Upstate New York: The Catskills & Woodstock

As much as I love living in Manhattan, it can get a bit overwhelming at times. With over 8 million people rushing around the big city, it can feel impossible to get a bit of peace and quiet. Luckily, there's so much more to New York than just NYC. North of the city you can find vast areas of beautiful rural land, towering mountain peaks and incredible waterfalls. This week, my boyfriend and I ventured out of the Big Apple and into the historic small town of Woodstock in the beautiful Catskill mountains.

To get to Woodstock, Trailways do a really great service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan which takes you right to the heart of Woodstock in around 2 and a half hours. There is no train station in Woodstock so this is a really great option if you don't want to hire a car. I was really impressed by the company, the bus was comfortable and they were perfectly on time, even when we returned to NYC in the late evening. It's cost effective too and worked perfectly for us as neither of us have experience on the roads in the US so we weren't too confident in driving out of a big city like New York.

My boyfriend and I are huge fans of Airbnb, so we booked a lovely little 2 storey apartment right in the heart of town for our overnight stay. It was so perfect and the hosts were even kind enough to leave us fresh eggs in the kitchen. The apartment had a lovely little decked area to sit outside and enjoy the sound of silence!

Branded the "most famous small town in the world", Woodstock is famed by the festival of the same name (which actaully took place 60 miles away!) and is home to unique shops, galleries, fine dining and many outdoor activities in the surrounding landscape. We spent our first few hours in Woodstock wandering the beautiful local shops. The town itself looks as if it has come straight out of a story book, it is so colourful and has everything from a bakery to a tiny police station. We also went for a late afternoon walk in the woodlands behind our apartment.

For lunch we ate at Shindig, a cute casual restaurant where I had the most amazing mac and cheese. For dinner, we ate in a beautiful restaurant called Joshua's. The menu isn't the sort of thing that I normally go for but by boyfriend picked it out and I have to say that he was totally right! I had cajun salmon with pesto mashed potatoes and asparagus - it was absolutely beautiful!

On our second day, we did what we came to Woodstock for - climb mountains! My boyfriend loves to hike and so we followed a beautiful trail up to the peak of Overlook Mountain. We bought our lunch from a sweet little bakery in the town called Bread Alone and off we went. It was a lovely hike with an incredible pay off at the end with a gorgeous panorama view of the Hudson Valley. To make a day of it, we walked up to the carpark from Woodstock town, went up to the mountain top and then down to Echo Lake on the other side before coming back up and returning to Woodstock (this basically meant walking up the mountain and then most of the way back down and then up again!). We saw some great wildlife while on the hike including a Black Rat Snake. It was so nice to immerse myself in the natural beauty of Woodstock and take a step back from the hustle and bustle of the city.

I had the most amazing time on my first trip upstate, and coming back to NYC after all of that tranquility was definitely a shock to the system! If you ever get the chance, I totally recommend checking out what else New York state has to offer. There's plenty of places to choose from aside from the Catskills, from the wilderness regions of Adirondacks to the breathtaking Niagara Falls.

What are your favourite locations to escape city life?


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