Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gear Up for Holiday Shopping with a Country Flair.

Holiday shopping can be a great adventure when you take a little time to explore the Western Catskills main streets, farm stores, and back road antique shops. The mountains mean different things to different people.

Some are recreation minded and sporting equipment makes a great holiday present. Others love the artisan works inspired by the shapes and colors found in nature here. The best place to get them something that reflects their passion for the mountains is in the mountains.

Main Street Merchants and General Stores
The best day for shopping the local artisan wares is the Saturday after Thanksgiving when the Pakatakan Farmers Market reopens for a one day holiday bazaar and showcases everything home grown, handspun, and handmade for hearth and home. Make a day or weekend of it and combine the drive to Halcottsville with other stops along the way.

On or just off of State Highway 28 – halfway between Kingston and Cooperstown, you’ll find great clusters of shopping on the main streets of the Western Catskills. Andes boasts the most retail outlets for any town, from artisanal teas at Tay Home, delightful coffee table books and home accessories at Delaware Trading Post, to great gifts at Heart of the Catskills – run by volunteers from the local humane society. You can see on their website at

Franklin’s main street showcases wonderful antiques and vintage goods amidst its stunning collection of Victorian homes. Delhi and Margaretville ( continue in their historical roles as commerce centers for the county. The Bookstore Village of the Catskills is located in Hobart and provides multiple stores to shop for the always appreciated literary gift.

General stores are turning into more than a place for an emergency quart of milk. Lucky Dog Farm Store in Hamden has wonderful vintage country clothing, unique dry goods, great candy for stocking stuffing. In addition to their own veggies, they offer other local produce items, and are now serving lunch too. Masonville General Store works with area artisans to display their wares and is home to the Crescent Wrench Café. Bovina General Store showcases Bovine crockery and locally made gifts and yummy sandwiches. Just up the road at Heaven on Main Street you can place an order for boxes of delectable holiday chocolates and on Saturdays and Sundays have wonderful vegetarian baked goods. On the way out of town, stop by a Christmas tree farm in Bovina and pick up your holiday tree.

Fiber and fabric
What could be nicer than a basket full of locally raised wool, spun in to delightful yarns for the knitter on your list. Dunk Hill Alpacas in Walton sell yarn from the farm. Yarns and fabrics can be found between Delhi and Delancey at Highland Springs Farm or at Mountain Yarns in Margaretville. For those who work with fabrics, Where Quilters Gather in Walton attracts people from all over the region to stock up and explore their amazing quilting supply store and just up the street at the Country Emporium you can find more fabrics and gifts.

For the collector in the family
Art galleries have been popping up all over the county lately. Don’t think that a piece of art is out of your price range for a holiday gift. Have a few friends or family members pool their money and you will have a gift that is unique. Roxbury hosts the Roxbury Arts Group, Stamford hosts The Gallery, Margaretville’s long time art gallery is the East Branch Art Gallery, now joined by the newly open Longyear Gallery, as well as the Catskill Mountain Artisans Collective store. Andes main street showcases Chace Randall Gallery, Sixty One Main, Cooperative Art Store of Andes, and Andes Art Antiques. Delhi now boasts its first art gallery at Delhi Art and Antiques and Franklin boasts the newest at Franklin Art and Antiques. For an easy to navigate route to art and antique stores, download the Art and Antique directory from or call 866-775-4425 and have a copy mailed to you. You can see the complete list of stores at

What to get the outdoorsperson who has everything
For enthusiasts of any sport you can never have enough quality supplies. If someone on your list is into fishing then a visit to Hancock is a must stop on your Catskills shopping trip. A new pair of waders, some new flies, a great book on fishing the Catskills will delight and it also makes for a fine lunch stop at the Bluestone Grill or Hancock House Hotel. The newly opened Walton Variety Store stocks fishing and camping gear, right near great main street gift stores for the rest of your list. If you’re tired of buying equipment for your outdoor fanatic, think into the future with a gift certificate for a day with a professional fly fishing guide from Grey Ghost Guide Service, an afternoon’s bird hunt at the West Branch Angler, or even a golf lesson with the pro at the Stamford Golf Course or the Golf Course at SUNY Delhi.

Stuff that stocking with the biggest little gift there is - a season lift ticket to skiing at Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury. Too expensive? Try their Value Club - $59 membership fee gets you discounts on Friday skiing, weekend rates, and holiday rates. Check it out at

Shop for holiday meals too
Pack a cooler and ice in the trunk of your car and shop for your holiday meals while you’re out and about. The holiday ham or turkey never tasted so good when raised on fresh air and pasture on a family farm. The best resource for planning head is to check out the Pure Catskills buy local website at and search for a farm like Stone and Thistle in East Meredith where you can buy beef, pork, lamb, goat, rabbit, chicken, as well as organic goats milk yogurt, chevre, and goats milk fudge. Stock up on local cheeses too. Sherman Hills sells off their farm in Franklin as does Harpersfield Cheese. Brovetto’s Cheese House in Jefferson does a tour of their cheese cave that is not to be missed. And real maple syrup is always a welcomed gift from Shaver Hill Maple in Harpersfield. Short on time? One stop shop for local products at Lucky Dog Farm in Hamden, The Market Basket in Arkville, Masonville General Store in Masonville, and Good Cheap Food in Delhi.

Learn more about the Western Catskills
For more information on great things to do and lodging packages in the Great Western Catskills visit For information on events and workshops, visit For a free travel guide or art gallery and antique dealer directory, call 866-775-4425.

Ring In Winter Close To Home In The Great Western Catskills

Winter is set to rock this year with predictions of El Nino influences bringing over 100 inches of precipitation to the region. For many in the downstate New York area, there’s no better place to enjoy winter weekends than close to home in the Great Western Catskills of Delaware County.

Adult season passes at Plattekill Mountain ( in Roxbury, NY) that are purchased before November 15th will receive a $50 discount. After skiing nine times, every visit to Plattekill after that is like skiing for free. New this year, Plattekill is offering a "refer a family" program. When a family (minimum of 1 adult and 1 junior) purchases their season passes and then refers another family who buys at least that number of passes, the referring family receives a $150 refund! Or join the Value Club where $59 gets you discounts on weekend, holiday and Friday rates all season long.

A number of nearby lodging facilities and private home rentals have partnered with Plattekill Mountain to offer money-saving packages. The most popular offering is the Kids Ski Free option. When visitors stay with a participating lodging facility, children 17 and under will receive one free lift ticket for each paid adult ticket (limit two). For families with more than two kids or with no kids Plattekill has a great new buy one get one BOGO discount. Buy your lift tickets for Saturday and get Sunday’s lift ticket free. Kids under 5 always ski free.

Signing up for e-blasts from the tourism office at and from Plattekill Mountain will keep you up to date on the great offerings and ski conditions at 3000 feet above sea level. Many people don’t know it but the mountain range that Plattekill is part of is the first high altitude range east of the Rockies. Mountain evenings are always cold and perfect for snow making.

Improved grooming and additional snow making capabilities will make this the best season for skiing at Plattekill. Signing up for winter ski reports will give readers the best information to make a great ski season even better.

There are two reasons people who love skiing ski here. The first is that Plattekill is an incredibly family friendly mountain. No crowds, relaxed atmosphere and the personal touch make everyone feel at home. The other reason is that people who love skiing, love skiing on Plattekill’s trails. The ski area is open Friday-Sunday from 8:45 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Plattekill will also be open daily during the week between Christmas and New Years as well as in February for the Presidents’ Week holiday. Saturday nights are especially exciting with snow tubing available from 5-9 p.m and extra nights during holiday weeks.

Belleayre Mountain, the state run ski center, provides skiing seven days a week, and offers a children under 14 ski free program with their lodging partners. Also available is a mid week special at $49 per person rate for lodging and a lift ticket. Belleayre also has an Adaptive Snowsports program. For more information on skiing at Belleayre visit

If your winter adventure tastes are more leisurely, Delaware County has many fine cross-country skiing and snowshoeing options. Among the ideal cross-country or snowshoe routes is the 19-mile rail bed known as the Catskill Scenic Trail. Use of the trail is free. This expanse of flat terrain is maintained during the winter by the snowmobile club members who also take care of more than 300 miles of additional trails in the county. For additional information on the rail trail visit To learn more about the snowmobiling opportunities, explore the website for the Central Catskill Trail Association at Volunteers from the Catskill Mountain Club lead guided hikes and workshops throughout the winter (including ice fishing). For an events schedule, visit:

When it comes to lodging options, the Great Western Catskills features accommodations that include everything from cool and hip inns, charming bed and breakfasts, full-service resorts, affordable and accommodating motels to private rental homes and cabins. If your idea of winter romance includes a crackling fireplace or hottub, a number of accommodations can offer such an amenity. For winter lodging packages visit the getaways section of the tourism website at:

Great Western Catskills Tourism
The Great Western Catskills is an easy day trip from New York City metro area, Albany, or Binghamton and a great weekend getaway or vacation destination for all. To learn more about outdoor resources, Stay-and-Play Packages or any other activities in the western Catskills, log on to:

For free travel literature, call toll-free: (866) 775-4425 or e-mail: For timely events in the area visit
Any time of year, come visit the Great Western Catskills of Delaware County and “Let the magic of our mountains move you.”