When New York City dwellers mull over their options for a weekend escape, most people head toward the Hudson River, to towns like Kingston and Beacon—and the valley surrounding them. But if you turn your attention westward, there’s another waterway with idyllic towns of its own to visit—which is starting to get the attention it deserves: The Delaware River
It begins in the Catskill Mountains, flowing south along the Pennsylvanian border, and the deepest part can be found at Big Eddy in Narrowsburg, a tiny historic hamlet first frequented by 18th-century lumberman looking for a solid meal and a place to stay. Once connected to the city by a railway line, it was long ago dismantled, and with it went the summering tourists—at least, until recently. Located in Sullivan County, this area is undergoing something of a renaissance, with dozens of new design-led hotels, farm-to-table restaurants, and vintage boutiques opening up each year.
If you can make the 2.5-hour drive from New York City—which is stunning itself—Narrowsburg, a nearby neighbor of Livingston Manor, makes a dreamy little base for exploring the Upper Delaware River Valley, and all it has to offer.
Where to stay
The Hotel Darby, which opened this June, located just over the bridge across in Pennsylvania, is designed as a handy home base for weekend activities in the region. This is a mid-century modern adult playground: Lounge in the Rec Room reading copies of Life magazine from 1961, while drinking a mezcal Negroni from the bar; or head to the garden to play lawn games and enjoy some complimentary s’mores around the campfire. It’s a short walk over the bridge to Narrowsburg, and hiking trails and river activities abound.
Alternatively, in town, find the sweet Moonriver Inn or the soon-to-open Stone Cottage, from the designer and owner of Maison Bergogne, Narrowsnburg’s 10,000 square-foot antique bazaar.
What to do
Tubing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting: It would be remiss to reach this mighty stretch of water and not, at least, get your feet wet. The favorite local swimming hole is Skinners Falls. From the parking lot, follow the path through the field directly behind you, which runs south along the river until you reach a “beach” area and beyond that a series of pools and rock terraces, perfect for sunbathing and lively with locals all summer.
Landers River Trips offer the full gamut of water activities from kayak rental to a three-hour rafting adventure ($50 per person on weekends), as well as overnight trips (canoeing and one-night camping starts at $65). For a more serene river experience, Lou’s Tubes charge just $5 a tube, and you won’t find a cheaper way to float downstream with a cold beer in tow.
Hiking: The region is crisscrossed with trails, some ascending the mountains for epic views others weaving around the creeks, lakes, and waterfalls. Amongst the most popular and easily accessible is the Tusten Mountain Trail with its trailhead a short drive beyond Narrowsburg off the NY-97S. The three-mile loop is well marked, winding up Tusten Mountain through gorgeous woodland up to a viewpoint over the Upper Delaware River Valley below.
Shopping: There’s a veritable smorgasbord of shops and boutiques: lifestyle “shoppe” The Velvet Maple sells everything from linen pant suits and hand-dyed tees to antique kaleidoscopes and mid-century pendant lamps; Madama Fortuna is full of vintage treasure (Alexander McQueen stilettos!), as well as owner Allison Ward’s own designs. Meanwhile, One Grand Books is a perfect small-town bookstore that makes book-buying too easy. Then there’s The Chi Hive, which has a lovely selection of essential oils, yoga gear, and wellness paraphernalia, as well as a gym and yoga studio. Finally, this is antique-hunter territory, with stores in unlikely places all around.
Where to eat and drink
Narrowsburg is so small you’re in and out faster than you can say “brunch cocktails,” but there’s a remarkable wealth of eating and drinking around its tenth of a mile-long Main Street.
Breakfast: The Tusten Cup is your excellent go-to for a quick coffee and breakfast sandwiches. If you have time to linger, take a spot on the deck overlooking the Delaware River.
Brunch (or lunch or dinner): The Heron has been bringing in visitors since before people were talking about Narrowsburg popping, and, therefore, should take much of the credit. They make use of the ample local resources for their farm-to-table, modern American fare with a Southern flair. The crispy buttermilk-fried chicken is a favorite at this buzzing local meeting spot.
Caffeine fix: Head to 2 Queens for killer, locally roasted coffee, raw honey, and tea, all organic and fair trade, with a commitment to a culture of inclusivity and fairness. Find it in an unlikely forecourt, next to a tackle shop, by following the steady stream of loyal customers.
Snack: Located a short walk from Main Street, locals will point you in the direction of The Botanist raving about their plant-based tacos and all-vegan street food.
Dinner: Housed in a former laundromat and car wash, The Laundrette has a very enviable location with a patio overlooking the water. It serves crispy, wood-fired pizzas with big hitting ingredients like hot honey and soppressata or mushroom, taleggio cheese, and truffle oil. They have one of those menus that make it impossible to choose. (In short, any will be great.) Oh, and don’t forget a salad—a good lunch option, too—and one of the tasty cocktails or a glass of wine from the well-chosen list.
Bonus entry: The Cochecton Pump House was last occupied in 1925. Just the shell of the 19th-century oil pump station remains, which makes a dramatic backdrop for the venue housing rotating food and drink trucks, as well as hosting community events and the occasional dance party.