There’s more than one way to enjoy a ski mountain. Sure, you could bundle up, affix some narrow strips of metal to your feet, and barrel down said mountain at an alarming speed. Or you could just look at the mountain through the window of a warm, cozy cabin. It’s your choice. But those who don’t actually ski tend to miss out on all the lazy joys of après-ski, the French term for “after ski,” referring to the low-key ski lodge activities that take place after a day on the slopes. There’s some winter magic happening in the sleepy, under-the-radar ski town of Windham, NY, nestled in the Northern Catskill Mountains. Windham Mountain is just under 3 hours from the Brooklyn, 20 minutes from Hunter Mountain and 40 minutes from Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.
It’s also 15 minutes from my family’s upstate house, a double-wide trailer that’s the starting point for my Catskills blog, Brooklyn DoubleWide. We’ve spent a lot of time exploring Windham, and all the places we recommend here are places we’ve visited in-person and loved. Whether you ski or not, we’re here to help you plan the perfect weekend escape.
Where to stay
If you long for the warm minimalism of Scandinavian design but live in a Brooklyn apartment surrounded by piles of stuff, Windham’s Eastwind Hotel & Bar is a dream destination in itself. The year-round 19-room hotel promises clean, modern rooms spread across 2 carefully renovated buildings and 3 Lushna cabins, A-frame standalones with one glass wall to allow for premium mountain-gazing from your queen-sized bed. Each has its own private bathroom, plus a sauna and outdoor hot tub for guests to share. The Eastwind’s more traditional, indoorsy rooms and suites include the 270-square foot Writer’s Studio, outfitted with with your own typewriter and desk, plus a king bed, WiFi, wireless speakers, and lots of natural light.
The main building overlooks Windham’s main road and to be honest, I felt more comfortable knowing that this property is not deeply tucked away in the wilderness. You need to step outside to use the private bathrooms beside each Lushna cabin, and the proximity to civilization ensures that you’ll never get eaten by a bear during a 3am pee break. (Am I only one who was worried about this?) It’s still quiet—there’s never major traffic on Route 23 even on a Saturday in peak ski season. And it’s a bonus that the hotel is a stop on the Windham Village Shuttle, a free bus service that operates on weekends and holidays, from late-December through mid-March, navigating a continuous loop around town from 7:30am to 4:30pm. (It’s easier to have your own set of wheels in Windham, but if the rest of your crew drives to the ski mountain without you, you can still get around via the shuttle, because Uber and Lyft aren’t really happening up here.)
Another beloved Windham hotel option is Albergo Allegria, a family-owned inn that celebrates the history of the area. It’s situated in a meticulously maintained Victorian house —or rather, a pair of homes built in 1892 that were joined together in 1982 and decorated with flowered wallpaper and swirly brass headboards. The vibe is warm, welcoming, and kid-friendly, and their in-house breakfast is raved about by locals and visitors alike.
There are also plenty of ski houses and condos in the area on Airbnb, ranging from this two-bedroom apartment 5 minutes outside of Windham that starts at $85/night to a pet-friendly modern log cabin that sleeps 11 and fits 7 into its hot tub for $250/night.
Things to do (besides skiing)
Snowtubing is infinitely easier than skiing. And at Windham Mountain Adventure Park, even a baby can do it, provided he or she can sit up in their own tube while you ride beside them, clutching the rope linking your tubes together as if your child’s life depended on it. (To be fair, this activity seems totally safe… until you’re whizzing down the mountain waaaay faster than you expected to go.) The conveyor belt lifting you back up the mountain is also a piece of cake, especially if you’re someone who has carried a toddler in a giant stroller up a flight of subway stairs. Any Brooklyn parent can do this! And any non-skier should do this because it’s super fun, and after a two-hour session, you can return to lazing around.
Windham Mountain Adventure Park also has an outdoor ice skating rink. Plus, if you know someone who is at least 6 years old and under 120 pounds, they can jump on a mini-snowmobile for a 15-minute $10 session around a well-supervised track. The park employee said it’s as easy as riding a bike, but a couple of Brooklyn kids who haven’t quite advanced to two-wheelers yet happily confirmed that it’s even easier than riding a bike.
Windham is basically a Mecca for practitioners of quiet activities, like walking, knitting, doing yoga, getting spa treatments, and reading. Do you enjoy a leisurely stroll? You could walk along the Windham Path. The 1.5-mile path is not quite a hiking trail—it’s more like a well-maintained jogging path that veers through the woods for a sec. (It’s great in the winter, but exceptionally pretty in the summer time.) Are you a knitter and/or a yogi? Grab a coffee and browse the indie yarn brands at The Knitting Room, and then head over to Mountain Breeze Yoga for a little Saturday afternoon restorative and reiki.
Can you even handle more relaxation? The warm Windham Spa offers massage, facials, and some fun specialty treatments, like the Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Pedicure, which involes a jalapeño and chocolate warming scrub, a peppermint foot bath, and hydrating cinnamon and hot paprika lotion. Finally, take your calm and pampered self to Briars & Brambles Books, a well-curated shop that’s rich with heartfelt shelf-talkers (those little hand-written notes that booksellers affix to the shelves of their favorite books) and has a great children’s book selection.
Where to eat and drink
Start your day at the Windham Local, a great little coffee-shop-by-day/bar-by-night, just like its big sister location, 61 Local in Cobble Hill. Get the bacon, egg, cheese and kale served on a bagel with a crazy-delish harissa dip that really amps up their breakfast sandwich game. For a coffee shop with more of a ski bum vibe, head over to Higher Grounds and definitely grab one of their giant, gooey chocolate chip cookies. If you’re traveling with kids, they may find more enjoyment at the Catskill Mountain Country Store, a down-home country kitchen attached to a large gift and toy shop. In the summertime, they’ve got a little playground and kid-friendly hiking path, where you can find bunnies, horses, and a waterfall.
If you’re up for a slightly longer journey on a Saturday or Sunday morning, you won’t regret the 25-minute scenic drive to Bee’s Knees Café at Heather Ridge Farms, serving a farmhouse brunch you’ll dream about. In the warmer months, visitors are invited to visit the animals (sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, donkeys, and more) that reside here.
At dinnertime, the casual, come-as-you-are Windham go-tos are the Millrock for pasta and pizza or the Chicken Run Family Restaurant and Steak House, especially when traveling with a big group or if the weather is nice enough to enjoy their epic backyard. “If you’re talking about Windham eateries, don’t sleep on a steak from Chicken Run,” tips off Brooklyn ex-pat and trusted source Chrissy Traore. “Someone gave us a gift card so we splurged on it, and it was 100% on point.” Traore and her husband, Ben, worked at Brooklyn’s Pizza Moto and Bien Cuit, respectively, before opening the incredible See & Be Kitchen in Cairo, which is under 20 minutes from Windham. If you can visit during their limited hours, Thursdays through Saturdays between 9am and 2pm, their wood-fired bread and pastries are absolutely worth your while.
If you like cocktails with your evening meal, you can stick around at the Eastwind, where the bar is open Fridays through Sunday from 5pm to 10pm. Light bites include a charcuterie board, an aged cheddar grilled cheese with grainy mustard and cornichons, and a turkey-fontina panini with apples and wild thyme. Nearby, Ze Windham Wine Bar offers close to 40 wines by the glass paired with light bites, dips, and spreads.
If you drive 15-20 minute out of town, Hunter’s Jägerberg Beer Hall & Alpine Tavern serves modern spins on classic German fare, The Prospect at Scribners serves locally sourced farm-to-table cuisines, and Tannersville’s Deer Mountain Inn offers a multi-course tasting menu and a solid cocktail program.
Where to stock up on necessities
On a cold winter night, sometimes the most fun thing to do is stay inside. The recently opened Hickory Hill Market is like the love child of a gas station convenience store and a gourmet grocery with a walk-in beer fridge showcasing some of the finest local breweries, including West Kill Brewing and Sloop. They also serve made-to-order sandwiches and pizza, s’mores supplies, and an endless array of snacks. You can get an even better sandwich, plus prepared foods like mortadella meatballs, Italian cheeses, and butchered meats at Todaro’s Salumeria. The friendly shopkeeper at Windham Wine and Liquors has the rest of your beverages covered, and you can pick up something for dessert at La Patisserie Normand. The pastry case changes with the seasons here, but be on the lookout for the exceptional almond tart —if you find one, be sure to hide a slice to savor for breakfast the next morning.