The 10 Most Charming Towns in New York's Catskills (2024)

Rising from the Hudson River’s western bank, the Catskill Mountains span roughly 700,000 acres of ruggedly beautiful terrain, interspersed by idyllic lakes, gushing rivers, and historic towns. Although rural, the region boasts a vibrant cultural scene of farm-to-table eateries, breweries, and art galleries in addition to its natural splendor. Much of the Catskill region lies just two to three hours by car away from New York City, making it an accessible and tempting getaway for many. To help get your trip planning started, we’ve outlined the 10 most charming towns in New York’s Catskills.

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Livingston Manor

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Although Livingston Manor is conveniently accessible from NY-17, the town’s quaint Main Street and setting along the Willowemoc Creek feels far more removed. The waterway’s thriving trout population has long attracted fly fishermen. You can catch your own dinner on a guided outing with the Livingston Manor Fly Fishing Club, which also houses a glamping site and stylish guest rooms, or sample smoked trout alongside other locally sourced bites at Main Street Farm back in town. Aside from its fly fishing appeal, there are plentiful nearby hiking trails, such as Wildcat Falls and the Balsam Lake Fire Tower. Reward your efforts at Catskill Brewery afterwards.

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Catskill embodies everything the region is known for: history, art, trendy cafes, and extraordinary scenery. The downtown core features a wonderful mix of boutiques and cafes in historic Victorian buildings. This particular spot on the Hudson River’s west bank has inspired numerous painters, namely Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of Art. His former studio and residence can be toured to admire his brilliant landscape paintings and artifacts from his life. Across the Hudson at Olana State Historic Site, the former estate of painter Frederic Church is worth seeking out for its galleries and stunning architecture. Conveniently located beside Thomas Cole’s house, the Post Cottage offers elegant accommodation and spacious grounds.

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Situated on a scenic bend in the Delaware River, Narrowsburg’s Main Street is chock full of hip boutiques, galleries, and eateries. Just off the main drag, The Launderette merits a stop for delectable wood-fired pizza and exceptional views of the Delaware from its balcony. This portion of the river is also renowned for its water sports opportunities. Lander’s River Trips offers a range of tubing, rafting, kayaking, and canoeing excursions. While the Tusten Theatre and Delaware Valley Arts Alliance maintain an active cultural scene year-round, the annual Riverfest brings artists, performers, and artisans to the town each July for a vibrant street festival.

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Due south of Catskill, Saugerties occupies a picturesque setting on the Hudson that can be reached in just two hours by car from Manhattan. Downtown Saugerties is easily navigable on foot, with many restaurants, shops, and bars to explore. Load up on provisions and head south down Partition Street to Saugerties Village Beach for a picnic and refreshing dip in the calm water of Esopus Creek. A bit further out, the Esopus Bend Nature Preserve and Saugerties Lighthouse are lovely spots for a short hike. The Diamond Mills Hotel is a bit steep for the area, but the onsite amenities and private balconies overlooking the waterfront are worth splurging for.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.

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The famous Woodstock Festival actually took place across the Catskills in Bethel, but the flourishing art and counter-culture scene here dates back much further than 1969. The Byrdcliffe Guild, which was founded in 1902 as a utopian artist colony, maintains a stacked schedule of classes, exhibitions, and performances on its 250-acre campus. Downtown Woodstock packs dozens of galleries, restaurants, specialty shops, and a weekend flea market in just a few blocks. Nearby, Overlook Mountain is a popular trek among skilled hikers for its expansive views, whereas the mile-long Comeau Property Trail is better suited for a leisurely stroll or playing disc golf. The boutique Herwood Inn embodies Woodstock’s creativity and quirkiness in its décor and guest room furnishings.

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Nestled between forested peaks on the Delaware River’s West Branch, Delhi packs a compelling food and art scene beside nature-based attractions. Dozens of cafes and restaurants line the town’s Main Street, including Quarter Moon Café and Catskilll Momos, known for their innovative fare and Himalayan cuisine, respectively. Just outside town, the renowned culinary arts program at SUNY Delhi showcases its students’ talents at Bluestone. Between meals, the well-maintained trail to Bramley Mountain’s 2,817-foot summit is a worthwhile jaunt north of downtown. Hikers will be rewarded with sweeping views from the fire tower and striking cliffs and caves along the way. The West Branch House is an ideal home base to explore downtown and beyond.

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Set right on the banks of the Beaverkill, Roscoe is another hotspot for fly fishing. To stock up on gear or schedule a guided trip, Catskill Flies is your best bet for finding the best spots to drop your line. The local brewery, Roscoe Beer Company, even has a live trout tank in its cozy tasting room and features the fish on many of its cans. Roscoe’s former fire station houses Prohibition Distillery, where you can sample gin, whiskey, and vodka or sip co*cktails al fresco at the Bootlegger’s Alley Bar during summer. Outside of town, Russel Brook Falls and Buck Brook Alpacas make for great day trips to get reacquainted with nature and interact with these adorable, furry creatures. Staying at the Reynolds House Inn affords easy access to Roscoe’s downtown shops and eateries.

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Located in the heart of the Catskills, Windham is best-known as a convenient ski getaway from New York City. While Windham Mountain’s expansive trail system and terrain parks are certainly a big draw, there is still plenty to do after the snow melts. Mountain biking and hiking opportunities abound in the steep landscape. The ascent to Cave Mountain’s summit affords panoramic views, whereas the Windham Path trail is a gentler trek along the Batavia Kill. Windham’s historic downtown dates back to 1798 and wields a wide range of dining and nightlife options. Due to Windham Mountain’s popularity, lodging here is abundant compared to other Catskill towns. Eastwind Hotel is a top pick for its blend of rustic and contemporary design across its guest rooms and bar.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.

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This village of 309 is the smallest on our list. Many visitors stop just to refuel at the famous Phoenicia Diner, but there is enough in store here to occupy a long-weekend getaway. Several trailheads leading from town cater to all skill levels, including the Tanbark loop, Mount Tremper, and Cross Mountain. Meandering between these peaks, the Esopus Creek’s class II rapids are an exhilarating and refreshing adventure, but take note that Town Tinker is closed for tube rentals for the 2020 season. Fortunately, Rail Explorers is still operating pedal-powered vehicle rides along the historic Ulster & Delaware Railroad. After a full day in nature, Graham & Co. is a hip spot to relax poolside in full view of the surrounding mountains.

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Located in the Catskills’ northwestern reaches, Franklin’s Main Street is lined with pristine Greek Revival and Victorian homes alongside trendy antique vendors. The village of just 374 people also boasts one of the region’s best art scenes, which comes on full display during the summer months. Barring 2020, Franklin Stage Company hosts a packed performance schedule from July into September, and admission is granted on a donation basis. An annual self-guided art tour, Stagecoach Run, takes place in July between Franklin and neighboring Treadwell. More than 20 private homes, historic barns, and shops transform into art galleries showcasing mixed-media work by local artists.

The 10 Most Charming Towns in New York's Catskills (2024)


What is the prettiest town in the Catskills? ›

East Durham, NY

East Durham NY, with its rolling green hills and verdant valleys, is rightfully renowned as the Emerald Isle of the Catskills.

What is the artsy town in the Catskills? ›

5 Woodstock, New York

As one of the more artsy and charming towns in the Catskill Mountains, Woodstock boasts plenty to see, do, and experience. Even before the festival came about, Woodstock, NY, was a mecca for artists, more specifically musicians in the area.

What is the oldest town in the Catskills? ›

Windham, the “Gem of the Catskills,” is one of the oldest small towns in the region. Established in 1798, it has been charming visitors for over two centuries.

Are the Catskills worth visiting? ›

A Natural scenic beauty from the Hill Top. It's a Mountain range where skiing is done during winter over the ice-clad mountain slopes. But even, in summer it's place to be visited and enjoyed both with families as well as for romantic couples.

Why do Jews go to Catskills? ›

This blatant exclusion of Jews from well-established leisure areas logically led to the creation of a distinct Jewish brand of vacation in the Catskill Mountains in the early twentieth century. The barring of Jews from many of New York's most popular vacation haunts propelled them to create their own land of leisure.

Which is better Catskills or Adirondacks? ›

You'll see more lush ground cover, less mud, and more variations in fall foliage and spring wildflowers in the Catskills. In contrast, the Adirondacks' terrain can include dirt, mud, rocks, and even snow. As you ascend further up the Adirondacks, you'll also see more evergreens and pine trees.

Do New Yorkers still go to the Catskills? ›

The Catskills' resurgence as a vacation destination is headed into high gear in 2022. For years, the region has been building back to its Borscht Belt heyday, when New York City residents flocked to the countryside to stay in one of hundreds of Catskills resorts.

What's so special about the Catskills? ›

The Catskills were named by early Dutch settlers. They are well known in American society as the setting for films and works of art, including many 19th-century Hudson River School paintings, as well as for being a favored destination for vacationers from New York City in the mid-20th century.

Where did Mrs Maisel go in the Catskills? ›

During season two, Midge and her family vacationed at the fictional Steiner Resort nestled in the Catskill Mountains. In reality, that destination was Scott's Family Resort at Oquaga Lake located in Deposit, New York.

Why did people stop going to the Catskills? ›

Cheap airfares, the popularity of seaside vacations and the decline of anti-Semitism had a huge impact on the tourism industry in the region. By the 1970s the area was a shadow of its 1960s peak, just one large resort hotel remained in the 1980s, and by the 1990s it too had fallen into bankruptcy.

What is the nickname of the Catskills? ›

In the south there's the “Bible Belt,” but up here we have the “Borscht Belt.” That's the nickname earned by the Catskills region in Upstate New York after it lured the city's Jewish population to a place where the air was cleaner, the living was easier and the entertainment at the hotels was often “schticky.”

What does the word Catskills mean in English? ›

Definitions of Catskills. noun. a range of the Appalachians to the west of the Hudson in southeastern New York; includes many popular resort areas. synonyms: Catskill Mountains. example of: chain, chain of mountains, mountain chain, mountain range, range, range of mountains.

How safe is the Catskills? ›

The Catskills in the United States is generally a safe area, even at night. Instances of crime are relatively low, especially in the more tourist driven areas. However, like any location, it's always important to remain vigilant, especially at night. Always stick to well-lit, populated areas when possible.

Is it expensive to live in the Catskills? ›

Based on our Catskill cost of living calculator, Catskill is 4% more expensive than the national average and 17% less expensive to live in than the average city in New York. This assumes a $72,000 annual salary and a 2 Bedroom Apt. Food costs in Catskill are more affordable than average in the United States.

What famous story takes place in the Catskills? ›

The adventure that follows is one of America's most cherished folktales – Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle. For nearly two centuries, the myth of Henry Hudson's ghost and Rip's lengthy slumber have endured, adding to the delightful enchantment the Great Northern Catskills hold for many contemporary visitors.

Do New Yorkers still vacation in the Catskills? ›

The Catskills remains a popular vacation destination for travelers from nearby New York City, as the area is accessible by public bus or train.

What's the difference between Catskills East and West? ›

If you're wondering, the difference between the Eastern Catskill Mountains and the Western Catskill Mountains is that the eastern mountains are higher in elevation. In contrast, the western mountains flatten into the Allegheny Plateau. Discover the best things to do during fall in the Western Catskills in this article!

What is the gem of the Catskills? ›

Windham, New York


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