By Jessie Festa & Charlotte Dow. This post on Catskills travel contains affiliate links to trusted partners!
Looking for things to do in the Catskills in winter?
Then you’re in the right place!
The Catskills consistently tops lists of great places to go in Upstate NY in winter, thanks to its gorgeous setting and diversity of activities.
Whether you’re looking for awesome ski resorts or just want to cozy up by the fire in a secluded cabin, you’ll find tons of great winter activities in the Catskills to keep you entertained.
The Catskills are also located just a few hours from New York City, making the region the perfect getaway for city dwellers and visitors alike.
Not sure where to start in planning your Catskills winter trip? We’re here to help!
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite Catskills NY winter activities to help you craft the perfect itinerary. Read on to learn about all the fun things to do in Upstate NY in winter!
💡 Quick Tips For Planning A Catskills Winter Trip:
🚗 Renting A Car: Discover Cars can help you save up to 70% using their comparison tool
🧤Stay Warm: It can get very cold in the Catskills during winter, so make sure to pack some essentials to keep you warm. A few recommendations include rechargeable hand warmers, Smartwool socks, and thermal underwear.
🥾 Catskills Hiking: Winter hiking is a popular Catskills activity, so make sure to download the AllTrails app to have trail guides, maps, photos, and reviews right at your finger tips. You can also sign up for a free trial of AllTrails+ to download offline maps, get alerts for wrong turns, find trails by distance from you, and more!
💪 Safety: Additonally, whether you’re hiking solo or in a group, it’s smart to keep safety in mind. One piece of advice is to carry a She’s Birdie Personal Safety Alarm, which features a 130db alarm and flashing strobe light designed to deter an attack. I also love the Garmin inReach Mini, a compact satellite communicator with SOS capabilities that can truly save your life in an emergency.
🏨 Accommodation: This map can help you pinpoint top-rated and budget-friendly accommodation in the Catskills. It’s currently set to the fun hippie town of Woodstock, but you can easily change it to your intended Catskills destination:
🏥 Travel Insurance: SafetyWing
📞 Staying Connected: Airalo eSIM
What Are The Catskills?
The Catskills is the nickname for the Catskill Mountains. It’s also the name of the region the mountains reside in, as is a popular place to enjoy outdoor adventure, retreats and resorts, the arts, and the slower pace of small towns and remote mountain destinations.
Some popular Catskills destinations include Catskill, Phoenicia, Woodstock, Bethel, Kingston, Roscoe, Windham, and New Paltz, to name a few.
Where Are The Catskills?
How To Get To The Catskills
The Catskills are about a 3 hours from NYC by car, which is the best way to get to — and around — the Catskills.
If you need to rent a car, it’s recommended to check out Discover Cars to quickly compare your rental options.
Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!
Things To Do In The Catskills In Winter
On that note, let’s dive into our list of things to do in Catskills NY in the winter. Sure, visiting New York in the winter can get chilly, but the following experiences help you either stay warm or embrace the season!
1. Enjoy one of the Catskills resorts
The Catskill Mountains are well-known for their resorts, offering city-dwellers outdoor getaways for the better part of a century.
Summer is usually the peak season for these resorts, but if you’re visiting the Catskills in the winter, you’ll definitely want to book a stay.
Winter Clove Inn, located in Round Top, NY, is a favorite of those looking for a fun winter getaway. People wanting to explore the great outdoors can enjoy trails for winter hiking and cross-country skiing, while more indoorsy types can lounge by the heated indoor pool or try out the resort’s antique bowling alley.
2. Ski or snowboard some of the best trails in New York
If you’re a winter sports fan, you’ll definitely want to ski in the Catskills.
Winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing are constantly listed as some of the best things to do in the Catskills in winter. The area is home to several top ski resorts, each with something for every kind of winter athlete.
For instance, Hunter Mountain boasts the highest peak in Greene County as well as a top-tier snowmaking system, leading to perfect trails all season long.
Looking for things to do near Hunter Mountain in winter off the slopes? The mountain’s base lodge at the Kaaterskill Mountain Club is home to a top-rated spa, delicious restaurants, and tons of fun adventure activities.
3. Ride North America’s highest & longest zipline
Speaking of Hunter Mountain, this is where you’ll also find a year-round zipline, which you can enjoy through New York Zipline Canopy Tours. Not only that, but it’s North America’s highest and longest zipline as well as the second-largest zipline in the world.
It features over 4 miles of zipline, heights of nearly 700 feet, and speeds up to 50 miles per hour.
While they offer a variety of tours, the most extreme option is the SkyRider Tour. You’ll need to take a ski lift to access the first line of this crisscrossing zipline — which features five zips and one shaky canopy bridge — before propelling your body over a canyon so high you almost can’t see the bottom.
If you can keep your eyes open, you’ll enjoy mountain, lake, and woodland views.
4. Climb a frozen waterfall
One of the most thrilling winter adventures to have in the Catskills is scaling a frozen waterfall or ice-covered mountain.
The region is especially great for ice climbing as it has trails for all abilities. Around Saugerties, Tannersville, and Phoenicia in the Catskills you’ll find many different ice climbing options, like Deep Notch, Stony Clove, Platte Clove, and Kaaterskill Clove.
My top picks include Kaaterskill Clove and Platte Clove. While Kaaterskill Clove is home to Buttermilk Falls, Hilyer Ravine, and the famous Kaaterskill Falls, Platte Clove features the challenging Devil’s Kitchen, Black Chasm, and Japanese Falls.
And when the ice melts, these areas open up to mountains, rock, and alpine climbers.
5. Ice harvest
While you can only participate in this once a year, it’s well worth the trip to take part in the fun.
Every year around early February, Hanford Mills Museum hosts their Ice Harvest Festival, which features one day of winter fun with a hot soup buffet, horse-drawn sleigh rides, children’s games and activities, outdoor fire pits, films showing ice harvesting in the 1930s and, of course, the chance to harvest ice for yourself.
Attendees get the chance to put on ice cleats, grab a hand saw, and chisel out blocks of ice to be harvested. This ice is used for a variety of things, one of which is making ice cream for their annual 4th of July party.
6. Take in a show at one of the local theaters
Looking for something to do on a cold winter’s night? The Catskills region is home to many beloved theater companies and concert venues featuring everything from hot new plays to top national acts.
The historic Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston hosts performances from well-known musicians, touring comedy acts, and even screenings of beloved films.
Theater buffs will also want to get tickets for a performance at the Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill, NY — producing exciting work from up-and-coming playwrights as well as classics of the theatrical canon.
7. Dash through the snow on a snowmobile
Want to get in some thrills on your Catskills winter getaway? Book a snowmobiling excursion at the Catskills Forest Preserve.
This is definitely one of the most exciting ways to see the Catskills in winter!
8. Hike your way through the mountains
Winter hiking the Catskills is a great way to enjoy the mountains’ seasonal glory. The region is home to some of the absolute best hiking in Upstate New York.
Depending on your experience and current trail conditions, you can explore the trails by simply wearing sturdy boots or, if necessary, by attaching crampons or ice cleats to your footwear to keep you safe from falling.
Overlook Mountain in Woodstock is a favorite spot for Catskills winter hiking, featuring beautiful views of the Hudson River and the valley below.
More advanced hikers will also want to check out Giant Ledge, a challenging hike with incredible views at the top!
9. Go eagle spotting
The Catskills are home to myriad bald eagles, especially in Sullivan County.
Your best bet for spotting these amazing birds is at Mongaup Falls Reservoir, where it is not uncommon to see as many as 20 eagles at one time!
10. Go for a winter skydive
Imagine throwing yourself from a turbine-powered airplane 13,500 feet in the air while immersed in the beautiful scenery of the Catskills. Skydive The Ranch makes this vision a reality.
During this year-round adrenaline rush, you’ll also be encouraged to pull your own ripcord and fly the parachute.
And if you think you want to take your skydiving to the next level, they also offer an “Instructor Assisted Freefall (IAF)” skydiver training program.
11. See 19th-century carvings in the woods
Not many people know about Pratt Rock, located in New York’s first planned town, Prattsville. You can access the rock from Route 23 where you can park and read some background information before trekking uphill to the unusual attraction.
A limestone quarry features small caves and interesting formations as well as sculptures created by a begging stonecutter whom Zadock Pratt — an entrepreneur and statesman who quadrupled Prattsville’s population by building the world’s largest tannery at the time — employed.
Because Pratt believed in workfare and not welfare, he put the needy man to work instead of simply handing him money. In the end, he was so impressed with the craftsmanship he had the beggar continue building from 1843 until Pratt passed away in 1871.
Visitors to the rock can see busks, horses, a brawny arm holding a sledgehammer, and other images depicting the life of Zadock Pratt. You’ll also pass Pratt’s grave, where he was buried along with his dogs.
It’s not everyday you find such a site just sitting in the woods, and it’s certainly worth the trek.
12. Relax at one of the Catskills’ top spas
What better way to warm up and melt away winter stress than with a spa getaway? Many luxury Catskills resorts showcase world-class spas that can offer a respite from an action-packed winter vacation.
Want to try some of the latest trends in self-care? Head to Emerson Resort and Spa in Mount Tremper, a top-rated facility offering everything from classic Swedish massages to global therapies like Shirodhara, an Aryuvedic oil treatment.
13. See the world’s largest kaleidoscope
Speaking of Emerson Resort, along with having a great spa, they’re also home to the world’s largest kaleidoscope, called the Kaatskill Kaleidoscope.
Designed by 1960s psychedelic artist Isaac Abrams and his son Raphael, the kaleidoscope is 56 feet high and is housed in a converted grain silo.
You’ll be able to look through the kaleidoscope by laying on the floor during a trippy show.
Additionally, you’ll be able to take a kaleidoscope home with you, as their gift shop sells many!
14. Avoid the winter weather with a day at an indoor water park
If you spend your winter months counting down the days until summer returns, the Catskills has you covered.
The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark in Monticello features 84-degree temperatures, tons of rides and slides, a transparent roof, and even private cabanas for a little extra relaxation.
Here, you can hit the slides and ignore the freezing Catskills weather while getting just as many thrills as you would on the slopes.
The resort also offers tons of other cool indoor activities like a climbing wall, a ropes course, bowling, and more to keep you entertained and out of the cold.
15. Explore the Shawankgunk Wine Trail in winter
Wine tours aren’t just for the warmer months. Though the trees in the vineyards may be temporarily bare, there’s plenty to enjoy on the Shawankgunk Wine Trail in the winter.
One winery you shouldn’t miss when doing the trail is Brotherhood Winery, which was established in 1839 and is the oldest winery in the USA.
To get around, you can:
- book a wine tour (like this one)
- rent a car from Discover Cars, a comparison tool that allows you to quickly compare your rental options
- hire a car with a driver from a site like Ridebooker
16. Take in the winter mountain views on a horseback ride
For a truly unique winter experience, book a winter trail ride with one of the many horse ranches in the Catskills. While you’ll definitely want to bundle up for this adventure, exploring the snowy mountain trails is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Rolling Stone Ranch in Bethel offers trail rides throughout the year on one of their gorgeous horses. You also won’t need a ton of riding experience to enjoy this trek — just dress warm, saddle up, and follow your guide’s lead!
17. Explore the Catskills’ vibrant small towns
The Catskills region is dotted with idyllic small towns perfect for exploring. Featuring cute main streets lined with interesting shops, adorable inns, and delicious restaurants, these towns are ideal for New York getaways in winter.
Looking for top-tier vintage and antique shopping? Head to New Paltz, a funky college town that’s an art and fashion lover’s dream.
Want to enjoy the many flavors of the Catskills? Roscoe is the place for you, featuring amazing farm-to-table restaurants, beer gardens, and quaint streets to wander.
There’s also Woodstock with its hippie vibe, Phoenicia with its abundance of hiking trails, and Windham which is excellent for skiing and winter sports.
These are just a few of many small towns and villages in the Catskills of New York.
18. Learn about the Catskills’ role in American art history
The rolling hills of the Catskills have been inspiring artists of all kinds for centuries.
You can learn all about the role the region played in the history of American art at several area museums, including the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
This important site celebrates the life and art of Thomas Cole — founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painting — through preserved 19th-century parlors, exhibits of historic and contemporary art, and classes for those looking to explore their creative sides.
19. Tour the art galleries of the Catskills
On the subject of art, you’ll find plenty of contemporary art galleries throughout the small towns of the Catskills.
The region is home to many artists working in varying styles and media, so you’re bound to find something that catches your eye here.
For instance, M Gallery in Catskill houses landscape paintings in the Hudson River School style alongside historic illustrations from the 19th and 20th centuries, while the Roxbury Art Group in Roxbury features rotating exhibits from local contemporary artists and performances of all kinds.
A gallery trip is the perfect way to spend a winter day inside when it’s too cold to do anything else.
20. Go ice skating in the great outdoors
Once the temperatures drop, it’s time to break out the ice skates! Ice skating is one of the best winter activities in New York, and skating among the mighty Catskill Mountains is an experience you won’t want to miss.
You can also enjoy gorgeous views of the Mohonk Preserve from the rink at Mohonk Mountain House’s Pavillion. The rink is open to the public and skates are available to hotel guests free of charge.
By the way, this property is also one of the top Thanksgiving getaways from NYC if you’re looking to travel for the holiday.
21. Get away from it all with a Catskills winter camping adventure
The many campgrounds of the Catskills region offer plenty of ways to stay in the great outdoors, even in the winter months. Since pitching a tent isn’t ideal this time of year, many campsites feature rustic Catskills winter cabin rentals.
For instance, at Getaway Eastern Catskills in Catskill you can book tiny pet-friendly cabins with modern amenities — like a kitchenette, bathroom including a hot shower, and an outdoor grill and fire pit. You’ll also be near to outdoor attractions like the Mawignack Preserve and the Devil’s Path Trail.
Looking for something with a touch of luxe? Book one of the gorgeous cabins or glamping tents at the Eastwind Windham, featuring all the comforts of a top hotel room alongside gorgeous outdoor views.
There are also numerous rustic rentals on VRBO if you’d prefer to book a self-contained stay.
Pro tip: if you’re planning a winter camping trip but want to avoid the snow, try booking your trip to the Catskills in November; temperatures will be chilly, but you won’t have to worry too much about getting snowed in.
22. Be a part of rock and roll history at The Museum at Bethel Woods
The story of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, which actually took place in Bethel, NY, is chronicled at The Museum at Bethel Woods, an arts center built on the site of the iconic festival.
The museum features photos, videos, and artifacts — including a classic hippie bus — that will take you through those historic three days, when legends like Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and more came together to rock this small Catskill farm.
Inspired by what you’ve seen (and heard)? Stick around the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts to catch some live music.
Travel Insurance For A Catskills Winter Getaway
When visiting the Catskills — or anywhere else in the world — it’s wise to get travel insurance.
One of the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).
Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.
What are some of your favorite things to do in the Catskills in winter?
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