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If we learned anything from “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” it’s that the Catskills will always be an opportunity for lakeside relaxation and for fashion-forward New Yorkers to get some clean air and potentially find a partner who looks like Zachary Levi. And, of course, it’s worth noting that the Catskills isn’t just a summer weekend vacation spot for NYC folk. The whole northeast can easily take advantage of the area, and each season offers plenty of things to do in the Catskills. Whether you’re passing through for a day en route to another destination, or you’re a Catskills regular and need a greatest-hits itinerary for when family comes to visit, here’s our guide to 24 hours in the Catskills.
9 a.m.: Breakfast at Bread Alone
Start your day at a Catskills staple, Bread Alone, where you’ll find the region’s best bread, morning pastries, and good coffee to go with your cranberry and walnut scone. Making delectable baked goods since 1983, Bread Alone now has multiple locations in Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
10 a.m.: Hike to Kaaterskill Falls
The Catskills are, first and foremost, an area celebrated for their mountains. And of course, the proximity to the valleys of New York—Hudson Valley, Schoharie Valley, and the like—and the New York-New Jersey region of the Appalachian Trail makes the hiking trails even more appealing. Of course, 24 hours in the Catskills doesn’t allow for a full-day hike, but there are some stunning waterfalls to see via short hiking loops. Try hiking the 1.3-mile loop to Kaaterskill Falls, the tallest two-stage waterfall in the state. Though it’s a short trek, it’s a steep one; the pre-falls ascent culminates in 620 stone steps. You’ll want to wear hiking shoes with reliable traction because the falls can make the steps wet and slippery.
12:30 p.m.: Enjoy the lake views
When your hike wraps up, grab a to-go latte at Bear and Fox Provisions or Twin Peaks Coffee and Donuts, both just 10 minutes from the falls in Tannersville. Take your treats to one of the many lakes that have city dwellers flocking to the Catskills. Swinging Bridge Lake, Yankee Lake, Sleepy Hollow Lake, and Lake Huntington are just a few options for those looking for a scenic waterfront to take in post-hike. The lake closest to Kaaterskill Falls is North-South Lake in the Catskill Forest Preserve.
1:30 p.m.: Lunch at Shindig
Lunch has to be chic comfort food at Shindig in Woodstock. It’s everything you want in a lunch spot; seasonal ingredients sourced locally, light and airy decor, and a beautiful menu that capitalizes on variety, health, and comfort. Located on Tinker Street, their mantra is “endless days of peace and food.”
3 p.m.: Sample the local distilled wares or the area’s best brews
Catskill Distilling Company in Bethel is open until 5 p.m. on weekends, so getting there by mid-afternoon should give you enough time to taste their whiskeys, gins, and (of course) their signature Peace Vodka. If you’re more of a beer connoisseur, Catskill Brewery makes some of the best pilsners and IPAs in the area, so you can instead re-route to Livingston Manor, NY to try their Devil’s Path IPA and Nightshine black lager.
5 p.m.: Take in some local art at Stray Cat Gallery
If you’re visiting from NYC, you’re no stranger to bouncing between good drinks and good art. Well, fortunately, that tradition absolutely carries over in the Catskills, especially because Stray Cat Gallery is on the same property as Catskill Distilling Company. (They also share the property sight with Dancing Cat Saloon, if that calls to you at any point in your 24-hour Catskill excursion.) After tasting the spirits at Catskill Distilling, browse the outdoor sculptures that Stray Cat proudly showcases and photographs from renown music photographers who have captured the area’s history through some of the last century’s biggest music names. One thing to note is that their hours are by appointment only, so you’ll want to call ahead to reserve time at the gallery.
6 p.m.: Dinner at Cucina
Cucina is a converted farmhouse in Woodstock serving classic Italian, and the best seats for dinner are on the wraparound porch. Cucina comes within shouting distance of upscale but still has a relaxed feel. There’s no pretension at Cucina, just a restaurant that puts the scenic-but-homey Catskills ambiance at the forefront of the dining experience along with undeniably great food.
8 p.m.: Take in a show at Bethel Woods Center.
Bethel Woods Center comes with a certain amount of clout because it’s on the site of the famed 1969 Woodstock festival. As a result, they attract some must-see talent for big music fans. If your visit doesn’t coincide with, say, Elton John’s, Bethel Woods Center also hosts movie screenings in the evening, which are a great way to wrap up your day in the Catskills.
Where to stay in the Catskills
One of our favorite luxury Catskill boutique hotels is The Woodstock Inn on the Millstream, a charming bed and breakfast on three stunning acres of wilderness. It has all the perks of remote relaxation, from the millstream running through the property to the idyllic lawn lined with maples and pines. But it’s still walking distance to Tinker Street, one of the main drags of Woodstock.