Catskills Country Stores Offer Unparalleled Experiences
The weathered whiskey barrels and orchard baskets overflowing with jars of local jams, honey, and maple syrup?
Maybe it's the sheer variety of things you see all around you — from the artwork of local Catskills painters and craftsmen to antique signs and oil lanterns; puppets, kites, and rubber band pistols to artisanal soaps, lotions, and candles. In the Great Northern Catskills, our country stores aren't just places to grab a coffee, or a sandwich, or a loaf of freshly baked bread 20 minutes ago. They're the places you go to connect — with friends and family, neighbors and strangers, or even just your own memories. These are places that have been crafted and curated by their owners to not only provide you with a great meal or cool gift, but a one-of-a-kind experience and a chance to tap into what makes our communities so special.
At a place like the Catskill Mountain Country Store's Windham location, with the smell of pies baking and donuts frying, you'll likely lose track of time gazing at the fudge display, perusing the extensive collection of toys, books, and collectibles, and deciding which homemade jams and relishes to take home. Once outside, you'll find walking trails and gardens for you to spend a few minutes or an entire afternoon, as well as a pirate ship playground and a looking zoo featuring goats, chickens, pot belly pigs, and more.
When you stop at Last Chance Antiques and Cheese Café in Tannersville, you're treated to that classic old western country store feel, with its exposed wooden beams and antiques lining the walls. But cheese is in the name for a reason, and with more than 50 varieties to choose from, as well as a hundred different kinds of chocolates on hand, and 300 beers — from local craft brews to fine imports — you tend to feel like a kid in a candy store.
Not too long ago, a visit to Circle W in Palenville hardly seemed possible, as the local icon slowly slid into disrepair. But then a woman who lived down the street couldn't bear to see it crumble, so she purchased the place in 2009. Now a picture of her as a teenager hanging out with friends at that very spot adorns the wall, along with artwork from local artists and classic masters who used the town and surrounding wilderness as inspiration for one of the country's first artists' colonies. You can't buy a can of paint, a gallon of milk, and a hacksaw all in one trip there like you used to, but now you'll find a bevy of locally produced gifts and provisions to go along with that same community hub spirit that has always been its hallmark.
Of course, simply reading about our country stores fails to do them justice. They have to be seen. And while each boasts their own vibe and vibrant history, they're threaded together by the primary desire to make visitors feel at home, whether they live down the street or are walking through the doors for the first time.