So you’re a city person, through and through. You thrive off of concrete structures, steam pipes, endless staircases, and traffic. You’d choose Equinox over a hike or walk on the beach any day. You can go months without seeing wildlife or plants, except the ones you’re trying to keep alive in your living room, and remain totally sane. Cool. Good for you!
When I first made the move from the hippie paradise of Berkeley, California to NYC, I thought I could be one of those people. I’ve always loved hiking, picnicking, and relaxing in nature, but I have never been big on outdoor sports or roughing it for more than a few nights at a time. Still, I realized early on that easy access to nature was something I valued deeply and that had been plucked from my new urban lifestyle.
In Manhattan, Central Park is well and good — especially if you venture to the North Woods — and Inwood Park comes close to being enough. But let’s be real — when you need a solid heart-to-heart with Mother Nature, you have to get out of the city. I thank my lucky stars for the existence of the Metro-North, the simplicity of car rentals in the metropolitan area, and the fact that my best friends bought a van last year, because there is an immensity of natural beauty surrounding NYC.
In our first edition, I’ll take you through a route that highlights some of my favorite places to visit in and around the Catskills during a lazy, cold-weather weekend. Stay tuned for follow ups highlighting the Hudson Valley, Poconos, and other parts of the overwhelmingly stunning Northeast.
Day 1: Saturday
08:00AM-12:00PM: Time to get on the road! A two hour drive north of the city will land you at one of the Catskills’ most beloved breakfast-all-day joints: Phoenicia Diner. The rustic/nostalgic/modern restaurant’s breakfast skillets are incredibly fresh and delicious, and the coffee runs aplenty. If you’re not ready to get back on the road after your meal, Phoenicia’s Main Street is lined with adorable shops and small markets.
12:00PM-03:00PM: Will travel for beer? An hour-and-a-half scenic drive north leads you to Cooperstown, most famous for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but also where Brewery Ommegang is based. The brewery sits on over 100 acres of beautiful, sprawling New York land and offers tours and tastings every hour. Before you head out of Cooperstown, don’t forget to take a peek at nearby Otsego Lake in all its wintertime glory.
03:00PM–04:30PM: Once everyone (except your designated driver) is filled to the brim with beer, drive down Highway 28-S for an hour to make a pit stop at Lucky Dog Farm Store. This place is a gem of an organic market. Grab some warm food from the cafe and stock up on a few locally-produced items to take home with you the next day.
04:30PM-05:30PM: Head to your hotel for the night, The Arnold House, to check into your super cute, mid-century inspired room, explore the grounds, and get some rest before more eating and drinking commences.
05:30PM-Bed Time: Meander downstairs to The Arnold House’s Tavern for a delicious dinner and cocktails before you call it an early night — it’s been a long day!
Day 2: Sunday
09:00AM–10:00AM: Wake up at your leisure! Grab a bite and coffee downstairs, take a morning stroll, and maybe squeeze in a 30-minute massage at the hotel spa.
10:00AM–11:30AM: Check out of the hotel, and drive about five minutes over to the neighboring Apple Pond Farm for a sustainable farming tour (note: you should book this through the hotel or the farm beforehand). The owners, Sonja and Dick, are super welcoming and will answer all of your questions about farm life and creating self-sustaining, renewable energy sources to power their operations. Depending on when you go, you might get to feed baby lambs. You’ll probably walk away wanting to forgo your city lifestyle and become a farm apprentice/WWOOFer.
11:30AM-12:30PM: Just 15-minutes away from Apple Pond is Buck Brook Alpacas (there are tons of alpacas in upstate NY, go figure), which you can also schedule a quick tour at or pop in spontaneously and see if you get lucky. There is nothing better than interacting with adorable animals, am I right? At the end of your visit, you can stop into their farm store for a luxuriously soft souvenir or two.
12:30PM-02:00PM: If you didn’t quite satisfy your beer fix at Ommegang, pop over to Catskill Brewery’s taproom for a flight before you head to a late lunch.
02:00PM-3:30PM: By now your stomach will be grumbling, so hop back in the car and drive a half hour to Narrowsburg, which is a small but notable town because it occupies land across both New York and Pennsylvania. You can literally step right over the border! On Narrowsburg’s Main Street you’ll find a restaurant (owned by a pair of NYC transplants) called [The Heron (http://theheronrestaurant.com/). Stop here for a satisfying, locally-sourced lunch. If it’s not too cold, sit out on their back patio which overlooks a pretty pond.
03:30PM-06:00PM: Back to the city we go! You’ll want to work in some buffer time to account for traffic, returning your rental car, dropping off your friends, and getting some rest before your work week begins.
This is just one snapshot of the endless options for eating, drinking, doing, and staying in and around the Catskills during the winter, when you just want to chill. Stay tuned for further installments of our Escapes series coming soon!