I’ve been to New York City several times but have never ventured upstate to spend a weekend in the Catskills until recently!
Where is Catskill?
Catskill is a picturesque town along the Hudson River only a two-hour train away from the city. It’s nestled in the Catskill Mountains and has attracted a somewhat bohemian and artistic crowd. There are so many sustainable things to do in the Catskills that make it the perfect place for a relaxing yet eco-friendly getaway.
Whether you enjoy hiking, glamping, antiquing or tasting local food, you’ll find it in Catskill. Below, I’ve put together the best things to do in Catskills, New York including where to stay and what to eat.
Where to Stay in the Catskills:
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Located in the middle of the Catskill Mountains, and just 15 minutes from town, is Getaway House. This is one of the best places to stay in the Catskills if you want to enjoy the peaceful surrounding nature while still being close to the heart of things.
Getaway House has several tiny cabins, located just far enough from your neighbor to give you total privacy. The Catskills outpost also has the option to camp if you’d prefer.
What to Expect from Getaway House:
- 1 or 2 bed cabins
- Heating and AC
- Private bathroom and a kitchen
- Outdoor area with fire pit, picnic table, and chairs
- Tech-free activities: games, crayons, books, and a radio
- Limited cell service and no Wifi to help you disconnect
I was surprised by how spacious and comfortable each Getaway House was — they know how to utilize the small space. My favorite part was the comfy bed with a window wall looking straight into the forest. It really opened up the space and made you feel like you were sleeping in nature. I loved having my morning coffee in bed and soaking up the scenery.
Getaway House is the ideal eco-friendly accommodation, making sustainability comfortable and stylish. They take several measures to conserve resources such as limited hot water and energy-efficient lighting. Each cabin is only cleaned at the end of your stay so you’re encouraged to reuse your towels and bedding.
Getaway House has the following sustainable amenities:
- Equipped kitchen with a refrigerator, stovetop, dishes, cookware, and utensils
- Drinkable water
- Responsibly-sourced provisions such as coffee, tea, and kitchen basics
- Chargeable lantern
- Reusable sponge and sustainable dish soap
- Biodegradable toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, and body wash
- Fire log bundles (available for purchase)
I loved getting back to the cabin after spending the day in the city and building a fire. Each house comes with individually portioned fire kits so that you don’t use more firewood or kindling than necessary. Plus, they have a S’mores kit available for purchase which gave the two of us two S’mores each.
While there are several hotel options in Catskill and the surrounding areas, I can’t recommend Getaway House enough. I would, however, recommend renting a car during your trip to the Catskills, especially if you plan to hike. However, we didn’t have a car during our stay and it was still easy to schedule transportation throughout the Catskills.
Use code CONSCIOUSLIFE for $25 off your booking!
Where to Eat in Catskill, New York:
I was really impressed with the food options in Catskill. We didn’t have a bad meal throughout the trip! I’m plant-based, so it’s usually harder to find something to eat in smaller towns. That was not the case in Catskill — there were so many plant-based options.
Some of my favorite local or plant-based places to eat in Catskill were:
This funky “fam to picnic table” cafe is located right on Main Street with bright decor that you can’t miss. They have a variety of Western and Asian-influenced dishes, featuring vegan versions of everything, plus local ethically-raised meat. Plus they sell artisan goods like tote bags, lip balm, and local wine.
Right next to Mermaid Cafe, you’ll find Bittersweet Catskill. You don’t want to miss out on this locally run ice cream shop. They make delicious, fresh premium flavors and they also offer vegan options.
One of my favorite cafes in Catskill was HiLo. They serve local coffee, freshly baked pastries, and bagels as well as a small menu with ample plant-based options. With hip decor, HiLo has a selection of games for patrons to enjoy their time here. They also feature local art and sell a selection of items to inspire mindfulness: yoga mats, books, and journals.
A popular local bakery and cafe, this family-run spot is the perfect place to enjoy brunch or lunch. At Willa’s, you’ll find goods baked from scratch and a menu centered around seasonal ingredients from local farmers. The hip industrial location also offers wonderful views of Catskill Creek.
A local institution, this old-timey diner is the perfect place to find American comfort food, made from scratch. Gracie’s is known for their delicious donuts and classic dishes like fried chicken, burgers, and brisket. They source most of their ingredients locally. Plus, they have a surprising amount of plant-based options so it’s a great choice for all dietary restrictions.
Sustainable Things to do in Catskill, New York:
If you’re wondering what to do in the Catskills, you’ve come to the right place. For such a small town, there are plenty of things to do and see throughout.
Local, Sustainable, and Vintage Shopping
Within seconds of walking down Main Street, you will stumble across numerous vintage or antique storefronts. There is a fantastic variety of local shopping here, making it one of the best sustainable things to do in Catskill.
Some of my favorite sustainable stores in Catskill, NY are:
The Catskills are famous for their mountains, so a trip here isn’t complete without going hiking. This is one of the best things to do in the Catskills in Spring because you can enjoy the waterfalls but also have warm weather.
Depending on your tolerance to the cold, hiking in Catskill is almost a year-round activity.
The best Catskill hikes are as follows:
By far the most popular hike in the Catskill mountains is Kaaterskills Falls. It’s easy to see why when you visit these gorgeous cascading waterfalls. You can easily view the upper falls from a lookout, or do the short yet challenging out and back hike.
This is a gorgeous, lowkey hike centered around the lake. You can swim or kayak in parts of the lake and even camp. If you want a longer trek, this trail can easily be combined with nearby Kaaterskills Falls.
There are so many historic places to visit in the Catskills. The Hudson River Art Trail can help you narrow it down, by providing a map and guide to 20 different sites throughout the area. A community-led initiative, each sight featured was the subject of a 19th-century Hudson River School painting.
Choose your desired destination, like Olana State Historic Site or Sunset Rock, and they will give you the history as well as everything you need to know to visit. This is the perfect sustainable activity for art, history, and nature lovers.
Upstate New York is known for their ciders thanks to its bountiful and varied apple selection. If you want to taste cider, then you need to stop by Left Bank Ciders. Located right on Kaaterskill Creek, Left Bank makes small-batch ciders featuring local flavors.
I recommend the tasting flight so you can try six different varieties. You can also take some ciders to go to enjoy back at your accommodation. If you’re here on a Thursday, stop by for their Farmer’s Night Market.
More into beer than cider? Catskill has several local breweries to choose from. Check out Subversive Brewing, they brew and malt their beer in-house.
See a Show or Visit the Theater
Catskill is a surprisingly artistic and creative town. Home to several theaters, you can find live music, plays, or see a movie, most nights of the week. It’s easy to support local artists on a trip to the Catskills.
Some great, independent and local venues to support are:
Explore Neighboring Hudson
If you’re looking for things to do near the Catskills, there are plenty of interesting neighboring towns.
Hudson is the closest town to Catskill, just 15 minutes away across the Hudson River. If you’re taking the train here, you’ll arrive and depart from Hudson and it’s definitely worth spending some time in.
Walk up and down Warren Street and stop in sustainable boutiques, vintage shops, and family-owned restaurants. Hudson has a similar vibe to Catskill, but it’s a little bigger and more upscale.
You’ll also find several places to enjoy wine tasting, as well as more accommodation options in Hudson.
Once you’re done exploring, just hop on the Amtrak and head back to New York City.
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About The Author:
Alicia Briggs is a writer & editor specializing in slow travel & sustainable living. She’s worked in journalism since 2016 and currently writes for a variety of publications such as Sustainably Chic and Hidden Lemur. She has been a full-time traveler since 2018 and runs her own blog, Learning the Local Way, where she covers responsible travel & living tips.