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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.