April 12, 2017

A Colorful and Nature-Filled Tour of Woodstock, New York

A mere two hours from Manhattan, in the foothills of the Catskills, lies Woodstock, a town famous for the festival that never was—at least not there.

by Nicole Haddad photographer Nicole Haddad

A mere two hours from Manhattan, in the foothills of the Catskills, lies Woodstock, a town famous for the festival that never was—at least not there. The legendary Woodstock Music Festival actually took place 60 miles away—on the farm of Max B. Yasgur—in Bethel, New York. While the town might not have been the actual site where the free-loving, anti-war hippies partied in a purple haze, Woodstock has always had an artistic bent. It was home to many of the Hudson River School painters in the late 19th century, and in 1903, three visionary men—led by Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead—established the Byrdcliffe Colony. It is one of the oldest Arts & Crafts artist colonies still in existence, although the guild now represents a variety of artistic disciplines. Today, remnants of Woodstock's hedonistic lifestyle can still be seen throughout, from the headshops to the town's bohemian and musical vibe, and it remains the perfect place to commune with nature. Shops, restaurants, and yoga studios line the streets, and the art scene is still going strong with galleries aplenty. Joanna Bliss, who opened up her jewelry studio and storefront, J. Bliss Studios, with her artist husband last August, reflects on the town's popularity for the creative. "Being artists in Woodstock means being a part of something bigger than ourselves. There is a longstanding tradition of Woodstock being home to artists that are both supported by and contribute to the town."

Things To Do Take in a concert at the nearby 1916 Maverick Concert Hall, a historic, hand-built wooden enclosure in the woods that has drawn the likes of John Cage. Visit Cooper Lake, the largest natural lake in the Catskill Mountains and one of the most serene and beautiful spots to take in the views. Hit a round of balls at the Woodstock Golf Club (originally the Country Club), which dates back to 1929. Enjoy the surrounding nature and let Woodstock Trails arrange a customized trail hike for you. Take in a performance at the rebuilt Woodstock Playhouse, a venerable site of American Theatre History that has welcomed artists such as Patty Lupone and the Indigo Girls to its stage. Stroll down Tinker Street and peruse the wide variety of shops carrying everything from hippie-themed wares to contemporary designs for the home at stores such as Shop Little House. Take a break from shopping and visit the Woodstock Waterfall Park, on Tannery Brook Road. Ride up to the top of Mead's Mountain Road and tour the Triyana Dharmachakra Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. Visit the Woodstock Artists Cemetery—where many famous poets, writers, artists, intellectualists, and musicians were laid to rest.

Art Scene Founded in 1977, the Center for Photography occupies a space which Bob Dylan once called home. Almost directly across the street sits the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM), and The Byrdcliffe Shop, which features work from both emerging and local artists. A plethora of galleries and The Woodstock School of Art dot the landscape.

Good Eats Sit on the porch at Cucina, a restored farmhouse-turned-restaurant on Mill Hill Road, and enjoy the contemporary Italian fare. Joshua's Café, on Tinker Street, has been a Woodstock staple for over 40 years. The Middle Eastern-based menu offers fresh, mouthwatering options. For dessert, head over to Fruition Chocolate for small batch, bean-to-bar chocolate or to Peace, Love & Cupcakes for, you guessed it, a tie-dye cupcake among other sweet confections. Feeling thirsty? Head over to Station Bar & Curio, and enjoy a pint with a decadent grilled cheese sandwich.

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