You’d think after back-to-back travel we’d be ready to stay put but no, I’m itching to get away again. It helps that we had an incredible weekend restaurant-hopping in Boston with my sister Annie (put haley.henry and Mamaleh’s on your list asap) and that Lilly snoozed the majority of the ride there and back (double draped her car seat and the sensory deprivation helped).
And so, here are some upstate travel favorites plus a few other picks to round out the month. It’ll be February before we know it, whoa.
Getting out of town
Even if you don’t live in the NYC area, it’s worth planning a trip to upstate New York. I’m biased because we got married in the Catskills and get upstate as much as we can but I can tell you that I’m not alone. There’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to stunning natural beauty, great design and food, and nice people.
A few notes as you’re plotting your getaway: As Rob loves to remind me, it’s a big area and just because I love the breakfast sandwich at one place and the ice cream at another does not mean they’re anywhere near each other. Before you book a place, make sure you have everything you want (food, hiking etc.) within reasonable driving distance. Below, I’ve included some of our favorites but there are plenty more towns and hotels we haven’t explored yet—I’ve been eyeing Foxfire Mountain House and Deer Mountain Inn in particular. Send any faves my way!
Hudson and environs: If you’re never been to the area, Hudson is the natural choice for density of culture, food, and shopping. The Rivertown Lodge is a gorgeous renovation of a former movie theater and has a great restaurant, and The Hudson Milliner is a more self-directed boutique inn with four spacious guest suites. And for something totally different, take a look at Collective Hudson Valley, a collection of luxury tent rentals (I’m an advisor to this company and can vouch for their obsession with service and detail!).
For food, there’s everything from high end at Fish & Game to the ultimate cheese and snack picnic spread at Talbott & Arding. Definitely try to get across the river to Athens for Bonfiglio & Bread, home to some of the most satisfying breakfast/brunch food in all the land. Just south of Hudson, Germantown is a teeny town anchored by Gaskins, possibly my favorite upstate restaurant, the very cute Otto’s Market, and some stylish shops. There are plenty of cute AirBnB options around here, too, and fewer crowds. Here’s our by-no-means-exhaustive guide to this area.
Western Catskills: We got married in Livingston Manor in 2015 and since then the town has grown like crazy. It’s in large part due to Sims and Kirsten Foster, who run a handful of cool hotels in the area, including the The Arnold House (Ace Hotel by way of Catskill family lodge), the North Branch Inn (cozy and romantic, with its own 1920s bowling alley), and The DeBruce (luxury property with pool, 400 acres of trails, and serious food program). In town, there’s an amazing wine shop called Upstream Wines, a well-stocked general store, and outdoor pizza place, and you’re a quick drive from the cute towns of Narrowsburg and Callicoon (where Sims and Kirsten also own 9 River Road).
Red Cottage Rentals: If you’re more interested in holing up in a beautiful house and cooking all weekend, check out Red Cottage rentals. They have great taste and make the renting process seamless. We’ve been eyeing some options near Phoenicia, which has excellent food and hiking (plus some very hipster hotels like the Graham). One note: Just make sure you figure out your grocery plan in advance, as you can’t always count on being close to a market—or wine shop!—once you arrive at your rental.
Rob says: Build in time for a hike, whether your speed is walking beautiful carriage roads at a Victorian estate or scrambling up boulders in Mohonk Preserve. Preparation is helpful: do some research on nearby hikes with the help of the NY & NJ Trail Council or an outfitter like Livingston Manor’s Morgan Outdoors. Screenshot maps and hikes in case you lose service, and take a photo of any maps at the trailhead; hiking books and physical trail maps are also super helpful and I’d recommend Gunks Trails, Appalachian Mountain Club’s Catskill guide, and the NYNJ TC. Spend some time in the maps section of REI with the cool kids!
Our favorite hike is Gertrude’s Nose in the Shawangunk Mountains (insane views, especially in foliage season). Oh, never forget the rules of the trail: take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. Mollie would also add: bring good snacks. And never forget your tiny backpack.
In other news, I’ve been…
Pausing on podcasts: Instead of back to back podcasts, we downloaded a couple audio books from the Brooklyn Public Library for recent drives. Almost all public libraries now have an app for audio book and e-book loans, and you can listen to samples before you pick one. I was gunning for Harry Potter because Jim Dale is the best reader I’ve ever heard but Rob won and we listened to David McCullough’s 1776 (followed by an enthusiastic Hamilton singalong).
Pretending we’re in the tropics: I love—repeat, love—a well-made mai tai. In Boston, my sister took us to Tiger Mama, where we chased down our porky rice and spicy lamb noodles with a couple rounds of dry, balanced mai tais complete with kitschy orchid garnishes. I’m planning on making them at home to help break up the winter doldrums—here’s a great Eater overview of the various mai tai controversies plus recipes.
Going veggie: We’re not huge meat eaters but our intake has definitely ratcheted up with pregnancy and breastfeeding (protein!). I’ve been looking for vegetarian ideas and found two winners: this roasted tofu and broccoli with miso dressing and Heidi Swanson’s pan-fried white beans with kale. Both are riff-able, hearty, and delicious.
And Lilly says: She’s very into both turning pages and chewing on things, which doesn’t bode well for our favorite books. Solution: soft-sided books like Peek-a-Boo Forest and Indestructibles, which won’t tear or rip and can even go in the washing machine. Genius!
That’s it for now!