For endless, summer camp style fun at relatively inexpensive rates, head to the traditional Catskills family resorts in New York’s Catskills Mountains. Popular with tourists since the turn of the 20th century, the Catskills Mountains region is rich with natural beauty, mountain breezes and lakes.
After more than a year of being cooped up, the thought of unwinding and breathing deep among more than 700,000 acres of preserved land — just 90 miles north of New York City — is intoxicating. You won’t be the first. Inspired by scenic Greene County, Washington Irving wrote “Rip Van Winkle” about the famous character’s fictional snooze atop the Catskills’ highest peak.
In the summer, family-camp style “resorts” — picture where the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel stayed — dust off winter’s cobwebs and open their shutters. While many Catskills family resorts include meals and activities in their rates, don’t expect the most gourmet food or state-of-the-art recreation equipment. Instead, plan on retro family fun, especially appealing with younger children.
The economic crisis caused by the pandemic may adversely affect these family-run resorts, so do check the latest reviews before booking. In any case, don’t limit yourselves to staying on property. A Catskills Mountain family vacation promises magnificent views from high peaks, and the varied terrain of low valleys, forests, and meadows makes for a playful environment.
The Retro Appeal of a Catskills Mountain Family Vacation
These popular, vintage getaways in the foothills provide endless distractions from volleyball to croquet to canoeing at all-inclusive prices. (Note that in the Catskills, however, prices don’t include alcohol like the Caribbean all-inclusives.) If you’re not into outdoor recreation, distinctive villages and small towns with antique shops are sprinkled throughout the vast landscape.
For families, sleeping accommodations are more likely to be in a cabin or a few motel-like rooms in a small cottage. Meals are usually communal in a dining hall with each family at their own table; and most activities are on site and family-oriented.
Most of the following resort camps are open only during the summer season and many require a week-long or minimum few nights’ stay. Upon leaving each year, most families make their reservations for the following summer. Be sure to book as early as possible; the resorts are often at full capacity throughout the season.
Catskills Family Resort with Water Park
The Country Place Resort
56 Shady Glen Road
East Durham, NY 12423
This resort works for families because with your stay, you also get free access to the Zoom Flume water park, one of the Catskills’ biggest family attractions. While considered worn by some reviewers, Country Place’s breakfast and dinner meal plan, and various seasonal packages, make it good value. All day and evening family activities such as Karaoke, group bonfires, drama, magic performances and more are included in rates. The Country Place has family one-bedroom suites, as well as newer two-bedroom suites with decks. (Two bedroom suites sleep seven with their additional sofabed.) All accommodations have free WiFi and refrigerators. Nearby, take advantage of Speedway go-karts, Howe Caverns, the Baseball Hall of Fame, horseback riding and golf.
Catskills Family Resorts for Four Seasons
Winter Clove Inn & Resort
557 Winter Clove Road
Round Top, NY 12473
Charming Winter Clove is one of the region’s older inns. It has been owned and operated by the Whitcomb family for nearly 200 years, marking five generations since 1838. Winter Clove is open year-round. Hikers will love the resort’s private 300 acres with several trails, pastureland, mountain biking tracks and, in winter, cross-country ski trails. It’s also close to both Hunter and Windham ski mountains. All meals are included and there are activities year round. Try your hand at bowling in their antique wooden bowling alley, enjoy the heated indoor pool, tennis, 9-hole golf course, firepits for s’mores, outdoor pool, games room and more in a convivial atmosphere, Choose the Main Lodge, where 35 guest rooms share a big front porch, indoor pool, dining room and lounge — ideal to welcome a multigenerational family group. The Oaks Lodge is smaller and guest rooms share a common lounge. The three-bedroom, two-bath Carriage Lodge is best for a few families wanting to share a more private, socially distanced space.
Villa Roma Resort
356 Villa Roma Rd
Callicoon, NY 12723-6816
Up for a cornhole tournament? In addition to lots of scheduled and more casual activities for all ages, Villa Roma has indoor and outdoor pools. Try the golf course while teens hit the arcade. In winter, there’s skiing and sledding. The playground and lots of outdoor space cater to little ones. Villa Roma is a classic Catskills resort that been upgraded over the years. It’s not fancy but these low rates (20% off midweek) include clean, if dates, rooms and meals at the several on-site restaurants and cafes so you can gather at meal time. Some rooms have kitchenettes. Fun for the active family.
Catskills Family Resort for the Golfer
Sunny Hill Resort & Golf Course
352 Sunny Hill Road
Greenville, NY 12083
Sunny Hill has the advantage of having two 18-hole golf courses and driving range on its property so you’ll see many golfing groups. In addition to the typical recreation at family camps, try Zumba, maybe kickball, yoga, a fishing tournament or bingo. This refreshed resort in the northern Catskills has been in existence since the 1920s. It continues to welcome families — many of them repeat visitors — every year. A large variety of housing includes motel-like rooms, lodges and cabins. Two-room suites are also available, with a living room, pullout couch and kitchenette. Other facilities include an entertainment center, a lake for paddle-boating, tennis and basketball courts, swimming pool, and the Viking Obstacle Course. Fishing is done on Lake Loree, where there are Friday Night Lake Parties. Three meals daily are included in the rates. Don’t miss a chance to try a “just for fun” ride in any of the resort’s famous vehicles, such as a tank and monster truck.
Catskills Mountain Family Vacation for Summer Fun
348 Sunside Road
East Durham, NY 12423
Blackthorne is a long-time Catskills family resort that isn’t fancy in any way — it’s more a collection of rooms that make it easy for families to get outside and enjoy the area. Features include a dining room where meals are provided; tasty fare at breakfast and dinner included in rates. Repeat guests enjoy a couple of bars, tennis court, swimming pool, putting green, an indoor recreation room and rooms with AC, cable TV and little patios. There’s nightly entertainment and frequent festivals. Pets are welcome. Reviewers mention that they also have an older RV and campground area with electric, waste, and water, as well as tent sites with electric and water.
Have other favorite family resorts in the Catskills. It’s been a while since we’ve visited Mohonk Mountain House and the Emerson Resort & Spa – glad to know they will get great reviews. Please share your favorites in the Comments section below.
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