Dec 2, 2021
5 min read

A Photographer's Guide to the Catskills

Less than three hours from New York City, the Catskills is a quick getaway for those in need of some respite in nature. For those of you who haven’t been (yet), think mountains swathed in forests and teeming with wildlife, with incredible hikes and views from all angles. 
Someone who’s a master of getting the best angle is photographer 
Ernesto Roman
. Creative Director of 
Deer Mountain Inn
, and East Coast Editor of 
A Hotel Life
, he lives and breathes the panoramic outdoor lifestyle. Here are his top tips.

If you didn’t already live there, where would you love to stay in the Catskills?

Deer Mountain Inn

Your Catskills getaway dream come true. A classic, turn-of-the-century construction, offering a rustic dining experience with wood-burning fireplaces, a cozy entertainment lounge that is private for inn guests, and hundreds of acres to explore the outdoors.

Camp Here Here

A fun glamping experience with a great restaurant – but, they only run in the summer.

Mystic Lodge

There are amazing, unique private properties around the Catskills, that you may only get through Airbnb. One of them is Mystic Lodge, located in a dairy farm in Bovina, which offers you a secluded teepee experience – perfect to disconnect and be one with nature.
Mystic Lodge

Favorite places to eat in the Catskills? What do we order?

Circle W Market, in Palenville

Get the Great Red Ruben (with Pastrami for the meat lovers), The Niobe Wrap (for the veggies), or the Avocado toast (for the sriracha lovers). But really, look out for their daily specials!

Silvia, in Woodstock

They offer daily specials like $1 oysters, and happy hour on Tuesdays. Usually, I go for the chicken or the bibimbap. 

Prospect at Scribners, in Hunter

They are open daily for breakfast (not dinner), so get the pancakes! Extra tip: If you’re visiting during the week, check before you go, as most places are closed Monday to Wednesday. 

Where would you go to eat for a special occasion? 

Gaskins, in Germantown

Wood-fired oven dishes and locally sourced ingredients, with a small-town vibe.

Deer Mountain Inn, in Tannersville 

Go for the seasonal (Michelin-star) chef’s tasting menu, small bites (get the fried chicken) and craft cocktails. You can sit next to a log fireplace, or at a table with mountain views.

Brushland Eating House, in Bovina

This is a great place to reward yourself with a nice dinner after a countryside drive. I love their iron cast dishes and pastas.

We’ve lost our luggage. Where would you suggest we get a new wardrobe?

Warren Street, in Hudson

You will find everything and anything on Warren Street, from thrift stores to ateliers.


A favorite of mine, this exquisite boutique has a hand-picked selection of brands including accessories, publications, writing goods and the best incense I’ve ever smelt. 

What are your favorite bars around town? 

The Tavern at Rivertown Lodge, in Hudson 

Ask about their organic wines selection, it’s great.

The Maker Hotel, in Hudson 

A new addition to the list for me. It’s the kind of place you could go for some absinthe or brandy – you’ll find an elaborated cocktail list, too.

Brunette Wine Bar, in Kingston 

I always feel the vibe is ‘sparkling rose’.

West Kill Brewery, in West Kill 

Beers are seasonal and they rotate, so there’s always something new to try. I’m really into the Kaaterskills IPA right now.

Best place for a morning coffee in the Catskills? 

We have an entire afternoon free, and are looking to do some damage to our credit card. Where should we go? 

Where can we get our dose of culture in the Catskills (ideally without crowds of tourists)?

We’re looking to party, like a local. Where should we go?

We’d love to see some live music. Where to?

Favorite secret spot to get some alone time?

The Leanto at 
Deer Mountain Inn
, for one of the best views of the Catskill Mountains. It’s a 15-minute hike from the Inn and is my favorite place to bring a book, get some fresh air, meditate, and catch sunsets.

Tips and tricks for getting around the Catskills?

You can get away with taking Amtrak from NYC to Hudson and relying on Uber/Lyft or just walking around. Other than that, you definitely need a car, no way around it! Add a good 20 minutes to anywhere you go in the summer, as traffic doubles up everywhere, especially the queues at the gas stations!
Parking at 
Kaaterskills Falls 
gets super crowded during the weekends, so go as early as possible. If you park on the sides of the road, you’ll probably end up with a parking ticket.
Getting Around

Where are the cool crowd hanging out in the Catskills, if we’re single or solo traveling?

This is a tough one. Being single upstate ain’t no joke. As a rule of thumb, just hit the bars. 
In terms of people watching, follow the crowds, head out to the big festivals or gatherings such as 
Field and Supply
Phoenicia Flea
, the 
Basilica Soundscape
 (summer only) or all the pool parties.

And if we are coupled up, what is the best date spot that will actually have a table?

at Hasbrouck House.

Where should we go for a nature walk (if not a full-on hike)?

Kaaterskills Falls 

Work your way up from the bottom. You can also explore the trails on top of the falls for an easier hike and check out the viewing platform. There are numerous trails to explore.

The Outside Institute

Follow their founder and naturist extraordinaire Laura Silverman on a nature walk, foraging class or forest bathing experience.

Where would you go with your sketch pad or journal?

Storm King

A 500-acre outdoor museum and sculpture park. If you haven’t been yet, you’ll be inspired.

Overlook Mountain

The most impressive view of the Catskills.
Rivertown Lodge

Where do we go to work out in the Catskills? 

The great outdoors! There are plenty of lakes, hiking and mountain bike trails to go around. You will also find a lot of yoga studios. Winters are long in the mountains, so if you’re not a skier/snowboarder, you’ll be looking for your classic gym chain (YMCA, Planet Fitness, etc), just to jump on a treadmill. 

Where do we go to treat ourselves to a spa or massage?

Anything else we should know?

Hiway Drive-In or Drive in 32 (both open seasonally) 

For an old-school drive-in movie theater experience. Watch a film under the stars!

Lil Deb’s Oasis

A vibrant and colorful Caribbean-style restaurant. It’s a women-powered and community-oriented business with occasional art installations and performances. The fried fish dish and sweet plantains sides make me feel right at home.

Preserved Instincts

This is an electronic music sanctuary. Probably my favorite, most unexpected Catskills find. A beautiful main street storefront in a tranquil town.

Town Tinker Tubing

This place in Phoenicia makes me feel like a kid again!
And, don’t forget to come up in the fall, the foliage is spectacular.
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