Commune with nature---without sleeping in the dirt---at Harmony Hill Retreat.
Tue May 10 2011
Travel time: Three and a half hours from NYC by bus
Why go: It's possible to find the beauty and solitude of the great outdoors with the convenience of a flushable toilet.
Stay here: The traditional dwelling of Mongolian nomads, a yurt is a wood-and-canvas structure halfway between a tent and a cabin. Harmony Hill Retreat's luxury versions have been updated with lockable doors, modern bathrooms, fully stocked kitchens and king-size beds. While spending a night in one is hardly roughing it, the remote wooded location and campfire pit will fulfill any latent desires for s'mores and acoustic-guitar sing-alongs. 694 McKee Hill Rd, East Meredith, NY (607-278-6609, harmonyhillretreat.com). Rates start at $115; mention TONY for 20% off through May 25 (two-night minimum).
Do this: The 70-acre property is a National Wildlife Refuge (located next to Relay State Forest) and is crisscrossed with 20 miles of hiking trails—keep an eye out for deer, wild turkey, rabbits and other forest creatures in the rolling terrain. If walking uphill goes against your idea of relaxation, you can saddle up at Broken Spoke Stables (874 Narrow Notch Rd, Hobart, NY; 607-538-9651, brokenspokestables.com; trail rides $40 per hour, two-hour trail ride with picnic lunch $120). Boatniks can rent a kayak or canoe (2828 Route 28, Portlandville, NY; 607-286-7349, canoeandkayakrentals.com; half-day rental: single kayak or canoe $25, tandem kayak $35) and paddle down the Susquehanna River. There are no televisions at Harmony Hill, so it's a good opportunity to catch up on some reading. Pick up a second-hand steal at Bibliobarn (627 Roses Brook Road, South Kortright, NY; 607-538-1555), a charming two-story book shop in a converted barn that stocks 39,000 used titles. On Memorial Day weekend, the already affordable tomes are discounted by 30 to 50 percent.
Eat here: Between Memorial Day and Thanksgiving, neighboring Stone and Thistle Farm offers a farm-to-table dining experience, called Fable, in its renovated 18860s farmhouse. Take a guided tour of the organic, family-run farm before sitting down to a meal made from ingredients produced on-site: a four-course prix-fixe dinner on Saturday night or buffet brunch on Sunday. Kick back with a glass of New York State wine or locally brewed beer and relish the absence of sirens accompanying your meal. 1211 Kelso Rd, East Meredith, NY (607-278-5800, stoneandthistlefarm.com). Saturdays 6:30pm; $50. Sundays 11am; $20.