Updated: May 25, 2021
Guide to Phoenicia, NY: Things to see, eat, stay at, and enjoy…some so good and others so cool.
Reminiscent of a scene depicted on a vintage “wish-you-were-here” postcard, Phoenicia, New York is a wee hamlet (more on this in a min) I nearly missed. Comprised of an eclectic collection of “wander”-ful, Phoenicia is nestled between three significant ski-with-me
mountains in the Catskill Mountain Reserve of the Hudson Valley. Most “city” dwellers and neighbors alike typically take the short two-three-hour trek upstate once the temperatures start to rise to summer degrees…that time of year when the area is said to burst at its seams with a variety of different forms of nature loving activities water tubing, hiking and biking, picnicking, or simply lazy afternoon Sunday drivin’. It’s definitely an outdoorsy type of place.
Probably largely due to its easy to navigate, pup-friendly trails, fresh cool rushing river ways, and yes, hash taggable landscape views. But being the curious, unconventional type that I am…we are, I…we opted to explore the talked about hamlet slightly off-season…a time
when the fresh clean air is still a bit chillier, crystally snow can still blanket the area, and even blue-sky moments beg us to still layer up and cozy up! There’s much to see and do even this off time of year…think yum tummy food, “I-deserve-this” selfcare moments, and my all-time fav…blazing golden yellow fiery pits at-the-ready any time of the day...or year.
The actual center of Phoenicia is but a few streets long and wide and it’s logged as a bona fide hamlet. Hamlet? When was the last time you heard that term? For those inquiring minds, it’s a regional area, not quite a village or town and definitely not an I-have-no-time-for-you city. As I stood in front of the local general store, I almost believed my extended arms were able to reach either end of main street. There’s “cool-to-be-small” charm here. Just as I entered its edge, I was greeted by an over-sized, brightly colored “Welcome to Phoenicia” marker proudly announcing its presence. Normally, I don’t take stills of “Welcome to’s” but this one, standing artfully just steps off the rush of cars, felt as though it begged me to click my mobile cam.
Up the road, just around the bend I wandered onto the sleek, so cool property of the well-crafted older-than-the-lovin’-sixties converted roadside motel called, The Grahman & Co - simply unexpected. I
a-dored this place! Further up the line is a sight to behold - Fabulous Furniture. This is no ordinary home living store. It’s an out-of-this-world chrome laden shop that appeared to me to have dropped down on the area on its way to Roswell. I liken it to part craftsman’s workshop, part cosmic gallery. This is an Instagrammer’s dream - winter, spring, summer, or fall.
Down the road team HVH devoured a hearty pancaked locally-sourced breakfast while slurping on some “before noon” cocktails. I on the other hand, partook in a mid-day fried onion ring feast - bigger-than-my-fist rings of delight, crispy, and with a hint of spice. One hundred percent worth a two-hour or so windy back road ride. The Phoenicia Diner is a throwback vibe not to be missed! If beverages of the hoppy or spirit type are more your thing, up the road and down route you can sip or gulp on some handcrafted adult beverages at Woodstock Brewing or Union Grove Distillery. How ever you enjoy your liquid libations while visiting, I know you know this, please be sure to do it responsibly.
Phoenicia’s “unusual” is the cornerstone of its appeal. Yet, surrounded by tall nearly skyscraping woods, picturesque 360-degree mountain views, and miles of wander capable trails, Phoenicia also seems to have a bit of spiritual ties. Standing at the base of decades old, chippy painted totems at Brunel Sculpture Garden, I contemplated their existence. Phoenicia is an ideal place for those looking for a touch of selfcare or the proverbial “me time”. Around every corner there appears to be hideaway places, nooks, and crannies for self-centering, for peaceful, mindful” thank you universe” reflection, or even an unexpected spot of inspiration.
Speaking of inspiration, here’s how this crew loosely planned a three chock-full day stay. This is just one of the many ways to plot yours. Scroll further below and find what was “so good” and what we think is “so cool” about each place from our itin’. With a little bit of local knowledge from here and a smidge of adventurous wandering, you’ll be on your way to plotting your own Phoenicia getaway. And, for those that despise trolling websites and sifting through reviews in search of greater than 4.0, go ahead, “copy/paste” …I (we) don’t mind. That’s what I, we are here for!
PHOENiCIA TAKE-WITH-YOU ESSENTIALS, FEBRUARY – MAY
Pack or pickup locally
Keep-me-cozy gear – extra-large wrap, sweatshirt, and hat
Catch-everything tote/backpack – ensures you don’t leave anything behind - keep the forest clean!
Paper bag – for used, unwanted items
Favorite Playlist – Need I say more?
Extra poop bags and portable water bowl – pups need gear too
Adult beverage of choice & snacks – for fireside nights
Portable battery – for on-demand charge
Set of utensils & corkscrew/bottle opener – I can’t tell you how many times I needed these!
HERE ARE THE DEETS
Now this is just a tease to entice you to explore more on your own. Read on for what we loved, ate, drank, experienced, explored or just talked about - some usual suspects and others new found and unusual. But you wouldn’t expect anything less from HVH…would you?
The Graham & Co…is the epitome of casual luxury stays - Catskill style. The moment I stepped onto the property I was enamored by it all… rushing river sounds, a neutral clean “old against new” design esthetic, a reception area that looked more like a tiny you-got-to-have-this boutique and finally, my heart’s pitter patter - wood filled firepits throughout. This once traditional roadside motel is now a perfectly appointed weekend hideaway must!
SO GOOD: Pet-friendly alert! Now, not all rooms are for you and Fido but there are a few and that’s a big plus when your babies are four legged.
SO COOL: The Den…the exterior building reminds me of an outside tool shed a bit weathered and greyed but inside - what a surprise! Conceived as a “let’s-get-to-know-each-other” communal gathering space prior to covid is now a social-distancing approved private game night, movie night option. I’m not going to give you all of what this space has to offer. You’ll just need to come and find out for yourself!
TAKE HOME: One of their made-for-the-Graham-&-Co signature scented bath products or like I did, a super soft “Phoenicia” t-shirt…perfect for my boho spirit.
EAT, SIP, MUNCH
Woodstock Brewing...is the talk of the town in a so good way, for miles up and miles down the Hudson Valley, in and around Phoenicia. It’s not often I come across a local hang out where both the carefully crafted bevs and mouthwatering noshes are equally...um...well...epic! Calling all vegans - or not. The Roasted Cauliflower Banh Mi Sandwich is to die for!
SO GOOD: Well, the beer of course! But have you ever tried a beer cocktail? I say, “Sour
SO COOL: Who says beer can’t be good for ya’? This local brew star is all heart. A portion of
their sales of “Emotional Support Beer” goes towards helping our sacrificing veterans and first responders through “Operation at Ease” - a healing pairing between shelter dogs and deserving individuals. Now that’s my kinda’ beer!
TAKE HOME: “All the Berries” to go...team HVH did. I hear it will perk your tastebuds right up.
Marty’s Mercantile…is local supporting local - a town proud marketplace, mile high sandwich shop, and give-it-to-me music venue all rolled up in one. This place warms my heart through and through in its love for its small biz…proud New York-made. Warning! Expect to lose track of time here - I did!
SO GOOD: They got me at…one pound of New York pastrami smothered in melted gooey cheddar cheese, semi-sweet chutney, and brown deli style mustard…all slapped onto - in a loving way - a perfectly marbled rye. Oh no…this isn’t just good…it’s so damn good.
SO COOL: Like I said, this is a place to hang…stay for a while and where best? Well, when the weather is agreeable the back yard music venue is the backdrop to local well-known vocals that drop by to soothe your music-loving soul. If you’re lucky you may just run into indie-Americana super group - NY’s very own - the Mammals!
TAKE HOME: From fermented kimchi, to hand-loved regionally sourced pottery, to maple sweet sugar spun cotton candy, this place is stocked to the gills with New Yorker proud products and I got-to-have-ya’ trinkets to take back home.
The Ark Bowl & BBQ…is a whole lotta quirk! As I flung open the doors on the 1960’s vintage 8 lane bowling alley slash pub BBQ, I could have sworn I was queuing up a #fbf date night with my high school sweetie (hey…don’t judge!). Seriously, minus the gutter balls, this is 5-star fun all the way for any and everyone. This is the ideal stop on one of those mountain rainy days that tends to pass through these parts.
SO GOOD: Actually, I scored their BBQ sandwich as CRAZY GOOD. Now, how do I put into words that sound you make as you lick their house-made sauce from each of your fingers?
SO COOL: Old school score cards and bowling lane bumpers in every lane…X X X X X X X X X X for me!
Phoenicia Diner…is the infamous food joint and nod to the roadside chow era that passed us by. My tummy starting rumbling and gurgling as the big green and white lettered sign …” DINER” on Route NY-28 came into view. It goes without saying the food and drink are legendary, but I also thought it was a super awesome place for people watching and an Insta-session with the weathered vintage Airstream parked out back…yup, sorry all…I couldn’t help myself.
SO GOOD: Like I noted at the start of this guide, the onion rings were da’bomb! No seriously, the hubs and I had to do “rock-paper-scissors” for the last ring in the bright white to-go container…num-num-num.
SO COOL: Separate from the namesake coffee delight “jojo beans,” there’s an authentic Phoenicia Diner cookbook to boot.
TAKE HOME: Aside from the da’bomb.com onion rings, grab a bit of Phoenicia Diner memorabilia. I snagged a patch to add to my “where-I’ve-been” denim jacket…yippi!
Union Grove Distillery…is known in these parts as the craft spirit spot to try. Y’all that know and love me, know I l-o-v-e a fine distillery. No matter where I am, one must-find for me is to uncover “the” locally-run, locally conceived mash made into heaven. So, when I read all about the fan favorite Union Grove Distillery, I knew I had to drop on in. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, I wasn’t able to join the crew on this one…but here’s their take on it as well as those that liked, shared, and commented.
SO GOOD: Defined as a vodka distillery, the reviews out on this one are absolutely top notch… did I hear “Bloody M, please!”?
SO COOL: This family run biz is making some news with one of its newest creations. Catskill Mountain Maple Spirit is made from fermented and distilled pure local New York maple syrup and aged in used bourbon barrels that once housed maple syrup…sip, sip, wow!
TAKE HOME: Da’ vodka!
Fabulous Furniture…is the out-of-this-world brainchild of Steve Heller. I could not believe my eyes as I neared the property surrounding the small shop - a space age rocket ship? Here? Here in the Hudson Valley? This is one you gotta see to believe.
SO GOOD: Rocket ships, robots, and aliens aren’t the only creations I encountered…live edge tables, clocks, cutting boards, plus much more were a juxtaposition amongst all the shiny and welded.
SO COOL: As I stood there, dissecting the shrewdly created sculptures, I thought to myself, “If cool had a source, this would be it.”
Brunel Sculpture Garden…is an awe-inspiring spiritually charged experience. Once the sight of Emile Brunel’s well-known resort and an ode to his passion for Native American Indian Culture, Chalet Indien, today it’s a peaceful garden enveloped in stretches of floras and relics. I couldn’t help but notice the positive vibe the unique stretch-your-neck-high totems and emotionally filled statues exuded. “Cawl” me crazy, as I stood very quietly at the base of one of the bright whites, contemplating their existence, I swore I could feel…almost hear a time gone by.
SO GOOD: Continuing the artistic legacy of its creator, the Brunel Sculpture Garden supports and cultivates local art expression through its Artist in Residency program. Be sure to click their website tab for more information.
SO COOL: Intrigued by the grandeur off it all, I couldn’t resist digging deeper into the mysterious history of this place. It’s said Emile’s ashes rest at the top of the Great White Spirit Sculpture…interesting. Is it his dancing and frolicking that I felt? Hummmm…maybe.
Temper Mountain & Fire Tower, Ashokan Rail Trail, and Woodland Valley Trail…are
“wander”-ful outdoor places, trails, and walking rails of wonder. At the top of the tower, a view so peaceful it makes your mind run adrift…and on the floor of the forests and rivers edges, smells and feels that only Mother Nature could conjure up.
SO GOOD: These beautifully diverse landscapes are homes to native fur and scale covered creatures…like the busy beaver I encountered finessing his den. So, while these are good-for-the-soul moments, please stay alert!
SO COOL: You don’t need to be an avid hiker to take any of these. I am more of a walk around the block kinda’ gal and I was just fine. I’d suggest doing a bit of site searching for those important personal notations I may have forgotten.
TAKE HOME: Remember the poop bags and backpacks I suggested you bring? Bingo! Here’s where you’ll need them. Please leave no trace of your visit behind…thank you for caring!
Dewa Spa at Menla Retreat…is Tibet in the Catskills, a world-class spa of healing - a complete namaste lodge-like mind-body resort. While I sure could use some peaceful, mindful, and spiritually filled alone time, I left this one for the founder and creative guru of HVH.
SO GOOD: Every thoughtful detail was a mind and body connected experience - soft natural light that bathed you as you entered, Tibetan sounds that washed away negativity, and finally the gentle scent of incense. I don’t know about you, but all this Zen talk is making me want to whisper.
SO COOL: The day’s treatment of choice was the ancient technique of cupping. This was definitely so, so, so cool. Tear drop shaped cups were filled with the heat of a single healing flame, placed strategically over stubborn problem areas of the body, and left to cool. As the technician released them, you can hear a rush of air and a slight pop…and just like that - ohmmm!
Phoenicia, New York you may be small in stature, but with all of this and so much more, you get my “wander”-ful seal of approval.