Photographer, William Abranowicz, and writer, Zander Abranowicz, have travelled the length and breadth of Upstate New York's Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley, capturing the regions' most striking homes. Here, the father-son duo share the excellent travel tips they've gathered along the way, from world-class Japanese-inspired gardens to charming hotels and historic house museums.
Where to Stay
Wildflower Farms: A member of the Auberge Resorts Collection, Wildflower Farms sits on 140 bucolic acres. A series of freestanding cabins, the resort boasts an outstanding restaurant, spa and vistas of the nearby Shawagunk Ridge.
Troutbeck: Surrounded by 250 acres of wilderness, this beautifully designed inn is run by the Champalimaud Family. Troutbeck has served as an enchanting private estate, country inn and tavern since the 1700s and has, for centuries, been a favored retreat of distinguished guests from the arts, letters, policy and social justice. During the time of the estate’s first owners, the Benton Family, it played frequent host to Thoreau, Emerson and the naturalist, John Burroughs.
Inness: Situated between the Catskill and Shawangunk mountain ranges, on 220 pastoral acres. Home to a hotel, restaurant, member’s club, golf, and abundant leisure activities. The 11 room farmhouse and 28 minimalist cabins have been described as a thoughtful marriage of Scandinavian-chic and rustic Americana.
Urban Cowboy: Near Slide Mountain, the highest peak in The Catskill Mountains, Urban Cowboy’s sits on 68 acres. Warm and romantic, guests can enjoy a forest bath in soaking tubs on the property. It also boasts a wonderful bar and restaurant.
All images by William Abranowicz, Country Life: Homes of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, published by Vendome Press.
Where to Eat & Drink
Stissing House: Chef Claire deBoer has been touted by many serious foodies as the best in The Hudson Valley. Built in 1782, as the new country was forming, it’s said that it was the Marquis deLafayette’s favourite watering hole. De Boer reopened and restored Stissing House in 2022 and serves up simple tavern food, which changes seasonally.
Rivertown Lodge: Located in bustling Hudson, NY, Rivertown consistently lands on top restaurant lists. If Ruth Reichl, the celebrated food critic, activist, writer and editor says it’s among her favourites, believe it.
Brushland Eating House: County Road 6 meanders into the tiny, sleepy town of Bovina in the western Catskills. At the center is Brushlands Eating House, serving simple fare. A warm and relaxed hangout where farmers and weekenders sit together over hearty farm-to-table comfort food. The restaurant also hosts a monthly Persian feast on the eve of the full moon, which reflects the childhood of chef, Sohail Zandi, twice nominated for The James Beard award as best chef in New York.
Gio Batta Alimentari: What started as a humble handmade pasta business has grown into an international brand. Chef Francesco Buitoni, the two time James Beard Award nominee, uses local Hudson Valley ingredients served family style in the restaurant and handmade pastas in their market. While service is sometimes spotty and slow, the food is well worth the inconvenience.
The Wayside Cider Taproom: Locally produced hard cider and snacks in an intimate and beautiful room, designed by Sean Scherer of Kabinett and Kammer (see 'Where to Shop'). If the weather is warm, crowds - locals and visitors - gather at German beer hall tables in the yard or around a fire pit sipping a wide variety of ciders.
Where to Shop
Kabinett & Kammer: Antiquarian Sean Scherer scours the US for treasures, which he brings back to this sparklingly white, beautifully curated shop in the western Catskills. Scherer, whose design work includes celebrity homes upstate and in NYC, encourages the use of found objects, often in wildly colourful ways.
Maple Lawn: Located adjacent to his magnificently restored Greek Revival home from 1843, owner Ron Sharkey has the looks and elegance of a Hollywood producer. His impeccable taste runs from Gustavian to Americana and includes objects, furniture, art, and antique garden ornaments.
Finch: One of the first locales to feel the lift of the exodus from New York City and The Hamptons, Hudson long ago established itself as a center of design, art, and antiques. Near the center of its main drag sits the recently renovated Finch, featuring modern and vintage objects from all over the world. Quality and value are driving factors in their highly curated collection of antiques.
Creel and Gow: Travel is one of the most wondrous things we do in life and developing good collections is often the result. Jamie Creel and Marco Scarano, partners at Creel and Gow, by all appearances travelled everywhere and connected with immensely talented craftspeople and artists along the way. Much of what you'll find is exclusive to Creel and Gow - tabletop, organic and sculpted specimens from the earth and seas, furniture, lighting, rugs, and more. It’s a fantastical world in Millbrook, one of the loveliest, most picturesque towns in the Hudson Valley.
Kria: The art and design community thrives in the Catskill Mountains, and Kria is the outpost where many of those crafts people, jewellers, candle makers, textiles designers and clothing designers are represented.
Diamond Hollow Books: Follow the creaky stairs up to a treasure trove of new and used books. Especially exciting here is the extensive collection of art, design, and photography books from around the world. After you’re done getting your books, take a walk a few doors west to The Wayside Cider Taproom (See 'Where to Eat').
What to See & Do
Olana: The incredible former home of American painter, Frederic Church. A student of Thomas Cole and a member of the Hudson River School painters, Church was one of the most famous artists in America. The estate, now a New York Historical Site, was built in the late 1800s and reflects Church’s extensive travels and love of the Middle East. The building, which sits on a 250 acre site, is a Persian Style mansion with Victorian elements and a breathtaking view of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains.
Thomas Cole National Historical Site: Thomas Cole is the quintessential artist of the Hudson River School painters. His former home sits with the Hudson and Olana to the East, and The Catksill Mountains to the West. Cole’s work was instrumental in mobilising the Federal Government to take conservation seriously, and is considered to have spiked the creation of America’s National Park System. Cedar Grove, as the estate was called, has been recently restored and, as is appropriate for this student of nature, the outdoors bleed into the home in wonderful ways with painted walls of periwinkle and terracotta, shells and starfish, floral tiles and carpets, and layers of pattern.
Catskill Art Space: Main St. in Livingston Manor is chock full with wonderful shops and the recently reopened Catskill Art Space, originally founded in 1971, is the newest addition to this bustling little rural enclave. After a rebranding and renovation, the space features exhibitions over two floors and four galleries. Exhibits include the work of emerging artists and major names, such as James Turrell and Soll Lewitt. They also focus on intensive arts education, performance, and community.
Dia Beacon: Located in a former Nabisco box-printing factory, Dia Beacon presents Dia Arts Foundation’s collection of art from the 1960s to the present, as well as special exhibitions and public programs. The expansive spaces are well suited to the needs of large-scale installations, paintings, and sculptures. In keeping with Dia's history of single-artist, site-related presentations, each gallery was designed specifically for the art it contains. This includes works by Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman and Louis Nevelson.
Innisfree Gardens: An American nonprofit public garden in Millbrook, NY, recognized as one of the world’s ten best gardens. This 150-acre space is filled with trails, streams, waterfalls and terraces, influenced by Chinese style and Japanese design. It was established between 1930-1960 by Walter Beck, a painter, and his wife Marion, daughter of a 19th-century iron baron, inspired by scroll paintings by the 8th-century Chinese poet and painter, Wang Wei.
Opus 40: A sculpture park and museum in Saugerties, NY, with more than 60 acres of meadows, forested paths and bluestone quarries. The centerpiece is a 6.5 acre earthwork sculpture. The artist, Harvey Fite, hand-sculpted Opus 40 over nearly four decades. Made entirely from bluestone harvested on site, Fite fused the legacy of local quarrying with ancient Mayan and Aztec stonework learned through his extensive travel. The spirals and paths of Fite’s creation bring to mind the work of architect, Frank Gehry, and the artist, Robert Smithson, while remaining Fite’s unique life's work.
William Abranowicz, who lives in New York's Catskill Mountains, is an American photographer and the author of eight photographic books. Zander Abranowicz is a writer and strategist, based in Richmond, Virginia.