A two-hour drive from New York City, but worlds away from the bustle, Delaware County on the far western edge of New York’s Catskill Mountains is the ultimate west side love story. Once a thriving dairy cow and cauliflower farming region, the area fell upon hard times in the 1970s, but in recent years has been lovingly brought back to life. So much so, Travel Curator has dubbed it the new Catskills. In this quaint region artisans, chefs, farm stands, designers, and fashion models are quietly writing their own chapters of this westside story. A region definitely worth traveling for, with its rambling twisty backgrounds and covered bridges, enjoy our curated guide.
Delaware County: The Comeback
Behind Delaware’s resurgence as the must-discover travel destination on the east coast is one of the region’s staunchest supporters, Kelsey Grammer (yep, of Cheers and Frazier fame). Growing up, Grammer (now in his late 60s) spent Thanksgivings in Delaware County with his grandfather and fondly recalls the abundant farmlands. “Anyone who grew up here packed crates of cauliflower during the summer.” Thirty years ago, the actor bought a 100-year-old dairy barn in the unassuming village of Margaretville – and has quietly transformed it into a craft brewery. Faith American Brewing Company, named in part for his daughter Faith, opened in 2015 and today is a seasonal tavern with an outdoor patio and firepit. Faith beer is also distributed throughout New York City and New Jersey.
What to do in Delaware County
Discover The Artisanal Scene
Kabinett & Kammer, Franklin
This one-of-a-kind art and antique shop by celebrated artist, author, and designer Sean Scherer (who has created interiors for Anderson Cooper and fashion designer Jonathan Simkhai among others) is a gallery of vignettes. Scherer moved to the Catskills in 2002, and shortly after, opened his eclectic shop and gallery which he likens to “walking into a real-life Joseph Cornell assemblage. It’s an art installation that happens to be a store where you can buy the individual items.”
Heaven on Main Street, Bovina
Alchemy of bakery and skincare, Heaven on Main Street is the brainchild of Taylor Foster, a fashion model and baker who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. After launching her successful bakery in 2009, she introduced her handmade skincare line in 2015. Taylor grows and forages ingredients from her own land, and loves combining healthy (gluten-free) baking with skincare to nourish the body both inside and out.
Hudson Made, Andes
Founder Bill Hovard began handcrafting his modern-day apothecary, featuring plant-based soaps and skin-rejuvenating botanicals – calendula and chamomile picked by hand – in 2012. Today, their luxurious skincare products are found at Nordstrom, West Elm, and Birchbox (among others). Try the signature Apothecary Rose signature line for a ‘David’ of Schitt’s Creek vibe.
Immerse Yourself in Spectacular Scenery
Andes Rail Trail
For an easy trek, walk the Andes Rail Trail which begins at the town’s 1907 train depot and follows a branch of the former Delaware and North Railroad – through grassy areas and woodlands. Or for a more challenging hike, continue along the Bullet Hole spur which guides hikers through a mature hardwood forest and open woodlands surrounded by ferns and princess pine. The nearby Upper and Lower Meadow Loop trails also offer beautiful views of forested lands, apple trees, and historic stone walls.
The Bramley Mountain Trail
Another great hike is The Bramley Mountain Trail, located on a parcel of protected land between the towns of Delhi and Bovina. In addition to the postcard-perfect views, there is a former fire tower site, a beautiful, abandoned bluestone quarry, and impressive cliffs and caves. Advanced hikers can continue the trail to view the stone walls and many incredible rock outcroppings and cliffs.
Scenic Rail Experience
For those wishing to leaf peep in comfort, hop aboard the Delaware & Ulster Railroad for a 24-mile round trip from Arkville to Roxbury, NY, passing by rural villages, expansive farmlands and historic sites, all set to a dramatic backdrop of changing orange-crimson leaves.
Where to Eat in Delaware Country
Russell’s General, Bovina
Word is that Chef Antonio Mora serves up the best breakfast sandwich (bacon, egg & cheese) north of New Jersey at Russell’s General. And the pies, by Maggie McDowell, are equally spectacular. Pop in to find her brewing a strong cup of joe and dusted in flour from one of her specialty (chocolate pecan, jammy berry, or bright lemon curd) pies.
Hollow Catskills, Delhi
Recently revived, the informal, minimalist bar and eatery Hollow Catskills, offers classic cocktails, organic wine, and a thoughtful, regionally sourced artworks food menu. ‘Smalls’ (like smoked trout dip and skillet cornbread) and ‘bigs’ (braised short ribs and pulled pork), along with fresh salads are served.
Bovina Fermentory, Bovina
This vibey dining venue is literally a house in the woods. For owners, establishing Bovina Fermentory signaled a “return to our roots as barefooted children who grew up under these big skies and whose family lineages call back to seven generations of Catskills farmers.” The handwritten menu (which nearly always includes complimentary PB&J’s for kids) changes every day, celebrating the region’s most succulent flavors.
The Tulip and the Rose, Franklin
What started as grilling gyros at the Franklin Farmer’s Market on Sundays, led to the opening of Hollow Catskills, which has an ever-changing menu celebrating world cuisine. On any given Friday or Saturday night, cafe goers may find Turkish, Thai, Malay, Indian, French, Russian, or good-old American comfort foods on the offer. The chef makes frequent spice runs to NYC and sources meats and produce locally. Brunch – both Saturdays and Sundays – is also a ‘thing’ here.
Where to Stay in Delaware County
White House, Bovina
Originally built in 1884, the vibey three-bedroom, three-bath White House farmhouse is owned by Iranian American chef Sohail Zandi and wife, Sarah, who also run the nearby Brushland Eating House, known for its seasonal farm-to-table cuisine. We love the antiques and rustic chicness of the decor, complete with clawfoot tub and wallpaper fragments.
Hamden Inn, Hamden
Newly renovated, the stylish Hamden Inn & Lounge dates back to the early 1840s. Art-filled and tastefully executed, with bold red accents and full kitchens, the inn has two apartments. Speakeasy, a three-bed, one bath, and the Innkeepers Suite, two beds, one bath, both conveniently located above the lounge restaurant, so you can grab a specialty sandwich or locally made hard ciders when the urge strikes.
Bull & Garland, Hobart
Just a short walk – downstairs or down the hall – of the Bull & Garland, a traditional 1830s English pub, are five spacious suites oozing with period charm: exposed beams, hardwood floors, private baths, and luxury linens. For ultimate privacy, book the Equestrian which comes with a separate entrance, copper soaking tub, and large bay window overlooking the garden.
Roxbury at Stratton Falls, Roxbury
For a more over-the-top, theatrical kind of stay, book into Roxbury at Stratton Falls, featuring eight tower suites by former NYC theater set designers, Joseph Massa and Gregory Henderson. The property is sister to the couples’ 28-room Roxbury Motel, also whimsical. The themed cottages are all two stories, with two bathrooms, and come with winding staircases and screened-in porches to show off the Catskills scenery. For the ultimate fantasy book the “Faerie Forest” with its bespoke staircase made from cedar procured from a dead grove discovered on a mountain nearby, and stunning views of the forest.
Visit Farmers Markets
Bovina Valley Farm is a certified organic dairy farm, known for its raw milk “Alderney” cheese, maple syrup, and premium meats.
Byebrook Farm in Bloomville, is an eight-generation, self-serve roadside stand (open daily 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.), where you can pick up fresh bottled raw milk, farmstead gouda cheese, brown eggs, honey, and fresh pies by Farmer’s Wife.
Pakatakan Farmers Market in Halcottsville, housed in a historic red round barn, is the largest in the region, known for its locally grown produce, pasture-raised meats, trout, cheeses, artisanal bread, and creative art works. Picnic tables and food vendors make it the perfect breakfast and lunch spot.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Longtime luxury travel, spa, and wellness writer, Shari Mycek has circumnavigated the globe, traveling to 65 countries in her search to unveil – and indulge in – the latest massage, steam-and-sauna circuit, facial and energy treatment (it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. A regular Travel Curator contributor, Shari’s byline has also appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, The Robb Report, Travel Curator, Travel & Leisure, Spa Magazine, MSNBC, Elite Traveler, and Town & Country. When not on a flight/the massage table/pounding the keyboard, you’ll find Shari enjoying time by the sea, practicing yoga, and making smoothies. Check out her Instagram and Linkedin more of her adventures in wanderlust.