(if you're reading this on the LL email serve, you may want to check it out on the LL Blog because the links, maps and pictures will be helpful too)
Love NYC in the summer but totally essential to get out of the city for a weekend or two (or three if possible). I took a weekend in the Catskills (scenic 3-hour drive from BK) and found some totally affordable and relaxing spots. I particularly liked Saugerties, a small quiet town with good hippie vibes and excellent antique stores, but without the snobbery and over-priced-ness of the more well-known towns (ahem Woodstock and Hudson).
The Villa at Saugerties
The inn is run by former Time Out editor Aimee Szparaga and her artist boyfriend Richard Nocera, whose enormous and beautiful paintings are scattered throughout the property. They cater to the urbanite who wants to get out of the city, spend some time with nature, and avoid musty Victorian bed and breakfasts.
This is where we really wanted to stay but when I called to make a reservation the voice mail said something like "call back next season because we're totally booked through September!" However, I have read some reviews that say the Inn, which first opened in 2002, could use some upkeep, so keep that in mind before you book.
Kate's Lazy Meadow
B-52's singer/pianist/guitarist, Kate Pierson, owns this overtly mod (over-done mod?) inn that is just west of Woodstock. Looks kitschy and cute and is actually in the mountains, unlike most of the inns which are around the Hudson River.
The very cool owner of Pistol Whip vintage clothing boutique in Saugerties recommended this landmark lighthouse on the Hudson River, which has been restored and transformed to a bed & breakfast. The operational light-tower offers a panoramic view of the Hudson River with the Catskill Mountains to the west and Magdalen and Cruger Islands to the south.
Partition Street Shops
In downtown Saugerties there are 8-10 incredible antique shops on Partition Street, you cannot miss them. You will find surprisingly fine furniture mixed in with some gross junk and some awesome junk, prices very reasonable. There is also an antique center at 220 Main Street, Saugerties.
Hudson or Hyde Park
If you have $$$ to spend then check out these towns, both known for serious high-end antique shops.
Rhinebeck Antique Barn
Rhinebeck is a sleepy but pretty town with a very nice Antique Barn behind the historic Beekman Inn. I found some serious gems at the barn, and there are several antique shops on the surrounding avenues. As is usually the case with antiquing, be prepared to hunt.
We did some excellent freestyle hiking, biking and kayaking on the southern border of the Catskills but for something more organized, look here.
Our favorite boutique owner also pointed us to the Plattekill Falls in Saugerties, which at 250 ft high is one of the tallest falls in the NE. We only got a taste of the beautiful scenery in Kaaterskill, we will definitely spend a day hiking here when we return.
My incredible yoga teacher/healer recommends this scenic preserve in New Paltz for excellent mountain climbing, skydiving and hiking trails.
The Bear Cafe
This restaurant in Woodstock is definitely the place to eat. Open late, yummy food and beautiful scenery.
Saugerties Farmers Market
Just about every town that we passed through had a weekly farmers market with lovely local produce and goodies.
Karma Triyana Dharmachakra
A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery with a beautiful shrine, sacred paintings and one of the largest Buddha statues in North America. Go on Sunday for a free tour.
We planned to stop at this modern art museum on the way home, it is located halfway between Saugerties and Manhattan, but it got too late so we missed out. However, the space is supposedly incredible, a 300,000-square-foot historic printing factory, and has a totally worth-while permanent collection. I will definitely hit it up next time I drive through.