Thoughts on Things to Do in Catskill, New York

There's plenty to do in Catskill – none of which are teaching a cat skills, unfortunately.


Driving through Catskill, NY

Boxer Mike Tyson used to live in Catskill and he could probably really chew your ear about it. He’s good at that. Although the name of the village, the town and the mountainous area in the Hudson Valley might seem a little strange, as though the region were preparing for some sort of feline Olympics, it actually comes from the Dutch for Wildcat Creek.

Catskill Mountains, New York, USA

Catskill Mountains, New York, USA

And while the explanation might be a little dull, there are plenty of exciting things to do in Catskill. Its land is made up of towering peaks, undulating valleys, streams, rivers and lakes. And that’s without delving into a village replete with historic sights. We at the Plum Guide have put together something special for your trip to Catskill and the surrounding area, so read up on the best attractions below. As long as you stay clear of Mike Tyson, we wager you’ll have a great time.

Stroll along the riverbanks

As you stroll beside the Catskill Creek (the ‘creek’ part being redundant given what we now know about the Dutch origins of the word ‘Catskill’, but hey, we’ll let it slip this time), listen to the rushing sound of the water and set up a picnic. Walk your dog or steal someone else’s in the Park for Paws and enter the Catskill Marina to check out the array of boats. See the area in winter, when the water is partly frozen over with great big chunks of ice. Drop in at the Catskill Yacht Club and rent a vessel to take out on the water.

Can't get enough of the river? This home just north of Catskill is right on the banks of the Hudson, so you can sit and watch the water stream by from the comfort of your Plum Guide home.

On the Hillside, Plum Guide home in Hudson Valley

On the Hillside, Plum Guide home in Hudson Valley

Explore the town centre

Cross over the bridge in the centre of the town and admire the views of the water and the boats on each side. Walk around the old-world streets of the charming village and drop in for a pint (or 20, ha ha ha) at the Crossroads Brewing Company. Among the main sights in the heart of the village are the Greene County Courthouse, the Catskill Town Justice building and a few churches. Enjoy a meal at one of the myriad restaurants and bars scattered across this central part of the town.

Reach the village

It’s more of a suburb, but they seem to classify it as a village. Head to the northern reaches of the town and arrive at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Housed in a majestic white edifice, the museum was set up by its eponymous artist and puts on a range of temporary art exhibits, often with a theme relating to the great outdoors. Which is where we’ll be heading in the next part of this post. But first, let’s take a moment to appreciate the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, an enormous piece of engineering with its own pedestrian walkways and cycling paths. Catch a glimpse of the scenic Rogers Island Wildlife Management Area below. Since you're here, consider staying at this scenic beauty.

Over the Hudson, Plum Guide home in Hudson Valley

Over the Hudson, Plum Guide home in Hudson Valley

It’s time to leave urban life and live in the sky

Well, to be fair, it isn’t that ‘urban’. When it comes to things to do in Catskill, you'll find everything is a little rural. The town and its little village are surrounded by mountainous vegetation and large rivers and streams, so it’s not like nearby New York City. Still, you’re now on your way to the Hunter Mountain Scenic Skyride, on the western edge of the Kaaterskill (isn’t that just a Dutch way of saying Catskill, which is already supposed to be the Dutch word for Wildcat Creek?) Wild Forest. It’s not for the faint-hearted, so do come prepared with excuses to miss out on a chair lift with your legs dangling out the bottom, if that's not your thing.

Get active

One of the best things to do in Catskill is to stop being lazy. The woods and the mountains surrounding the town and village are brimming with fun activities. Swing through the trees like a maniac with the New York Zipline Adventure Tours or bring the little ones to the Zoom Flume Water Park. The latter has a large wave pool and a range of water rides that’ll make your head spin (just the right amount so that you don’t then drown in some kind of dizziness spell). Head to the Windham Mountain Bike Park and cycle up and down the bumpy hills.

Back to nature

Admire the peace and quiet away from the big city life. Among the highlights in this vast area of natural beauty is the Kaaterskill Falls. Enjoy a picnic beside the cascades and take photos of the colourful vegetation draping the mountains around you. Head to Pratt Rock for New York’s Mount Rushmore (it’s the carved head of Zaddock Pratt, who was in the House of Representatives). Continue combining history and nature with a tour of the Hull-O Farms.

Mount Rushmore, Hudson Valley, New York

Mount Rushmore, Hudson Valley, New York

If you'd like to explore more of the area, we've rounded up the top things to do in Hudson Valley. Staying in the city? Check out our ultimate guide to the New York City staycay. Don't say we don't spoil you.

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