Nestled between the Shawangunk Ridge and the Catskills, Ellenville is a quiet mountain community less than 100 miles north of New York City. It’s the perfect destination for a quick weekend trip for anyone looking to find some fresh air, relax and enjoy adventures in nature. Here’s a starter itinerary for your next weekend getaway.
Cruise into Ellenville with the top down as you pass through the scenic vistas of farmland and mountains on the southern route of the Shawangunk Mountain scenic byway. Take a leisurely detour and hop on the nearby Shawangunk Wine Trail, a beautiful 80-mile stretch that passes through 15 gorgeous vineyards, including Brimstone Hill, Baldwin, Robibero and Whitecliff, just outside of Ellenville.
If you’re looking for comfortable camping, Skyway Camping Resort and Catskill Adventure Resort both offer full service campgrounds with facilities—perfect for RV-ers and tent-campers alike. Or, stay at the charming Emerald Forest Bungalows, aka Jake’s Place, for a rustic, cottage-style lodging experience. From here Peekamoose Blue Hole is only a short drive away. Take a dip in the crystalline blue waters and experience one of the best natural swimming holes in the United States—guaranteed to make your Instagram followers swoon. Don’t forget to book and print out a free permit before your visit to Peekamoose Blue Hole.
What is the best thing about exploring the great outdoors of the Hudson Valley? You can unwind and relax in the lap of luxury afterward. Honor’s Haven Resort & Spa features gorgeous rooms and suites, an elaborate spa and a wellness center with meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other healthy living workshops and classes.
Ellenville is surrounded by wild blueberries—they and wild huckleberries are so ubiquitous that nearby Sam’s Point Preserve features a trail officially named “Berry Picker Trail.” Time your trip right and you can eat blueberry pancakes for breakfast at Ellenville’s annual Blueberry Festival, a celebration of all things blue and fruity with baking contests, crafts, vendors, and music: August 11th this year. It’s great fun for pickers and eaters of all ages. As always, admission is free, rain or shine.
Depending on your mood, go for an intimate, farm-to-table dinner at Aroma Thyme Bistro or an old-school Italian feast at Trattoria Marbella; a casual pub meal and craft brew at the Publik House or an elegant candlelight meal at White Wolf; traditional Mexican fare at Gaby’s Café or Asian fusion at Sook House; an epic steak dinner at Cattleman’s Grill or a night of live, local music and pizza and burgers at Tony & Nick’s Italian Kitchen—or, try the delicious Caribbean flavors of Island Pepper Pot & Lounge, one of the newest additions to Ellenville’s dining scene.
Spend hours pedaling the maze of bike trails at Lippman Park, the #1 mountain biking destination in NYS. Located in Wawarsing, a stone’s throw from Ellenville proper, the well-tended park features 14 miles of intermediate-level, single-track mountain biking trails with a plethora of route options and challenging features like raised boardwalks, bridges and berms. Curate your own path within the trail network using this map.
If you’re already versed in the sport of hang-gliding, Paul Voight at Fly High Hang Gliding facilitates the adventure for experienced hang gliders. If you’re a first-timer or novice, Ellenville Flight Park offers a daylong introductory lesson for hang-gliding and/or para-gliding, as well as experienced pilot packages.
National Geographic called Shawangunk the greatest mountain-climbing area on the East Coast, “and only 90 miles north of New York City and five minutes from a really good cup of coffee.” Only after your first climb are you allowed to call it The Gunks.
The five mile up-and-back hike to Sam’s Point, the highest point of the Shawangunk Ridge, offers a series of enticing tangents, including chilly ice caves (be prepared to climb a few ladders), the majestic Lake Maratanza, and breathtaking cliff views over the pine barrens and Verkeerderkill Falls—dubbed one of the earth’s “Last Great Places,” a bold statement, but one that even the most skeptical and experienced traveler will likely agree with after experiencing. Another fantastic hiking option is the Smiley Carriage Trail, starting at Berme Road Park in Ellenville. Originally this beautiful carriage trail took guests to the palatial Mohonk Mountain House. Today it heads to Minnewaska’s Lake Awosting.
The ice caves at Sam’s Point are unforgettable. You can walk gravel trails or explore off the beaten path around the largest open fault in the United States. Whether hiking, climbing, or spelunking, you’ll witness natural beauty most people can’t even imagine. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the ground for creeping snowberries, which grow year-round thanks to the cave’s icy microclimate—they smell and taste like wintergreen.
Scout for one-of-a-kind treasures and curiosities at Grace Antiques, where you’ll find an amazing selection of high-end antiques curated from auction houses, or find the perfect gift for your loved one back home at The French Corner.
A weekend jaunt to Ellenville would be incomplete without taking in the local arts and culture. Shadowland Stages is a revered local theatre company where professional actors star in world-class productions that routinely draw the attention and admiration of New York City’s theatre community—like the current production of “Honky Tonk Laundry.”
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is located about 30 minutes from Ellenville, on the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. (Yes, Woodstock the festival did not actually happen in the town of Woodstock.) World class musicians perform at Bethel Woods, and the museum’s collections and exhibits embody the summer of love: peace, respect, cooperation, creativity, engagement, and a connection to the planet we live on and all the people who inhabit it.