A Weekend in the Catskills

welcome to the catskills

When the rooster’s crow is your alarm clock, and your yoga studio is outdoors with a stunning mountain skyline, that’s how you know you’ve escaped the city for a weekend getaway to the Catskills. This upstate oasis is about a 2.5-3 hour drive from the city, but once you’re there you’ll feel like you’re worlds away. For starters, cell reception is nonexistent in many areas, so you can truly be off the grid. But if you’re afraid that you’ll be a little too isolated, rest assured that you will run into many New Yorkers, a lot of them from Brooklyn, while hiking along the trail or having dinner at a locally sourced restaurant. In fact, it seems like the Catskills are where young Brooklynites go to retire, trading in their 9-to-5 for a sustainable farm or a charming bed and breakfast. And who knows, after spending a few days here and getting that mountain air glow, you may just join them.

the spruceton inn

Where to stay: Spruceton Inn // 2080 Spruceton Rd, West Kill, NY 12492 // (518) 989-6404
Spruceton Inn is a charming mountain lodge run by ex-Brooklynite Casey Scieszka and her husband Steven Weinberg. The nine rooms here are basic but comfortable, with no TV or wifi, features meant to preserve the true spirit of a rustic getaway. It encourages you to spend your time outside doing what matters, like grilling some meats or tackling an uphill climb. You’ll be amazed by how much you can get done without your phone. You might even write a book here, which is what happened to Stephanie Danler, who worked on her bestseller Sweetbitter while staying at Spruceton Inn. 

phoenicia diner’s famous buttermilk silver dollar pancakes
fried chicken sandwich, one of the specials of the day

Where to eat: Phoenicia Diner // 5681 NY-28, Phoenicia, NY 12464 // (845) 688-9957
No throwback weekend to the good old days is complete without a hearty meal at a diner. Phoenicia Diner, which is about a 25 minute drive from Spruceton Inn, offers an all-American comfort food menu with classics like burgers and fries and meatloaf. But the nostalgia takes a few twists and turns with dishes like tortilla soup and gumbo. The real hits, though, tend to be the more familiar. The buttermilk silver dollar pancakes are a must, the breakfast skillets are always solid, and if the spicy fried chicken sandwich special is available, don’t pass it up.

peekamoose restaurant in big indian, ny

Where to eat: Peekamoose // 8373 NY-28, Big Indian, NY 12410 // (845) 254-6500
The New York expats have brought good food with them. The owners of Peekamoose, a seasonal, farm-to-table restaurant in nearby town Big Indian, left behind the fancy trappings of their Gramercy Tavern and Le Bernardin pedigrees to be closer to the food source. The menu here changes daily to represent the freshest ingredients available from local purveyors. Get the caramelized onion tart and the housemade charcuterie for starters, and ask for the steak frites for your entree. The steak frites are technically a bar menu item only, but the staff will be more than happy to make it for you in the main dining area.

happy trails to you on hunter mountain

What to do: Hike Hunter Mountain via Spruceton Trail
The beauty of the Catskills is fully appreciated from the mountain tops. It won’t be easy getting there, but once you reach the summit you will be rewarded with great views and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. The Spruceton Trail at Hunter Mountain, which is a short drive from the inn, is a challenging one, and it seems like you will be walking uphill for an eternity. Once you reach the John Robb lean-to, take your victory pictures from the top and immediately start making your way back down, since you’ve earned a hot shower and a long nap.

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