The region was settled in the 17th century by Dutch and English colonists who were enticed by its fertile ground. However, other nationalities began to take root as industry along the river flourished and Catskill became the most important cultural center outside of Albany and New York City. By the time construction of the Erie Canal was underway in 1817, an influx of Germans, Italians, and Ukranians had settled in the area.
As the region developed, the Great Northern Catskills quickly became an established vacation destination for wealthy New Yorkers. Eager to escape the oppressive city heat and enjoy the fresh mountain air, people flocked to the legendary "mountain houses." Perched on scenic bluffs, tucked away high in the mountains, the Catskills hotels flourished.
Simultaneously, in the early 19th century, the area's scenic views and striking landscapes inspired a new genre of American art with the Hudson River School of painters and motivated Washington Irving to set his famous 1819 short story, Rip Van Winkle, in the Catskill Mountains. The legacy persists and throughout the year, visitors can explore the home of painter Thomas Cole, now a historic site, or hike the Hudson River Art Trail, a journey to many of the places that inspired some of America's greatest landscape painters.
The Great Northern Catskills continue to attract artists, painters and writers in addition to families and friends, eager to experience our many activities and attractions. The region's scenic vistas and unique blend of mountains, rivers and valleys offer great opportunities for a variety of lifestyles and interests.
Here you can spend a day skiing or riding, hiking, biking, birding or boating. You can golf on 9 different courses, kayak, fish or swim. There are water parks, winter adventure parks for tubing and ice skating and fairs and festivals throughout the year. You can go to a zoo, ride a zipline, and visit a raptor center or an elk farm. Tour the historic Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, follow the Hudson River Art Trail, hike to iconic Kaaterskill Falls, or explore a number of unique museums.
After a day of activities unwind and enjoy a delicious meal in your restaurant of choice and return to a charming bed & breakfast, fun family resort, hotel or private rental...then wake up and do it all again.