As a Hudson Valley resident, one of the items near the top of my bucket list was Sunday brunch at the Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskills in New Paltz, New York. This past weekend, I got to check it off, having spent a wonderful day there with my husband and two kids. Mohonk Mountain House regularly appears on lists of North America’s best all-inclusive properties. However, if overnight accommodations are beyond your budget, you can still enjoy it by purchasing a meal, spa treatment or grounds pass. We ate, did a little hiking, explored the beautiful gardens, and even took a boat ride.
Celebrating its 145th anniversary this year, this National Historic Landmark is a Victorian treasure set into a Shawangunk Mountain ridge. It’s surrounded by thousands of acres of preserved land. Brunch was served in the Main Dining Room, with expansive windows overlooking the mountain ranges. The buffet items were varied and plentiful, with a station for omelets and other breakfast foods, as well as stations for hot foods, salads and desserts. There was a small children’s station with chicken nuggets and fries. This is not an inexpensive meal, but the atmosphere lends itself to special occasions.
The hiking is fantastic, because there are numerous, well-manicured trails. There are choices for all ages and ability levels, and everyone will have their fair share of amazing mountain and lake views. One of the most popular is the steep, 300-foot trek up to Sky Top lookout tower, which takes about 30 minutes. We chose instead the Pine Bluff, which offered my kids the experience of climbing and exploring the interesting nooks and crannies built into the rock cliff, with stops at several rustic wood gazebos.
While only overnight guests are allowed to swim in Lake Mohonk on the property’s small sandy beach, day guests can still enjoy the water by renting a rowboat, paddleboat, canoe, or kayak. We chose a paddleboat, and my daughter and I quickly claimed the back seat, leaving “the boys” to do the paddling. All children 12 and under are required to wear provided lifejackets, and everyone else is required to bring one aboard. We thoroughly enjoyed the views from the lake, and found this to be one of the more affordable activities, at $13 per 30 minutes.
Although our original plan included horseback riding at the property’s stables, we found the scheduling system to be inflexible and disorganized, so we skipped it. Though we weren’t able to fit it in our schedule, there is also a Barn Museum on the property, with items dating back to the 1800s, including farm and kitchen equipment, carriages and automobiles, which families visiting Mohonk should see.
– Traci L. Suppa
Traci L. Suppa drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home.