Road Trip: NYC to Kenoza Lake

Exploring the towns of Sullivan County in the Catskills

The drive Upstate from New York City to Kenoza Lake can look like fast-moving swaths of green, but if you take a few days, stopping in towns throughout the picturesque region, there’s much to be discovered. Between rolling mountains and the Delaware River, there’s dining at unique spaces and tucked-away cafes, shopping for local treats and treasures and more. From Narrowsburg to Livingston Manor and beyond, Sullivan County has plenty to offer.

Courtesy of Lawrence Braun / Kenoza Hall

Kenoza Hall

Just over two hours from NYC, perched atop a hill above Kenoza Lake, sits Foster Supply Hospitality group’s Kenoza Hall. Once a boarding house, it was built in the 1800s and when it opened in the early 1900s, locals recognized that turning plots of land into guesthouses could offer respite for city-dwellers and be a source of income to the region. Following extensive renovations (from 2017 to 2020), the current iteration of the 22-room Kenoza Hall (replete with Victorian-inspired furnishings) was born. The ground-floor’s quaint sitting rooms and discrete nooks offer private moments in the otherwise public space. Board games and branded guides to activities in the area blend in among the fireplaces and plush velvet couches. Narrow hallways dotted with antique furniture lead to the guestrooms—many of which offer lake views.

The on-site restaurant (helmed by chef Eric Leveillee) also overlooks the lake and offers a dining experience that balances classical elegance with an unpretentious ambiance. Breakfast of shirred eggs with mushrooms, leeks and gruyère cheese or pancakes with maple syrup and macerated strawberries alongside cold-pressed juices are menu highlights. Just a walk across the road and down a sloping hill are lake-front lounge chairs and a private dock for hotel and restaurant guests to read, enjoy a quiet moment or sip on a cocktail. Kayaks lay waiting for the more adventurous of summer visitors. Whether you’re looking for respite amidst nature or a romantic few days steeped in luxury, Kenoza Hall is the ideal base for exploring the region.

Courtesy of Main Street Farm

Main Street Farm

A 10-minute drive north, Livingston Manor is a small hamlet with big appeal. Main Street Farm offers enticing quick bites to start or finish a day of exploring. The farm-to-table cafe doubles as a chic delicatessen full of artisanal and locally produced honey, syrup, popcorn, granola, chocolate, coffee, tea, beer and cider. Whether picking up ingredients to cook a meal or grabbing some to-go snacks, there’s plenty available for those who want to indulge in local delights. While you’re there, take a walk down Main Street, where there’s plenty more to discover—including The Neon Croissant, a new women-owned pie shop opening up in April.

Courtesy of Lawrence Braun / Arnold House

The Arnold House

Livingston Manor’s The Arnold House is a hotel with a quaint tavern-like restaurant, but dining happens in the barn out back—otherwise known as The Greenhouse. The climate-controlled space provides an oasis populated with over 150 tropical and subtropical plants. Quickly, jackets are peeled off and dinner (from burgers and salads to fish and chips, mussels and steaks) is served on wooden tables amidst the verdant plants.

Courtesy of One Grand

One Grand Bookstore

On your way back to the city, spend a little time in Narrowsburg and be sure to visit One Grand Bookstore. This gem is located on Main Street, right by the Delaware River. The shop, lined with asymmetrical wood shelves, is a unique space where books are selected by writers artists, philosophers, entertainers and creatives like Greta Gerwig, Janet Mock, Samantha Irby, Ta-Nehisi Coates and others. Each curator is asked to choose 10 titles they’d bring with them to a desert island, and the shop’s owner then stocks and displays them for customers to discover.

Courtesy of Tusten Cup

The Tunsten Cup

After building up an appetite browsing books, head a few shops over to The Tusten Cup. The unassuming cafe offers wonderfully large iced coffees, egg sandwiches, bagels and more to be enjoyed on their outdoor patio overlooking the Delaware River or taken to-go.

by Meryl Fontek

Narrowsburg Proper

Before leaving Sullivan County, be sure stock up on local produce, beer, cider and other provisions at Narrowsburg Proper. The charming general store has something for everyone, including souvenirs like holiday cards, handmade candles and Upstate-themed merch.

Hero image courtesy of Lawrence Braun / Kenoza Hall