We pulled up to our cottage at Creekside Cottages outside of Phoenicia that I booked on airbnb. We had booked Cottage #2 and were delighted to find a screened-in porch. It’s a cozy cottage (read: small) that has two bedrooms with a small living room and kitchen. The cottages have clearly been thoughtfully renovated and have a hip minimalist vibe. The beds were comfortable and it was a great space for Sally. She loved playing on the porch and the front steps.
One note. While the Cottages are easily accessible and in a great location, they are directly off of Route 28. Sally is currently very into cars, so it worked out perfectly for us as she liked watching the cars go by, and there is an expansive lawn so there really is not a fear of your kid running into the road. But just a heads up so that it’s not a surprise that you do see the highway from your porch. But noise wasn't an issue and at night we had no trouble quickly falling asleep!
Behind the Cottages, you can easily access Esopus Creek. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there is a walking path along the creek that’s raised up. With a toddler who is faster than you may think, I was expecting to have to keep her from running straight into the water. You can walk down to the water if you’d like, but what suited us was to walk along and check out the fall foliage. On our way to the creek we met another family from Brooklyn (we’re everywhere!) who had a 10 month old named Theo. Theo’s dad told me about Bread Alone (a small bakery chain in the Catskills), which is just a few miles down the road. Apparently this is a real hot spot that I hadn’t been to before, so Sally and I went to check it out! There were so many delicious-looking scones and pastries, we had a hard time choosing what to get!
Later in the day, we stumbled upon signs for Oktoberfest at Hunter Mountain. It runs 4 weekends in the fall and this was the 3rd of the 4th. It was excellent! There were bouncy houses and facepainting for kids, tons of different types of food, massive German beers, and an excellent band with the members dressed in German garb! Alan and I had a beer and watched couples dance in the hall to the music (it made me realize I should learn a few basic dances. The waltz at least?). You could take a chairlift up to the top of the mountain, which looked like it would have great views and offer excellent leaf-peeping opportunities! But Sally is way too squirmy to risk sitting her in a chairlift, so we passed on that opportunity. I believe there were various events taking place throughout the weekend, but we just had time for a beer and a walk around before heading to Kingston.
We had seen a sign for the Catskill Mountain Railroad and so I looked it up online and saw that they were doing two fall foliage weekends where you can do an little train ride through the woods. This sounded like it was right up our alley so we quickly booked and planned this Catskills trip around this rail journey. While I liked the old-timey train cars, the ticket guy, and the friendly guy playing banjo (and telling jokes) in the outdoor train car, I can't say that I wholeheartedly recommend this. The ride was a brief up and back as opposed to a loop. About 1/3 of the time spent was getting out of Kingston (passing old warehouses) before you get into the woods. You go up a bit into the woods and then it's time to turn around and head back the same way you came. I really wanted to like this (and don't like the idea of being negative), but meh.
I’ve checked out the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope years ago and thought that Sally might really like it. It’s a perfect activity for a rainy day in the Catskills. The kaleidoscope is located in a small strip mall in Phoenicia, right on Route 28. The show runs every 15 minutes and is $5/ticket for adults with kids 11 and under being free. You can lay down if you’d like and look above to watch the show. It’s pretty trippy complete with a futuristic female voice telling you that “we are all just stardust.” Sally ended up liking it, but it’s actually quite loud and may be too scary for young children. The woman working there was nice enough to let us go in without paying in case we would need to leave with Sally (sounds like this is a fairly common occurrence there).
On our way home, we headed to Wright's Farm for apple picking. This place is quite unassuming from the road, but when you drive toward the apple orchards, it opens up to a whole world of activities. We pulled up and saw large families (20 people?) setting up BBQs and having a real picnic party. While they were having a nice time, my first thought was that I was hoping for something quieter. But it turns out the place is huge and everyone can have their own nook amongst the apple trees. There were plenty to choose from and you can wind your way up a bit for some nice views. We ended up having an excellent time, got some apples that we never ended up turing into apple pie, but you get the idea. Classic apple picking day at its best!