When considering local travel a short drive from New York City, the Sullivan Catskills region encompassing Narrowsburg and Callicoon, New York, may not be the first destination to spring to mind. Here’s why it should be.
This post is sponsored by the Sullivan Catskills Visitors’ Association.
A recent visit to Narrowsburg and Callicoon in the Sullivan Catskills skyrocketed this part of New York state to the top of our family’s regional-travel favorites list. The Delaware River towns on the New York-Pennsylvania border are about a two hours’ drive from New York City, and just a stone’s throw from the original location of the legendary Woodstock music festival of 1969 (in Bethel/Swan Lake). Basing yourself in the town of Callicoon or the hamlet of Narrowsburg, 10 minutes to the south, puts you within easy reach of some terrific restaurants, breweries, and hikes—not to mention the scenic Delaware River itself, a prime viewing spot for bald eagles in winter and a popular tubing, kayaking, and fishing destination in summer.
We first visited the region in chilly April, and immediately began plotting our return in summer months. No matter the season, there’s plenty to do, see, eat and drink in Narrowsburg, Callicoon, and the Sullivan Catskills area in general. This list will get you started.
What to Do: Tube, Kayak, Hike
On a hot day, there’s no better place to be than floating along the sparkling, state-straddling Delaware River. Whether it’s tubing, rafting, canoeing or kayaking you’re after (also: camping!), Lander’s River Trips has you covered. If you want to camp, choose from three pretty waterfront campsites, including popular launch site Skinners Falls, or you can just book a river excursion per person per day. Our favorite option? A five-mile, five-hour float from Skinners Falls to the Narrowsburg campsite (staff will drive you back afterward). Packages combining a night or two of camping with rafting or canoeing are also available.
Landlubbers won’t want to miss the Tusten Mountain Trail (TMR), a moderately challenging three-mile hike that starts at the water’s edge in Narrowsburg as a wide gravel uphill path. The trail crosses an old stone arch bridge and follows the gorgeous 10 Mile River as it branches off from the Delaware before turning up and into a rocky dirt trail through the woods, climbing high above. There’s a decent amount of elevation gain (our 5-year-old complained but got through it) and a rewarding overlook at the top. The best part comes on your return down, when you can hang out on the rocks by the fast-flowing river and have a snack (or a stowed-away local cider, perhaps).
If a short and sweet hike paired with a local beer is more your style, head straight for Beer Mountain (at Upward Brewery) in Livingston Manor, 30 minutes northeast of Callicoon. This magical forest path starts beside the brewery (which we recommend below), climbs up into the woods, and, about three-quarters of a mile in, meets up with a service road that takes you back down to the brewery’s grounds. If you’re like us, you’ll first detour to the very top of the hill, where a peaceful campsite and pretty views await.
Not a hike or river adventure, but another must-do in the area is visiting Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which has just reopened at full capacity. Don’t miss the summer concert schedule, featuring Chicago, the Black Crowes, Steely Dan, and more—this is a beautiful outdoor venue adjacent to the original Woodstock site. Even if you’re not attending a concert, take a drive through the pretty grounds to the north side of the property, where you’ll find the Woodstock Monument, overlooking the former stage location and great lawn beyond. It’s a powerful sight, and visitors could sign a giant mural during our visit.
Related to this iconic history is the Sullivan Catskills Dove Trail, a collection of 50 hand-painted, permanently mounted doves scattered around the region, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock festival. Each dove is beautiful and different, sharing a different story about the landscape and history here. Our kids got excited every time we stumbled upon one—it’s a fun game to spot as many as you can while exploring the region, or you can download the dove trail map to guide you. In 2021, 10 more painted doves are joining the trail!
Where to Eat Near Narrowsburg + Callicoon
There’s no shortage of good food in this area—we usually grill a ton at our house rentals, but in Narrowsburg we wanted to try a lot of what’s available locally. Here are some restaurants and cafes that we really liked or came highly recommended.
The Laundrette: This local gem combines great wood-fired sourdough pizza with stunning Delaware River and bald eagle views! Our kids couldn’t get enough of the margherita, but we wanted to eat the whole menu of specialty pies. The nduja and kale pizza was incredible. 20 5th St., Narrowsburg
The Tusten Cup: This handsome, airy coffee shop, all blond wood and black-painted walls, has incredible river views over its patio and glass-fronted interior. Here we found good, fresh coffee from Queens-based Vassiaros + Sons, a great sandwich menu and breakfast burritos. We also loved the delicious chocolate-chip cookies and gluten-free brownies. 8 Main St., Narrowsburg
2 Queens Coffee: Named for the founders’ love of honeybees (as well as coffee), this craft coffee shop and in-house roastery sources organic, fair-trade coffee beans and pollinator-friendly ingredients for its teas. You can also buy local raw honey here, naturally! 104 Kirks Rd., Narrowsburg
Cochecton Fire Station: Open for takeout only, this self-termed community bar and restaurant, housed in a former fire station, has a fun cocktail selection (starting at $10 each) and a great little menu divided into items that are $6 and “not $6.” We loved the small plates we tried from the former menu, including the macaroni-and-cheese and crispy rice and beans. 1 Depot Rd., Cochecton
Henning’s Local: In Cochecton Center, you’ll find exceptional, regionally sourced American comfort food by Norwegian chef Henning Nordanger in the unassuming space above the town’s historic general store. (The restaurant was takeout-only during our visit, but is now open for outdoor dining too.) While we loved the classic popovers with radish butter, we couldn’t help gravitating toward the Norwegian menu items, like the delicious buttery fish soup “Bergen.” Next time we’ll return to try the trout chowder, fried quinoa cakes, or crispy Berkshire pork belly. 6 Old County Rd, Cochecton Center
Spruce Home Goods: This country store has beautiful products for the home, but it’s much more than a place in which to browse and buy: It’s a place to find good food. Look for great cheese, olives, fresh bread, local meat and eggs, crackers, coffee, a weekly soup-and-salad menu, and, best of all, yummy British treats like sausage rolls, Scotch eggs, and meat pies (courtesy of the Brit expat co-owner). 35 Lower Main St., Callicoon
Callicoon Farmers Market: Not a restaurant, of course, but a must for any food lover—especially with the summer and fall bounty upon us. Besides the beautiful local produce, dairy, and meat, you can find local wine, cider, baked goods, honey, preserves, flowers, skin care products, and more. Sundays, 11am-2pm, 23 Dorrer Dr., Callicoon
Nif-T’s: In Roscoe, 10 minutes from Livingston Manor (and next to the Roscoe Diner), Nif-T’s has your hard and soft-serve ice cream needs covered. There’s also vegan, sugar-free, and dairy-free ice cream. Don’t miss the specialty sundaes, like “campfire pit” (vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, marshmallow, graham crackers) and “peanut butter explosion” (choice of ice cream with peanut butter, peanut butter cups, and Reese’s Pieces). 1908 Old Route 17, Roscoe
Where to Drink: Breweries + Cideries
Upward Brewery: I’m not sure which is better at Upward: the beers on tap or the stunning chalet-like space and expansive property, which includes cozy fire pits, a sparkling pond, and a short but rewarding hike (see above). I loved the cocoa-tinged Black Grass pils-noir; my kids loved exploring the grassy, rocky grounds. The food comes highly recommended too. 171 Main St., Livingston Manor
Catskill Brewery: A picturesque red barn brewery with a water tower splashed with its raccoon logo (and a colorful Sullivan Catskills dove depicting the same), Catskill Brewery lives up to its name, blending as it does into the rural landscape. We mixed and matched some tasty brews to go—we loved the Night Shine black lager, the Devil’s Path IPA, and the Ball Lightning Pilsner, to name a few—but the outdoor beer garden looks very inviting. 672 Old Rte 17, Livingston Manor
Forthright Cydery + Mead: In Youngsville, on the road between Livingston Manor and Narrowsburg, we swung by this cidery and were so glad we did. It specializes in “cyser,” a hybrid of hard cider and mead (honey wine). It uses local bourbon from Roscoe-based Do Good Spirits (see more below) in its delicious mulled and spiked cider cocktail, which was perfect on a cold day, but for summer I’d stick with the tasty honey cyser on the cute outdoor patio. 4052 State Route 52, Youngsville
Catskill Provisions Distillery: You can’t miss this new woman-owned business right in the center of Callicoon: The handsome black building is strikingly adjacent to the white Western Hotel, across from the train tracks (and another colorful Sullivan Catskills dove). Inside the attractive tasting room, you can sample and purchase the distillery’s sustainably made, locally sourced spirits—which include two types of gin, vodka, rye whiskey, and bourbon whiskey—or buy a cocktail to go (we enjoyed the Mexican Mule, made with the distillery’s bourbon).
In case you’re puzzling over the names (Pollinator Vodka, Beespoke Gin, Honey Whiskey): This distillery started with a beekeeping kit, and the owner’s 100% raw wildflower honey is the star ingredient in the whole line of products. There are also a number of locally made products available for purchase with a strong honeybee theme: beeswax candles, all manner of local honey, honey-infused ketchup, and NY maple syrup. 16 Upper Main St., Callicoon
Do Good Spirits: More great local spirits await at this distillery in Roscoe, which has won multiple awards for its smooth vodka, bourbon (and bourbon cream), and botanical-steeped gin. The veteran-owned distillery is open daily for tastings, which are by donation-only (and support Third Option Foundation). May through November, don’t miss its outdoor cocktail bar and restaurant, Bootleggers Alley. 10 Union St., Roscoe
Roscoe Beer Company: Also in Roscoe is this family-friendly brewery with a self-serve tap wall, tasting bar, lounge area, outdoor beer garden, spacious new storefront, and live music. The house brew list includes nonalcoholic root beer and several types of hard seltzer for the non-beer drinkers. 145 Rockland Rd., Roscoe
Shrewd Fox Brewery: This chill Ukrainian-American-owned farm brewery in Eldred, 20 minutes southeast of Narrowsburg, was a worthy excursion. Pull up a picnic table on the grassy lawn, grab some popcorn from inside, and sip on some great beers, made with all-natural, locally-grown, non-GMO ingredients and Catskills water. During our visit there was a delicious seasonal “kutya” saison that incorporated some Ukrainian buckwheat too. 52 State Rte 55, Eldred
Where to Stay In + Around Narrowsburg and Callicoon
Near the Tusten Mountain Trail in Narrowsburg, where the scenic Ten Mile River meets the Delaware, the Blue Fox Motel is a charmingly woodsy, recently renovated boutique retreat that dates to the 1950s. Choose from spacious rooms, suites, cozy cabins, and even a five-bedroom guest house, and don’t miss a dip in the inviting pool. 5670 Route 97, Narrowsburg
It’s hard to beat the location of the historic eight-room Nine River Road, right on the Delaware River and in the heart of Callicoon. You can walk to many of our favorite spots in town—like Spruce Home Goods, Catskills Provisions Distillery, and the farmers market—and easily access the river for summer activities.
Century-old property turned new lakefront hotel Kenoza Hall combines 22 well-appointed guest rooms, award-winning fine dining, and a gorgeous full-service spa with private lake access, a pool, hiking trails, and lake views for days. 5762 Route 52, Kenoza Lake