weekend guide getaway catskills

Looking for a weekend of R&R, maybe a little adventure thrown in there, too? If you said ‘yes,’ I’d like to welcome you to the Catskills in New York! Now, the Catskills is actually quite huge, so I’ve narrowed it down to the Phoenicia, Hunter, Tannersville and Saugerties area. Ambitious, I know ;).

Coming out of the colder winter months in NYC, we have been itching for some warmer weather to go out and enjoy some nature up in the mountains and really enjoy being ‘al fresco.’ For our latest getaway, we retreated up to the Catskills in NY (about a 3-hour drive from Queens) and, while having no cellular service for a few days initially freaked me out, it was the detox and quality of life that I actually have been in desperate need of for a while now.

This guide includes things on our itinerary for a weekend away, but please feel free to take the spots that intrigue you the most and make your own itinerary! Everyone is different and you may want to do more of one thing than another; the choice is yours! The Catskills are even great for a daytrip, too (we’ve done it! :)). Happy weekend-ing![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

kaaterskill falls

"While we did drive quite a bit, we didn't mind it, really; all of the roads were pretty much scenic all the way. We rolled down our windows, inhaled in deeply and had smiles so big, the break and fresh mountain air revitalized us!"

catskill mountains sign

Where To Stay

The Emerson
Resort & Spa

With so many places to stay in the Catskills, The Emerson is a unique and special find. Named after the famous poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, the resort is committed to delivering what Emerson himself believed in: that nature is part of man and that we must harness its restorative properties. Their walls tell stories through unique, beautiful art, including quotes from Emerson himself. Not only are they inspired by nature, but they are committed to preserving the environment by being a model for future sustainable hotel development.

In our search, we were looking for a place that would offer a relaxing setting, was close to a body of water, had a great view of the mountains and provided amenities that would make our stay that much more comfortable for a truly relaxing weekend away. The Emerson Resort & Spa was so gracious in hosting us and it worked out wonderfully because their location in the Catskills is central enough to enjoy activities nearby but also nestled far enough to make you feel like you’re really on a true escape. The property itself, though, holds so much to discover. Ask the super friendly and very knowledgeable front desk to help you book a beginner’s guide to fishing, how to pitch a tent, where to find a local trail that fits your experience or ask what time the bonfire starts! It is perfect for anyone looking to get away; whether you’re flying solo, coming with a friend, or bringing your family on up, you will be sure to enjoy your time here (shall I mention that even some celebrities have stayed with the resort in the past year?).

Year-round, they offer great savings packages that will be sure to peak many interests– from babymoons, fly fishing, a girl’s getaway to even a mushroom walk! What I love the most about this hotel, beyond their super comfortable rooms, is that they are truly committed to making the property such a valuable experience. They have a shopping village attached where you can get some local Catskills-made goods, like Ginger Tonic (LOVE and perfect for keeping that immune system up and at ’em!), clothing, home décor, gifts for the kids, and much more. Originally, there was a dairy barn silo located on the property and, instead of knocking it down, they turned it into the world’s largest kaleidoscope where you can enter and watch a show. Looking into summer, they are creating seating around the Esopus Creek where a brick oven will be installed and fresh pizza will be made as you watch the sun set. Magical? Yes!

catskill emerson resort and spa

Feel the morning sun kiss your cheeks as it rises while on your balcony.

Enjoy breakfast at the property’s onsite restaurant, Woodnotes.

Comfortable rooms; ours featured an air-jet tub (LOVE!), a swiss rain shower, a king-size bed, and a fireplace to keep you warm.

Emerson Resort & Spa
Emerson Resort & Spa

There is so much more that the resort has to offer (gym, sauna, pool, etc.), but what makes them even more special (in my eyes) is that they encourage you to come in, even if you aren’t an overnight guest, and take advantage of some of their facilities and services! Bring up your laptop and go into their beautiful study and enjoy free wifi while you sip on a cocktail from the Woodnotes Grill. By the way, their bar has master mixologists so ask the bartender to make you something special 😉. Schedule a massage or enjoy a mani-pedi– either way, you will walk into the spa and instantly feel relaxed.

All in all, it was a great experience and can’t recommend it enough!

Emerson Resort & Spa, Chandelier
Emerson Resort & Spa
Emerson Resort & Spa

Where To Eat

Quality over quantity; while the restaurant scene may not be as plentiful as back in a big, metropolitan city like NYC, the food is so delicious, you could totally go back and eat at the same restaurants again and again if you wanted to! Below you will find some of our picks:

Tavern 214: Farm-to-Table with American Fare. They are open late which makes it convenient if you’re out exploring and need to freshen up before dinner. Try their famous mac & cheeses or pesto chicken sandwich!

Woodnotes Grille: The restaurant is beautiful and spacious, with a warm feeling for breakfast and special lights that make you feel like you’re dining under the stars at night. Attached to the Emerson Resort & Spa, the food is made with locally-sourced ingredients and has an outdoor patio for seating, overlooking the Espous Creek.

Mama’s Boy Catskills: While we didn’t get a chance to eat here, I heard that Mama’s Boy Burgers was labeled as ‘the Shake Shack of the Catskills.’ They also have Mama’s Boy Pizza! And ice cream. My husband’s inner child rejoices :D.

Phoenicia Diner: This diner was built out in Long Island, New York, picked up, and placed in the middle of route 28- nifty, right? We’ve been coming here for years and recently it’s gained quite the popularity. I always, always, always get their tortilla soup as it’s the best I’ve ever had. Expect a wait time for seating, but they have a cute little bar attached that allows you to sip while you wait :).

Phoenicia Diner
Phoenicia Diner
Phoenicia Diner
Phoenicia Diner

Sweet Sue’s: As you may know, my husband is quite the food critic. But, for the first time in french toast history, I heard him say “there is just no way to improve this, it’s perfect, absolutely perfect.” He, my friends, was referring to their pecan crusted french toast. I loved their goat cheese omelette and Sue’s got quite the variety of pancakes to offer. Get here early as crowds can start to gather. Bon appétit!

Phoenicia NY
sweet sue's
sweet sue's

Maggie’s Krooked Café: First off, let me start by saying that Maggie is so fun and has a personality that is so contagious! We had the pleasure of meeting her and learning that she is originally from Brooklyn (Brooklyn in the house!). She is very passionate about her craft and you can tell with your first bite! The love she pours into her food and making people feel welcome is wonderful to see. It’s in the cute “Dr. Seuss-like” town of Tannersville. I had the best veggie burger with curried potatoes ever and Massimo, my husband, had her grits that he just couldn’t get enough of! The café is also unique that the floor is uneven, giving it its name and charm!! Try her baked goods – they all looked amazing.

tannersville new york catskills krooked cafe
tannersville new york catskills krooked cafe
tannersville new york catskills krooked cafe
tannersville new york catskills krooked cafe

What To Do

Nature:
Kaaterskills Falls: Allow 2 hours for this scenic hike. Parking is at an overlook and you’ll need to (safely) walk on the side of the road to get to the start of the hike, but it is absolutely beautiful. It starts out steep with some rock climbing, but then it gets pretty flat. The waterfall is the tallest in NY state and as you approach it, I hope it leaves you in a moment of awe and bliss as it did for me; truly humbling.

kaaterskill falls
kaaterskill falls new york
kaaterskill falls new york

Kaaterskills Falls Viewing Platform: Alternatively, if you don’t feel like hiking, you can drive to the top, park your car, take a 5-10 minute walk (follow the signs!) and you will reach the beautiful Kaaterskill Falls overlook that not only shows you the waterfall from above, but also gives you a beautiful view of the mountains.

North/South Lakes: I am so happy that the lovely staff at the Emerson recommended this to us! It was quite the beautiful experience to walk alongside the lakes and just sit and be thankful for life! Rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboat and enjoy the beauty abound.

A little Fun:
The Town Tinker Tubes: Love tubes and a little bit of rapids (a.k.a. seeking a little adventure)? Then set sail on your tube as you go down the Esopus Creek, enjoying yourself getting bounced around a bit for a fun water adventure sure to bring you tons of laughter (at least, it would for me!). FYI: This isn’t your regular lazy river ride. Open in the summer!

Bear Creek: Who doesn’t like a little innocent game of mini golf once in awhile? If you’re looking for something with more movement, this place also offers horseback riding and other activities!

The Scenic Train Ride by Catskill Mountain Railroad is open year-round on select weekends (check the schedule!) and offers you the opportunity to ride in an open-air car (or you can go inside if you choose). We have done this train ride in the fall amongst the foliage and it was absolutely beautiful (bring a sweater, though).

catskills mountains

Unique rides for spring, summer, fall & winter! Bring your camera!

scenic train ride catskills

Taking it Easy:
The Spa at the Emerson: The moment you walk in you feel instantly calm. Sip on mint water while you get your nails done or book a massage that will melt your stress away!

Catskills Yoga House: Take a moment to focus on yourself, your body, your breath. Your inner light will thank you.

phoenicia homes catskills
vintage shopping catskills new york
antiques shopping castkills new york

Shopping + Additional Notes:

  • Antique shop in Phoenicia or Tannersville.
  • Brewery to open this summer!
  • Check the events calendar for some neat weekends up ahead like the Cupcake Festival & BBQ Fest!
  • On your way back down, make sure to drive by the town of Saugerties and check out all the cute houses- I couldn’t get enough!
what to do in catskills
Saugerties Beautiful Home Catskills

xx,
signalorenii

Saugerties Catskills Visit Catskills Homes

Special thanks to the Emerson Resort & Spa for hosting me! All opinions are my own.
Please feel free to leave your questions/comments below!

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Brooklyn native, Latina, and founder of Enlightened by Bravery, an adventure/travel and wellness blog that focuses on drawing inspiration from adventures around the world back into your life // iPhoneographer // Francophile

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5.

5 Best Places to Eat in Ubud

Let me tell you, there is no shortage of places to eat in Ubud; it is both absolutely fascinating and exciting!! With that said, whenever we go anywhere to eat, I always rank them and keep record of it so that I can (1) remember them for next time and (2) share them (because nothing makes me happier than being able to share some reccos with you!!). Below you will find 5 of the best places we ate at during our time in Ubud, so you can kickstart your yummy eating! And I’m sure you’ll find more as you explore around, so please comment below on any others you absolutely found to love!! Enjoy the recommendations!!!

The Clear Café

I love this place so much that I came here three times. Vegetarian, vegan, and raw-diet friendly, this place has all the healthy, delicious goodness and charm one could hope many restaurants everywhere could offer. For starters, you are welcomed by this beautiful hand-carved circular door where you “shoe check” your footwear, are given a number, and then are seated either on the first or second floor. As you descend up the stairs, where on each step lays fresh flowers at your feet, you come to a daily motivational quote sure to pick your day up even more (written entirely out of flowers, I should add). The food is absolutely healthy and delicious (did I say that already?!). It may be a little pricier than most regular joints in Ubud (meaning your meal may be $10 USD), but it is absolutely worth it. You will fall in love with the menu as there is a diverse offering in cuisine. I highly recommend the Bali Berry, Tropical Twister, Chai Iced Dream, Twilight Tonic, Fish Fillet, Dragon Bowl (my fave — I live for that mango chutney), and the Chocolate Platinum!


Warung Città Ovest Pizza & Pasta

This pizza and pasta joint is LEGIT. Not only is it crazy affordable, it is even crazier delicious. You don’t have to jetset to Italy for a pizza craving because this place ‘got you.’ The only caveat is that the seating is very limited, so get there before the lunch or dinner rush to score a seat — and a scooter parking spot right in front. For pizzas, the Basil Basil and Vegetariana were legit. Pastas? Can’t go wrong with Pomodoro and Pesto. ps: they also do take away, just keep your grip tight on your pizza box as you’re scooting on back to your place like we did :). pps: yes, they have WiFi!


Café Pomegranate

Located a little ways away from central Ubud, this place will require you to take your little scooter on up to narrow paths, but leave you highly rewarded with a feeling of freedom as you drive past the beautiful rice fields. Café Pomegranate itself is located in front of a rice field and boasts some wonderful al fresco dining. Park your scooter up front, remove your shoes at the entryway, be welcomed by your server (and probably one of the friendly cats just strolling around), and be seated to your place of preference. I highly recommend taking a seat at the perimeter of the restaurant where you’ll be seated on a cushioned chair on the floor, overlooking the beautiful green fields in front of you. The menu isn’t too extensive, but still boasts some very delicious foods. We highly recommend the curry and their fresh fruit juices. It is the perfect spot for anytime during the day, but I think going for sunset would be even lovelier, too.


Gaya Gelato

The heat is certainly going to be up while you’re in Bali, so why not cool off with some of the most delicious, artisanal gelato in the area?! With two locations to choose from in Ubud (or, why choose? go to both ;)), Gaya Gelato will certainly hit that sweet spot without feeling like you’re about to go on a sugar high– plus, they also serve sorbets for all of my dairy-sensitive friends out there :). They have classic flavors like vanilla, pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate, but also boast some local and artisanal flavors such as: durian, chocolate + orange, and mangosteen. Speaking of local, all of their ingredients are locally sourced and only the freshest of them all are used. So, how will you choose? Well, here’s a little hint: even if you get just one scoop, you can choose to do two flavors. Not too shabby, huh?


Toro Sushi

If you have a hankering for some sushi, Toro Sushi has you covered. We actually stumbled upon this place and were pleasantly surprised with the sushi as it was super tasty! It was also a nice break from trying all of the local Balinese food non-stop in the two towns we were at before hitting up Ubud: Uluwatu and Sanur. I will admit, the service could have been a little bit quicker, but maybe it was just the New Yorker in me, and maybe it’s just the Bali way ;). I’m more of a sweet potato, yellowtail and rainbow roll kind of girl, but can tell you that my rolls were all delicious and fresh. // bonus: if you’re feeling like a refreshing treat afterwards and don’t want to venture too far, right across the way from Toro Sushi is a place right across the way called “Açai Queen,” it’s great for a little something sweet (both for the palette and the eyes) if you’re craving a finishing touch to your meal ;).

xx,

D.

Dealing with Post-Travel Depression

travel, depression, mental health, blogger

Editor’s note: I always want my posts to come with a learning rather than be a vent session, so I laid low for a while to be a student to life, learn some of the lessons in private and come back with advice – I hope this helps anyone out there who may be dealing with the same.

After living abroad for a year where we: drove THOUSANDS of miles in our van, rental cars and busses, boarded 12 different flights and visited 6 insanely different (and beautiful) countries, I came back to New York a totally changed person. My mentality changed. My pace of life changed. But New York? It was the same. And that was the start of it.

To be honest, these have been some of the most confusing and difficult two months in quite a while for me. Coming from a state of mind of constantly being stimulated with “new” to having pretty much nothing stimulate me back home, well, I really didn’t have much motivation to do anything— truthfully.

I soon found that all of the things that used to bring me joy and happiness here (before I left) no longer did that for me. Instead, I felt stuck, lost and was going through the motions. I’ll be the first to tell you that I was lazily waking up at 10/11am every day and never really left the house. I wasn’t active on social media much, nor did I really want to be social– not online and not in person. If I wasn’t sitting on the bed playing Matchington (iPhone game similar to Candy Crush), I was in the kitchen just cooking all the time so I could release my frustrations in a more creative way.

There really wasn’t much will for anything, just enough to get through the day.

I wasn’t feeling like myself and it really made me frustrated. I LOVE being outdoors. I LOVE exploring. I LOVE being social and active. I LOVE seeking the new, the different — but none of that was jiving with me. It also didn’t help that it’s the dead of winter and if I wanted to go out NYC would give me the gift of hyperthermia. Thanks, but no thanks.

I started looking at my life and started questioning everything. Who am I? What’s my purpose? I felt absolutely useless and purposeless (and that’s such a sucky feeling to have). What did I want to do? I didn’t know. I didn’t want to know. I just wanted it to be night time so I can sleep and not have to think about anything.

travel, depression, mental health, blogger

I came across a handful of post-travel depression articles in my research BEFORE we left for life abroad, but I really didn’t pay much attention to them. “Nah, that won’t happen to me; I’ve traveled a lot before and never felt that way,” is what I’d always say.

The Aha Moment:

But you know what I learned? That you need to, 100%, admit it to yourself, in the mirror, that this is real, happening to you, 100% normal, and that you will get through it. And it was at that pivotal moment that I started to recover. You no longer are in denial. You accept. And as simple as it sounds, it was extremely hard to come to that conclusion and admit it to the one person who needs to hear it the most: you.

Forget the taboo. Years ago, seeing a therapist was seemed as if something was wrong with you. With the increase in mental health awareness, the fact that you get to see a therapist is amazing. It shows strength. Power. Will for a better tomorrow and thereafter. The same with admitting that you have depression. Admit it to yourself and keep moving forward for your better tomorrow and thereafter.

Proof is in the Pudding:

That kickass person that saved money, was finding the best deals on travel/experiences, went away, communicated (even if BARELY) with strangers in a foreign language in order to survive, adapted, took chances on the craziest ideas, was extraordinarily nimble, was curious about life and beyond — that kickass person is STILL in there!! The skills, perspectives and everything else you learned will forever be a part of you. Just because your environment changed doesn’t mean that you suddenly became (sorry for the harshness) stupid/worthless/less valuable than a piece of chopped liver. I once had a marketing executive give me an example at my previous job once where he woke up one day and his wife, all concerned, was like, “omg what if you lose your job today?” and his response was “so then I get another one? I move on and figure it out. Just because I lose my job doesn’t instantly make me stupid and forget all that I know and have learned.” And that’s a good mentality to have, because though your environment has changed, you are still A FREAKING BADASS AND FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH!

You see, when you travel (and especially live) abroad, you notice different values, patterns, customs and people. The beautiful thing about traveling is that exposure to ‘different’ makes you think past the superficial and into the depths of your soul. And oftentimes, changes you — for the better. That’s why we bring back souvenirs and have a whole story to tell along with them; experiences from afar strung such a chord with us that we just needed to have a way to remember them back home. Even if it isn’t physical, the memories are just as sweet. It’s a beautiful moment in time, really.

Getting back to New York, I was picking apart all the things that I saw was ‘wrong’ with it. And by ‘wrong’ I meant ‘what was not normal to me anymore.” AND THAT’S OKAY. What else would you expect after you come home to the ‘ordinary’ after living the ‘extraordinary?’

MOVING FORWARD WITH LIFE:

Initially, when I searched the web frantically for some consolation to my woes, a lot of the advice I saw out there was “leave again ASAP” and, personally, that didn’t jive with me. To me, that was escaping. And I SO BAD wanted to do it. SO BAD. But, the average American gets two weeks of vacation a year; are you expected to burn through that in one fell swoop?

After admitting that I had post-travel depression, my mentality shifted to this:

if I was able to adjust in other parts of the world on a different mentality than those of the locals, then I am capable of getting stronger with my mentality here back home, getting my sh*t together, and putting myself on a more sensible track to doing what I love and getting to where I want to be.

I don’t think NYC will be our forever and ever home (or only home), but it is my home right now, and until I figure out the rest of my life’s plans, I’m going to make the best of it. Let all of the amazing experiences away catch up with you. You’ll soon start to see yourself getting creative again, motivated. And the universe will continue to guide you to where you’re meant to be. You ran a marathon. This is your recovery period. Recover, because the kicking of a** will continue!!!

Summary

  • When you get home and are back from your trip, chill. Take it easy on yourself. This is normal. This process takes time.
  • Stay afloat. Don’t spiral too downwards in your woes. I mean, hey, we all have our days, but know when to come back and just… float. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Have honest conversations in the mirror about your frustrations, concerns, and be open about how sad you are. Consult a therapist or, as I did, a loved one. And journal. Journal as often as possible.
  • Start working out. I KNOW. You have no will or motivation. But after month one, start moving that body around. I promise, it will help. Even if just a bit. AND KEEP MOVING.
  • Find just one thing you find pleasure in doing and keep doing that one thing. For me it was cooking. What’s your one thing?
  • Admit you’re not only depressed but that you’re a freaking BADASS. Sign up for a class. Watch some GaryVee or Tony Robbins. Get pumped. These guys believe in you.
  • Create a mini plan for what you want for yourself in the near future and start planning for that. Small goals, moving to bigger ones down the line. I want to drink more water, start up French lessons again, and eventually go to South America to visit family at some point before the year’s end. Even if I get just one checked off, it’s one in the right direction.

It’s not such a fun story that I’m sharing, but it’s something super important, super real and is a mental state that definitely needs to have some more light shed on it. We all go through our own post-travel depression levels and it’s important to do what works best for you. But remain honest. Stay positive. And just know that, like all of your bad days that are now behind you, this, too, will be something you will overcome. It will be something we will overcome. And you know why? Because we’re beautiful, global citizens that need a little reset before we go back out there again, learning more, sharing more, and doing more life-changing things.

xx,