Why The Catskills?
The Catskills have always been a beloved ‘back to nature’ getaway. It’s only 90 minutes from NYC but you might as well be a world away from the crowds, noise and hurried life. From historical artists, to Borscht Belt resorts of yesteryear (you know what I’m talking about Marvelous Maisel Fans) to Woodstock there’s always been magic here. Now Millennial artists, bakers, hoteliers and restaurateurs are shaping the next ‘version” of the Catskills celebrating the same awe-inspiring surroundings. If you’re looking to escape to the Catskills for a couples getaway check out my Hunter, NY post in the Couples Getaway Section
My husband went skiing here as a kid, and I joined him skiing at Hunter Mountain after college. We loved how easy Tannersville NY was to get to, enjoyed the drastic change of pace, and were young (READ: kinda crazy) so we decided to buy a fractional ownership timeshare at Kaatskill Mountain Club in Tannersville NY.
Since 2005 we have been enjoying “getting away from it all” year round with our friends and now our little kids! Just this week my oldest proclaimed out of the blue “ Hunter Mountain is my favorite place to be, except our house!” If you love the idea of escaping to the mountains for a family trip but don’t live in the region check out Kids are a Trip’s “Best Summer Mountain Vacation Getaways for Families” article with 10 destination ideas!
Where to Stay in Tannersville NY
So, 95% of the time we stay at our timeshare. We love a condo layout for family trips vs a hotel room. We have a variety of bedtimes and wake-ups (one time my son woke up at 5:15am on a vacation here) and a bigger space makes it all more enjoyable. We tend to cook at least one meal a day in the condo, and a kitchen also lets us bring leftovers home from our favorite restaurants. It really is one spot that my kids never tire coming too over and over.
I’m not sure about your family, but a pool is a must-have for my kids on vacation! My kids get a real kick out of entering the pool from the inside of the building in the winter and have dubbed it the Car Wash! My son’s #2 favorite thing at the condo is the mini-game room on the first floor complete with air hockey and a couple of claw games. My daughter’s #2 favorite is the luggage carts – go figure!
Besides our timeshare, we have stayed at the larger townhouses on the other side of the ski slopes a handful of times. One time we needed more space for family, and the timeshare was sold out due to a wedding, so we rented a townhouse on AirBnb. If you are coming to Hunter, NY for an event held on Hunter Mountain grounds staying “on-property” really does make it a lot more convenient.
If you’re looking for other Tannersville NY lodging options than Hunter Mountain properties there are lots of choices! For a hotel experience, I recommend the recently renovated Scribner’s Lodge, a beautiful modern designed space with new owners. They have larger suite rooms and a pool that’s open in the summer. It’s a perfect Catskills getaway choice! For a bigger space, AirBnb has lots of vacation rentals in the Catskills ranging from the traditional A-frames, cabins and large homes. So many cozy mountain retreats perfect for family vacations to choose from.
Where to eat in Tannersville NY
When traveling with small kids it can be easier to eat breakfast and one other meal in your place so they can run wild with no worry. We do however, have a list of favorites that we LOVE when visiting and are really enjoying the new spots that have been opening up like gangbusters lately around the Tannersville NY area.
Last Chance Cheese Restaurant ( Tannersville NY)
I have a SERIOUS love affair with this homecookin, relaxed cafe that has been a mainstay since the 70’s! For 15 years, we have eaten here on every single visit – it’s my happy place! It’s not a Catskills vacation until I have the Meat and Cheese Board with my favorite beer, Franziskaner Hefe. (Hubby always loves the Chicken Pot Pie) They have a wonderful extensive Americano menu with Gluten Free and Kids Menus as well as 300 specialty beers, 50 whiskeys and 100 cheeses! A visit to Last Chance Antiques Cheese Cafe is a must do!
Jessie’s Harvest House ( Tannersville NY)
If you are looking for a more elevated meal and/or are fans of the infamous Blue Stone at Stone Barns, this is the dinner spot for you! Recently opened by a former Blue Stone chef and granddaughter of the founders of Hunter Mountain, it is one of those places where the food is fantastic, but the atmosphere is casual and very family friendly. Your kiddo will be lucky to get some of your Pat LaFrieda burger, gourmet Meatballs or pasta! Definitely make a reservation if you’re planning on enjoying this restaurant – – even for the family favorite “early bird special” time slots.
The Catskill Mountain Country Store (Tannersville NY)
If you’re looking to go out to breakfast, brunch or grab a treat this is the place! They serve breakfast all day and have an Old Fashioned Ice Cream counter. If you never make it here during your trip, you have to stop on your way out of town and get Apple Cider donuts.
Twin Peaks Coffee and Donuts (Tannersville NY)
Speaking of donuts, let’s talk about the made to order donuts and homemade coffees at this place! Just north of downtown’s Main Street is this wonderful (and popular!) cafe. If you drive by on the weekend you’ll probably see the line out the door so try to drop by on Thursday or Friday. You can’t go wrong with any donut pick and make sure to ask what coffee flavor mixes they made from scratch — we can’t get enough of the Pumpkin Spice one!
Rip Van Winkle Brewery Company and Restaurant (Catskill NY)
If you’re looking for a place on the way to/from this restaurant is a great pick! Sometimes we leave later than planned ( kids!) or they just are dying to eat and can not wait any longer. We first discovered this place on a couple trips when we stopped in to try the locally brewed beer (they have 7 in total). We spied a large brick pizza oven and returned for some pizza another time. I’m not surprised that the owners are from Sicily with the delicious pizza and Italian dishes they serve. Hubby loves the burgers here too!
What to Do in Tannersville NY
Toddler and Up
When I started planning for our first trip with the kids (Me?? Planning?? Never!) it was surprisingly difficult to locate toddler appropriate activities for our family in areas surrounding Tannersville NY. There were a lot of great resources for family trips in Greene County New York but they were for older kids. Four years ago, I proclaimed I should write a blog to make this easier for families with toddlers, but alas, better late than never, right?
Zoom Flume Water Park & Summer Resort (East Durham NY)
This family owned large water park is a real gem! It is 30 minutes away from Tannersville NY and 15 minutes from Windham and makes for an amazing day. It is perfect for kids of all ages. My one year old really enjoyed herself and my seven year old loved it too! They have specific areas for toddlers (who doesn’t love huge water sprayers) large rides for kids of all ages, and a new giant wave pool.
What really makes this place is the staff. They are so lovely, it is so well run and we look forward to it every summer. If you can go during the week, you won’t wait more than 5 minutes to go on anything. They have Spring sales on passes if you are sure you’re going to go, or buy discounted tickets through Working Advantage.com if your employer offers access. This wonderful water park secluded in a forest is a must do!
Mountain Top Arboretum ( Tannersville NY)
This public garden with boardwalks, trails, and fairy gardens is the perfect 2-hour activity for younger kids! It is only 10 minutes from Hunter Mountain and right by downtown, so you can combo it with lunch/dinner out or a half day at the pool (my kids favorite!) They do have kids specific weekend events, but there’s so much do if you don’t catch them. We loved the West Meadow, Woodland Walk, and East Meadow. The Mountain Top Arboretum is open every single day of the year and admission is free with a suggested donation. It is gems like these that we adore about the Catskills – – we hardly run into anyone else at this place and enjoy nature’s peace, quiet and beauty.
North/South Lake (Hunter NY)
This New York State Park has so much to offer you could spend all week here! Located less than 15 minutes from Tannersville NY, this 1,000 acre preserve with two lakes has not only history, fishing, canoeing, paddle boarding but hiking to some of the best views and spots this region has to offer— all for $8 a car! Until we had kids, we didn’t even know this amazing place was in Hunter.
Now, we’ve been two summers in a row and have barely scratched the surface of activities here, cause I can’t get my kids away from the lake beach! This is the perfect spot to take your kiddo out on the water in a canoe or paddle boat as the water is very calm. You can rent them right at South Lake and go completely at your own pace as your rental is for the whole day. Pack a bag full of dollar store sand toys and plastic shovels and your kids will be entertained for the whole day!
Don’t forget to bring lunch, drinks and snacks for the day, as there is no food service in the park. Twilight General Store is a popular food stop right on the way to North/South Lake, and is that last store before the park entrance.
Kaaterskill Falls “secret” parking lot (Palenville NY)
You can’t come to the Catskills and not see the highest waterfall in NY State! I can’t do the history and meaning of this waterfall justice, but this article starts to give you an idea of not only its beauty but significance. On your drive up, you may have seen people parking on the side of the road and walking down the hill into oncoming traffic. Don’t worry, you don’t have to take your kids on the side of a dangerous highway and fight for parking in the world’s smallest lot to see Kaaterskill Falls.
If you went to North/South Lake you might have seen a couple of signs for Kaaterskill Falls on N Lake Road. The signs are directing you to the new parking lot and paved trail providing a much shorter and manageable way to see the falls and beautiful views with kids. Until GoogleMaps catches up with it, use 103 Laurel House Rd, Palenville, NY 12463 for directions and head to the end of the road. If you brought a heavy duty stroller with you, could even bring it on the ½ mile round trip walk to the Viewing Platform. Enjoy this landmark year round, safely, with the new trail!
If your kids did amazingly well, or are a bit older, you can continue on the Blue Trail, or even the Yellow Trail to the lower falls. Check out my detailed post on the hiking options around Kaaterskill Falls here.
Oktoberfest (Hunter NY)
Hunter Mountain’s 4 weekends of Oktoberfest is not only a blast but it is (mostly) free! Each weekend had a different specialty offering cider fest, wine fest, rally car races and off roading. They have authentic German bands and dancers (which my kids surprisingly loved!) and lots of free kids activities. The bouncy houses and food are pay as you go, so bring some cash with you, because kids just can’t pass up a bouncy house. You can also pack lunch and bring it into the cafeteria where the bands and dancers perform all day while the parents enjoy a traditional beer in a boot!
Older Kids Activities
As our kids get older we look forward to these amazing activities located right at Hunter Mountain!
Ski Lift Scenic Skyride
Running Spring, Summer and Fall the ski lift takes you to the Summit of Hunter Mountain – 3,200 feet up. We haven’t taken our kiddos on it yet cause you really are going up there and my oldest one isn’t ready yet! If this is on your must do list, try to go in the morning or you’ll wait in a long line with wedding guests heading to a wedding ceremony at the Summit. If you have older kids this is a great way to go mountain biking as well! Hook your bike up the chair lift and up it goes with you!
Mountain Disc Golf
If you’re not familiar with disc golf it’s frisbee into baskets around a course. Hunter Mountain’s Disc Golf course is free if you bring your own discs/small frisbees from home! Depending on your kids’ age and ability to hike hills, you can pick just the baskets on the bottom of the mountain for a fun activity. My hubby can’t wait to introduce our kids to one of his favorite sports.
This zip line company offers a couple of different options for adults and kids. The mid mountain tour is perfect for your beginner or adventure seeing kid (must be over 60 pounds, tho). The full zip line tour is really intense – even for very brave adults! If you hiked around on the mountain, or did some disc golf, you might have seen some of the climbing structures in the lower hills.
Come and see what all the love is about in Greene County and Tannersville NY! Let everyone else wait in endless traffic to go to the Hamptons – – You’ll be in the ethereal Catskills before they are even on the Long Island Expressway!
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