From skiing and snowshoeing to holiday light shows and local mulled cider, here are all the top things to do this cold-weather season in the Sullivan Catskills.
This post is sponsored by the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association.
Tis the season to bundle up, wander the snow-covered woods, and sip a hand-warming drink afterward. Or shop till you drop at a holiday market featuring local artisans and food producers. Or hurtle down a snowy slope on skis, or watch your kids yelp gleefully on a snow tube. Whether your idea of winter fun is retail therapy, outdoor sports, or hot drinks by the fire, the pretty Sullivan Catskills has you covered.
We first fell in love with this area of New York state during the cold season. We watched eagles soar above the Delaware River while we scarfed down incredible wood-fired sourdough pizza (on the front hood of our car, no less!) at the Laundrette in Narrowsburg. We admired the oversize icicles and winter wonderland feel of the hike up Beer Mountain (Upward Brewery) in Livingston Manor, and we warmed up over spiked mulled ciders at Forthright Cydery. From the warm cocoon of our car, we drove around counting the beautiful hand-painted doves we spotted from the Sullivan Catskills Dove Trail.
It’s a spectacular time to visit this region, particularly if you time it during the festive holiday season. Here’s what to do, see, and eat during the holidays and the winter beyond in the Sullivan Catskills.
The 2021 Holiday Events Not to Miss
Shop till you drop. On the tail of some very cool fall festivals, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has two special holiday events going on during the month of December. First up is the Holiday Market, which for the first time is running four weekends in a row, culminating Dec. 11-12 and Dec. 18-19. There are different vendors each week, and it’s newly a day and night market, operating 2pm-9pm.
Expect 24 craft, artisan, and specialty food vendors from the region each week. We have our eyes on the homemade fudge from Beeziz Candy Company, the Caribbean rum cakes from Goodway Gourmet Bakery, and the beautiful eco-friendly cork bags of House of Cork (all appearing Dec. 11-12). For the weekend of Dec. 18-19, we’re excited for the gorgeous alpaca apparel from Rosehaven Alpaca, handmade potato vodka from 1857 Spirits (Barber’s Farm Distillery), and the buttery namesake treats in 10 flavors from Ott’rageous Cookie Company, among others.
Light it up. Also at Bethel Woods, and ideal to tack on with a visit to the holiday market, is the Peace, Love + Lights drive-through holiday light show, running evenings now through Jan. 2 (Sun-Thurs, 5pm-9pm; Fri-Sat, 5pm-10pm; on Mondays you can only walk through, not drive). This is 1.7 miles of fun and festive themed light installations, like “New York” and “Enchanted Forest.” Afterward, swing by the Holiday Hub in Market Shed 1 to warm up with melty cheese sandwiches, hot chocolate, or hot toddy, and pick up a s’mores kit to use over the fire.
Go back in time. Over in historic Callicoon, the Victorian winter wonderland known as Dickens on the Delaware takes place Saturday, Dec 11, from noon-8pm, for which local shops, galleries, and restaurants will highlight their holiday goods—including, of course, holiday food and cocktail specials. Callicoon is an incredibly charming riverfront town as it is, so imagine it decked out in Victorian holiday style, with festive lights, strolling carolers, horse-and-buggy rides, and outdoor fire pits! The set of A Christmas Carol come to life.
Sip on some eggnog or hot chocolate while perusing the offerings and admiring the Victorian garb of the shopkeepers. You can dress up as a favorite Dickens character if you wish!
Take an afternoon for art. At the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance in Narrowsburg, the 17th annual Art in Sixes exhibition is running daily through Dec. 23 (8am-5pm), featuring the small works of 140 regional artists. How small? All art is 6 inches or less in any direction (and costs between $60-$600, so this is a fabulous shopping opportunity too!). From the looks of past exhibitions, you don’t want to miss this.
And shop (and eat) some more. Over in Livingston Manor, the Farmhouse Project Holiday Makers Market is on tap at the Arnold House over the weekend of Dec. 11-12 (11am-6pm). This will feature artisans from the region’s studios and workshops, locally sourced Christmas wreaths (and trees), fires to warm up by, and seasonal foods, mulled wine, local beer, and fun cocktails.
Best Winter Activities in the Sullivan Catskills
Beyond the holidays, there’s plenty to do in this region during the cold season. Here’s how to get outside and get cozy this winter in the Sullivan Catskills.
Go downhill: skiing, snowboarding + snow tubing. You have two options for downhill skiing in this area: the sister resorts of Holiday Mountain Ski + Fun Park in Monticello and the smaller Villa Roma in Callicoon. The former, which makes its own snow to get conditions just right, offers seven slopes plus a terrain park for snowboarders, snow tubing, and lessons. Slopes are lit up for night skiing, and the resort has both a triple- and double-chairlift, plus a new Magic Carpet lift for little ones. There’s something for everyone!
Villa Roma is likewise very family-friendly, with two slopes for skiing, snowboarding, tubing, sledding, and even ice skating. The resort offers lots of different packages—see all of its winter deals here—including an all-inclusive stay with the winter outdoor activities plus daily meals, ski lessons for kids, and access to the indoor inflatable fun land and park, bowling, and fitness center. There are New Year’s packages as well.
Swap hiking for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. We are big fans of the hiking opportunities in this region in spring, summer, and fall. During winter, however, while hiking is still possible on milder, non-snowy days, chances are a carpet of snow will cover the trails, providing perfect opportunity to try snowshoeing or even Nordic skiing. Snowshoes, of course, keep you on top of the snow when you walk, so you don’t sink into it with every step.
In the hamlet of Hurleyville, you can rent snowshoes for adults and kids alike from Fortress Bikes and head straight out onto the picturesque O&W Rail Trail for a snowy hike. To the north and west of that is the Liberty Rail Trail, which accommodates cross-country skiing.
Also in Liberty, Francis A. Hanofee Park has 13 miles of hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing trails, as does Walnut Mountain, the second-highest peak in the Sullivan Catskills region. It has tremendous views to prove it!
In Livingston Manor, swing by Morgan Outdoors for snowshoe rentals for all ages, and free hand-drawn maps with directions to nearby trails.
Get on (and under) the ice. Over in Neversink, a newly enlarged community ice rink is opening to the public this month at the Grahamsville Fair Grounds. The rink was such a hit last year that it’s doubling in size this year! The town’s Parks and Recreation Department hopes it will open before Christmas (and remain open till March), but check its Facebook page for current updates.
Fishing is a popular year-round sport in this region, and no one lets frozen lakes stop them! With three to four inches of solid ice, a fishing license, and the right gear, you’re good to give ice fishing a shot. Find a list of popular spots here. Of note to fly fishing fans: You can now fish the area’s abundant trout year-round, but it’s catch-and-release only until March 31
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Warm up with food and drink. Some of our favorite breweries and cideries are ideal to visit during the winter, when outdoors fires are lit (like at Upward Brewing, in Livingston Manor) and spiked hot ciders (don’t miss Forthright Cyder & Mead, in Youngsville) are commonplace. The outdoor beer garden is open at Catskill Brewery, in Livingston Manor—and the Night Shine black lager makes a great winter beverage—while over in Roscoe, Roscoe Beer Company offers live music, an indoor fireplace, delicious nachos and house-cut fries (among other comfort foods), and a spiked hot cocoa featuring Beaverkill Bourbon Cream from local distillers Do Good Spirits, pictured above. Sign us up!
In Callicoon the inviting Catskill Provisions Distillery, currently decked out for the holidays, is a fantastic place to shop and sip at the same time. Pick up a bottle of the distillery’s sustainably made, locally sourced spirits, a cocktail to go, and/or local honey, beeswax candles, New York maple syrup, and more.
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Also in Callicoon, winter is a great time to visit the gorgeous Seminary Hill Cidery, which pairs its wonderful ciders with hearty seasonal fare like roasted delicata squash, duck cassoulet, venison and root vegetable stew. Its spacious outdoor deck has propane heaters, there’s an outdoor fire pit (pictured above), and the outdoor wood-burning grill is used year-round. The five-course New Year’s Eve tasting and cider pairing looks fantastic, and it even has apartments, houses, and cottages to rent.
If you’re like us and just want to dig into a bowl of pasta come the cold weather, look no further than Swan Lake’s cozy Casa Di Longobardi, named for its Italian chef. From chicken Parm and lasagna to eggplant rollatini and great pizza, the menu is like a big warm hug, and the friendly staff will make you feel like family. It’s popular for good reason!
Finally, in Claryville, we’re drawn to the “Taste of Russia” menu at Russian Mule Brewing Company, located within the Blue Hill Catskills property. The pelmeni and vareniki—two different styles of Russian ravioli—as well as the zakuson, cured pork over dark Russian bread with hot mustard, all scream winter to us, especially when paired with a handcrafted stout. Wood-fired flatbread pizzas, burgers, and oversize pretzels are on the menu too.