Glorious Weekend in Woodstock, NY

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

A friend and I spent last weekend in Woodstock, New York, and what a weekend it was. The town has definitely retained its funky, unique vibe that made it famous in the 1960s, but with some great new additions in the way of topnotch restaurants, stylish shops and hotels. And, there’s no better time to visit than fall, when the cooler temperatures make walking around a pleasure and the changing leaves add bright bursts of color to the Catskill Mountains.

The weekend began with a visit to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, great fun for animal lovers as the farm’s mission is to create a longterm home for rescued pigs, cows, goats and more, as well as educate the public about modern farming practices. I thought this cow (above) was a real beauty, though I’m not sure the feeling was mutual.

Next it was on to Tinker Street, Woodstock’s main drag, which is one of the best spots to take in the local color. The weekends see Mower’s Flea Market set up a block from the village green, and vendors sell all manner of knickknacks and collectibles. I loved this woman’s idea of displaying clothes across the tree’s limbs like strange, oversized flowers.

Woodstock Flea Market

There’s so much to take in on Tinker, you could really spend all day there. Here are a few of my favorite shops and spots:

Candlestock: This local business has been making beeswax candles for over 30 years and also carries fabulous smelling soy candles from companies like Paddywax

Pacama Handmade: Beautiful handmade wooden furniture, lamps, bowls and utensils. The perfect spot to pick up a gift, or a souvenir for yourself

The Brydcliffe Shop: Ceramics, jewelry, woodwork and more from both established and emerging local artists

The Treasure Chest Antiques: Lots of random odds and ends here that are such fun to browse, all inside a little wooden house with a beautiful garden in front

Peace, Love & Cupcakes: Award-winning cupcake company with wild flavors. I recommend the “Pretzel Hippie Chipper Sandwich Cookie” with a pretzel twist sandwiched with a peanut butter pretzel truffle filling, or their signature tie-dye cake

Center for Photography at Woodstock: Founded in 1977, the center is dedicated to promoting the art of photography, providing lectures, exhibits, artist residencies and affordable public workspaces for photographers

Woodstock Artists Association & Museum: Head through the signature red-shuttered door for exhibits of local artists’ work

Woodstock Library: I love popping into small town libraries, and Woodstock’s is a charmer thanks to its home in a converted village house, where some of the rooms date back to 1775

Tinker Street Woodstock

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Peace, Love and Cupcakes

We checked in to the recently opened Hotel Dylan off Route 28 (read more about the hotel here), then headed out to dinner at The Bear Cafe. Originally opened in 1971 by Albert Grossman, a local music manager for folks like Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin, the current incarnation of the restaurant is still one of the best in town, thanks to a delicious New American menu served streamside in a beautiful indoor/outdoor dining room. It’s also right next to the Bearsville Theater, one of the top live music venues in the area. For dessert, we headed back through town to Cucina, a buzzy Italian housed in very cozy yellow country house. Go, go, go and be sure to order the butterscotch budino paired with the tawny port.

Bear Cafe Woodstock

The next morning it was up early for hiking. We fueled up with breakfast at the Phoenicia Diner, a much-loved establishment a short drive away from Woodstock serving well-done diner staples like biscuits and gravy, silver dollar pancakes and a long list of specialty skillets.

Phoenicia Diner

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Phoenicia Diner menu

After another 30 minute drive we arrived at Kaaterskill Falls, a 2-mile roundtrip hike I think everyone should do once. The going gets a bit steep, but its so worth a bit of scrambling for the gorgeous, two-tier waterfall at the end.

image1 (1) Kaaterskill Falls Kaaterskill Falls

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National Treasures: Mast Brothers Chocolate

Mast Brothers Chocolate

I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a great neighborhood that’s really been defined by the outstanding local businesses and companies based there. One that’s set itself apart is Mast Brothers Chocolate. Walk up North 3rd Street and you’ll be greeted with the sweet aroma of chocolate wafting from their little factory doors almost a block away. Started by brothers Rick and Michael Mast in 2006, their chocolate can now be found in gourmet markets across the globe, and makes the perfect present for sweet-toothed friends and family thanks to the pretty paper each bar comes wrapped in.

If you’re in Williamsburg, it’s well worth a visit to their factory where you can watch the chocolate-making process in action. And, just in time for the colder months, Mast Brothers has recently opened a brew bar a few doors down that’s dedicated to cocoa-based beverages. Pass the hot chocolate, please.

Mast Brothers Chocolate

photos via Mast Brothers Chocolate

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Glorious Check-In: The Hotel Dylan

Hotel Dylan

This is my favorite time of year to visit upstate New York, when the leaves are beginning to change and the region’s small towns are at their best as they host their respective fall festivals and markets. This weekend, we headed to Woodstock and checked into the 11-room Hotel Dylan, opened just this June by Woodstock native Paul Covello.

The hotel has really captured the bohemian vibe that makes the town so unique. The interiors, designed by Cortney and Bob Novogratz, are chock-full of thoughtful touches, from Crosley turntables and assortment of vinyl in every room to photo posters from the famous ’69 Woodstock festival. When you arrive, a guitar-shaped sweet from Lucky Chocolates sits atop the reclaimed wood bed, dressed up in colorful throw pillows and set against graphic arrow wallpaper. Rooms come stocked with C.O. Bigelow bath products, a few novels and games like Trivial Pursuit for playing in the Adirondack chairs stationed around the outdoor fire pits. There’s a bocce court and room for croquet, too. All in all, it’s a fun but mellow place, like summer camp for grown-ups.

The onsite restaurant in front of the hotel is unoccupied as yet, but the town’s residents were all abuzz with news that farm-to-table fare and an event space for live music is on the way.

The Hotel Dylan

Hotel Dylan Woodstock

Hotel Dylan Hotel Dylan

Hotel Dylan

Hippie Van at Hotel Dylan

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Festival Fridays: Harvest Fest at Stone Barns Center

Stone Barns Center

Stone Barns Center for Agriculture should be on every food lover’s to-do list. The center’s restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, is one of the best in the region, due largely to the outstanding produce and animals grown right on the premises, throughout the center’s 80 acres (tip: it’s tough to get reservations for the dining room, but on Sundays, if you head to the bar for lunch right when it opens at 1pm, you’re likely to grab a seat and can order the abbreviated but still fantastic tasting menu. I like to pair it with a trip to Storm King in the morning).

Their annual Harvest Fest is right around the corner, on Sunday October 5th. The festivities include live music, hands-on farming activities for kids, crafts, and a farmers market with produce and products from Stone Barns and other local farmers, cheese makers and more. Also fun for families: hayrides around the center’s beautiful grounds. While you’re there, download their self-guided livestock tour to take a stroll down to the barns to see the sheep, into the woods where the Berkshire pigs have their paddocks and across the fields for turkeys, hens and honeybees. Foodies can also opt for their clever “Farm-to-Frittata” tour, which allows guests to discover the farm using a recipe for a frittata and salad as a guide, following the source of the ingredients through fields, greenhouse and pasture.

Harvest Fest runs from 10am – 3pm on Sunday, October 5th. Purchase tickets ahead of time here ($40/adults, $20/children). Here are some more shots from around the farm:

Stone Barns Center Harvest Fest

Stone Barns Center lambs

Stone Barns Center

Stone Barns Center market

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