyrider tour takes place on one of America's highest, fastest and longest ziplines. Geared toward adventure-seekers, participants travel along more than four miles of ziplines at speeds that exceed 50 miles per hour.
The Mid Mountain tour is a family-friendly option that includes exciting rappels, six ziplines, a handful of suspension bridge crossings and more. New York Zipline Adventure Tours also manages its own adventure tower. This 60-foot-tall structure is fitted with nine different obstacles that vary in length and complexity.
7740 Main Street, Hunter, New York 12442, Phone: 518-263-4388
20.Holiday Mountain Ski Area, Catskills, New York
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The Holiday Mountain Ski Area is located about an hour north of New York City in the town of Monticello. The ski hill is suitable for beginners and seasoned skiers alike. There are two ski lifts, a “magic carpet” that is designed to help new skiers get comfortable on the snow, and seven different ski trails that vary in length and complexity.
Holiday Mountain Ski Area employs highly-trained teachers and staff members to assist skiers and snowboarders with all their needs. Even when there is no snow on the ground, the ski area still teems with visitors. Go-karting, bumper boats, bumper cars and other family-friendly activities are offered at Holiday Mountain throughout the summer months.
99 Holiday Mountain Road, Monticello, New York 12701, Phone: 845-796-1201
21.Greene County Council on the Arts
© Greene County Council on the Arts
The Greene County Council on the Arts (GCCA) is the main body for arts performance and arts education in the Catskill region. Established more than 40 years ago, the council has a rich history of providing entertaining and informative performances for the community as well as advocating for important causes on a larger scale.
The organization also runs a youth arts program that produces live shows and artwork for the public to enjoy. GCCA has ongoing exhibits, performances, and events that are often held at its Catskill office and performance center.
398 Main Street, Catskill, New York 12414, Phone: 518-943-3400
© Peekamoose Restaurant
Peekamoose Restaurant is one of the Catskills' most elegant dining destinations, housed within a renovated farmhouse space in Big Indian. The restaurant has been a leading force in the farm-to-table movement for more than a decade, serving up daily-changing menus featuring the best of New York's farm and purveyor bounty. Delicious house specialties frequently featured on menus include housemade chittara bolognese, wood-grilled sirloin steak, slow-braised beef short ribs, and pan-roasted golden snapper with asparagus and golden oyster mushrooms. Diners can also share housemade charcuterie platters or enjoy gourmet appetizers such as caramelized scallops or wood-grilled octopus with chorizo. A tap room and tavern dining space serves up excellent regional craft brews on tap, along with a full menu of casual bar fare.
8373 NY-28, Big Indian, NY 12410, Phone: 845- 254-6500
23.Java Love Coffee Roasting Company
© Java Love Coffee Roasting Company
Java Love Coffee Roasting Company is a charming woman-owned artisan coffee shop offering several locations throughout New York, including a Catskills location in lovely White Lake. The company, which opened is first location in 2011, has grown from a meager 400-foot space to an expansive location adjacent to the site of the legendary 1969 Woodstock Music Festival. Gourmet espresso-based beverages are crafted from sustainably-sourced beans roasted on site in small batches, meant to highlight the unique character and quality of each type of bean. Breakfast is served seasonally on weekend mornings, letting diners choose from selections like homemade pancakes, breakfast sandwiches and burritos, and homestyle granola with yogurt. Grab-and-go snacks are also available, including doughnuts, muffins, and housemade granola bars.
1577 NY-17B, White Lake, NY 12786, Phone: 845-583-4082
© Krause's Chocolates
Krause's Chocolates is a family-owned business that began in 1929. Using the recipes developed by his grandfather, owner and confectioner Karl Krause produces more than 50 kinds of hand-dipped chocolates. The hand-dipping process ensures that each piece of chocolate is creamy, fresh and pure.
Thanks to the high quality of its products the company has won awards for being Hudson Valley's Best Candy Store for the last 13 years. Krause's Chocolates currently has stores in New Paltz, Rhinebeck, and Saugerties. Each store sells individual chocolates as well as seasonal treats, gift packages, and pre-assorted chocolate boxes. Krause's Chocolates also accepts custom orders.
41 South Partition Street, Saugerties, New York 12477, Phone: 845-246-8377
25.Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest
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This 13,500-acre nature preserve sits at the head of Beaverkill Valley. Famous for its prime fly fishing conditions, Beaverkill Valley is home to Alder Lake, a haven for trout. The forest boasts 22 miles of trails that range in length from 1.5 miles to 13.4 miles. Visitors can take several routes to the Balsam Lake Mountain Summit.
Each route passes by lakes, a waterfall, streams, ponds, and other interesting natural features. Popular summertime activities at Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest include hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, camping and backpacking. In the winter visitors like to snowshoe or cross-country ski along the trails.
25 Best Things to Do in the Catskills
- Slide Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of lightphoto2 - Fotolia.com
- Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Photo: Courtesy of aarstudio - Fotolia.com
- Catskill Mountains: Hunter Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of brandtbolding - Fotolia.com
- Minisink Battlefield County Park, Photo: Courtesy of magdal3na - Fotolia.com
- Windham Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of brandtbolding - Fotolia.com
- Falling Waters Preserve, Photo: Courtesy of lightphoto2 - Fotolia.com
- Plattekill Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of brandtbolding - Fotolia.com
- Empire State Railway Museum, Catskill Mountains, Photo: Courtesy of Jana - Fotolia.com
- Fort Delaware Museum, Photo: Courtesy of andreigilbert - Fotolia.com
- Hanford Mills Museum, Catskills, New York, Photo: Hanford Mills Museum
- Zoom Flume, Photo: Courtesy of Vladislav Gajic - Fotolia.com
- Time and the Valleys Museum, Photo: Time and the Valleys Museum
- Tivoli Sailing Company, Photo: Courtesy of jasch4 - Fotolia.com
- Shadowland Theatre, Photo: Courtesy of danr13 - Fotolia.com
- Forestburgh Playhouse, Photo: Forestburgh Playhouse
- The Belleayre Beach at Belleayre Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of Kristen - Fotolia.com
- Catskill Scenic Trail, Photo: Courtesy of lukasx - Fotolia
- Esopus Bend Nature Preserve, Photo: Courtesy of robert cicchetti - Fotolia.com
- New York Zipline Adventure Tours, Photo: Courtesy of savoieleysse - Fotolia.com
- Holiday Mountain Ski Area, Catskills, New York, Photo: Courtesy of Pavel - Fotolia.com
- Greene County Council on the Arts, Photo: Greene County Council on the Arts
- Peekamoose Restaurant, Photo: Peekamoose Restaurant
- Java Love Coffee Roasting Company, Photo: Java Love Coffee Roasting Company
- Krause's Chocolates, Photo: Krause's Chocolates
- Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, Photo: dec.ny.gov Photo
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of brandtbolding - Fotolia.com
Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River
Located near Narrowsburg, the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River area is celebrated for its beauty and ecological diversity. The recreational area encompasses the least developed portion of the Upper Delaware River. The forest serves as home to multiple types of insects and the bodies of water in the area are filled with fish.
For entertainment, visitors like to take boats out on the river or fish in the park's designated fishing areas. Six short hiking trails that give visitors unique views of the Upper Delaware River and the surrounding forest are also accessible to visitors.
274 River Road, Beach Lake, Pennsylvania 18405, Phone: 570-685-4871
Bridge Street Theatre, Catskills, NY
Bridge Street Theatre is a non-profit organization that creates, organizes and produces entertaining shows and events for people in the Catskill region. Bridge Street Theatre began as Kaliyuga Arts, a Los Angeles-based production company that was founded in 1986.
After relocating to New York in 2005, Kaliyuga Arts won multiple awards for its performances at some of the state's most renowned venues. Located near one of Catskill's main high schools, the Bridge Street Theatre offers family-friendly shows throughout the year at an affordable price.
44 West Bridge Street, Catskill, New York 12414, Phone: 518-943-3818