Denny and I are always on the hunt for new, cool places to explore and rest our heads. Though we usually end up in the Catskills and Hudson Valley, a friend recently challenged us to “lay off the Catskills.” Up for the challenge, we left our comfort zone and looked north. Real north. We scouted Airbnb for the best rentals we could find in the Adirondacks, and after much digging, found the Argyle Cabins.
The Argyle Cabins are the perfect outdoorsy retreat, 4 hours north of New York City in Argyle, NY. Though far, its location is well worth the trek–with the mighty Adirondacks to the west, and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the east, each about an hour away. The two tiny cabins on secluded farmland have big windows to make you feel connected to the outdoors, and have outdoor amenities like an outdoor kitchen, or a screened in porch overlooking a pond. Both have firepits, grills, and outdoor showers. It’s as close as you can get to spending a weekend in nature without actually being outside.
The tiny cabins were created with mostly salvaged materials and assembled by hand, hence their totally unique shapes and setups. We stayed in the Charming Rustic Cabin, which is the newer of the two and began renting just a few months ago. It’s the more “rustic” of the two cabins, with no running water or electricity. For cold-temperature nights, the living room has a large wood-burning stove, and the bed was layered with thick blankets. The outdoor kitchen is equipped with a gas stovetop, a sink and a water jug, dishes, pots and pans. Though it’s not plugged in, a mini-fridge offers some insulation for food. There’s also a Weber, if you’d prefer lighting up the grill to cooking on a stove.
The other cabin, Quaint Cabin Overlooking a Pond, is a little less rustic–not in look, but in amenities, and therefore better equipped for the four seasons. This one does have electricity, is insulated for cold weather, and there’s a wood-burning stove pretty close to the bed–but not frighteningly so. A large screened-in porch at this cabin offers respite from insects, with a hammock and daybed to lounge on, and overlooks the pond.
The owner, Victoria Cantwell, built both the cabins by hand with a little help from friends. As a lifelong antique and vintage collector, the cabins have become somewhat of a creative outlet for her–constantly switching out one piece for another, adding something, moving something to the other cabin, or into her personal collection in her yurt. Besides having a fantastic eye, Victoria is a wonderful host, and went above and beyond to make our stay comfortable. Her property includes the two cabins, her yurt, a rental tipi (!), and 5.25 acres of land. Adding a little color to the landscape are her 6 indoor/outdoor cats and 2 beautiful guinea fowl. If you’re staying in the cabins, be prepared for a visit from super-friendly cats Jerry or Nero, both of whom are somewhat attached to the cabins, and professional mousers!
Though the tiny town of Argyle and the area surrounding have plenty to offer, we found ourselves irresistibly drawn to the mountains. Being so close to the Adirondacks to our west, and the Green Mountains of Vermont to our east, we took daytrips to each. Both daytrips included breakfasts and lunches on the road, then heading back to the cabin for dinner. For the sake of simplicity, we’ve organized this post a little differently than some in the past, with our food and activity recommendations revolving around each of these daytrips.
Daytrip to Lake George in the Adirondacks
Start off your day at Lakeside General Store, just 10 minutes down the road from the Argyle Cabins. The little Adirondack-style mom-and-pop shop serves up egg sandwiches with fresh bagels, made daily. There’s lots of seating both indoors and out, in their backyard or enclosed front porch.
Next, the drive to Lake George, the eastern-most town in the Adirondacks, is just over an hour from Argyle. The drive over is so scenic that its hard to resist pulling over every few minutes to take a photo of roadside cows, horses, old barns and beautiful farmland–not to mention the fall foliage when we were there. Once you’re in the Adirondack Park, you’ll know it–if not by the massive mountains around you, then by the long row of cheeky roadside souvenir shops. The shops were our first indication that Lake George was a major tourist attraction, later confirmed by the the many hotels and amusement parks. In its favor though, they’re all oddly charming–from the mega-hotel that’s designed to look like a tiki resort, to the somewhat creepy Magic Forest theme park, where the worlds largest Uncle Sam statue towers over the parking lot, just a couple rows over from a gigantic Santa.
As touristy as it is, Lake George is popular with good reason. It’s so incredibly beautiful. The lake itself is massive, at an impressive 32 miles long, and varies between 1 and 3 miles width. Of course, it’s surrounded by mountains. Curiosity drew us into the heart of town, where we stopped and gawked at all the touristy things to do. It never seemed to end! (Thankfully, we’d visited the first weekend of “off season” and it was a bit of a ghost town.) After our short visit to town, we headed to the #1 tourist attraction in the area–a drive up Prospect Mountain on the Veterans Memorial Highway. For $10 admission (per car), you can drive to four separate overlooks, each with unique views of Lake George and the Adirondack Mountains. Once you’ve reached the near-top, a shuttle (or a short, but strenuous walk) takes you to Prospect Mountain’s summit, where you can take in the famous hundred mile view. If you’re visiting from Argyle, chances are it’ll be well into the afternoon when you get there–you can plan on picnicking at the top, where there’s a scattering of picnic tables and even grills. (Though you may have to elbow someone for a table, it’s probably better than trying your luck in town.) Before you leave home base, we’d highly recommend stopping in at Argyle Cheese Farmer for some amazing cheese, or a larger grocery like Hanaford in Glens Falls to pick up the basics for a mountain-top picnic.
On your drive home from the Adirondacks, don’t miss all the breweries in the area. Check out Adirondack Craft Beverage Trail and Map, whose whole website is dedicated to the many breweries in the region. We stopped at Davidson Brothers, which is a little more than the halfway home point to Argyle, for a late afternoon lunch and beer. Once we got back into town, we stopped once again in the name of beer for a pint and picked up a growler at Argyle Brewing, to be served with dinner that night. Another quality brewery serving up a nice IPA and also a deliciously filling oatmeal stout.
Daytrip to the Green Mountains of Vermont
Our daytrip to Vermont was quite different from the Adirondacks, and just as great. We set off for the day with two goals in mind: maple syrup, and mountains. Our Airbnb host promised we’d find both at Merck Forest and Farm Center, an educational non-profit with 31,000 acres of forest and 62 acres of farm land with hiking trails. Sold.
But first, breakfast. We began our day at Rathbun’s Maple Sugar House Restaurant, right on the border of Vermont and New York. Our pancake stacks were $7 each, very generous portions, and served with fantastic maple syrup, made right there on the property. An industrial-sized wood stove helped to cozy up the mom-and-pop joint, making our seats in the antique wood booths slightly more comfortable.
After breakfast, we crossed into Vermont, whose Green Mountains were waiting for us right at the state line. The mountains its western border are rolling, with rounder tops, and often strange shaped–very different from the taller, sharper peaks of the Adirondacks. The winding roads of Vermont were spattered with barns, both new and old. Just twenty minutes in, if that, is Merck Forest. Upon arrival, you can stop into the visitor center/gift shop for information on the different hikes here–we chose the Stone Lot which was a rather steep descent and ascent, eventually landing us at some of their cabin rentals, which looked amazing. After the hike, we explored the farm a little, stopping to photograph the many chickens, horses, barn cats, a lamb and the biggest pig we have ever seen, appropriately named Sally Mae. She was–no kidding–the size of a small horse. On our way out, we stopped again into the gift shop to pick up that treasured Vermont maple syrup.
Last, while in Vermont, it would be a crime not to drink some Vermont craft beer–after all, Vermont is home to Heady Topper, the holy grail of IPA’s. Unfortunately we were nowhere near its brewery, so on the way back from Merck Forest, we had to settle for stopping into a bar and hoping for the best. We landed at The Barn Restaurant in Pawlet, where we opted for the basement tavern over the dining room. The tavern had a huge fireplace, and super friendly staff and a great beer selection. With the huge fireplace and delicious craft beer, it’s the perfect place to end the afternoon on your way back to Argyle.