Summer is coming to a close, and soon we’ll begin to see the leaves change to every shade of ochre, crimson, and orange gold. Having grown up in the small village of Catskill, nestled at the foot of the Catskill Mountains, I can attest to the fact that there is no better time to visit Upstate New York than in the height of apple season. So if you find yourself near the Catskill region anytime in the next couple months, consider stopping by my little town and giving these sites and local eats a try!
394 Main Café
A new fixture of Catskill’s vibrant Main Street, you can’t go wrong stopping into 394 Main and having yourself a cup of coffee or sitting down for their incredible brunch. With all the aesthetic and quality of a suave New York restaurant, and the prices of a quaint town café, you can’t beat the food and drinks you’ll find here!
Music in the Park
If you’re in town during the summer, you can catch some local music for free playing down at Dutchman’s Landing Park, or as the locals call it, “the Point”. The summer concert series runs on every Thursday starting on the third Thursday of June until the last Thursday prior to Labor Day. So bring a picnic blanket and some cash for an ice cream cone, and enjoy listening to local bands by the backdrop of the Hudson River.
While you’re in town, why not get yourself a souvenir? This little gift shop has been located on Catskill’s Main Street for a little over a decade, and you’ll find fairly priced artisan wares, handmade clothing, and all sorts of kooky or useful knick-knacks inside.
If you’re here for apple or pumpkin season, you can’t go wrong stopping at a local farm for some apple picking. Stop by the Story Farms farm stand while you’re at it, any time of the year, and shop the home grown produce, homemade baked goods, and locally farmed honey. (Psst. The maple sugar candies are to die for.)
Wasana’s Thai Restaurant
If you’re looking for a place to lunch or eat dinner while in the area, Wasana’s should be on your list. Small and family run, all the food is made fresh and with love. You can get any dish as a vegan or vegetarian option. And don’t be afraid to order an extra appetizer of spring rolls. Trust me. You won’t regret it.
This shop of gently used books is run entirely on donations. You’ll find paperbacks priced as low as three dollars, and if that isn’t cheap enough for you, feel free to peruse the “cheaparoo” bin outside on the curb. You might even find something for free. With a great selection of fiction, non-fiction, YA, and fantasy/sci-fi, Magpie is any book-lovers heaven – WiFi included.
New York Restaurant
This small family-run business has renovated what used to be the old, gutted Firehouse Tavern into a clean, upscale restaurant. With great food and great drinks, you won’t go amiss joining the dinner crowd at this charming city-style establishment. I recommend the buffalo cauliflower wings. You’ll thank me later.
Just a skip, hop, and a jump across the pond (or in this case, the Hudson River), you’ll find Castle Olana overlooking the Hudson River Valley. Once the home of Frederic Edwin Church of the Hudson River School of landscape painting, the Olana State Historic Site is a beautiful area to explore. Wander through the gardens, read a book down by the heart-shaped pond, or make a hike out of walking the switchback trails from the bottom to the top of Olana.
Golden Harvest Farms
Even if you’re not an apple fan, you’ll want to come to this orchard come apple picking season just for the apple cider donuts alone. Made fresh on the premises, you can smell them baking in the ovens as you pull into the parking lot. Hitch a ride on one of the tractor-pulled wagons after lugging around your picked apples, and enjoy a nice cup of cold or hot cider along with your fresh, warm donuts by the bakery.
Catskill Mountain House
If you want a view of the Catskills, you have to make your way to the North/South Lake Campground. While you’re there, you can take a dip in the lake under the shade of the Catskill High Peaks. When you’re cooled off, take the hike up from the parking lot and follow the trail all the way to the top. You’ll come upon the site of the once-was Catskill Mountain House, and one of the most gorgeous vistas you’re likely to ever find. Once the site of a grand hotel in the 19th and early 20th century, the land now stands empty, and the overlook provides a view that will make you feel as if you’re standing on the edge of the world.
I hope to see you in one of the orchards come this fall. Don’t worry, you’ll probably find me eating donuts and sipping chilled cider by the farm stand.