When I think back on my childhood, some of my favorite memories take place in Sullivan County, New York. My grandparents owned a vacation home in Rock Hill, about 90 miles northwest of New York City—a 10-minute drive from Monticello, and I would spend every summer at that lake house. My sister and I attended a local day camp and I remember every Monday the camp bus would drop us off at the community pool where we would meet our mom and grandma to have pizza dinners along with other local families.
Outside of our little HOA, there was always so much to explore. I remember summer days spent visiting the animals at local farms and drinking the freshest milk—my dad even convinced me that chocolate milk came straight from the brown cows. As the weather turned brisk, my family would drive around to see the changing leaves on the mountains and deep into winter, we would layer on our snowsuits and ski the local slopes.
Courtesy of Melissa Bykofsky The author's grandparents at their lake house in Sullivan County, New York.
Now that I'm older, I love how much the area has changed and how much more there is to do there for all ages. My family has found some amazing restaurants like The Heron in Narrowsburg and The Pickled Owl in Hurleyville. I celebrated my 25th birthday with friends at both Baldwin and Brotherhood Wineries and recently my nephews spent a day splashing through the new Kartrite Indoor Waterpark. Almost every weekend someone in my family can be found at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (the original site of Woodstock) seeing a concert or attending one of the amazing events onsite. Now that fall is here, we spend Sundays at the Harvest Festival and just a few weeks ago, I was back there again with my husband and our friends to attend the 8th Annual Wine Festival at Bethel Woods.
While there is so much to do as an adult, my favorite part of now spending weekends at the lake house is getting to relive the magic of upstate New York through the eyes of my two nephews. They've been horseback riding, watched farmers milk their cows, gotten lost in corn mazes, and next summer will go kayaking on the lake with their Pops.
When I was growing up, there were not a lot of hotels in the surrounding area. If you were visiting Sullivan County, you either stayed at Villa Roma, which is still a great place to spend a weekend, or you knew someone with a house in the area. Most of the local resorts that were thriving in the 80s (like The Concord and Kutchers) were closing their doors for good. But now that's starting to change again and it's easier than ever to spend a weekend in Sullivan County. Just look at the region's instagram account @SullivanCatskills and you'll come down with a case of wanderlust for the mountain views, dreamy sunsets, and stunning resorts and campsites for cozy nights by the fire. Check out what your family can eat, play, and explore on a weekend getaway.
Where to Stay
Just step through the hotel lobby and your family will find a two-acre indoor waterpark with slides, pools, and splash areas for the whole family. Need a break from the water? On the hotel's lower level there is a massive arcade, several restaurants, and a spa (yes, you deserve some R&R on this trip, too). In the summer and fall, the hotel hosts evening activities like s'more making at the outdoor fire pits. When it's time for bed, you'll rest easy knowing the family suites have a separate room with bunk beds for the kids.
Courtesy of Melissa Bykofsky The author's nephew on a water slide at The Kartrite Indoor Waterpark.
Remember Dirty Dancing? Well, you'll feel like you're staying on the movie set while visiting the summer camp-style resort that has a golf course, bowling alley, racquetball court, zip line, paintball range, and horseback riding lessons on site. Book your stay with a meal package and your family can eat with other guests in one of the resort's dining rooms or cafes. And your room is not far from the action so there will be no trouble scheduling naps between all the fun activities.
If you are heading to the Catskills for the mountain views, you can't pass up an opportunity to stay in this B&B that overloops the Upper Delaware River. You'll feel right at home in front of the fireplace in the living room. This is the perfect spot for a romantic parents getaway or a family escape if your kids are old enough to appreciate breathtaking nature and farm-to-table eats.
Where to Eat
I'm personally still dreaming of their blueberry pancakes on the brunch menu, but you really can't go wrong whether you stop by for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (they have vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options for all). Though there is no designated kids menu, your little one will find plenty to eat on the locally sourced, comfort food menu, including creamy mac & cheese and crispy fried buttermilk chicken with mashed potatoes. After your meal, walk around the quaint hamlet of Narrowsburg that runs along the Delaware River.
Another Narrowsburg favorite, this woodfire pizza parlor also uses local and organic produce to make their personal pies, salads, and sides. Indulge in a ricotta, gruyere, gorgonzola, mozzarella four-cheese white pie with a kale caesar salad and a waterfront view.
The Roscoe-based restaurant started as a family-owned artisan pasta-shop and now it serves seasonal ravioli fillings on the menu—I don't think anything sounds more delicious than butternut squash ravioli on a chilly fall day. You can still stop in to pick up a package of fresh dried pasta.
Head into White Lake near Bethel for some wood-fired pizza that goes far beyond your typical cheese slice. The restaurant's two back decks overlook Kauneonga Lake where your kids can watch jet skiers and boats sail by. At night, there is often live music on the top floor of the restaurant.
This summer theater is open from mid-June through labor day and actors put on three types of shows: musicals, youth theater productions, and cabaret performances presented with dinner. This is the oldest continuously operating professional summer theater in the state, so many actors come from or go on to have big roles on Broadway. Past performances include The Wizard of Oz, Mamma Mia, Annie, Newsies, and Bye Bye Birdie.
Picture a perfect fall day in the country. If you see corn mazes, pick your own pumpkins, hayrides, barnyard play areas, then this is the place for your family. The farm opens Labor Day Weekend and offers activities for all ages through the fall and winter months.
Looking for a petting zoo? This Bethel farm offers pony rides, a petting zoo where your kids can feed the animals, and a bounce house. In the fall it also has hayrides for the whole family.
Courtesy of Melissa Bykofsky The author's nephew at Upper Rooms Farm.
This is the home of the original 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair. For a little bit of history, head into the museum that takes you back into the 60s and covers the politics, music, art, and societal issues of the decade. If you're only in town for the weekend, look at the events calendar—during the summer there are frequently concerts at The Pavilion at Bethel Woods. Recent performers included Ringo Starr, Santana, Train, and The Pentatonix. Through the fall, there are also several festivals, including a harvest festival, a wine festival, and a beer festival. There are also family, teen, and kids programs offered throughout the year.