New York: The Cat's Got Skills
I would venture to say the Catskills are an up and coming, getaway, hot spot for city dwellers in the northeast. The Catskills are a group of various towns and cities among the green, lush, rolling (I would call them hills but out here they are called...) mountains located in southeastern NY state. It's a great escape from NYC and provides a bunch of different outdoor activities not available in the big apple. I have been to a few towns in the last year and a half, so I thought I would drop some of my inland NY knowledge for you all.
Tips & Tricks: I would highly recommend renting an Airbnb. It's a great way to truly enjoy the catskills, drinking wine outside among the trees and cooking with friends and basking in the morning sun with a cup of coffee while all you hear are birds chirping. There's a lot to do in the Catskills area: hiking, wine tasting, picking fruit from different farms, horseback riding, river rafting, and swimming in lakes.
I also suggest a car or borrowing a friends. You can really only get around by car, there aren't many trains that stop along the way, plus exploring cute towns around your Airbnb is another great way to spent the day.
Most recently my friends and I stayed in Gardiner, NY. A very tiny town near the Gunks, where there is some epic rock climbing (some of the best in North America, who knew?) and hiking trails. We were about a 15 minutes drive away from New Paltz, a larger town with cute restaurants, a bunch of hippie boutiques and one tavern.
N e w P a l t z
The best place to hike and swim is Minnewaska State Park . Hike around the lake for an easier flat hike, or up to the light house and then take a dip in the pristine, calm water from the small dock near the main entrance.
The best breakfast an/or lunch is Main Street Bistro. They have huge portions to gear up for a hike or to restore your body afterwards. I have the Salmon hash which was amazing and also written up in Triathlon Magazine. If you're a breakfast fan then you'll love that they serve breakfast ALL day.
The best fromage is at The Cheese Plate is an adorable little space that stinks of all the most delicious local cheeses. They also sell picnic baskets, cheese accessories and cute kitchen gear, stop by to select some cheeses to have with your wine after a long day of hiking.
Meg's Gem: The best coffee (and matcha) can be found at Lagusta's Luscious Commissary along with Stumptown coffee and fine chocolates.
G A R D I N E R
Best cocktails are shaken at Tuthilltown distillery and their mac and cheese is to die for. If you live for spirits, definitely try their spirit tasting that takes place in the 220 year old mill granary that was converted into a distillery. There is also a restaurant and patio area where you can revel in delicious cocktails and have a snack next to the river.
Best no frills wine tasting is what Whitecliff Vineyard is all about. Located in a wooden, basic building, you can choose your own tasting or select from their offerings. The 2014 reserve Chardonnay is perfect for a hot day sitting on the grass next to rows of grapes. Feel free to bring your own portable chairs, snacks and just chill.
New York's largest nature preserve and home to some of the areas most difficult and fun hikes such as The Lemon Squeeze is Mohonk Preserve. The main attraction is Mohonk Mountain House located on the Shawagunk ridge overlooking Mohonk lake. It costs $26 dollars to hike on the property, the only way you get a free pass to enter the premises is by making a lunch or dinner reservation at the hotel's restaurant.
Other great towns in the Catskills:
Phoenicia is a cute, one street long, tiny town with hiking trails, cute cafes, great camping and their main attraction, water rafting. It's definitely worth it to try the Town Tinker Tube experience and tube down the Esopus River.
Bethel is a town about an hour and a half from Woodstock, NY where the famous festival actually took place. Take a couple hours and spend time at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. You'll learn all about the evolution of the concert and how Woodstock rocked the nation.