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A Scandinavian Chalet in Cragsmoor, NY

Built by owner David Pivnick, the Scandinavian Inspired Chalet is located in the Shawangunk Mountains just two hours from NYC. Clocking in at about 100 miles from Brooklyn, it’s a closer alternative to the nearby Catskill Mountains, and the house itself is less than ten minutes from our favorite hike in New York State: Sam’s Point. Location of both the house and the hike are special because of it’s surrounding landscape–the region is known for its huge, stunning white cliffs that make it a top destination for climbers and hikers alike.

The Scandinavian-inspired structure was designed and built by David with the help of a family friend. Inside, David’s daughter and visual artist Leah Pivnick designed the interior spaces. Together, the father-daughter duo created a space that feels like a five-star-hotel-combined-treehouse, with its huge windows, wood vaulted ceilings, and open layout. Both the interior and exterior pick up on the Scandinavian sensibilities of simplicity, minimalism and functionality. The real draw here is how married the inside and outside are–a wall of 8 foot tall windows creates the illusion that you’re outside, at almost all times. You needn’t even leave bed to watch the sunrise! Outside, a fire pit, gas grill and small table have all the elements you need for a perfect evening. Start a bonfire, grab your favorite beverage and kick back to take in the view of the Hudson Valley, with clouds blowing so quickly by that it feels like a moving picture. Needless to say, it’s quite easy to get lost in.

The bathroom is it’s own work of art; think marble countertops, subway tile, huge mirrors, and a walk-in zero threshold shower with a rain showerhead. There’s another large window in this room too, allowing you to take in the outdoors while you shower. (Or, opt for the outdoor shower, just across the yard connected to the main house.) Other amenities include wifi, central air, a well-equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, and heated cement floors throughout. A 50″ smart TV has Netflix plus other apps, and cable.

Although it doesn’t come with a small price tag–prices start around $350 a night–the incredible view and the house at Scandinavian Inspired Chalet are a worthy splurge. It’s a popular option for fashion shoots, weddings, and private getaways for couples with a little more cash to spend.

What to Do: Hike Through Ice Caves and Waterfalls, Stock Up on Local Produce, Take a Scenic Drive 

The Scandinavian Inspired Chalet is located in the Shawangunks, a very popular destination for hikers and climbers. In fact, our favorite hike in New York State, Sam’s Point, is just down the road. Put aside most of your afternoon for the hike; though it’s never quite grueling, it is quite long, taking you through many different landscapes including a mini-pine forest, ice caves, blueberry fields, birch forest, and ultimately, a waterfall. (Note: unfortunately a massive fire tore through the area earlier this year, and some trails are still closed. Check the Minnewaska State Preserve’s website for more information.) A much easier alternative to the all-day hike is a visit to Stony Kill Falls, with less than a 30 minute walk from the parking lot to the falls. Though the massive 90 foot falls slow to a trickle during hot days during the summer, it’s quite dramatic after a shower or storm. Follow the trail that goes behind the falls for some dramatic photos, and bring your swimsuit!

Another thing not to miss while you’re in the area is all the scenic driving, whether it’s purely to check out the landscapes or on your way to check out a different town. The nearest breathtaking views can be had on Route 52 from Cragsmoor to Ellenville, less than 10 minutes from the house. Several pull-off points on the road afford some pretty stunning landscapes looking west to the Catskills. A drive to Gardiner, another little town 30 minutes from Cragsmoor, will take you down Brunswick-Prospect Road, which runs parallel to Shawangunk Ridge. More on what to do there below. (Full disclosure: it’s mostly drinking and eating!)

Last, the region is full of farms, and it’d be a shame to visit and not take home some edible souvenirs. Down the road in Ellenville, there’s a farmers market on Sundays in the middle of town. Barthel’s Farm Market is another great market, with many varieties of veggies, fruits, and plants. Visitors should note that the farm stands and markets in the area are only open seasonably though–for a list of farms in the area with hours and availability, check out Ulster County Alive’s list for the Ellenville and New Paltz/Gardiner/Wallkill area.

Where to Eat & Drink: Eat at a Certified Green Restaurant on Main Street, Taste Your Way Around the Region 

If you’re staying at the chalet, we’d definintely recommend cooking most, if not all of your meals there. There’s a gas grill and well-equipped kitchen–although the mini-fridge can be prohibiting. On your way to the chalet, stop in Middletown at the massive Hannaford grocery store, just a few minutes off the highway. Almost next door, the Vineyards Wine & Spirits is worth a stop if you need booze.

The closest town to the Scandinavian Chalet is Ellenville, which is small and quiet. There’s a couple restaurants around its Main Street though, a few of which are worth checking out if you don’t feel like cooking. Aroma Thyme Bistro is a certified green restaurant, serving up grass-fed steaks, seafood and vegetarian fare. A popular happy hour creates quite a buzz here in the early evening. Other choices in town include the Publik House for burgers, wings and sandwiches, an old-school deli called Wilson’s serving up hot and cold sandwiches, and Gaby’s Cafe for Mexican fare. For breakfast, check out the Cohen’s Bakery for a sweet treat, who’s famous for their pumpernickel-raisin bread. It was the definite highlight for us, and sells by the half-pound. (It’s quite heavy, so be prepared to spend more than you’re used to for bread–but it’s worth every penny!)

Another popular feature of the Shawankgunks are its wine trails, breweries and distilleries. The highlight of the region might be Tuthilltown Distillery, a must-visit for bourbon lovers. It’s about 30 minutes from the house in the cute town of Gardiner, NY. Pick up a bottle of their famous Hudson Baby Bourbon straight from the source–or take a tour and dine in their restaurant, Tuthill House at the Mill. During warmer months, dine or enjoy a cocktail on their patio, which overlooks the waterfall and creek that used to power the mill here. (Psst–we love this place so much we did a full post about it!) Another highlight in town is Gardiner Liquid Mercantile, whose cocktails and food both shine. It’s a great little spit to kill a rainy afternoon, or have casual dinner, bellied up to a bar. Beer lovers should visit West Town Brew Works, who combines their love of beer and the outdoors at their farm brewery, housed in an old barn. The hops are grown on-site; any other ingredients are grown by farming neighbors, making this a true farm-to-glass brewery. For all you vino lovers out there, check out Whitecliff Vineyard, which is part of the larger Shawangunk Wine Trail. The wine is good enough, but the views at the vineyard are absolutely breathtaking; you can easily kill an afternoon (as we have) with a couple glasses of wine, soaking up the views of the dramatic white cliffs that make up Shawangunk Ridge.

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