Exploring The Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York

I’m excited to work with our sponsor, Jeep, to share our adventure in the Catskill Mountains!

My sister, Andrea, and I decided to take a break from Miami’s year-round summer season and explore the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. We were excited about all the cute sweaters we would wear on chilly nights sitting by a fireplace, exploring trails surrounded by forests, and reconnecting with nature.

Getting To The Catskills From Miami

photo credit Vintage Unicorn

We flew in to New York City’s La Guardia airport. Upon our arrival, we picked up a fire-engine-red Grand Cherokee Trackhawk courtesy of Jeep. We climbed into the SUV with matching red interior; and as I adjusted the mirrors and my seat, Andrea (my trusted co-pilot) plugged her phone into the USB jack. The car’s navigation system recognized the phone and we used the big screen on the dash to guide us on our two-hour road trip to up state New York. We rolled onto the highway and Andrea started our playlist featuring lots of Lizzo and just like that – is was a party!

Sunset over catskill mountains new york

Our early evening drive was so much fun. It was the perfect time to be on the road and catch the sky changing through a rainbow of colors as the sun set behind the mountains. A gentle nudge of the accelerator would over take slow vehicles. Plus our seats were so comfortable, keeping our behinds blissfully unaware they’d been on a two-hour ride.

By the time we arrived to our AirBnB it was 9 o’clock at night and it was a surreal experience driving into the pitch black. We had a sense of being surrounded by forest, but would have to wait to the next day to see what our lodging and landscape really looked like.

Where To Stay in The West Catskills

Where To Stay in West Catskills NY - Luxurious Cabin in the Woods
photo courtesy of Hirsch Manor

The first morning I stepped outside, surveyed the forest that surrounded our cabin and took a deep breath of fresh, crisp air – a nice change from the humidity we are used to back home. The trees stood everywhere I looked and their green leaves were just starting to change. I spied specs of yellows and reds every once in a while, promising a gorgeous fall foliage soon to come.

Where To Stay in West Catskills NY - Hirsch Manor luxurious cabin in the forest at the base of the mountain

In the light of day, we were able to admire Hirsch Manor properly, the beautiful AirBnB where we enjoyed a complimentary stay. The Manor is a 4,000 square foot, luxurious 4 bedroom cabin on a private wooded 11 acre estate. If you are looking for accommodations in the Catskill Mountains, I must say I do recommend this AirBnB. The space was impeccable and it felt like checking in to a five-star hotel. The owners welcomed us with warm chocolate chips cookies and had Ferrero Rocher waiting for us on our night stand.

photo courtesy of Hirsch Manor

It’s like they knew chocolate was the way to my heart. They had a station fully stocked for S’mores with giant fluffy marshmallows, graham crackers, and lots of chocolate bars. We made sure to cook some over the outside fireplace the second night – wrapped in blankets enjoying the cooler weather just how we had pictured it.

West Catskills: Livingston Manor

Main Street Livingston Manor, NY flower bed
photo credit Vintage Unicorn

We decided to focus our adventure in West Catskills and stayed minutes away from Livingston Manor, a picturesque small town. Livingston Manor’s Main Street spans only a few blocks, but it had the essentials we needed. We found a German bakery, Brandenburg Bakery, with all kinds of sweets, pastries, cakes, and pies to indulge our vacation cravings. We visited this main street often to load up on supplies from the cute local cafe and market – Main Street Farm Café. The charming decor featured white wooden walls and mismatched chairs. They serve artisanal sandwiches and sell local products including this adorable jar of honey that I decided I had to have.

photo credit Vintage Unicorn

On Main Street we also found a fire-wood oven pizza place, The Kaatskeller. We sat at a picnic table in their outside garden decorated with string lights and ordered some delicious pizzas.

The Kaatskeller wood-fire oven pizza restaurant in Livingston Manor - Catskill, New York
photo credit Vintage Unicorn

Driving Through The Catskill Mountains

We discovered a smattering of small towns connected by mountain roads winding up and down the Catskill Mountains. The towns are minutes away from each other, nestled in forests and fields of wild flowers. Every so often we’d stumble upon a lake peppered with lake houses. As we drove from one destination to another, we were on the lookout for wild animal sightings. My sister, Andrea, kept pointing out red barns (because they’re so cute), and we were both simply amazed by the mountainous terrain. What a difference from South Florida.

photo credit Vintage Unicorn

One of the most fun things about this trip was the simple pleasure of driving around the mountains enjoying the scenery; winding through forests up and down steep roads. The Jeep Grand Cherokee was well suited to this task. As much as the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk was powerful and quick, we also felt safe and comfortable. We encountered deer, otters, and even a black bear surprising us as they crossed the road. We did our best to stay mindful of the specialness of the place we were exploring by driving carefully on these mountain roads; and fortunately, our Jeep was equipped with impeccable breaks.

Things To Do in Catskills, NY From Petting To Picking

Each town offered something unique to do. On our second day, we decided to pet alpacas and go apple picking.

Buck Brook Alpacas

We drove to the nearby town of Roscoe, NY where we visited Buck Brook Alpacas. This is where we met Celebration, an adorable two-month old alpaca who loved to cuddle. The staff running Buck Brook Alpacas are super friendly and cut slices of apples so that you can feed the alpacas. There was no admission fee to visit the alpacas but donations are welcome in their donation box.

It was such a peaceful experience to meet these calm, smiling creatures. They like to huddle together and eat hay. Each alpaca had a different personality, some liked to be petted and others didn’t. Celebration was famous for loving cuddles and I got to hug her for 15 minutes; and it was the highlight of my Catskills adventure. As a lover of animals, it was a dream come true.

Picking Apples in an Orchard

After leaving the alpacas, we visited a farm with an apple orchard where we could fill paper bags with as many apples as we wanted. They had different apple varieties growing at the time. So we picked two different types of apples and had fun tasting the differences in flavors and textures.

Ashokan Reservoir – Catskill Mountains, NY

On the third day, we drove across the Catskills Mountains to the northern part of the region where we found the Ashokan Reservoir. It is a majestic body of water surrounded by mountains. As we walked around the border and skipped stones on the surface, we felt a better connection with nature.

Then, we visited the alpacas again because I enjoyed hugging Celebration so much. So I had a second cuddle session and I have to say, it was fantastic.

Driving Back to NYC

On the fourth day, it was time to drive back home. I find that the drive home at the end of a trip is usually not as fun because I am exhausted of all the shenanigans I was up to, but not this time. The drive back from the Catskill Mountains was another wonderful experience. We gave ourselves plenty of time to ensure a stress-free ride enjoying the playlist and the scenery.

After a few days of being surrounded by nature I felt centered and ready to get back to work in Miami.

photo credit Vintage Unicorn
About Author

I like to share my finds with the world and make friends along the way. I am always up to something including some of my current projects: Coral Gables Love, The Blogger Union, The South Florida Bloggers, & Dapper Animals.


  • Wendy
    September 25, 2019 at 10:20 am

    I just shared this with friends and in Pinterest. What a pretty trip!!!

    • Paola Mendez
      September 30, 2019 at 1:44 pm

      Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Michelle
    February 10, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    Make sure u guys take out what u bring in I’m from a small town in the Catskill n every time tourist come u guys leave a mess for us to clean up we don’t mind sharing this beautiful place we call home as long as u guys don’t destroy it when u come this isn’t like new York City or Miami where people get paid to clean up after u guys we have to do it ourselves so maybe note in ur stories something about leaving the place it was left for u thanks

  • Joyce
    July 21, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    HI! I am loving this! This was so helpful!!!
    Was wondering where was the farm where you picked the apples?

    • Paola Mendez
      July 22, 2020 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Joyce!

      Glad you enjoyed the article. We went apple picking to Majestic Farm (


  • Dan
    September 25, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Lately I keep reading about Livingston Manor. Going to various Catskills hotels in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, LM would be furthest from my mind. I hope you had a chance to go to the covered bridge at ‘Lew Beach’.

  • Julie Baker
    April 12, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    Having been affiliated with the Catskills since 1966 being the child of a catskill comic i was seduced by the magic of the mountains from an early age. I moved there as soon as i turned 18 . No matter what life threw at you all you had to do was go outside and say ” i live here” and all was right with the world.


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