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Summer Guide 2015

How to Hide Out in the Hills

Escape to a ski town: There’s no beach traffic, and the snowboarding bros are gone.

Upper Pines Lodge in Warren, Vermont  

Warren and Waitsfield, Vermont

East Coast skiing may be no match for Colorado’s or Utah’s, but Sugarbush’s peaks have converted plenty of doubters. Summers here will, too: open pastures, covered bridges, white clapboard houses, crystalline swimming holes, a massive river stocked with trout, endless hiking and biking trails (Sugarbush’s ski lifts transport cyclists and their bikes up the slopes)—the works. Still, it’s got a persistent streak of the urbane: Classical-music fans picnic in the Green Mountains to the strains of live Bach and Bruch, and young organic farmers give TED talks. The restaurants go beyond the usual greasy spoons; food culture in Vermont, after all, is serious: Feast on in-house-smoked meats at the Mad Taco; vegans with discerning palates can try the whole-food-focused Mint Vegetarian Restaurant. “We pick fresh berries and take long walks on dirt roads,” says Jennifer Laing, an East Villager who spends a chunk of her summers in Waitsfield. “But if you want music or theater or a good sit-down meal, it’s there.”

Windham, New York

Though it’s only ten miles from Hunter, Windham feels more like a small New England enclave than a Catskills mountain town, with steepled churches and tidy houses set against hulking mountains. During Hurricane Irene, in 2011, the Batavia Kill Creek climbed over the banks, turning into a raging river that flooded Main Street and left historic buildings waterlogged and businesses wrecked. Some gave up, but many rebuilt, and now Windham, long thought to be Hunter’s more refined cousin, has made itself over into a nexus of outdoor adventuring—a mountain-bike park serviced by the ski lifts launches this summer. Windham’s not only for the GoPro crowd, though: There are more leisurely pursuits like trout fishing and golfing (Windham Country Club was partially redesigned and resodded in 2013) and a chamber-music festival that brings world-class classical musicians—pianist Anna Polonsky, cellist Zuill Bailey—in July and August.

Hunter and Tannersville, New York

In the ’80s and ’90s, Hunter’s rowdy après-ski scene, which had revelers bouncing from one bar to the next on the main strip, had grown into the stuff of legend, as had its satisfyingly steep—for the East Coast—skiing terrain. (Hunter Mountain is the second-tallest peak in the Catskills.) Tipsy college kids have given way to weekenders yearning for a jolt of adrenaline (zip-lining and 4x4 off-roading); families looking to settle in for hiking and fly-fishing; festivalgoers camping out for June’s Taste of Country Music Festival and the four-day, three-stage Mountain Jam (featuring the Black Keys and Robert Plant); Orthodox Jewish communities served by a handful of summer shuls; and 20-something New Yorkers seeking other options besides the usual suspects like Woodstock and Andes. “I feel like five years ago, I was one of the first people to settle in Phoenicia before it got trendy, and I feel like that in Tannersville, too,” says Michael Koegel, a former TV producer who just added Mama’s Boy Burgers to the parade of gaily painted businesses along downtown’s main strip. (He owns the hugely popular Mama’s Boy Market in Phoenicia.) Be sure to try a made-to-order doughnut from Twin Peaks Coffee & Donuts (the lime-glazed Margarita is dipped in sea salt and toasted coconut and is a warm-weather special), which also serves a great macchiato.

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Wedged into the base of the Poconos hills, Jim Thorpe, which shed its old name, Mauch Chunk, and adopted the football Hall of Famer’s in the 1950s, has narrow streets lined with multihued San Francisco–style Victorians sprinkled with rough-and-tumble frontier dust. (It used to be the terminal stop of a railroad line, which carted coal mined from Jim Thorpe’s fields.) Outdoorsy types use it as base camp for kayaking, white-water rafting, and fishing on the Lehigh River, and mountain biking the slopes of nearby ski resorts (Jack Frost Big Boulder in Lake Harmony, the state’s first commercial ski resort, and Blue Mountain in Palmerton). Architecture buffs walk Stone Row, where Asa Packer, founder of Lehigh University, built 16 houses in the 1800s quarried from Pocono rock. Amateur historians tour Packer’s 18-room manor; the No. 9 Mine and Museum, where locals used to harvest anthracite; and the Old Jail Museum, site of the hanging of the Molly Maguires. In August, there’s the popular Pennsylvania Burlesque Festival, now in its sixth year. Don’t leave without grabbing some deviled eggs or the millet burger at the locally sourcing gastropub Stone Row and popping into the ­Vintagerie, a gold mine for Mad Men–era kitsch like fondue pots and caftans.

Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Vacationing in Stroudsburg means being able to put your kayak in the Delaware River less than half an hour after grabbing a slice of authentic New York–style pizza at Goombas. The town’s Main Street is a Jane Jacobs–ean delight, with a three-block mix of mom-and-pops that have been there forever—the bookstore, Carroll & Carroll Booksellers, which has an impressive array of history, philosophy, and botany titles, celebrates its 25th birthday this fall—and newer spots like Kitchen Chemistry, which offers cupcake-baking classes. “The town has grown quite a bit, [but] everyone’s still on a first-name basis,” says Dave Butler, who owns Stroudsburg Foto Shop, which stocks everything from vintage cameras to digital Nikons and Olympuses and has been around for 53 years. And then there’s Camelback Mountain in nearby Tannersville—yes, there’s one in Pennsylvania, too—that morphs into a thrill-seeker’s magnet in the summer, with a mountain coaster (a mix between a bumper car and a roller coaster) that whips through the runs on 4,500 feet of steel, and a massive water park with rides and slides.

Hillsdale, New York

It’s not that Hillsdale is undiscovered; it’s just comparatively underappreciated next to its neighboring Berkshire towns of Lenox and Great Barrington. But not by New Yorkers like Armory Show founding director Paul Morris, who has a house in Hillsdale, and Frank Muytjens, head of menswear design at J.Crew, who bought a farm here in 2007. “It’s the sense of space. And it’s unspoiled, raw, and wild,” Muytjens says. “At night, you can hear the coyotes howl.” It looks like more New Yorkers are on their way. Tim McEachern of Gabel Real Estate says that he has been seeing Brooklynites make their way to the hamlet, in large part because you can still purchase a sweet little house here for less than $250,000. In the winter, Catamount Mountain, of course, beckons with its beautifully groomed runs; ten acres of the mountain turn in the summer into a series of giant vertical obstacle courses designed from beginner level to adrenaline-pumping double blacks. Be sure to drive to Rodgers Book Barn, a bibliophile’s cozy sanctuary with Oriental-rug-­covered floors and bookcases groaning with thousands of titles, and stop by the Hills­dale General Store for vintage tureens and child-size tool kits.

How to Find a Chalet Hideaway

Warren, VT. Architect (and Vermont resident) David E. Sellers designed this five-bedroom mansion lodge that looks out across the Mad River Valley. $2,975 a week;

Windham, N.Y. A 2,028-square-foot, four-bedroom house built expressly as a second home comes with a 60-inch flat-screen with two gaming consoles, two grills, a hot tub, and a fire pit. $350 a night;

Windham, N.Y. Even in the summer, without snow, a log home is cozy. This four-bedroom sleeps 14 and has wide-open views of its 15 acres and the peaks of Windham beyond. $5,600 a week;

Hunter, N.Y. The Catskills surround this four-bedroom 1850s house—redone with reclaimed barn beams, slate, and hardwood floors. Sit on the rocking chairs on the wraparound porch, or relax in the sauna or hot tub. $495 a night;

Jim Thorpe, PA. A three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath situated on five acres at the end of a road, so privacy is plentiful. At night, roast s’mores over the fire pit in the backyard. $225 a night;

Stroudsburg, PA. Vacation like a suburbanite in this 3,500-square-foot, six-bedroom family-reunion-ready brick home that sleeps 16. It’s near Shawnee, five miles from downtown Stroudsburg. $360 a night;

Hillsdale, N.Y. This 133-year-old farmhouse has three bedrooms and one and a half baths. It’s on 24 acres and overlooks a babbling brook and private pond. $300 a night;

Hillsdale, N.Y. This is no buggy, woodsy hideout: a 1,350-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath cabin fashioned from glass and wood. $250 a night;