Nestled in the mid-Hudson Valley along the western bank of the majestic Hudson River, Ulster County is a year-round destination for creativity, adventure, and natural beauty. But there’s something extra special about this time of the year. The weather is warming, nature is in full bloom and communities are bustling with activity. Whether you seek active leisure, challenging adventure, fresh flavors, or a picturesque view from the fairway, you’ll likely find it in Ulster County. Here are 10 ways to come out of hibernation this spring.
Celebrate nature’s bloom—and all the tasty nourishment that comes with it—by visiting one of the many area outdoor farmers markets, including the Saugerties Market on Main Street and the Kingston Market on Wall Street. Stop by the family farms and U-Picks to enjoy fresh, organic offerings straight from the rich local soil and livestock: delicious fruits and veggies, delectable meats, eggs and cheeses, locally produced beer and wine, and so much more.
Whether you’re seeking leisurely family fun or limit-pushing thrills, there’s an abundance of outdoor activities to be found in Ulster County. Take a bike tour across the beautiful Hudson Valley landscape. Go sailing or kayaking on the crystal clear waters of the Hudson. Hike, bike, or climb in the Catskill Mountains. Hang glide and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the region’s most majestic scenery, or take a walk to catch an epic sunset. By land, by water, by air—adventure is everywhere you look.
Woodstock was a creative colony long before the famous 1969 festival (which actually took place in Bethel, 43 miles southwest). Peace, love and creativity still flourish in this hamlet for hippie heritage. Feel the spirit of the modest, hand-built Church of the Holy Transfiguration of Christ. Explore Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, the Tibetan Buddhist monastery and seat of the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. Meet the resident artists and hike the trails of Byrdcliffe Arts Colony. And, of course, learn more about the fascinating legacy of the historic music festival, which turns 50 this year.
Just 90 minutes north of New York City, visitors can travel alongside the Esopus Creek from the hamlet of Phoenicia through the beautiful woods of the Catskill Mountains on the pedal-powered Rail Explorers: Catskills Division. Rail Explorers offers visitors an eight-mile round trip along the railroad via open-air, pedal-powered rail explorers. If you’d rather trot than pedal, consider an afternoon of exploration on horseback at one of numerous spots, including Pine Ridge Dude Ranch.
Walk in the footsteps of our nation’s founders, admire the colonial-Dutch architecture, and learn about the fascinating history of the Hudson Valley at one of the many area museums, historic districts, and living history presentations. Be sure to visit Kingston’s Uptown District, site of New York’s first capital, where you’ll find one of the oldest stockades in the country.
After a day of exploration and adventure, enjoy a night on the town. Ulster County’s exceptional dining scene includes the epic Mohonk Mountain House, a local legend with a national reputation for exceptional farm-to-table dining (and, when weather permits, a killer view on the Granary overlooking Lake Mohonk). You’ll also find a bevy of upscale eateries, craft cocktail bars, rustic taverns, dance halls and rock clubs scattered throughout the county. Drinks? Dining? Nightlife? All of the above abound in Ulster County.
There’s a reason Golfing Magazine praised Ulster County as a “fabulous place” for golf enthusiasts. Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned pro, hitting the links while surrounded by the wonders of nature is an invigorating experience. With a unique collection of varied golf courses to choose from, each with unbelievably beautiful views, golfing in Ulster County will make you fall in love with the game all over again.
You don’t have to travel across multiple states (or even counties) for an epic road trip. Ulster County is home to two winding, wondrous Scenic Byways: the 88-mile Shawangunk Mountain Loop and the 52-mile Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway, which take you through picturesque stretches of protected land. Fill the gas tank, crack the windows, crank up your favorite playlist and traverse both back-to-back.
Lodging can be its own adventure in Ulster County. Step back in time at one of the historic inns, lodges, resorts and bed & breakfasts where you’ll find old-school charm matched with 21st century comfort. With so much adventure during the day, you should sleep comfortably at night. You’ve earned it.
Your Ulster County trip isn’t complete without a relaxing Hudson River Cruise. Take in the rich greens and gentle blues of the vast and varied landscape from the deck of the Rip Van Winkle, where you can enjoy al fresco drinks and dinner while watching the gorgeous shoreline pass you by. The Rip Van Winkle reopens in May.
Whether you’re a foodie, outdoors enthusiast, art aficionado, day tripper, or weekend escaper, you’ll find plenty of adventure and activity in Ulster County. Seek for yourself today and start planning your trip at ulstercountyalive.com.
Photography by: Photography courtesy of Ulster County Tourism