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 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, there’s a ton of information about local activities ranging from self-guided wooden bridge tours, to farm visits, to fly fishing lessons. In the evening, hotel guests reconvene 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 or Go On a Hike
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. Also nearby is 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
If you’re staying at the Arnold House, a meal at The Tavern at the Arnold House is a given. The menu is chock full o’ fresh ingredients grown on nearby farms, and drinks are made with local spirits from Prohibition Distillery. Cozy up next to the wood stove, or chat it up with Peter the bartender whose banter is great. Also, bring some quarters for the jukebox and the pool table. Other great dinner options include North Branch Inn and The DeBruce, who share the same owners as Arnold House.
For lunch, head into town for farm-fresh salads and sandwiches at Main Street Farm. All year-round, the market serves gourmet salads, soups and sandwiches in a cozy atmosphere. In summer, head to the back and make use of their porch for streamside dining. Just down the street, Catskill Brewery is making some of the best beer in New York State and has the medals and trophies to prove it. The brewery has a tasting room open most evenings and serves free popcorn. Cheers!