History & Culture Tours of the Catskills
Explore Famous New York Sites Including Fort Delaware & Bannerman Castle
The Catskills region summons visions of ancient Dutch colonists and pastoral landscapes. There’s enough history here to fill a lifetime of vacations, and the Bronck Museum in Coxsackie is a great place to begin. This group of Dutch Colonial dwellings and barns includes the oldest surviving Dutch house in the Hudson Valley, dating to 1663. Guided tours breathe life into the 17th century Catskills.
Tour Pollepel Island’s Bannerman Castle, a tiny jewel waiting for you to explore its stones, turrets and towers in guided tours that access the island by boat or kayak. A walking tour through Athens Village covers 300 historic structures and almost every style of American architecture from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Nearby Hudson Athens Lighthouse, an architectural gem built in 1874 and visible from Riverfront Park, conducts weekend tours all summer.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not called Pratt Rock New York’s Mt. Rushmore. Decide for yourself when you stop by the side of Route 23 on the outskirts of Prattsville, where giant stone carvings from the Civil War era tower 500 feet above the road. Rediscover frontier life at Fort Delaware, an authentic depiction of a pioneer settlement circa 1754, where blacksmithing, candle making, cooking and cannon demos animate local history.
Fans of covered bridges have plenty to cross here, from Downsville Bridge to Delhi’s Fitches and Hamden Bridges, Margaretville’s 1870 Tuscarora Club Bridge, and Campbell Bridge in Roscoe. The whistles of early Catskill Mountain steam locomotives still echo at the Empire State Railway Museum in Phoenicia where you can see restored antique railway cars. Then hop a ride on the Delaware & Ulster Railroad in Arkville for Saturday excursions through ever changing landscapes of quaint villages, rolling fields and majestic mountains. Fun themes include an old-fashioned train robbery, complete with rescue.
Once, train travel was the best way to visit the Catskills. It still is at the Catskill Mountain Railroad with scenic rail rides along the Esopus Creek. Aviation history goes hands-on as thrilling stunts fill the skies at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, where each summer weekend showcases flying antique airplanes and open-cockpit 1929 biplane rides for the daredevil.
In the region’s northwest corner, Hanford Mills Museum features an authentic water- and steam-powered sawmill and vintage woodworking machines, plus 15 more historic structures. Ethnic celebrations abound at Hunter Mountain, including the wildly popular East Durham Irish Festival, where step dancers whirl to the music of 21 Irish bands.
• Athens Village
• Bannerman Castle
• Bronck Museum
• Catskill Mountain Railroad
• Covered Bridges
• Delaware & Ulster Railroad
• East Durham Irish Festival
• Empire State Railway Museum
• Fort Delaware
• Hanford Mills Museum
• Hudson Athens Lighthouse
• Hunter Mountain
• Pratt Rock
For more information, visit the Catskills region.