The Arnold House is a nine-room hotel just outside Livingston Manor in the western Catskill Mountains, just two hours from New York City. For such a small town, we found ourselves much busier than usual. Though it was hard to pry ourselves away from our cozy retro-chic room, we still managed to squeeze in a farm tour, a brewery visit, a rowboat ride, a comedy show, some estate sale-ing, and a great hike–all in one weekend.
Where other hotels can feel like more of a secluded, quiet getaway, the Arnold House seems to be optimized for guest hangouts. During breakfast hours, the sunroom and outdoor patio bustled with guests that all exchanged a quick hello or polite nod. Just outside the breakfast and dining room is a clipboard to sign up for group activities, including the farm tour we did. In the evening, hotel guests reconvened at the tavern for dinner and drinks. Though every walk of life from NYC was visiting, most of the guests ended up socializing out at some point–whether it be a pre-dinner horseshoe game or a late-night game of pool that closed out the bar. Definitely expect to make some cool friends and fun memories at the Arnold House.
What to Do Around Livingston Manor: Visit a Farm, Row a Boat and Hike to a Waterfall
Just opposite of the check-in desk, there’s a wall of pamphlets with things to do. The Arnold House has many of their own guides, including a covered bridge tour, a scenic drive to Beaverkill Valley, a distillery and brewery tour, and two of their favorite hikes (to Giant Ledge and Red Hill Fire Tower.) They also regularly host entertainment at the hotel; our Saturday night plans were made easy by the monthly comedy show. Starting July 3, they’re re-starting the summer music series in their barn called Summer Fridays, which will run every Friday night through Labor Day.
We’d seen some really cute baby lamb photos on Arnold House’s Instagram, so we signed up for the 10 a.m. Saturday tour at Apple Pond Farm. At $25 per person, the price seemed steep, but it was well worth it. (Besides the tour being really, really fun, the money is going to a great farm with great people.) The tour lasted about two hours, during which we took 30 minutes taking turns holding baby animals. Just for the record, those were the cutest 30 minutes of my life. (Note: we went in early May, when lambs were at the end of their birthing season. Check Apple Pond’s website to see what’s “in season” there.) After handling the lambs and goats, the farmers made our city-folk dreams come true by asking us to help herd a group of sheep from one pasture to another. Hilarity ensued as we chased the large herd sheep down a hill; one stray sheep gave us a real show, not knowing where the hell to go, running every which (wrong) way and screaming BAAAA all the while. During those 5 minutes, I think everyone on the tour experienced pure, unbridled joy. Just when we thought the tour was over, part 2 began and we continued the tour with Dick, the area’s foremost expert on green energy. The group was fascinated as Dick described the farm’s renewable energy sources from solar panels, wind turbines, and solar thermal tubes. Bottom line: it’s great tour–do it!
We ended up hiking at the incredible Sam’s Point during the weekend, which isn’t in Livingston Manor, but is on the way back to NYC. (We were anxious to get closer to the city before hiking, so we took the scenic road from LM to SP which took about an hour. From there, NYC is only 1:30 away.) Our new friends Korly and Josh sent us some photos from Basha Kill Wetlands, a nature preserve with a lovely hike about 45 away from the hotel. (Check out the winery there, afterward!) Arnold House has some great suggestions in their pamphlets too–and if all else fails, we love Hike the Hudson Valley as a resource. Stop into Morgan Outdoors in town to review your itinerary, get updates on trail conditions and weather, receive some pointers and maybe stock up on some hiking gear.
For a more leisurely afternoon outdoors, we really enjoyed rowboating around nearby Shandalee Lake. Just down the road from the hotel, Arnold House has a gorgeous lakehouse property there, that guests can use the outdoor amenities at: namely, canoes and rowboats. Bring a picnic!
Where to Eat and Drink in Livingston Manor: Farm Fresh Food, Breweries and Distilleries
The Tavern at the Arnold House is wonderful–with fresh local ingredients, local beers and spirits–and convenient. Executive Chef Erik Hill just recently relocated from Crown Heights, Brooklyn (where we live!) to Livingston Manor with his girlfriend, Meg Kinealy, who acts as the Event Coordinator/go-to person-for-everything. The pair both came from the restaurant business in NYC, where both worked (and met) at Hudson Clearwater. Both the food and service were so good the first night at the Tavern that we returned on the second night for the same meal. Our recommendations: grilled romaine salad, ramp ravioli, and the veggie burger. Also, sit at the bar where banter with Peter the bartender is great. Last, bring some quarters for the jukebox and challenge some other hotel guests a game of pool.
For lunch meals, we headed into town for farm-fresh salads and sandwiches at Main Street Farm, which were amazing. Besides being a great streamside lunch spot, you can stock up on fresh food and products from local farms.
Lastly, we were really excited to finally visit Catskill Brewery after having had their Floodwatch IPA at Peekamoose and everywhere else we’d seen it. Though huge, the brewery has more of a tasting room vibe than one of a bar–but definitely worth a visit and a takeaway growler. Also in the area is Prohibition Distillery, home of Bootlegger 21 gin, bourbon, vodka and whiskey in Roscoe. If that sounds familiar, our friends from Red & Brown made us a Upstate-inspired cocktail using Bootlegger 21 over the winter.