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A Day Out in a Hip Hamlet Called Phoenicia

June 8, 2011

Just two short hours away from Booklyn by car lies the lovely town of Phoenicia, located in the Catskills.   It’s a quaint village about 20 minutes from Woodstock.  Eclectic and full of artistic types, it’s pretty laid back and is very escapist, and certainly makes for a perfect weekend trip.

On our recent trip there, we started with lunch at Sweet Sue’s on 49 Main Street (tel: 845-688-7852).  Bottomless hot coffee, good service and the best pumpkin pancakes and challah french toast (with pecans, bananas or coconut) we’ve ever had.  It’s seriously worth driving out of the way….well out of the way.  The pancakes are huge and tremendously filling.  Actually, all of the portions are big enough for more than one person and completely shareable.  It’s also very family-friendly, with crayons and coloring books in abundance.  Do be prepared to wait a while on the weekends, so bring a newspaper, but it’s so worth the wait.

Then we took the kids on a ride on the Catskill Mountain Railroad.  The Catskill Mountain Railroad Scenic Train is a 12 mile round trip between Phoenicia and Cold Brook station (Boiceville) — an hour and thirty minute railroad excursion.  We boarded in Phoenicia (adults: $14; children over the age of 4: $8).  At the station, there is a small railway museum for kids to explore.  The train goes up the Esopus Creek and offers views of the area’s mountains and woods.  We all really enjoyed it.  It’s a beautiful ride, and we felt like we had gone back in time, riding through the country side in an old caboose.  The conductors are dressed in traditional uniforms.  The train was also decked out in fall decorations, adding to the autumn spirit.  Next week, when the foliage is in full bloom, it will probably be fantastic.  It’s a real ride for train buffs of all ages, my son being one of them.  He has also had a train fetish his whole life and this certainly fulfilled his dream to go on an old-fashioned train ride.

Phoenicia is home to a lot of funky boutiques set up by the hipsters and artists who live there.  Many out-of-towners come to Phoenicia to go tubing down Esopus Creek, and the Hunter and Belleayre ski resorts are an easy trip from here through the High Peaks area.  Both ski resorts are open in the fall to ride the ski lift and hike on the hills. You might also consider hiking up to the Temper Mountain Fire Tower for a beautiful 360 degree view.   It’s a great day out of the city for anyone who needs time out at any time of year.

Located in Ulster County, Phoenicia is located in the northeast part of Town of Snandaken on Route 28.  From Brooklyn, take the Brooklyn Bridge to the FDR Drive North to the George Washington Bridge.   Take exit #62 to the Garden State Parkway.  Continue to the I-87 North to exit 19 (Kingston Route 28).   Turn right on Route 28 West toward Ellenville  (US-209)/Rhinecliff Bridge.   Continue on Route 28 to Bridge Street, then left on Main Street (Route 214).

*** Catskill Mountain Railroad has fall foliage trips that started last weekend. Might be a great way to combine your kids’ interest in trains, and yours in the trees!


Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Holly Rosen Fink has spent the last 15 years in NYC working in all facets of media, from MTV to the world of traditional and online publishing.  Now working as a consultant  in Westchester, she blogs about travel, theater, film, art, books, advocacy and more at The Culture Mom Blog.  She has two children, ages 5 and 7, who share her culture addiction.