×

14 Top-Rated Things to Do in the Catskills, NY

Written by Lisa Alexander
Nov 17, 2021

We may earn a commission from affiliate links ()

New Yorkers have escaped to nature in the Catskills for decades. It's no wonder, with all that this bucolic region has to offer: quaint country towns, wide-open spaces, pristine freshwater streams, and inspiring mountains. What's not to love about an area so picturesque that famous landscape paintings hardly do it justice!

From the 1920s through the 1970s, the Catskills region was a top summertime destination for city dwellers seeking fresh air, cooler temperatures, and recreational activities. During the Catskills heyday in the 1950s, the region had over 500 hotels. Because of the abundance of Jewish family resorts, the area became known as the "Borscht Belt," and memories of its heyday still triggers nostalgia for New Yorkers of a certain generation.

View over North-South Lake in the Catskills Mountains
View over North-South Lake in the Catskills Mountains

The Catskills appear to be making a comeback. With a renaissance in tourism over the past 10 years, fancy new lodgings have been built, and some of the small rural towns have become trendy. Recently opened or reopened hotels, bungalow colonies, and resorts cater to modern visitors. Some old-time resorts still offer the classic Catskills all-inclusive vacation experience, as pictured in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Netflix series.

Nowadays, visitors come to the Catskills for a weekend getaway or for an adventure-filled outdoorsy vacation. The Catskills provide a refreshing environment for activities like hiking, biking, camping, boating, bird-watching, and fly-fishing. Other things to do include visiting the farmers markets, sampling the local cuisine at farm-to-table restaurants, and taking scenic drives.

Where to base your visit depends on your interests. The Northern Catskills boast dramatic natural scenery and some of the most scenic hiking trails, while the Western Catskills near Route 17 is a premier fly-fishing destination.

At the heart of the Catskills is Phoenicia, a charming village with hippie vibes, as well as easy access to hiking trails and other outdoor adventures. Famed for the 1960s music festival, Woodstock is the Catskills' most touristy and developed town, brimming with artisan boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and inviting cafés.

Tip for Travelers: The Catskills region is most popular for summertime vacations and is primarily a weekend destination the rest of the year. If visiting outside of summer, keep in mind that most of the small towns and villages are very sleepy during the week. Shops, cafés, and restaurants are usually only open on Saturdays and Sundays. In the larger towns, the local businesses might be open for long weekends, from Thursday through Monday or Tuesday.

Learn about the best places to visit and things to do in this beautiful countryside, just a two-hour drive from New York City. Whether you are planning a relaxing weekend getaway or a week-long vacation, plan a fabulous visit with our list of the top things to do in the Catskills.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Enjoy a Relaxing Summer Vacation

Delaware River flowing through the Catskills on a summer day
Delaware River flowing through the Catskills on a summer day

For generations of New York families, the Catskills are synonymous with carefree summer vacations. By the 1940s, the Catskills also became well known for the "Borscht Belt" resorts that attracted famous Jewish comedians and entertainers.

During the Catskills heyday, legendary hotels like The Concord, Grossinger's, and the Nevele Grande Resort treated middle- and upper-middle-class Jewish families to fabulous all-inclusive accommodations, complete with meals, entertainment, and recreational activities.

The movie Dirty Dancing and episodes 3, 4, and 5 of Season Two in the Netflix series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel capture the vibrant Catskills summer-vacation scene that thrived in the 1950s and 1960s.

Today, the Catskills resort life still delights visitors at the Hanah Mountain Resort & Country Club. The hotel's owner was inspired by the movie Dirty Dancing, when he purchased the resort in 1989 and renovated the property over the next decade. The resort boasts an abundance of amenities: a restaurant, indoor pool, outdoor hot tub, sauna, game room, gym, hiking trails, and an 18-hole championship golf course.

There are also many other resorts in the Catskills that have continued the tradition of all-inclusive accommodations with half-board or full-board meal options.

Several old-fashioned resorts are found in the picturesque Great Northern Catskills: the Crystal Brook-Mountain Brauhaus Resort, a family-owned resort with an authentic German-American restaurant; the Sunny Hill Resort, which offers all-inclusive lodging on a 600-acre property; and Christman's Windham House, a historic 300-acre resort property in Windham with two golf courses.

Summertime in the Catskills
Summertime in the Catskills | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

Also in the Great Northern Catskills, the Country Place Resort appeals to families with kids because the property is located next to the Zoom Flume Water Park, which features exciting waterslides and activity pools.

Relics of the Borscht Belt era are scattered throughout the Catskills. In the Great Northern Catskills, Scribner's Catskill Lodge has been welcoming guests since the 1960s but has been tastefully refurbished in contemporary style.

A typical "Jewish Alps" bungalow colony on 11 acres, The Glen Wilde dates to the 1940s and has been renovated to suit today's travelers. The bungalows feature updated decor, private bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, and closets supplied with games and books. New York City dwellers can take the bus from Port Authority Bus Terminal to Glen Wilde (departs daily) or the Catskill Carriage bus service that departs from Midtown West and arrives in Monticello.

The family-friendly Baumann's Brookside resort is a good choice for those on a budget. This resort hotel in the Great Northern Catskills provides all-inclusive accommodations with three meals daily and on-site activities such as ping-pong, tennis, paddleboating, bocce ball, bingo, marshmallow roasts, dancing, and live music.

For those seeking a modern update on the classic Catskills vacation experience, try The Outlier Inn in Mountain Dale, which has multiple guesthouses, a farm, vegetable garden, and music recording studio, or The Graham & Co. in Phoenicia, an updated Catskills vacation community with an outdoor swimming pool, bonfires, free use of bikes, and a large common room.

2. Get Away for the Weekend

A couple enjoying fall in the Catskills
A couple enjoying fall in the Catskills

During the heyday of the Catskills, the region was a summer vacation destination. Now that New Yorkers travel to so many other places during the summer, the Catskills have become more of a weekend-getaway destination. It only takes about two hours by car to reach the closest area of the Catskills (for instance, Monticello and Livingston Manor) from New York City, although it's a bit farther to the hiking and skiing areas in the Great Northern Catskills.

The idyllic natural scenery and wide range of outdoor activities make the Catskills region ideal for romantic getaways. Couples appreciate the wide selection of accommodations, from boutique hotels to country lodges with cozy fire-lit living rooms and inspiring mountain views.

The Onteora Mountain House delights guests with its rustic-chic accommodations and fantastic location. It's just a short drive from the village of Woodstock, a favorite place to visit in the Catskills.

Another high-end property, Deer Mountain Inn in Tannersville feels more like a private home than a hotel. Set back on a hillside with an exquisitely manicured garden, the property includes access to a private hiking trails and outdoor seating areas with mountain views.

For those seeking a restorative weekend getaway, the charming Bohemian-style Foxfire Mountain House proposes a new version of the classic Catskills vacation: "Stay & Dine Retreats" with half-board accommodations featuring gourmet meals. Guests will appreciate the stone fireplace and front porch in the historic main house.

Young as well as young-at-heart travelers will love Glen Falls House in Round Top (in the Great Northern Catskills), a trendy boutique hotel with a farm-to-table restaurant. With its quirky contemporary style and live music concerts, this vintage hotel (dating to the 1940s) has been updated for the new generation of Catskills vacationers. The hotel is nestled on a 47-acre wilderness property featuring woods, waterfalls, swimming holes, and miles of hiking trails.

The Woodhouse Lodge in Greenville provides rustic-chic accommodations for a peaceful weekend retreat. The hotel offers chic minimalistic guest rooms inspired by mid-century modern style. Catering primarily to couples, the hotel does not allow children younger than seven years old and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The lodge is tucked away on a four-acre property with sprawling tree-shaded lawns and includes a casual restaurant that serves gourmet pizzas.

Ideal for a weekend of relaxation and recreation, the North Branch Inn is set on a seven-acre property that features rolling hills, meadows, gardens, and gurgling brooks. It's a great place for hiking and fishing, to lounge by the streams, read books by the fireside, and to enjoy bonfires with roasted marshmallow s'mores in the summertime. The inn's cozy restaurant serves gourmet farm-to-table cuisine and offers prix-fixe menus.

3. Go Fishing on the Delaware River

Fly-fishing in the Catskills
Fly-fishing in the Catskills | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

The Delaware River in the Catskills is a premier destination for fly-fishing in the Northeast. The world-class trout fishing of the Catskills draws visitors from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and other states in the region, as well as fly-fishing enthusiasts from abroad.

The main fly-fishing destinations in the Catskills include Roscoe, Livingston Manor, and Deposit. Some areas of the Delaware River (and on other rivers in the Catskills) only allow catch-and-release fishing.

The community of Roscoe, which bills itself as "Trout Town USA," is proud of its fly-fishing heritage. This small historic town has a handful of restaurants and cafés, as well as several shops that sell fly-fishing gear.

The birthplace of American fly-fishing, Livingston Manor is home to a famous fly shop, Dette Flies, which was established in 1928, as well as the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum on Route 17. This hip town is also a foodie destination in its own right, with many gourmet food stores, cafés, and local eateries.

Visitors will find a wide range of good restaurants and hotel accommodations in Roscoe and especially in Livingston Manor.

The Arnold House near Livingston Manor is set on an 80-acre property in the lush forests of the Shandelee Mountain. Amenities include a renovated barn with picnic seating, an updated "tavern" restaurant, outdoor space with a garden, and hiking trails.

Other choices in and around Livingston Manor include The DeBruce, an upscale resort property with a gourmet farm-to-table restaurant, and the newly refurbished contemporary-style Callicoon Hills resort, about a 15-minute drive from the downtown of Livingston Manor.

There are also opportunities for fly-fishing on other streams that wind through the Catskills: the Beaverkill River, Neversink River, Willowemoc Creek, and Esopus Creek.

4. Visit Farmers Markets and Dine at Farm-to-Table Restaurants

Farmers market in Livingston Manor
Farmers market in Livingston Manor | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

The Catskills region is prized for its magnificent pastoral landscapes, which captivated the Hudson River School artists. This picture-perfect countryside is dotted with rural villages and blanketed with a patchwork of small farms.

Since 1885, New York State has protected over 700,000 acres of land, the Catskill Park. This "Forever Wild" land is the heart of the Catskills region.

Farmers markets introduce visitors to local farms and culture. One of the most popular events in the Catskills, the Callicoon Farmers Market is held outdoors every Sunday year-round. The market stalls feature fresh produce, flowers, artisanal products, baked goods, and handcrafted items sold by local producers from within 75 miles of the town. After shopping at the market, tourists can enjoy a picnic at the nearby meadow overlooking the Callicoon Creek.

From late spring through early fall, outdoor farmers markets are held in Deposit, Livingston Manor, Roscoe, Lexington, Franklin, Hobart, Hancock, Delhi, Pakatakan, and Windham.

Considered one of the best farmers markets in upstate New York, the Delhi Farmers' Market (every Wednesday from June through September) presents a diverse array of local products including fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, mushrooms, and flowers, as well as handcrafted jewelry, pottery, and wooden craft items.

The Hobart Farmers' Market (every Friday afternoon from June through September) gives local vendors a chance to sell their seasonal fruits and vegetables. This farmers market is noteworthy because it also includes a flea market and entertainment. Tourists will enjoy the music, games, and street food.

Individual farm stands also offer a chance to purchase items directly from local producers. Farms stands are found at Burnett Farms, which sells sustainably produced fruits, berries, and vegetables, and at East Durham Farms, Foxtail Community Farm in Greenville, RSK Farm, and Story Farms in Catskill.

Catskill Mountain Country Store
Catskill Mountain Country Store | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

Travelers can pick up gourmet sandwiches and locally made snacks at country stores such as the Delaware Pantry in Delhi, the Main Street Farm grocer in Livingston Manor, the Catskill County Store in the town of Catskill, the Catskill Mountain Country Store in Tannersville, the Bear & Fox Provisions Grocery on the Main Street in Tannersville, Marty's Mercantile in West Shokan, and Circle W Market in Palenville.

With all the local bounty, it is no wonder that farm-to-table restaurants are a trend in the Catskills these days. Not only can you dine at a farm like Stonycreek Farmstead, you can also savor refined farm-to-table meals prepared by talented chefs.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Beaverkill Valley Inn in Livingston Manor is renowned for its farm-to-table restaurant. The hotel has an organic vegetable garden that supplies ingredients for its restaurant. The chef also uses fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meat from local farms; all the breads and pastries are made from scratch.

For Italian farm-to-table cuisine, try Northern Farmhouse Pasta in Roscoe. This family-owned restaurant specializes in artisan pasta and handmade ravioli prepared using organic flour and fresh ingredients from local farms. The menu changes seasonally and includes classic dishes like Amalfi Coast Fish Stew and Tagliatelle Bolognese.

Other farm-to-table restaurants include the Conover Club Restaurant at the Callicoon Hills resort in Callicoon; the award-winning restaurant at The DeBruce hotel in Livingston Manor; Tavern 214 in Phoenicia; Peekamoose in Big Indian; the Public House restaurant at the Urban Cowboy Lodge in Big Indian; Silvia, an organic restaurant in Woodstock; and the restaurant at Union + Post in Windham. These restaurants serve seasonal cuisine prepared from local ingredients.

To experience the pastoral lifestyle, visitors can spend some time at a working farm. Mountain View Dairy in Bloomville provides overnight accommodations in a three-bedroom guesthouse, and Weathered Hill Farms in South Kortright offers camping farm stays (or you can stay at a renovated one-room schoolhouse down the road). For more upscale accommodations, try the Seminary Hill hotel tucked away on an apple orchard in Callicoon.

5. Hit the Hiking Trails

Catskills hiking trail to Artist's Rock
Catskills hiking trail to Artist's Rock | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

The Catskills region centers around the state-owned and protected Catskill Park, an unspoiled 700,000-acre wilderness and recreation area. The free-flowing streams that traverse the park's lush landscapes provide drinking water for New York City.

With around 2,000 miles of hiking trails in the Catskills region, the area offers outdoor enthusiasts plenty of variety. The region boasts a wide variety of terrain and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Northeast, from verdant valleys and gurgling creeks to soaring mountain peaks and thrilling waterfalls.

The best area for hiking is the Great Northern Catskills. This area is home to many of the Catskills' highest peaks and some of the most legendary trails.

Top places to stay in the Great Northern Catskills include the Adirondack-style Hotel Mountain Brook and the Washington Irving Inn, which dates to 1890. The Eastwind Hotel in Windham offers modern Scandinavian-inspired lodgings (guest rooms and cabins) for those who like rustic style but not roughing it.

The most famous nature sight in the Great Northern Catskills region is the 260-foot Kaaterskill Falls, the tallest waterfall in New York State and a major tourist destination since the early 1800s. Thomas Cole, founding father of the Hudson River School, captured this breathtaking scene in several oil paintings. There is an easy half-mile walk to a viewpoint or a challenging hike (1.5-miles round-trip) down a steep flight of steps.

Tips: Please note that the hike down the steps to Kaaterskill Falls can be dangerous when slippery. Hikers should wear sturdy shoes and stay on the trails. Signs indicate that fatalities have occurred here and advise hikers to exercise caution. Also keep in mind that this is a very popular hike that attracts many visitors; the parking lots (on Laurel House Road and Scutt Road) fill up early on weekends and in high season.

Another landscape scene painted by the Hudson River School artists can be found at the North-South Lake Campground. An easy half-mile hike leads to the Artist's Rock, a cliffside overlook that affords sweeping views of the Hudson Valley. This hike has little elevation gain and is not very challenging, except for a few granite rock scrambles.

Catskills trailheads
Catskills trailheads | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

From Artist's Rock, hikers can continue for about one more mile on the Escarpment Trail until reaching the Sunset Rock overlook, where the Hudson River School artists were inspired by the Hudson Valley views. The trail is generally easy, but there are narrow sections that run alongside cliffs with sheer drops, which can feel scary if you have a fear of heights.

A hike to the Kaaterskill Clove Lookout (on the list of Hudson River School painting sites) begins in Palenville. This moderate 1.8-mile round-trip hike leads to a lookout onto Kaaterskill Clove, which was painted by Thomas Cole and other Hudson River School artists Asher B. Durand and Sanford Robinson Gifford. Hikers can also glimpse vistas of Kaaterskill Clove on the hike to Inspiration Point at the North-South Lake Campground.

Only serious hikers will want to attempt the most challenging hike in the Great Northern Catskills, which has a name that serves as a warning. Devil's Path is the most strenuous and dangerous hiking trail in the Eastern United States. The trail gives hikers a chance to climb five mountain summits.

Other legendary hikes in the Catskills include the trail to the Slide Mountain summit, the Catskills' highest peak, and the Giant Ledge trail in Shandaken's Slide Mountain Wilderness. This area is about a 20-minute drive from Big Indian, which has affordable accommodations at the Cold Spring Lodge in either country-style hotel rooms or rustic cabins.

Breezy hikes can be found at Frick Pond in Willowemoc Wild Forest, the Catskill Scenic Trail in the Upper Catskills, the 2.3-mile Huckleberry Multi-Use Trail near Tannersville, and the Tanbark Trail in Phoenicia.

For a gentle walk, try the RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary in Catskill, a 612-acre tidal marshland nature preserve. Visitors can walk the trails or glide through the creek by boat. The chance to spot great blue herons or even bald eagles makes it a great place for bird-watching.

For those who would like to learn about the area's natural environment, the Outside Institute in Livingston Manor offers nature walks, foraging walks, and forest meditation walks.

6. Admire the Mountain Views

Catskills mountain view
Catskills mountain view | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

The Catskill Mountains include 35 high peaks soaring up to 4,180 feet in elevation. Wooded rolling hills, forested mountains, granite overlooks, narrow valleys, and winding streams make for inspiring scenery.

Serious hikers in excellent physical fitness can hike to the iconic summits of the Catskills. There are hiking trails up to the summit of Indian Head Mountain, the Slide Mountain summit, and to the summit of Hunter Mountain (the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower) which offer splendid views of the Catskill Mountains. Hiking to the Windham High Peak affords stunning panoramas of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley.

It's possible to admire the landscapes without hiking. The Five State Lookout in East Windham commands panoramic views of the mountain ranges in five states: White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, the Helderberg Mountains of New York, and the Connecticut Valley.

Viewing platform on the Kaaterskill Falls Trail
Viewing platform on the Kaaterskill Falls Trail | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

At Mount Utsayantha near the village of Stamford, you can hike or drive one mile to the summit (a 680-foot elevation gain). It's a moderately difficult hike or a very short drive.

In the mid-19th century, the mountain landscapes of the Catskills inspired the Hudson River School artists, who created beautiful oil paintings that are on display in museums throughout the country. At the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, tourists can visit the historic home of Thomas Cole, the founding father of the Hudson River School art movement. The front porch affords superb views of the Catskill Mountains.

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is the starting point for a self-guided Hudson River School Art Trail. This trail indicates the nature sights that were captured in exquisite landscape paintings by the 19th-century Hudson River School artists. Some of the sights include Kaaterskill Cove and Sunset Rock in the mountains of the Great Northern Catskills.

7. Pitch a Tent at Gorgeous Campgrounds

Camping in the Catskills
Camping in the Catskills

Sleep beneath starry skies in the fresh mountain air, and wake up to the golden glow of sunlight on the horizon. Camping in the Catskills brings you closer to nature, whether the campsite is next to a babbling brook or a serene lake. It's a chance to unwind in the unspoiled natural environment.

The largest and most popular campground in the region, North-South Lake Campground in Haines Falls is home to famous hiking trails, such as the Escarpment Trail, that feature magnificent views of the Hudson Valley landscape and beyond. The facilities include seven camping areas with over 200 tent sites, water access, hot showers, and flush toilets. Other features are the two lakes, two beaches, a pavilion, boat rentals, a fishing platform, volleyball courts, a playground, and two picnic areas with tables and charcoal grills.

Another top place to visit, Devil's Tombstone Campground is one of the oldest campgrounds in the Catskill Forest Preserve. The campground is found in a secluded clove, protected by some of the Catskills' highest peaks. Devil's Tombstone Campground has 24 primitive campsites, a playground, picnic area, fireplaces, water access, and hiking trails.

For those seeking an outdoorsy overnight experience without roughing it, glamping sites provide a good alternative. Purling Waters at Tumblin' Falls in Purling is a well-outfitted glamping site nestled in a densely wooded glen near Shinglekill Creek.

The Old Game Farm in Catskill offers luxurious glamping sites with queen beds, private grills, and Adirondack chairs. The Willowemoc Wild Forest Yurt campground resort in Livingston Manor delivers a rustic-chic glamping experience.

8. Check Out Cute Catskills Small Towns

Main Street in the town of Catskill
Main Street in the town of Catskill | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

Quaint country towns dot the wooded hillsides and valleys of the Catskills region. Despite the region's proximity to New York City, it is astonishingly underdeveloped. There are tiny villages with two-block main streets and faded half-abandoned towns that experienced their heyday decades ago. At the same time, many communities have been revived during the recent renaissance in tourism.

Detour-worthy towns in the Western Catskills include Callicoon, an atmospheric 19th-century town with many restaurants, cafés, and a year-round farmers market; and trendy Livingston Manor, known for its gourmet food scene and famous fly shop.

The pint-sized town of Phoenicia has a lot to offer visitors on its inviting main street, which has several restaurants and small locally owned shops. At the heart of the Catskills, the town enjoys a peaceful setting by the Esopus River and is a good place for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and fly-fishing.

In the Great Northern Catskills, Tannersville is larger than most Catskills towns, with three blocks of shops, cafés, and restaurants on its Main Street. The Bear & Fox Provisions gourmet grocer is a good place to pick up sandwiches before or after a hike.

In an idyllic setting a bit farther out of the way in the Upper Catskills, the village of Fleischmanns has a tiny main street with a small country store and a surprisingly authentic Moroccan café, Bebert's Condiments Cafe. There's also a well-known pizzeria, Goatie Whites, near the highway.

Tourists flock to the village of Woodstock, famous for its hippie heritage. This adorable historic town has many artisan craft stores and locally owned boutiques, as well as a wide selection of excellent restaurants. One of the best restaurants, Cucina, serves authentic Italian dishes prepared from high-quality ingredients.

The town of Catskill on the Hudson River is not technically in the Catskills region; however, it gets a mention here because of its association with the Hudson River School artists who painted the Catskill landscapes. Nestled along the Hudson River, Catskill is known for its art scene and eclectic small-town vibe. The main street is lined with cafés, a variety of casual restaurants, locally owned boutiques, and art galleries. Be sure to visit the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.

An all-inclusive family resort near the town of Catskill, Wolff's Maple Breeze Resort offers a restaurant, swimming pool, tennis court, and fitness center set on a 300-acre property. In the tradition of old-time Catskills resorts, the hotel also features nightly entertainment.

9. Take a Scenic Drive in the Fall

Scenic road through the Catskills with fall foliage
Scenic road through the Catskills with fall foliage | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

Nothing compares to the beauty of a sunny autumn day in the Catskills. The trick is to get the timing right. The leaves usually begin changing color in early October, and fall foliage typically peaks around mid-October.

Take a leaf-peeping excursion along the Catskills' two-lane country roads. The Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway along Route 28 showcases the beauty of the Catskills region. The route begins in Shokan and continues for 52 miles through rolling hills, along gurgling creeks, and past small country villages, concluding in the town of Andes. Highlights include the towns of Phoenicia, Fleishmanns, and Margaretville.

For an enjoyable autumn activity, try apple picking at one of the local farms. Several apple orchards in Accord, Stone Ridge, and Kerhonkson allow visitors to pick their own apples.

10. Try Canoeing or Kayaking

Kayak on a beautiful Catskills lake
Kayak on a beautiful Catskills lake

The gurgling clear-water streams of the Catskills are legendary for fly-fishing, and during summertime also become a destination for water sports. Visitors can enjoy a wide variety of activities on the water, including rafting, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

Tourist can go boating on the Pepacton Reservoir and the Cannonsville Reservoir in Delaware County. In the town of Halcottsville, a great place for a carefree day of boating is the Susan Pleasant Pheasant Farm, which has a launch site on Lake Wakawaka, and rents out canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards.

The North-South Lake Campground is another great place for boating. The campground's boating site offers rowboat, canoe, paddleboat, paddleboard, and kayak rentals.

11. Stop at Old-Fashioned Diners

A Catskills diner
A Catskills diner | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

Authentic old-time diners are scattered throughout the Catskills. For a taste of the local food and culture, be sure to stop at one of these cozy dining establishments.

Catskills diners are renowned for their classic all-American cooking. The menus feature hearty dishes such as pancakes, scrambled eggs, omelettes, hamburgers, fish and chips, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

One of the most acclaimed diners in the Catskills, the Phoenicia Diner (5681 Route 28) serves breakfast and lunch from 8am until 6pm. The Phoenicia Diner stands out because of its focus on high-quality locally sourced seasonal ingredients. Highlights include the fresh-baked bread, homemade granola, French toast with local maple syrup, pan-fried local trout, and grass-fed beef burgers.

Selena's Diner in Tannersville has an inviting dining room with an old-school feel. The menu includes typical diner fare such as pancakes, waffles, omelettes, sandwiches, burgers, and salads. This is a great place to refuel after an invigorating hike in the region. The trail to Kaaterskill Falls and other popular hikes are nearby.

Gracie's Luncheonette
Gracie's Luncheonette | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

In the town of Leeds at the entrance to the Great Northern Catskills, Gracie's Luncheonette serves up satisfying meals in a cheerful contemporary-style dining room. This recently opened (in 2018) restaurant carries on the tradition of old-fashioned diners by offering classic comfort food. What makes it special is the focus on preparing recipes from scratch, including house-made bread, hamburger buns, hotdogs, pickles, and pies.

12. Take a Ski Trip in the Wintertime

Skiing in the Catskill Mountains
Skiing in the Catskill Mountains

Glide down powdery ski slopes in the Great Northern Catskills. This region boasts the most dramatic scenery of the region, along with the steepest hills for downhill skiing.

Alpine skiers can choose from two major ski resorts with summits above 3,000 feet in elevation. Windham Mountain has 12 lifts, 285 acres of ski terrain, and six terrain parks. Hunter Mountain offers 320 acres of ski terrain accessed by 13 lifts. Windham Mountain and Hunter Mountain rank among the top ski resorts of New York.

There are also several places to go cross-country skiing, including the Windham Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Center at the Windham Country Club, Mountain Trails Cross Country Ski Center in Tannersville, and the state-owned Catskill Forest Preserve in Mount Tremper.

Good places to stay near the ski resorts in the Great Northern Catskills include the Hotel Vienna in Windham, which provides chalet-style lodgings with wood-beamed ceilings, and the recently renovated Eastwind Hotel in Windham, which features Scandinavian-inspired decor.

13. Tee Off on Historic Golf Courses

Catskills golfing
Catskills golfing | Photo Copyright: Lisa Alexander

Enjoy a round of golf with spectacular mountain views. The Colonial Country Club in Tannersville overlooks the peaks of the Great Northern Catskills. Dating to the early 1920s, this nine-hole USGA-Regulation golf course has a restaurant, pro shop, driving range, and equipment rentals.

The Windham Country Club in Windham was built in 1928 and has been recently renovated. This 18-hole public golf course offers scenic fairways with views of the Catskill Mountains. The golf course has a club house, driving range, and restaurant.

The Hanah Country Club in Margaretville boasts a challenging 18-hole championship golf course with gorgeous mountain views. The original nine-hole golf course dates to 1949 but was enlarged in 1989. Incidentally, Koji Nagasaka, the owner of Hanah Mountain Resort & Country Club, is a huge fan of the movie Dirty Dancing and has attempted to create the Catskills resort life of the 1950s and 1960s.

14. Unwind at a Yoga or Meditation Retreat

Finding peace in a yoga pose
Finding peace in a yoga pose

With its tranquil pastoral setting and breathtaking mountain views, the Catskills region naturally attracts visitors in search of peace, quiet, and relaxation. Several retreat centers in the Catskills take advantage of the bliss-inducing environment.

On a lovely 93-acre property in Margaretville, the Blue Deer Center offers healing retreats with a focus on spirituality and Indigenous traditions. The Mahayana Buddhist Temple in South Cairo is open to the public for mindfulness meditation classes and retreats.

Set beside a lake and surrounded by lush rolling hills, the YO1 Health Resort in Monticello offers customized yoga, meditation, and wellness retreats. Guests may opt for naturopathic and Ayurvedic therapies, as well as acupuncture and Reiki healing therapy.

Discover destinations, find outdoor adventures, follow the journeys of our travel writers around the world, and be inspired.

More on New York