For President’s Day weekend, H. and I took a last-minute trip out of the city with another couple friend of ours. This was partially precipitated by the fact that H. has a Cadillac rental car for work, which last happened in October, coincidentally when we made our first trip upstate to Saugerties. I had lived in New York for nearly 12 years before I first visited the Catskills, previously known to me as where Baby carried a watermelon. Though our travels have tended towards the exotic/urban/coastal, I’ve come to really love visiting upstate and hope to return for spring and summer. Some notes on where we stayed and what we did on two very different but proximate trips.
Fall – In Town
Main Street, Saugerties
Our first trip upstate was the classic fall foliage pilgrimage (I called our trip “New Yorker eats, shoots leaves!”), we based ourselves in Saugerties partially due to the recommendation of Budget Travel magazine, who included in their list of America’s coolest small towns. We stayed at the Inn at Cafe Tamayo, perfect for trolling the antique stores, eating and drinking in any of the cute local cafes (Bud. Travel was spot-on about Love Bites), or catching a movie. Fall was also a great time for hiking and walking, both out in the forests and state parks and in more urban settings. See this Google map link I created to document the trip for more recommendations, links and pix.
Winter – Out of Town and Inside
We bit the bullet on a February weekend in chilly upstate when a room came available at Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel. The Lazy Meadow is owned by one of the B-52’s (no, it never gets old playing Love Shack when you are there) and is high on the retro kitsch factor. Our cabin had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a fireplace, and a full kitchen – perfect for four people who had no plans other than playing board games, eating, and sitting by the fire. Which is not a bad way to spend a weekend, but look elsewhere for skiing or winter sports, our most physical activity was lugging groceries (and, uh, bottles of wine) to the car. Winter in the Catskills is a much different beast than fall and while we wandered some of the same towns as in October, they felt different, full of locals and some skiers instead of foliage-seeking city daytrippers. A few favorite places and things from when we managed to leave our room in no particular order:
- Whiskey tasting at Tuthilltown Spirits: I’m not even a whiskey drinker but it was fun to stop off at this historic distillery and taste locally made booze. We missed the actual tour, but came away with some baby bourbon, some New York apple vodka, and a buzz that lasted the rest of the drive (don’t worry, our driver abstained).
- Lunch and antiquing in New Paltz: I’ve heard New Paltz referred to as the poor man’s Boulder (due to abundance of fleece and sporty college kids) and my first time upstate I was a little underwhelmed by it, I started to feel it on this trip after a surprisingly great lunch at Harvest Cafe and browsing the stuff at the Antiques Barn (where I’ve starting building a collection of photos taken with my phone of odd animal paintings). Continued kicking myself for not buying the 1950s black and white “dentist’s” cabinet I planned to store all my travel guidebooks, notes, and ephemera that I saw last time upstate.
- Dinner at Peekamoose: Great food, cozy spot in a pretty setting, plus a name that’s fun to say! Not cheap, but good for a celebratory meal, or at least as a break during an epic long Monopoly game. Actually, I don’t know of any Monopoly game that is not epic.
- Breakfast at Sweet Sue’s in Phoencia: Big on a lot of people’s must-try lists, we were lucky not to wait long as we went after noon on President’s Day. It was hard to narrow down just one thing to eat on the menu, I went with the special of carrot cake pancakes and was not disappointed. While in Phoenicia, be sure to poke around the Mystery Spot and try to convince your husband you need a Russian princess wool coat with matching hat, along with some guy’s Cultural Ambassador certificate from the 1939 World’s Fair.
- Steve’s Fabulous Furniture on 28: We all rubbernecked the sculptures on this lawn as we passed by on Route 28 to Lazy Meadow, and had to come back to ogle the art further. The website doesn’t do his stuff justice, the store and lawn outside are full of cool stuff made from vintage Cadillacs, metal, wood, and other stuff. The owner and artist is a bit of an eccentric, I think we passed the test due to our (non-vintage but still sort of fabulous) rental Caddy.
Thanks for advice, recommendations, warnings, and inspiration from Alexander Basek, David Landsel, and Jauntsetter. I’ll add in some photos at some point.