Upstate New York has long been a destination for people in search of a little rest and relaxation. There are so many towns to visit, that one could argue it’d take a whole season to even make a dent in exploration. But one town that is famous for its namesake throughout the region, yet actually has a cute little downtown for exploration, is Catskill, New York.
A historical town dating back to the 1700s in New York, Catskill is the county seat of Greene County and has a sweet, simple downtown area with artsy shops and places to eat. It’s also the location of the town “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving, and where Mike Tyson moved after living in Brooklyn as a kid. Fall is definitely the most popular time to visit as the foliage is on point, but truly, whenever you come up, it’s enjoyable. Read on for some of the highlights.
How to Get There
Catskill, NY is a straight shot up the New York State Thruway (Interstate 87) and U.S. Route 9W also passes north-south through the town. While you can take a train from NYC to Hudson, NY (about 20 minutes away), there’s not a ton of transportation options, so having a car is definitely the way to go.
Where to Stay
In the Catskill area, there are a plethora of AirBnBs, but you can also search for spots to stay here. We’d definitely recommend the local stay route though, as there are some hidden home gems throughout the area. There’s also the Tiny House Resort in Cairo, which is about a 20-minute drive. Read more about our stay here.
Food + Drink
There are a variety of options for good food and drink in the Catskills, and Catskill, NY is no exception. While you can find a Walmart, Lowe’s, and Home Depot for some essentials if you’re going the AirBnB route, eating locally is an easy feat in this area.
This is a new Catskill bakery for good pastries, coffee, and breakfast + lunch. Created out of an old factory building in downtown Catskill by the river, Willa’s has a cozy-yet-new age vibe that is ideal for a trip when you don’t feel like making your own breakfast in the morning — or need to catch up on some work with the free WiFi and a bacon cheddar scone.
This colorful cafe (with its sister ice cream shop next door) has some vegan, veggie options made-to-order, as well as healthy dishes and bowls with chicken and other meats. The ice cream spot next door, Bittersweet Catskill, even has some dairy-free scoops. A good quick lunch spot, if you’re planning to be exploring for the day and need some sustenance.
Read More: A Day Trip to Tarrytown + Sleepy Hollow, NY
New York Restaurant
Popular among the locals and visitors alike, don’t be fooled by the New York Restaurant name; it’s actually a well-run, carefully crafted Polish and American restaurant with rustic, upscale ambiance and an extensive wine and cocktail menu. Highly recommend making a reservation on Resy, as there can be a wait and sometimes a sold-out evening, especially during peak fall and summer seasons.
Having just opened in September 2021, Goodie’s is fast making a name for itself in the breakfast and lunch food category. The luncheonette serves bagels, sandwiches, and even has gluten-free bagels and vegan cream cheese — and has the cutest counter stools and patterned flooring.
Down by the river off of Main Street, there’s a little hole-in-the-wall called Piccolo’s. This spot serves wine and boasts casual Italian fare.
On Saturday nights, there’s karaoke on select weekends at this Main Street bar. Don’t be shy — gulp down some liquid courage and sign yourself up for a song.
Subversive Brewing Company
Subversive is a chic brewery that is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it — but once you find it, it’ll be easy to enjoy an IPA or wine/cocktails, all found on the walk-up bar menu. The outdoor space is a dog- and kid-friendly, and usually there’s a pop-up food truck or stand outside by the tables.
Kaaterskill Farm Natural Storehouse
For the natural foods shoppers and eaters, this minuscule market can be found right by Goodie’s and Walmart heading toward downtown. It’s a tiny little spot, but chock full of organic, allergy-friendly foods and vitamin supplements. There’s also a sister (original) location in Hudson, NY.
Catskill Brewing Company
Along the river in downtown Catskill, there’s also a craft brewery called Catskill Brewery with outdoor seating. This local craft brewery is open every Wednesday through Sunday and has picnic tables for large groups.
Honorable Mentions to Visit (close to Catskill): Gracie’s Luncheonette and the adorable hamlet of Leeds, NY deserve a mention. This diner sits perched atop the river, and is worth a visit, if only for its Fruity Pebbles doughnuts and vintage diner feel.
The town of Leeds is tiny and has pretty tough cell service, but it’s worth a drive-by as it has a few eateries, a bakery with gluten-free goodies, and a coffee shop to boot.
Places to Shop
Citiot | 404 Main Street, Catskill
A new home goods, co-working, and coffee shop to the scene, Citiot serves both coffee and fun vintage finds.
In 2019, Katie Hartsough left a job as VP of merchandising in the city to live full time in her upstate home. Now, she runs the Kaaterskill Market, a home goods shop dedicated to sustainability, full-time and sells eco-friendly and aesthetically-pleasing finds.
Swamp Angel Antiques
While there are not a ton of antique shops in Catskill, Swamp Angel Antiques is a Main Street attraction, complete with some one-of-a-kind items.
Other Things to Do
Visit the City of Hudson, NY
Known as the antique mecca of the Catskill area, Hudson is worth a trip to its downtown if you have the time and an extra few days. There’s also a vineyard called White Cliff Vineyards that does tastings on the weekends, right nearby.
Hiking the Kaaterskill Falls Trail Head
Arguably one of the more popular hiking trails in the mountains, Kaaterskill Falls Trail is an idyllic hiking destination, but lately is often crowded — so plan ahead. It’s worth the trek though, as it’s the highest cascading waterfall in New York State.
See More: How to Spend a Day in Far Hills, New Jersey
Catskill Animal Sanctuary
Over 40 different animals and 11 species make up the rescue farm that is Catskill Animal Sanctuary, and there are tours for adults and children on weekends. You can also donate to the animals’ care.
This is a unique “farm stay vacation” in East Durham, and quite kid-friendly. You can stay on the grounds or come for a day tour/hayride depending on the season.
The Athens waterfront is a beautiful area not far from Catskill, and across the way, the Hudson Athens lighthouse is a landmark worth a photo. The lighthouse is a Second Empire architectural style lighthouse.
Skiing at Wyndham or Hunter Mountain
The beautiful thing about Catskill is its proximity to Windham and Hunter Mountains for winter sports. In the winter months, snow bunnies will flock to this area for skiing and snowboarding, which is about 20-30 minutes from Catskill proper.
New York Zipline Adventure Tours
When in the Catskills, zip lining is a must. The New York Zipline Adventure Tour at Hunter Mountain is the highest, fastest, and longest biplane canopy tour in North America.