Escape From New York
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because quiet doesn’t mean boring, and vacationing in the same spot as everyone else — well, that’s just torture.
There’s nothing new about exhausted, cranky New Yorkers fleeing the city to more secluded, less populated locales. But those escapes typically take weekenders to the Hamptons, the Jersey Shore, or towns like Woodstock or Hudson in upstate New York. Great for a quick getaway but increasingly terrible for feeling like you’ve left it all behind, what with the growing risk of running into co-workers, ex-co-workers and even exes. What kind of getaway is that?
That’s why the smarter urbanites have adopted a Manhattan Manifest Destiny, pushing further north and taking their weary selves to a short-term house rental in Delhi, a town roughly 170 miles away in New York’s Delaware County. Pronounced “del-high” and not to be confused with the Indian city of the same name, it’s a 3.5-hour drive north of NYC on a route through the Catskill Mountains that is so scenic it’s silly. Each turn unveils a set of rolling hills that are green in the warm months and a stupefying range of autumnal shades in the fall.
Once you arrive in Delhi, you’ll wonder why there are so many students milling about. They descend on the town when SUNY-Delhi college is in session, delivering a surge of youthful energy in a place that could otherwise be described as sleepy. Hip college kids aside, the coolest thing to do in Delhi is relax. Wake up, yawn and go back to sleep; you probably don’t have cell phone reception, so you may as well get some rest. The main reason to rise early is to make it to the farmer’s market on Main Street. For other consumer urges, there’s Stewart’s, a two-level shop that evokes an old-timey department store feel but with much cooler inventory, everything from clothes, toys, housewares and bolts of fabric to a foodie’s fantasy display of candies in glass containers.
What Delhi doesn’t have itself can be found within a 20-minute drive, making it a central place to take advantage of all that Delaware County has to offer. Let the first stop be Andes, a town just 12 miles away and, oddly enough, the far-from-Hollywood home of actor Kelsey Grammer. Visit Tay Tea for its all-natural, wild-crafted, hand-blended artisanal teas. And for Mexican, try Morena’s Taqueria, which has a side business called Grayson’s Organics, selling fresh, local produce. There’s also the quirky design-shop-meets-slow-food restaurant Hasbeens & Willbees. After all the food, you can park yourself on the porch of the tavern at the Andes Hotel, a relaxed but non-divey watering hole where locals and visitors look out on the main road with cocktail in hand.
Hip college kids aside, the coolest thing to do in Delhi is relax. What Delhi doesn’t have itself can be found within a 20-minute drive…
Andes may have the highest concentration of good food, but it doesn’t have a monopoly. Just 20 minutes from Delhi is the small, blink-it-you-missed-it town of Bloomville, the home of Table on Ten. Opened by a transplanted New York City couple, the restaurant serves Dutch baked goods (she is originally from Holland), wood-burning brick-oven pizza and an unforgettable fennel gelato doused with espresso for dessert — the kind of place that would have a two-hour wait in Manhattan.
But maybe you didn’t drive all this way just to eat. You also want to hike (try the Catskill Scenic Trail, 26 miles of flat terrain past fields and open valleys), ski (head to Bellayre Resort in nearby Highmount) or jump into one of the many swimming holes in the surrounding creeks and lakes.
On the way back to the city, pop into the Lucky Dog Farm Store in Hamden, a 10-minute drive from Delhi. Grab farm-to-table sandwiches and salads for the ride home, as well as crafts, soaps and baked goods. As soon as you hit traffic approaching New York, you’ll no longer feel like a lucky dog, but at least you’ll have mementos. And because it’ll take a while before it’s overrun with tourists, you also have Delhi and its environs for a gotta-getaway recharge whenever you need it.