When you live and work in New York City, you’re sapped by the end of the week. The frenetic energy of the city is exhilarating in doses, but if you don’t take the time to slow down and get some fresh air, the Gotham circus can really wear you down and soot your spirits. For this reason, I’m a huge advocate of getting the hell out of the city. As far away as you can drive, until the buildings are sparse and low, the sky is in full view, the air smells un-toxic, and the sounds of ambulances and car horns are a distant nightmare.
For more than a century, artists and writers have been drawn to the serene wild of the upper Hudson Valley, the Berkshires, and Vermont. The time that they spent there in the mid 1800s and early 1900s infused the rugged and raw space with culture and significance. The birth of the Hudson River School of American Landscape Painters plus the success of novels and paintings from the region turned upstate NY into a much buzzed vacation hotspot. With elevations reaching over 4,000 feet and hundreds of state-regulated trails and points of interest, it’s an idyllic contrast to the chaos of the city only two hours south.
By the mid 1900s, the Catskills were already considered a resort destination. It was an inexpensive place for working class families to vacation, for white collar families to buy land, and for immigrants to establish their own micro communities.
By the time the Woodstock festival rolled around, upstate New York had something up there for everyone. Then, as the century neared an end and transportation became more efficient and vacation towns began to pop up like acne all over the East Coast, the Catskills and surrounding cities began to suffer. Only now, in the last decade, is the area seeing a newfound interest from city dwellers. Dubbed a satellite community for Brooklyn folk, the upstate region is now thriving again. With restaurants that rival NYC standards and boutique lodges that out-style the chicest European mountain chalets, upstate New York is once again the place for artists to and creatives to split from the metropolis.
Here’s your guide to the new Upstate with a capital U — where to eat, where to sleep, what to do and where to go if you bump into your boss at a farmer’s market.
Where to go that you’ll feel OK with no cell service.
The Spruceton Inn looks like a motel because, once upon a time, it was. But don’t judge a building by its exterior. Gutted, updated, and redecorated by a minimalist with an eye for rustic retro-chic, The Spruceton offers modern comfort situated in an open wild. Literally in the middle of nowhere, with no WiFi in the rooms, this is the place to go to unplug and wake up with the sun. You won’t find a single distraction here besides the views from your giant window, so it’s perfect if you want to finish a book or just hear yourself think.
Don’t panic, there’s a bar onsite with WiFi and you’re only 30 minutes from civilization if the sound of birds and breeze becomes too real for you.