As a Brooklynite, I’ve got a little checklist for winter weekend getaways. The destination shouldn’t take more than several hours to get to. It should also have excellent restaurants and bars. Above all else, the place should be thoroughly relaxing and absent of crowds, traffic, and unnecessary noise.
This is when The Catskills enters the picture. Stretching over 6,000 scenic acres in Southeastern New York and an easy drive from New York City, this destination is certainly no secret, but offers far more tranquility than other propular weekend spots like The Hamptons. Plus: the landscape is postcard-perfect all year long—winter’s stillness especially alluring—and businesses are located far enough from each other so they feel like destinations unto themselves.
How to Get to The Catskills
To arrive in style and an eco-friendly manner, I borrowed a vehicle I heard rave reviews about: the 2024 Audi Q8 e-tron. (Audi on demand is an innovative, easy-to-use service that lets you rent an Audi vehicle for as long as you wish.) I’m no electric vehicle expert, but family and friends who own them love them. Also, I believe what seems like a small change can contribute to a positive global impact.
Though I was thrilled with the prospect of cruising around in such a reputable car, I was also nervous about, well, actually driving it. The good news is that my experience with the Q8 e-tron was blissfully easy and stress-free; like a conventional vehicle, but with lots more bells and whistles. Imagine everything you love about your favorite car amped up with a sleek aerodynamic design; highly intuitive features—the crisp digital display showing my destination and the closest public EV charging stations provided extra peace of mind—competitive battery pack (around 300 miles when fully charged); and steady, whisper-quiet ride. In fact: I enjoyed driving the 2024 Audi Q8 e-tron so much I recommended it to my dad, who’s currently shopping for an electric vehicle.
Where to Stay in The Catskills
You’d be hard pressed to find accommodations that feel more escapist than Piaule Catskill. Spread across 50 forested acres, the modern and minimalist resort’s 24 prefab cabins appear to levitate above the earth for an ethereal vibe, and are constructed of sustainable materials, from the bathroom floor’s stone tiles to the bed’s sturdy oak frames.
The cabins are spaced apart to ensure utter privacy and serenity—I can’t remember the last time I slept so soundly—while offering soul-soothing views via a stunning glass wall. It gets even better: you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to. The on-site restaurant, which doubles as the check-in area and guest lounge, offers a complimentary breakfast and a la carte lunch—the gooey grilled cheese and creamy pumpkin soup is a winning combo—and prix fixe dinner. There’s also a spa, complete with a self-guided water water circuit, treatment rooms for massages, and a yoga studio. And if you’re driving an electric vehicle, four EV charging stations have you covered.
Where to Eat and Drink in The Catskills
There’s no shortage of terrific places to eat and drink in The Catskills, but Palenville’s Griffin House by Jessica Walsh and Simone Felice—they’re also behind Circle W, the best sandwich shop in the region—stands out with its charming setting in a historic 1925 building, hearty British pub fare, and imaginative cocktails like the best-selling Averna Shirley (mezcal, Averna, soda, and a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry).
Tucked away in Leeds’ Camptown Hotel is another outstanding spot, Casa Susanna, where lauded chef Efrén Hernández whips up imaginative riffs on Mexican fare. Masa proudly takes top billing here, making its way into craveable creations like an heirloom blue corn tetela stufffed with bayo beans and alpine cheese. In Kingston, there’s two buzzy newcomers to dig into: Ollie’s Slice Shop, which turns out divine wood-fired pizzas, and its neighbor Eliza, an approachable bistro that’s as ideal for a casual drink as it is for celebrating a special occasion.
For the homiest Italian-American cooking in the area, make a reservation at Saugerties’ Annarella Ristorante. The portions are filling; everything is made from scratch—the Tonnarelli con Aragosta (long, thin noodles enrobed in a creamy lobster sauce) is a guest favorite—and the service is warm and welcoming. And Hemlock, a handsome lounge in Catskill by Adam Minegar, is the place to be for well-crafted, ingredient-driven cocktails like Pineapple Daiquiris and martinis spritzed with a sprucey tincture.