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What To Do In The Catskills

Aerial shot of a hill near Callicoon, in the Catskills area of upstate, New York

If you are planning a vacation to the Catskills, you may be wondering what to add to your itinerary. 

The Catskills is a beautiful region in the state of New York that calls to the hearts of nature lovers around the country and world. From exciting outdoor attractions to culturally significant landmarks, the Catskills has plenty to offer to keep you entertained during your visit.

In this article, we guide you through everything you need about visiting the Catskills, including 14 of the top attractions that are absolute must-sees while you are in the area.

Stay tuned to discover all the excitement and adventure the Catskills have to offer!

Where are the Catskills?

The Catskills is a vibrant region in southeast New York. First discovered inhabited by Native American tribes, the Catskills region was discovered by the Dutch, who named the region’s mountain range the Kaaterskill Mountain Range and Valleys (later changed to the Catskill Mountains). 

Today, the Catskills remains a popular outdoor destination for nature lovers. Within this region, you can find all sorts of exciting activities to participate in, including agritourism, camping, cycling, paddling, hiking, golfing, fly fishing, and so much more. 

10 of the Top Attractions in the Catskills

The Catskills region is nestled amongst picturesque mountain ranges that attract millions of visitors to the southeastern part of New York every year. Loved by nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike, this region boasts a long history of diverse attractions and rich culture.

Here are 10 of the top attractions to check out while visiting the Catskills:

1. Slide Mountain

Slide Mountain is the highest peak in the Catskills mountain range, offering some of the most breathtaking panoramic views in the entire region. 

At Slide Mountain, you can find a variety of different hiking trails ranging in difficulty, making this mountain accessible to both novice hikers and experts alike. The entire Slide Mountain Wilderness area is open year-round and comprised of more than 47,000 total acres. 

One of the most popular trails on Slide Mountain is the Burroughs Range Trail, which is a more challenging hike but offers a tremendous payoff. The trail is a total of 9.75 miles and takes you to the summit of the mountain, should you choose to hike that far. 

Slide Mountain is free to visit and you can learn more about various trails on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website

2. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is a hub for history, art, music, and culture in the Catskills.

This iconic Catskills destination once hosted the famous 1969 Woodstock Music Festival and continues to host a variety of different concerts, festivals, and museum exhibitions today. 

Tickets for the Bethel Woods Center can be purchased either online or in-person, with prices as follows:

  • Adults: $19 advance/$21.69 walkup
  • Seniors (65+): $17 advance/$19 walkup
  • Youth (6-18): $5 advance/$5 walkup
  • Children 5 & Under: Free

Stop by the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts website to discover more and plan your visit

3. Hunter Mountain 

Hunter Mountain is one of the top destinations for skiing during the winter months in the Catskills. 

This mountain is home to the Hunter Mountain Resort, which offers fun outdoor activities in both the winter and the summer. While the winter is dominated by skiers and snowboarders, the summer months are more laid back. During the summer, you can enjoy scenic sky-rides, hiking, and more. 

On the Hunter Mountain website, you can find trail maps, lift status updates, and seasonal hours of operation. Additionally, you can purchase a pass to Hunter Mountain that gives you special discounts and other great benefits if you plan on spending a whole season in the area.

Visit the Hunter Mountain website today to learn more. 

4. Minisink Battleground Park

Minisink Battleground Park is the history buff’s playground — a 57-acre park and nationally-recognized Historic Place that pays homage to the Battle of Minisink during the Revolutionary War. 

At this park, you can find a variety of different interpretive displays, walking trails, and wartime relics that let you take a step back in time in the history of the Catskills. The trails are self-guided, with monuments scattered throughout to commemorate the battle. 

Minisink Battleground Park is free to visit and is open daily from May through October. The park is operated and managed by The Delaware Company, a local nonprofit. 

Visit the Sullivan County Catskills website to find out more. 

5. Hudson Athens Lighthouse

The Hudson Athens Lighthouse is an architectural marvel situated on the Hudson River. 

This historic lighthouse dates back to the mid-1800s and has been operated by the U.S. Coast Guard ever since. Due to Commission recommendations in the 1960s, management of the lighthouse passed between different hands until landing in the care of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society in 1982. 

Today, visitors can take tours of the lighthouse via the Hudson Ferry. The Preservation Society is also currently working to secure $7.5 million in federal funding for rebuilding and restoration efforts — to help with this initiative, consider signing the society’s petition.  

Visit the Hudson Athens Lighthouse website today to learn more and view tour times. 

The Hudson Athens Lighthouse, sometimes called the Hudson City light, is a lighthouse located in the Hudson River in the state of New York

6. Kaaterskill Falls

Kaaterskill Falls is a majestic two-tiered waterfall reaching a height of over 230 feet. This breathtaking site is located in the Catskills Mountains and draws in more than 200,000 visitors each year.

As one of the most popular attractions in the Catskills Park Forest Preserve, Kaaterskill Falls is a must-see while visiting the region. The Falls are part of the larger Kaaterskill Clove, which includes a variety of different viewpoints and destinations for visitors to enjoy.

When planning a trip to the Falls, make sure to wear appropriate footwear and maintain a safe distance from the waterfall’s edge. 

Check out the Catskills Visitor Center website for more information. 

7. Pratt Rock

Pratt Rock — or, as it’s more commonly called, New York’s Mount Rushmore — is a massive rock sculpture depicting and dedicated to the 19th-century settler, entrepreneur, and politician Zadock Pratt. 

This destination features remarkably intricate stone carvings and inscriptions that showcase the achievements of Zadock Pratt’s life. You can easily explore Pratt Rock by following the 3.1-mile trail that is beginner-friendly and easy to access. 

The trailhead for the Pratt Rock trail can be found off Route 23E, with parking available at the trailhead. Make sure to wear suitable walking or hiking shoes during your visit. 

Visit the Zadock Pratt Museum website to learn more. 

8. North-South Lake 

North-South Lake is the Catskills’ largest and most popular campground and day-use area. 

Along with offering many unique campsites, this attraction also provides opportunities for hiking, fishing, picnicking, and lake swimming. Historic cabins are also available for nightly renters for a truly unforgettable experience at North-South Lake. 

North-South Lake campground and day-use area is open May through October, with camping fees of $22 per night for in-state residents and $27 per night for out-of-state visitors. 

Visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website to learn more. 

9. Zoom Floom Water Park

Zoom Flume Water Park is the place to be for a fun-filled day the whole family can enjoy.

This water park offers an array of thrilling water slides, as well as a lazy river and wave pool to cool off in the hot summer sun. To get to this water park, you will need to travel up to East Durham, NY, roughly 50 minutes to an hour to the north of the Catskills. 

Zoom Floom Water Park is open on select days and hours. Visit the Zoom Flume website to learn more. 

10. Thomas Cole National Historic Site

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is the historic home of the renowned American painter Thomas Cole. Along with calling this site home, Thomas Cole also built his studio here to paint his many stunning landscape paintings and help with the launch of the Hudson River School. 

This historic site is open daily and requires visitors to purchase a ticket. A general admission ticket provides you with self-guided access to both the new and old studios, as well as the house and exhibition.  

Visit the Thomas Cole National Historic Site website to find out more. 

Final Thoughts

The Catskills offers a truly diverse range of attractions and experiences for visitors of all ages to enjoy. 

From the breathtaking beauty of Kaaterskill Falls and Slide Mountain’s hiking trails that lead all the way to the panoramic summit, to the cultural experiences at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and Thomas Cole National Historic Site, the Catskills are a treasure trove of southeastern New York’s history.  

Plan wisely and you’re sure to create cherished memories in the enchanting Catskills region.

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