The Sullivan Catskills: Small Towns, Big Experiences

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Kaaterskill waterfall in the upstate New York

When one thinks of the Catskills, what comes to mind? Dirty Dancing?  Grossingers? Kutchers?  The Hudson River School of Arts?  Summer sleep away camps?  Perhaps these images call up old memories or curiosity about the Catskills of today.

If so, there is so much more to know about this compelling destination just two to three hours from New York City — with its myriads of attractions and activities that cater to a wide range of interests.

Known for its natural beauty, outdoor activities, cultural and culinary experiences, the Catskills, in southeastern New York, is home to 98 peaks— 705,000 acres of Catskill Park. Fun fact, did you know that this destination  provides 95% of the drinking water for NYC based on its rivers, streams, waterfalls, and eco-friendly environment?

Here is a quick snapshot of some possibilities for the curious traveler:

Natural Beauty and Outdoor Activities

Seeking a break from the city that includes scenic landscapes, hiking, waterfalls and water-based activities? Look no further than the stunning natural beauty of the Catskills that has inspired artists like Thomas Cole, whose paintings of the Catskills can be seen in the National Gallery of Arts in Washington, DC.

For the hiker, a network of trails (from easy to difficult), include a short and easy hike to the former location of the Catskills Mountain House, with its 3000 feet high view of the Hudson Valley…. or for the daring and more experienced, the infamous 24-miles Devils Path, credited with being the most challenging hike in the State.

If you are yearning to be in the water, there are opportunities for whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding…or a relaxing swim in many of the lakes and ponds in the area, including the popular North-South Lake.

But if you are more of a “spectator” …… you can check out many of the scenic Catskills Fall.  One not to be missed is the Kaaterskill Falls, with powerful streams which turn into smaller cascades that finally rest in pools among rocky beds.  At 200 feet, it is the tallest cascading falls in New York State.




The Flavors of The Catskills: A Culinary Experience

The Catskills are renowned for their “farm to table” eateries, where visitors can enjoy dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients.  Trout appears on almost every menu and the area abounds with local bounties like fresh produce, funky cheese, maple syrup, freshly baked goods, milk and honey.

During a recent visit to Bethel, NY in the Catskills, our culinary experience ranged from casual dining to gourmet fare.  Beginning with breakfast at the Bethel Street Market, locals gather not only for the best coffee and pastries in town but also to discuss the events of the day, ranging from politics to the upcoming annual Tractor Parade.

A popular choice for lunch or dinner (reservations required) is The Heron, located in the nearby Delaware River community of Narrowsburg.  There, patrons take as much pride in sharing their history as dishing up locally sourced dishes, starting with freshly made hot biscuits and honey served at every meal.

And for “date night” or a special occasion meal, there is The DeBruce located in Livingston Manor, named one of the best restaurants in America by Esquire Magazine.

An equally good choice is dining at Kenoza Hall, a hotel-based restaurant which offers fine dining on a bluestone patio deck with sweeping views of Kenoza Lake.

Our fare for the evening included local treats of maple glazed salmon and a delightful watermelon and pink pineapple salad!

All these communities BTW are located relatively close to one another.

Lastly, the region also boasts a selection of wineries, craft breweries, and cideries, offering small-batch and award-winning beverages.

Unique Attractions

In addition to Delaware River Rafting, Resorts World Catskills, with a 100,000 square foot casino, and the Kartrite Indoor Waterpark boasting the world’s largest transparent roof, there are sky rides to the summits of Hunter and Windham Mountains, and a 100-year-old antique bowling alley located at the North Branch Inn.

While all these activities are truly unique, the “hippie” in me chose to explore The Bethel Wood Center for the Arts.   This site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival features concerts in a 16,000-seat amphitheater, a museum celebrating the era and weekend festivals.

As a bit of history, the festival was borne out of the times and the emergence of four young entrepreneurs who together formed the Woodstock Venture to turn the 600 acre dairy farm of Max Yasgur into an iconic 3-day event, which attracted over 460,000 people.  Now regarded as a pivotal moment in music history, the festival attracted musicians including Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Joan Baez, Crosby Sills and Nash and others.  This moment in time is exquisitely captured in “one of a kind” films, interactive media, photographs, and even a psychedelic bus in this 6000 sq foot museum.  For those of us who lived through the 60’s with the Cuban Missile Crises, the assassination of JFK, the Beatles, the escalation of the Vietnam War, the DNC Chicago riots and the Summer of Love, a trip through this museum is indeed “cellular”!  Highly recommend.

Charming Hamlets, Boutique Hotels and The Red Bird House

The Catskills are dotted with charming hamlets and boutique hotels that provide a quaint and relaxing atmosphere.  Places like Narrowsburg, Callicoon, Hurleyville, and Livingston Manor are popular for their unique shops, cafes and a slower pace of life.

However, my discovery for a true “wellness retreat” is the Red Bird House, located on 7 idyllic acres in Bethel, NY, close to the Bethel Center for the Arts.  The inspiration of wellness pioneers Sallie Fraenkel and Wendy Bosalavage, this 4025 sq foot destination, designed by an award-winning architect, is the perfect healing space for mind, body and soul.

State of the art wellness amenities include an infrared sauna, salt chamber, steam shower, meditation pod, yoga studio, massage room, hot tub, and exercise equipment.  Additional “creature comforts” range from a white noise machine and bluetooth connected speakers to an outdoor pit, Bar B Q grill, a wood burning fireplace and bathrooms with radiant heat for cooler days and nights.  A modern kitchen is fully equipped and with a bevy of local practitioners, one can even call in a private chef, masseuse or other wellness professionals.

With 4 bedrooms, Red Bird is a unique vacation rental property, ideal for wellness vacationers, a family or couples get-away, and for retreats which are held there on a year around basis.  Further info at https://redbirdhouseny.com

I hope this article gives you a glimpse of all the possibilities for a destination providing rest and recreation, small and friendly, but guaranteed to leave you refreshed in no small way!

 

Anne brings a wealth of knowledge to her role as The Three Tomatoes’ Beauty, Health and Wellness Editor. As a champion of health and well-being for all, she is the Founder/Publisher of GLOW Beauty, Health and Wellness magazine; previous Founder of Castle Connolly Graduate Medical Publishing, publishing educational review manuals for doctors to pass their board exams in 15 different medical specialties and co-Founder of MDPublish.com, publishing and marketing books for health professionals. A winner of the SMART CEO award for "entrepreneurial spirit with a sense of give back to the community," Anne sits on many Boards for women's health, with a particular passion for Veterans and her current
role as Special Advisor to Operation Warrior Shield, "healing their hidden wounds". www.operationwarriorshield.com.

Visit Anne at: www.glowbeautymag.com
or: www.mdpublish.com.

Anne Akers

Anne brings a wealth of knowledge to her role as The Three Tomatoes’ Beauty, Health and Wellness Editor. As a champion of health and well-being for all, she is the Founder/Publisher of GLOW Beauty, Health and Wellness magazine; previous Founder of Castle Connolly Graduate Medical Publishing, publishing educational review manuals for doctors to pass their board exams in 15 different medical specialties and co-Founder of MDPublish.com, publishing and marketing books for health professionals. A winner of the SMART CEO award for "entrepreneurial spirit with a sense of give back to the community," Anne sits on many Boards for women's health, with a particular passion for Veterans and her current role as Special Advisor to Operation Warrior Shield, "healing their hidden wounds". www.operationwarriorshield.com. Visit Anne at: www.glowbeautymag.com or: www.mdpublish.com.

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