The Coolest Things to Do in Hudson Valley and Catskills Right Now
Prairie-style wagon camping, treats from a net-zero bakery, sensory deprivation flotation therapy, and more.
With chaotic airports, lost baggage, and costly plane tickets, flying to an ideal getaway spot these days can be frustrating. Luckily for us, the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions are just a quick drive or public transportation-ride away.
Known for their beautiful scenery and great outdoors, the two areas have long been accessible destinations for New Yorkers to escape the city—and from the cool to the unconventional, offer plenty of fun activities for a day trip or weekend. From chic glamping and stylish modern lodges, to sensory deprivation flotation therapy and a net-zero bakery, here are all of the coolest things to see, eat, and do in the Hudson Valley and Catskills right now.
Frolic at an Alpine-inspired lodge
A year-round outdoors destination in Hillsdale, the 14-room Little Cat Lodge borrows from ski culture with rustic charm on the outside and Berkshires decor inside. Breathe in the fresh Catamount Mountain air, stroll quiet and walkable forest trails, and calm frayed city nerves by dipping in the seasonal pool or a barrel sauna. After, relax with a beverage from The Tavern—which during chillier temps, features a roaring fire—while awaiting Alpine fare from the James Beard award-winning chef, Jason Bond, at the restaurant, The Dining Room. For off-site day trips, the lodge provides guests with boxed lunches for an additional cost.
Luxuriate in the aroma of freshly-baked bread at a net-zero bakery
New Yorkers are familiar with Bread Alone loaves on the shelves of organic food stores citywide, so schedule a sustainable getaway by visiting the values-driven new Boiceville net-zero bakery in the Catskills. It runs on 100% renewable energy from on-site solar power with scrap wood for its wood-fired ovens and is setting a new standard as a fossil-fuel free U.S. commercial bakery. The spot also partners with Climate Neutral to measure carbon dioxide emissions, is part of 1% for the Planet to tackle environmental issues, bakes with local and organic grains, and uses an efficient fleet of trucks for production and deliveries.
Snuggle up at Scandinavian-inspired digs
Located in Windham—“The Land in the Sky”—in the Catskills, Eastwind’s minimalist cabins and suites for glamping have names like “Lushna” and “Writer’s Studio,” and feature Scandinavian decor and reclaimed wood with bathrooms, sofas, fridges, heat stoves, and of course, cozy beds. Excluding a small number of rooms and a sauna, the property is generally ADA accessible and views from all rooms look out onto the vast outdoors. A bit farther north, Eastwind Lake Placid is their newest venue with twenty-six accommodation options, luxury amenities, hammocks, and fire pits, all overlooking a protected parkland.
Eat at family-owned diner open since 1981
Craving hearty meals during a Hudson Valley day trip or in the midst of your restful weekender? Head to Red Line Diner, a local institution in Fishkill that’s been open for more than four decades. The diner is off a highway for easy access and family owned and operated. Popular dishes include the Seafood Fra Diavolo, Shrimp Crêpes in sherry lobster sauce, and Rack of Lamb. End your meal on a sweet high note with desserts like Rice Pudding, Lemon Meringue, and more. The eatery is open daily and also offers outdoor dining.
Go western at a stylish cowboy lodge
The Urban Cowboy Lodge is a 28-room boutique hotel surrounded by Catskills National Park and a super hip oasis within the region that’s the ideal getaway for anyone needing to unplug, literally (the area has no cell phone service but the property has Wifi access if you need to microdose the ‘gram). Choose from cabins, chalets, and standalone units with cute interior design that includes ikat-like print on bedding and walls, antler decor, and lots of wood furnishing. One of property’s signature draws are the in-room clawfoot tubs with wide views of verdant mountains that burst with color in peak fall foliage season. The on-site restaurant requires a reservation and for activities that whip up an appetite, hike the Esopus Creek and nature trails that run through the property. Urban Cowboy’s newest location is slated for a 2023 Denver opening in an 1880s historic mansion.
Explore historic homes and living museums
The Hudson Valley is replete with historic homes spanning centuries of settlers and generational wealth. In addition, visitors will find Gilded Age mansions and palatial homes, such as Sleepy Hollow’s Kykuit, Hudson Valley’s top cultural attraction that was built in 1913 and home to four generations of the Rockefeller dynasty. Peruse art pieces from Nelson Rockefeller & Warhol and its classic grounds with sculptures, fountains, and manicured lawns. For Revolutionary War nerds, there’s Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site, which was one of the last battles in the northeastern colonies and currently features a museum, historic reenactments, and the Stony Point lighthouse, said to be the oldest on the Hudson River. Lastly, don’t miss the 20-room Armour-Stiner Octagon House in Irvington, built in the 19th century in the form of an ancient temple. Visit its Egyptian Room, ball room, expansive grounds with Hudson River views, greenhouse and more. Museums in the region are currently open to guests through winter.
Sup on the cooking of the world’s future top chefs
When it comes to underrated dining options in the Hudson Valley, The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park tops the list. The Institute is the world’s premier culinary college churning out chefs for over seventy years, and you can taste their creations at the school’s student and faculty-run eateries: The Bocuse Restaurant, American Bounty Restaurant, Ristorante Caterina de Medici, and Apple Pie Bakery. Choose from mouth-watering dishes like Tequila Cured Salmon with citrus crème fraîche and fingerling chips or Grilled Octopus with English peas and torpedo onions. Sate your sweet tooth from the bakery with Dutch Apple Pie, or savory options like Focaccia Pizza, Pork Tostada, and more.
Camp under prairie-style wagon covers
Swap the rustic charm and sleek architecture of lodges and cabins for camping at Catskill Conestoga Wagon Outpost and its signature prairie-style covered wagons on a 7-acre property in the Catskills. If the question of “are they modern” comes to mind, the answer is yes. Each wagon features creature comforts like heat/cool fans, comfy bunks and beds, bathrooms, TV, kitchenette, and microwaves, for a relaxing super chill. For cooler nights, build a campfire and for activities, fish in the Beaverkill River running through the park; go gem mining at Beaverkill River Mining; or kayak or canoe on nearby Lake Wanita before lunch and have a sunset picnic afterwards.
Disconnect from reality in a flotation tank filled with salt
Zephyr Float in Kingston is a spa that offers usual services like Swedish massages for muscle relaxation and hot stone massages for pain relief, but its main draw is its Floatation Therapy. Aimed to provide relief for pain, anxiety, insomnia, and more, step into a 10-inch water-filled tank with a 1000 lbs of Epsom salts that increases water buoyancy, making a body float much like in the Dead Sea. The sensory deprivation tank is devoid of ambient light and sound, thus creating a quiet environment to completely lose yourself in the moment. For the curious, there are float and massage packages to try.
Maintain your camping street cred through glamping
If wagon campsites don’t do it for you—but you still want the thrill and street cred of camping—glamp at Autocamp Catskills. Here, choose from Airstream suites with kitchenettes and airy spaces to premium cabin suites or luxury tents with linens and outdoor views. The long list of things to delight in include the grill, fire-pit, custom interior fixtures, Wifi, and nature, all nestled in a verdant location. Enjoy nearby calming activities like meditation, yoga, and forest-bathing in the Catskills or heart-stopping activities like rock climbing in the 'Gunks. And for those that require them, there are accessible accommodation options with identical offerings as well.
Visit a massive (and often underrated) sculpture park
Founded in 1968 on 55 acres of meadow and forested paths that was once a quarry, the Opus 40 sculpture park and museum is located outside of the village of Saugerties. It was created by Bard professor Harvey Fite, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The expansive park is inspired by Mayan ruins and built using the existing rubble from the quarry and traditional hand tools used by its workers. Also featuring the Quarryman’s Museum—a collection of quarry tools and artifacts—this must-see outdoor destination is also considered the “Stonehenge of North America” by some in the sculpture world.
Stroll through a charming town on Saturdays for arts, shopping, and bites
Spend every other Saturday in Kingston for “Second Saturday.” Running until December 10, particularly on the second Saturday of every month, participating businesses stay open later than usual. But when it comes to its usual programming, visitors can stroll Uptown Kingston for home goods, vintage clothing and furnishing, gifts, and locally made foods to haul back home. In addition, pop into galleries for fine art or walk Kingston streets for their iconic murals and street art depicting various societal themes.
Take part in nurture and nature activities in New Paltz
New Paltz is located just 90 minutes from New York City and offers an experiential mix of both nature and nurture. Visit Minnewaska State Park Preserve and its renowned ‘Gunks (Shawangunk Ridge) for daredevil rock-climbing and hard hiking trails; apple picking orchards in fall, and of course, majestic fall foliage hues. If you prefer to chill and nurture your being, indulge in a day guest package at Mohonk Mountain House and choose from a spa day, local dining, boating, on-site hiking, and golf. Enjoy craft cider and wood-fired barbecue at Twin Star Orchards with live music to lull you. For food lovers, there’s the upcoming Fermentation Festival at Twin Star Orchards to feast on everything fermented, from kimchi and cheese to beer. For history buffs, don’t miss Historic Huguenot Street for stone houses, an original burying ground with exhibits that highlight the lives of the Indigenous people, enslaved Africans, and Dutch & French settlers that once inhabited the area.
Escape for the outdoors with your new group of nature besties
If you live in a major city and wish you had easy access to the great outdoors, check out Mappy Hour, an organization that hosts monthly outdoors-centric meetups for city dwellers to tap into their adventurous side. New Yorkers can link up with the New York City Chapter, and upcoming trips include jaunts to Onteora Lake in the Catskills for fishing, canoeing, camping, and hiking in September. Browse through for outdoor adventures in other major cities as well.