It’s not just cascading waterfalls and emerald-cloaked mountains that entice people away from the streets of New York into the bucolic wilderness of the Catskill Mountains. The region is also home to ski resorts, wineries and water parks, along with hotels that have hiking trails right on their doorsteps. Here’s our pick of where to stay, what to do and where to eat in the Catskills.
Slip on your thickest coat, step into skis and swish down the powdery slopes of Hunter Mountain. Tailored more to beginners looking to build confidence, this ski lesson is taught by an experienced guide who will show you how to carve your own tracks in the pristine snow. Over the course of the 90-minute experience, you’ll learn the right way to do the always-dependable snow plough, discover the basic skiing stance and even try your hand at a few turns.
Indulge your inner child – or rope in the kids – for a fun-filled day whizzing down the slides at the Zoom Flume Water Park. With a full day pass in your pocket, you’ll be granted access to unlimited use of all water attractions from opening until closing. Shove your things in an electronic locker and spend your time rocketing down the 300ft (91m) slide, drifting on the lazy river or, if you have little ones, splashing around in the mini pool. Take a breather to tuck into lunch at the food court or languish on one of the private cabanas.
Gulp down fresh, organic juices and dig into locally sourced vegan fare at the Garden Cafe. Found curbside in Woodstock, this is a Pinterest-perfect incarnation of a rustic cafe, with whitewashed beams, artfully distressed wood-paneled floors and tulips blooming from vases on the tables. Outside you’ll find a plant-fringed garden, which is equally enchanting, with a canopy of tree branches providing extra shade. Once you’ve decided where to sit, fill up on a hearty veggie lasagna or keep it light with a salad of baby spinach, apple, dried cranberry and walnuts, drizzled in Dijon vinaigrette.
Soak up the heady rush of sommelier-recommended wines with salted charcuterie, creamy cheeses or roasted red peppers at Ze Windham Wine Bar. Inside is a winter-wonderland-meets-Jane-Austen, decorated with ornate silver-rimmed mirrors, cherub oil paintings and porcelain plates – complete with crystal chandeliers hanging above the marble tables and faux-fur throws draped across sofas. This is a great place for sipping and socializing, and a hum of chatter spills from the doors, punctuated by popped corks or the arrival of cheeseboards piled with brie, caramelized onion cheddar and manchego.