What to do in Woodstock: 12 most popular things to do
Woodstock is an eternal symbol of love, peace, and music. But it would be a big mistake to assume that the small town is known only for the 1969 music festival, because this event was not even held within its borders. The settlement in the heart of a nature reserve boasts many excellent museums and restaurants, as well as comfortable hotels and a beautiful Buddhist monastery. The art, history, and culture of the small oasis of the Kestrels is supported by only six thousand residents. No matter how much time you plan to spend here, you are sure to find things to do in Woodstock and the 2-hour drive from New York City justifies the trip.
1. What to see in Woodstock in the first place?
The town is located in the middle of the Kestrel Nature Reserve with an area of more than 700 thousand acres, which was founded in 1885. That is why Woodstock is the best starting point to explore the fantastic and untouched nature. There are a large number of hiking trails, some of which lead to the very peaks. Along the way, you can meet extraordinary representatives of the local flora and fauna, such as deer, birds and even bears, pumas and lynxes.
Locals advise that you should definitely visit the 3,000-foot-high Overlook Mountain. The southernmost peak of the Catskill range offers truly stunning views.
2. Getting to know the masterpieces
The must-see places to visit in Woodstock, of course, include numerous art galleries. This is not surprising, as the artistic roots of the settlement are older than the famous music festival and date back to the 1900s. Thus, in 1903, the Bradcliffe Colony was founded, which became a haven for many creative personalities. Even Bob Dylan had his own house here! The utopian community included seven farms and 30 buildings located on a territory of 1400 acres. The artists who lived here were engaged in almost every craft imaginable, from pottery and painting to metalworking and furniture making. Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild still attracts artists who want to focus on their skills away from the hustle and bustle.
The most popular cultural and educational institutions include the following:
- Woodstock School of Art - the gallery exhibits works by students and teachers of the school, in addition to offering painting, drawing, and sculpture classes;
- Elena Zang Gallery - offers exhibitions of contemporary art from local and international artists, here you can see both paintings and photographs, sculptures, prints, ceramics, etc;
- Byrdcliffe Art Schools and Classes - this school hosts a variety of assignments that will be appreciated by those who want to let creativity flow through them;
- James Cox Gallery - here you can find collections with paintings of American art of the XX and XXI centuries.
The Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, the Birdcliffe Guild, or the galleries along the main street, Tinker Street, are all worth a look, as it is here that you can feel the special atmosphere of the unique town.
3. Ashokan Reservoir
Visiting Woodstock is an opportunity to see the cleanest drinking water in the country. One of the largest reservoirs in the United States, it is not just a huge reservoir, but also has more than two miles of paved paths for convenient biking and hiking and beautiful views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
You can see all the attractions in Woodstock at once by following an unusual trail that is more than 18 miles long. Along the route, there are signs with information about the culture, history, and art of the Coasties, as well as the creation of the Ashokan Reservoir. This trail is used for walking, skiing, and snowshoeing.
4. Walking along the main street
All roads after the question "what to do in Woodstock (best things to do in Woodstock)" lead to Tinker Street. The main pulsating artery of the city is home to museums and galleries, restaurants and coffee shops, numerous shops with colorful merchandise, and architectural landmarks. One of the routes along the main street may consist of the following points:
- taste fragrant hot chocolate and cake at Bread Alone;
- touch the author's books in The Golden Notebook;
- marvel at the beauty of authentic Tibetan handicrafts at Tibetan Arts and Crafts;
- have a bite to eat at the popular vegetarian restaurant Garden Cafe Woodstock.
The route can be completely different, as something new and interesting awaits you at every step. Very often, musicians perform at the markets, and in the evening, everyone flocks to outdoor restaurants to have a lively conversation and enjoy a leisurely drink.
If you're thinking about things to do in Woodstock during the winter holidays, be sure to hit Tinker Street on Christmas Eve. That's when the whole town gathers on both sides of the street and waits for Santa to arrive. Every year he changes his costume to something very strange, giving out toys to children.
5. Opus 40: what to do in Woodstock for architecture lovers
The world-famous museum and sculpture park is located near the town itself. It works from April to November five days a week. Visitors can book a guided tour for $25 or simply walk on their own, listen to live music or attend an open-air theater performance.
The location was started in 1938 by artist Harvey Fite, and it took him 40 years to complete it. That is why the park got its name. This unique place is home to a large number of stone sculptures, including pedestals made of blue stone. On weekends, Papa's Best Batch Food Truck, known for its barbecue, is open here.
6. You can find a lot of interesting things at the open-air market
Local residents value the outdoors as much as possible and support local businesses. That's why Woodstock places to visit include not only attractions, but also markets that operate during the warm season. One of the most popular events is the Saturday or Sunday Mower's Flea Market, located on Maple Lane near the central district. Here you can find everything from vintage shoes to handmade jewelry, farm products and delicious food. The flea market always hosts some kind of event, and in general, everyone comes here to socialize in a relaxed atmosphere.
Also, from May to early October, there is a Farmers' Festival that brings together all the local producers selling their goods. Ideal if you're looking for places to go in Woodstock to try local food and drink. If you want to not only taste delicious food, but also spend time in a beautiful place, here are some places to visit.
- Peace Love and Cupcakes is a family-run bakery located on the street with the eloquent name Armory Square. Here you can enjoy delicious desserts, including homemade cookies and, of course, cupcakes.
- Yum Yum Noodle Bar. This restaurant serves incredibly delicious Asian-style dishes, especially we recommend trying really large portions of noodles with a variety of additions.
- Garden Café is a vegetarian cafe with more than reasonable prices. It serves a variety of dishes, including guacamole according to the author's recipe, lasagna and various tofu cheese snacks.
- Cucina. This stylish restaurant will appeal to fans of classic Italian cuisine.
In fact, the town has many interesting dining options to suit every taste. In addition, a nice bonus is always friendly and polite service with a smile on their face, which encourages generous tipping.
7. Enjoy the music
One mention of Woodstock first of all makes you think of the music festival of the same name in the Catskills region, which actually took place on a farm in Bethel, New York, two hours away. If you want to completely immerse yourself in the atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility, visit the museum of the same name at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which features a large number of exhibits illustrating the impact on culture and society due to the events of the 1960s.
The settlement itself has been and is a haven for many creative people. So, Woodstock things to do:
- attend indie performances at the Bearsville Theater;
- visit Levon Helm Studios, which was founded by the drummer of The Band;
- attend at least one Midnight Rambles performance at Levon Helm Studios;
- in the summer, enjoy a show as part of the Maverick Concerts series, a tradition that dates back to 1916, in the unity of nature and music.
In addition, you can always come across street musicians or enjoy live music in restaurants and Tinker Street.
Places to visit in Woodstock must include the Woodstock Playhouse, which was founded in 1938. For more than 80 years, this theater has been regularly hosting performances and shows that sometimes rival Broadway.
The Playhouse went through a difficult time - from the moment it was closed during World War II to its complete destruction in an arson attack. However, in the 1980s, the building was restored to once again delight numerous audiences.
The theater in the heart of Woodstock is best known for its summer musical performances and annual film festival held in the fall,
9. Forget about worldly concerns at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery
The Buddhist monastery is visited by almost everyone on their way to Mount Overlook. The building in white, gold and red colors looks like you are not in New York State, but somewhere in the foothills of the Himalayas. On weekends, visitors can book a guided tour, visit the bookstore, or sign up for a meditation course.
The complex is well maintained, and in the center of the residence of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa is a sculpture of a giant golden Buddha, surrounded by waving prayer flags. It is necessary to behave respectfully and quietly in the monastery, as it is an active monastery. Most places are open to visitors, and if necessary, monks can provide a special pillow if you want to practice your own meditation.
10. See everything from the top of Mount Shawangunk
The range is located in the northern part of the state, covering three counties at once. The Shawangunk Mountains near Woodstock are the answer to the question "things to do near Woodstock". These areas are home to unique protected areas, including the Mohonk Nature Reserve and others.
These mountains are most attractive to rock climbing and hiking enthusiasts; and in the northern part there are also impressive ice caves. Fantastic views are available from various vantage points along the 40-mile-long Shawangunk Ridge Trail. We recommend paying special attention to the Graham Tower, built in 1930. This site is listed on the National Historic Landmarks Register.
11. A look behind the scenes of history
As you already know, the music festival, unfortunately, did not take place in Woodstock itself. Woodstock tourist attractions are mostly located in Bethel. This may disappoint some fans who came to see the old concert venues or other music-related locations. However, there is one secret that allows you to get acquainted with the real history of the city.
In 1929, the Historical Society was founded, whose members were well-known local residents - artists, scientists, painters and other creative personalities. Their heritage includes antiques, photographs, paintings, documents, books, etc. All these exhibits tell the story of the settlement's foundation in an interesting way. The Historical Society is located at 20 Comeau Drive.
12. Woodstock: what to do on the water - fishing or tubing?
The most well-known and appreciated waterway by locals is Esopus Creek, part of the Ashokan. The river plays an important role in the economy and ecosystem of the entire region, in addition to providing the perfect vacation for everyone who needs it.
This place is especially favored by fishermen. And no wonder, as the 26-mile-long creek is home to many species of fish, including rainbow trout and steelhead. In the summer, Esopus Creek attracts everyone who loves to go tubing. If you want to spend your time in this way, we advise you to contact Tinker Town Tubing, which is the largest supplier of inflatable cheesecakes. The service is located in Phoenicia, about a 20-minute drive from Woodstock.
If you plan to stay here longer, we recommend choosing one of the unusual hotels typical of small towns. For example, Twin Gables is a guest house that was opened in the 1880s. The hotel is located in the very center of the village and can rightfully be considered a real Woodstock attraction. Twin Gables offers both private apartments and dormitory-style rooms.
There are also several hotels located right in the forest. For example, Woodstock Inn on the Millstream or Woodstock Way. Each offers a special atmosphere: the former is a cottage in flowering gardens with neat lawns and a river nearby, and the latter offers modern, furnished high-end rooms and a good location near the main street.
If you are traveling by car, you can stay at the Dylan Hotel, which is located a little away from the bustling city. This hotel will be appreciated by bohemian style lovers. A special feature of the hotel is the presence of vinyl music players in each of the 22 rooms.