Capture Nature in the Catskills

1. Where to Stay

A room at the Roxbury.Photo: Jean Tang

The Roxbury (from $125, including breakfast) has pop-culture-inspired suites called the Shagadellic and George’s Spacepad, among other theme rooms. Borrow a DVD from the hotel’s 500-title collection or ask the office midweek for $24 lift tickets to nearby Belleayre Ski Resort.

Instow (from $110, including breakfast) is a painstakingly restored Victorian mansion once owned by railroad tycoon Jay Gould. Breakfast bonus: homemade cocoa zucchini cake.

Rent anything from a cottage to a colonial mansion for the weekend at A House Around the Bend. Most homes have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, and about half are dog-friendly.

2. Where to Eat

The dining room at the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room.Photo: Jean Tang

Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room is worth the twenty-minute drive from Roxbury — chef Devin Mills is an alum of Le Bernardin and Gramercy Tavern.

Local restaurants often close for winter, but there’s always a lively scene at Fred’s (60 Main St., Stamford, N.Y.; 607-652-2265). The owner (not named Fred) describes his cuisine as “progressive American,” which up here means crab-stuffed rainbow trout.

The Lucky Dog Organic Farm (35796 State Highway 10, Hamden, N.Y.; 607-746-8383) still grows crops out back, but now you can eat chicken potpie and sweet-potato-peanut soup in the café before shopping for Victorian dresses and sixties-era sweaters in the general store.

3. What to Do

A view from the Catskill Scenic Trail.Photo: Courtesy of Delaware County Tourism

Delaware County’s narrow valleys, vistas, and wildlife have attracted scores of photographers (like David Armstrong) to buy vacation homes here. Especially in winter, panoramas abound on the Catskill Scenic Trail, a 26-mile bike path built over a former railbed.

Guide Anne Twilley (from $50; 518-355-8232) will help you make like a wildlife photographer by identifying tracks and critters along the trail.

On Saturday evenings until March 14, go sunset snow-tubing on Plattekill Mountain. As of April 26, the ski resort becomes a giant natural bike park, with mountain-bike rentals and rides back up on the lift.

4. Insider’s Tip

Borrow skates in Margaretville.Photo: Jean Tang

The town of Margaretville maintains a daytime ice-skating rink (behind the CVS, on State Highway 28); at about 7,200 square feet, it’s comparable to the Rink at Rockefeller Center. BYO skates, or borrow a pair from Mike and Becky Porter’s back porch (133 Orchard St., in Margaretville; no appointment necessary). Donations cover rink maintenance.

5. Oddball Day

One of seven stores in Hobart Book Village.Photo: Courtesy of Wm. H. Adams’ Antiquarian Books

Much like the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye, Hobart Book Village is home to seven independent bookstores, four of which are open on winter weekends. Feed your brain at the Coffee Pot (581 Main St.; 607-538-1800) before visiting the town’s oldest shop, Wm. H. Adams’ Antiquarian Books. There’s everything from leather-bound, seventeenth-century volumes to signed contemporary first editions. The multilingual staff at Hobart International Bookport can introduce you to foreign authors or help you tackle a work in the vernacular. Liberty Rock Books and Blenheim Hill Books share space at 698 Main Street; find vintage postcards, used books spanning 300 years, and even hardbacks off today’s best-seller lists. Take a break in Stamford for pastries and tea at the Kaaterskill House (18 River St., Stamford, N.Y.; 607-214-4100) before you go to the area’s largest bookstore, Bibliobarn. (627 Roses Brook Road, South Kortright, N.Y.; 607-538-1555). Forty thousand titles are shelved on two stories.

6. Links

Pure Catskills lists area restaurants, general stores, and farmers’ markets.

For local arts and music listings, go to Roxbury Arts Group.

Bald eagle-watching is a popular winter pastime in the Catskills. Find tips for eagle etiquette—and advice for more photo opportunities—at Eagle Institute.

Capture Nature in the Catskills