A Weekend Guide to the Catskills
Catskills regular Ruth Hevelone shares her pro tips for hiking, skiing, zip lining, kayaking, swimming and eating in the Catskills!
I’ve been coming to the Catskills regularly for the past 4-5 years, then finally bit the bullet with my husband in April and bought my very own home away from home in Shandaken, NY. I’m not a “local” yet, but I can give you some seriously good tips of what to do for an amazing weekend in the Catskills.
We now own our little slice of heaven in the Catskills in Shandaken, NY, but before we bought our cottage, we stayed at our fair share of unique little places upstate! Here’s a few:
Spruceton Inn: (Spruceton, NY)
Open just a year now is the incredible 10-room motel called the Spruceton Inn. It was formerly owned by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s uncle, but shut down years ago and was defunct until Brooklynite couple, Casey & Steven found it while driving around the Catskills one day. They have a little bar, big bonfire area, tree swings, and lotttts of hiking. Pro Tip: Ask to stay in room closest to the bar area. That’s where the wifi signal is! Better yet - Put the phone down and enjoy the country!
2080 Spruceton Road, West Kill, NY | 518-989-6404
The Geo Dome: (Woodridge, NY)
Ok, so not exactly in the Catskills, but just south of them is the Geo Dome you can rent on Airbnb owned my my friends Josh and Ambika. It’s one of the most amazing and inspiring places I’ve ever laid my head. The photo here was my view the moment we woke up. They also host yoga classes in the dome from time to time! Pro Tip(s): They also have about 15 angora bunnies that Ambika will let you play with! And go say hi to Annabelle the goat. She pretty much thinks she’s human and will come to play with you. And finally - if you’re in the yard and just yell “ladies, ladies” the chickens will come a runnin’. :)
Foxfire Mountain House: (Mt Tremper, NY)
Slated to open this summer is the Foxfire Mountain House. As my buds at Escape Brooklyn said, “the Foxfire Mountain House is the greatest new destination hotel in the Catskills that you haven’t heard of.” Pro Tip: If the hotel isn’t open yet, you can still stay here at their Airbnb property!
Oh and stay tuned for my own little cottage available for rent later this spring. :) Follow @RudyFrankCottage on Instagram for details!
Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant Farm & Kayaking!: (Halcottsville, NY)
One of our most favorite things to do in the Catskills is go kayaking. If you’ve never been, or if you like kayaking on nice, calm waters, head on over to Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant Farm in Halcottsville, NY. It’s pure bliss. If kayaking isn’t your bag, they also have stand up paddle boarding and a couple canoes. And they’ve got plenty of areas for hiking, picnicking and a handful of hammocks to chill in by the water. Pro Tip: If you have a car, ask them about their “pheasants deal.” He’ll give you a sticker for the car that gives you 20% off anytime you come back!
Peekamoose Blue Hole! (Peekamoose Rd, NY)
This is one of the most majestic places in the Catskills. It’s absolutely stunning and one of the most perfect places to go on a super hot and sunny day. There’s even a rock slide you can ride into the blue hole! Pro Tip: Be prepared to freeze your ass off after diving in! That water NEVER gets warm. Ever.
Hiking + Fire Towers! (CATSKILLS)
There are a handful of hikes you can do to old fire towers in the Catskills. They pretty much all include a serious hike, and the great reward of climbing to the top for an amazing panoramic view of the mountains. Pro Tip: Some of my personal faves are Tremper Tower (about a 4hr round trip hike) and Overlook Tower (more popular and a full day hike).
Ashokan Reservoir! (Ashokan, NY)
There is a stunning little foot/bike only path that goes over the Ashokan. It’s just around a mile or so long and the views are spectacular. Pro Tip: This is the BEST place to watch the sunset in the Catskills and there’s normally not many folks there at that time!
There are a few great mountains to go skiing in the Catskills in winter. Hunter and Belleayre are the bigger resorts and offer skiing until early April, but I personally like the smaller guys like Plattekill. Pro (or not so pro) Tip: If you’re not a big skier, but just wanna have fun, Plattekill has AWESOME snow tubing lanes and isn’t nearly as busy as the other resorts in winter time!
ZIP Line! (Hunter, NY)
Most people know Hunter Mountain for the skiing, but I love it most for the jawdropping zip-lining. There are a few courses you can take in the summer time, but the absolute BEST is the tour called the Skyrider Tour. It’s the longest, fastest AND highest zipline in North America. You’ll get to do over 4 miles of ziplines over 3,200 ft long and 600 ft off the ground over the mountains. Pro Tip: Book in advance! They sell out ahead of time.
Brushland Eating House (Bovina, NY)
The first time we ate here it was actually a different restaurant called Two Old Tarts (now in Andes), but it’s been re-opened as Brushland and has quickly be come THE place to eat in the Catskills. Pro Tip: Don’t try and go for breakfast or lunch - they are only open for dinner!
1927 County Highway 6, Bovina Center, NY 13740 | 607.832.4861
Table on Ten (Bloomville, NY)
Table on Ten is a diamond in the rough. It’s in Bloomville with not much around it, but oh boy is it worth the trip! The owner, Ines, is the loveliest former model from Sweden (I think!) and was so accommodating to us. The pizza is to DIE for. Better than Motorino or Lombardi’s put together. Pro Tip: Pizza is only served on Friday & Sat nights from 6-9pm. Don’t miss it!
52030 Main St, Route 10, Bloomville, NY 13739 | 607.643.6509
Peekamoose (Big Indian, NY)
Peekamoose is one of the nicest restaurants in the Catskills and by far one of the best. The service is top-notch and the food matches it. I think we’ve nearly had about everything on the menu at this point, and you honestly can’t go wrong with anything. Pro Tip: For a weekend you must make a reservation or else you’re likely stuck sitting in the bar with a limited menu. Also - take off the hiking boots and put on a little something nicer. ;)
8373 State Route 28, Big Indian, NY 12410 | 845.254.6500
Brio’s Pizzeria (Phoenicia, NY)
Brio’s is certainly not a fancy farm-to-table style eatery, BUT they do have some phenomenal food and a little of everything. It’s quick, delicious, and the homemade coconut cake is to die for. Don’t miss out on the Italian Grinder or Aunt Mary’s Friday Night pizza. Pro Tip: They are one of the only places I know of in the Catskills that will serve dinner after 10pm!
68 Main St, Phoenicia, NY 12464 | 845.688.5370
Ruth loves the Catskills so much, her and her husband bought a sweet little house there! You can follow their renovations, mid-century modern decorating tips, and soon-to-be-for-rent cottage on Instagram at @RudyFrankCottage.