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20 secret gems you had no idea about in the Catskills

There's a lot to discover in the Catskills: Check out these hidden spots to uncover some of the more off-the-beaten-path options this fall

Time Out in association with I LOVE NEW YORK

You don’t come to the Catskills to club—you come to chill. Although these mountains aren’t as under-the-radar as they were just a few years ago, they’re still low-key, and studded with cozy river towns, beautiful natural spots, and hidden treasures. The countless mountains and waterfalls will make you want to lace up your boots and start hiking. And quirky surprises like the world’s largest kaleidoscope just have to be experienced. Get out there!

Plan your escape to the Catskills now.

1. The World’s Largest Kaleidoscope

Call it one of the most creative uses we’ve ever seen of an old silo—a 56-foot grain tower alongside an 1841 dairy barn in Mount Tremper has been transformed to an always-changing, gotta-see riot of color. Trust us, your inner child will go crazy for the World's Largest Kaleidoscope at the Emerson Resort and Spa.

2. Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower

Okay, so not every wilderness has this bit of scenic brilliance. A hundred years ago or so, 23 steel fire towers were raised up in the Catskills so observers could keep watch for forest fires; now five have been restored. The Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower lifts you nearly 50 feet above the pines for unbeatable views.


3. Diamond Notch Falls

This romantic 15-foot drop adds to a lovely section of the Northern Catskills in the Hunter-West Kill Wilderness. A rocky-but-short trail in the notch between the Hunter and Westkill mountains pays off in a snap (it’s just 1.5 miles round-trip) at this waterfall.

4. Hanah Mountain Resort and Country Club

Yes, Hanah Mountain Resort and Country Club is great for getting away from it all and enjoying a round of golf, but the best kept secret might be its indoor pool. Even better still, you can grab a day pass to take advantage of the facilities even if you aren't staying at the hotel. 



5. Nancy's of Woodstock Artisanal Creamery

Overindulgence is a quintessential part of vacation—get right to the point with a scoop or two (it is vacation after all) at Nancy's of Woodstock Artisanal Creamery. Flavors like Caramelized Banana and Sour Cream Cherry are on offer as well as over-the-top sundaes, including the banana split and other seasonal options.

6. Ashokan High Point

If you’re game to ascend to 3,000 feet, the trail to this Sundown Wild Forest summit is worth it—not only for the sweeping views, but for (bonus) the loads of wild blueberry bushes growing on the way up.


7. Callicoon Farmers' Market

The best way to get the local experience? Shop like a local. Find an array of homemade goods, including hard cider, pasta, jam, honey, pottery and more every Sunday at Callicoon Farmers' Market.

8. Onteora Lake

This little 16-acre beauty in the Bluestone Wild Forest is known for great fishing and kayaking.


9. North Point

On this hike in the Windham Blackhead Wilderness, there are lots of open ledges where you can see five states on a clear day. 

10. Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center

The Catskills are so big (almost 6,000 square miles, y’all), it’s easy for the less savvy to miss that there’s a welcome center where experts will point you to the best hikes and sweet little spots. But hey, you’re now in the know—you shouldn’t miss the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center!


11. Ashley Falls

You wouldn’t think there were so many unique ways for streams to tumble down rocks, but Ashley Falls, at the North South Lake, will prove you wrong yet again with its mystical, always-changing flow.

12. Awestruck Cider

These ciders, locally produced in Sidney with apples grown in the Catskills are worth buying by the bottle wherever you can find them. But the real treat is joining Awestruck Cider at their taproom on Fridays, starting at 3pm, for a happy hour celebration where you can drink your way through all of their offerings. 



13. Mount Utsayantha

Make the trip to Mount Utsayantha for some of the most impresive views of the Catskill mountains. Take to the fire tower for a full 360 degree view of the area—and to add to the breathtaking moment, get there before dusk to catch the sunset.

14. Pratt Rock

Referred to as New York's Mount Rushmore, a visit to Pratt Rock is definitely off the beaten path. The short, but steep hike is unmarked so keep your eyes peeled for the carvings and take an up-close-and-personal look at this work. 


15. Kadampa Meditation Center

This stunning temple and the surrounding 82 acres of land are open to the public most days. Explore one of the trails or meditate in the peaceful quiet found indoors at Kadampa Meditation Center.  

16. The Roxbury

The Roxbury—a boutique design motel—offers rooms like you've never seen before, themed after TV shows created in the '70s. Stay in a totally shagadellic Austin Powers suite, travel in time in a Jetsons themed room or find an excuse to just hang out inside the massive I Dream of Jeannie bathroom, meant to feel like you're actually inside the genie bottle.


17. Hanford Mills Museum

The Hanford Mills Museum is the perfect stop for some hands-on learning for all ages. Learn more about the mill's history and expansion on the forefront of technology and ingenuity. Squeeze in a history lesson on the mill's contributions to the area over time.


18.  Hudson Athens Lighthouse

Talk about a stunning Instagram photo: The Hudson Athens Lighthouse sits beautifully perched in the Hudson River. The lighthouse is currently being restored to reflect how it would have looked in the 1930s, but guests can still take occasional tours through the Preservation Society. 


19. Buck Brook Alpacas Farm Tour

Experience a slice of life on the farm at Buck Brook Alpacas with a tour to see these sweet animals up close. Tours are available throughout the weekend and by appointment, but make sure to stop by the farm store to browse the selection of home goods and clothing made with alpaca fur.

20. Delaware and Ulster Railroad

Hop aboard the Rip Van Winkle flyer for scenic and entertaining rides through the Catskills. Enjoy the lighthearted train robbery ride for an Old West theme or sail by in the evening on one of the twilight rides featuring live music. 

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