When you hear the name Woodstock, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the famed music festivals held in the ‘60s. Actually, the events were held 50 miles away in Bethel, N.Y. but Woodstock is the town still associated with the event and the era of peace, love and free-spirited living.
Woodstock has a rich history dating back to the nineteenth century when the town became internationally known as a center for American artists and craftspeople. Set amongst forests, lakes and mountains, Woodstock is a scenic masterpiece and is known as “the most famous small town in the world.” Considered the home of American music, arts and crafts, Woodstock is still a town of artists and is known as The Woodstock Art Colony.
Outdoor Activities and Sights
Most people come to Woodstock to experience the village. Walking through Woodstock is like stepping back in time. People smile, say hello, and make conversation with total strangers. Fashion celebrates the town’s hippie heritage, leaning towards tie-dye t-shirts, sundresses, and long hair. The streets are lined with stores, galleries, and restaurants; local artwork and sculptures decorate the village. Bowls filled with water can be found along the sidewalks and many of the merchants have dog treats to offer their four-legged visitors.
The heart of town is the Village Green. It is a beautifully landscaped seating area that is the site of many town events including the Halloween parade, the Holiday Tree Lighting, and free summer concerts that are held every Saturday. From 4 to 6 pm every Sunday, people fill up the Village Green for the CommUNITY drum circle. You feel as if you’ve been transported back to the 60s as music fills the air while people dance and hold up signs and colorful flags.
For those who want to take in the amazing nature scenes framing Woodstock, beauty abounds all around. Everywhere you look, the majestic mountains are in view. Cooper Lake is the largest natural lake in the Catskill Mountains. Overlook Mountain earns its name as it overlooks Woodstock and the Hudson Valley. Hikers can trek the five miles to the summit and back and experience the breathtaking views.
Karma Triyana Dharmachakra is a 24-acre Buddhist monastery, home to the head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa. Throughout the week, visitors can explore the grounds and the main shrine provided there are no teachings in session. Free guided tours are available on weekends. Classes on Dharmic teachings and meditation are offered and there is a shop on site.
Animal lovers are in for a treat as there are two animal sanctuaries to visit. Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS) is a 110-acre haven for horses and farm animals rescued from cruelty and neglect. CAS offers weekend and special group tours, vegan cooking classes, speaking engagements, a summer day camp for kids, and a host of compassionate programming year round at its primarily solar-powered Sanctuary. Lodging is available on site at The Homestead, a beautifully-renovated 1813 farmhouse.
Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (WFAS) is home to over 200 rescued animals who were victims of cruelty and neglect. At WFAS you can nuzzle the goats, pet the cows, and give the pigs belly rubs! There are visitors’ hours and guided tours on the weekends as well as arrangements for school field trips and other large groups. Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary hosts several annual events including the spectacular ThanksLiving Dinner where the turkeys are the guests of honor. Come meet the animals and co-founder Jenny Brown, author of the acclaimed best-seller, “The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals.” Stay at The Guesthouse, the charming B&B that overlooks the sanctuary. Members of WFAS receive discounts at many of Woodstock’s shops and restaurants.
Art, Museums, Galleries and Theater
Woodstock is home to countless art galleries showcasing the creations of local artists. Whether your interest is in painting, photography, glass, music, literature or theater, Woodstock has something for you. These are just a few examples:
- The Woodstock Artists Association & Museum (WAAM) is a cultural center as well as a gallery for artists associated with the Woodstock Art Colony. They offer a year-round schedule of exhibits, auctions, poetry readings, music, and other events.
- The Kleinart James Art Center of the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild is a hub for everything art in Woodstock – performance, exhibitions, classes, workshops, and more, celebrating visual, literary, and performance art.
- The Center for Photography at Woodstock supports artists working in photography and related media. The Center has exhibits and offers classes, lectures and workshops. Photosensualis celebrates the nude and nature through contemporary and vintage photography.
Every year the stars come out to Woodstock for The Woodstock Film Festival. Film and music lovers from all over the world come together for a variety of concerts, films, workshops, celebrity-led panels and star-studded parties. Bearsville Theater is home to theater productions and music performances. The Woodstock Playhouse brings a touch of Lincoln Center and Broadway to the Catskills with great performances by the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra and theater productions such as the upcoming Les Miserables this summer.
Read any good books lately? The annual Woodstock Writers Festival brings together authors, publishers and agents for a myriad of workshops, readings, panels, and dinners. The Woodstock Public Library holds events year-round including their book sales and annual Library Fair.
- The Twin Gables Guest House is a Woodstock landmark. Relaxed, charming and friendly, this B&B is located in the heart of town and is walking distance to just about everything!
- The Woodstock Inn on the Millstream is one of Woodstock’s most popular lodgings. Set along the relaxing stream, this B&B is a short walk to the village.
- If Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary is on your list of places to visit, why not stay at their guesthouse? The Guesthouse of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary is a beautifully restored, pre-Civil War farmhouse that has been transformed into a vegan bed and breakfast. It overlooks the pastures where over 200 rescued farm animals roam free and all the profits go directly to the care and rescue of animals.
There is no shortage of places to shop in Woodstock. Whether you are looking for art, antiques, designer clothes or some tie-dyed, peace-sign memorabilia, you’ll find it in the wide variety of local shops.
- Every weekend from May to November, Mower’s Saturday Market is a must-see. This flea market, which is family-owned and operated for over 35 years, has booths where you can find everything from candles to artwork, from flowers to antiques, from vinyl records to jewelry.
- The Golden Notebook is an independent bookstore in the heart of town. They specialize in quality literature and feature the work of many local writers. Stop by the store to browse and shop. The friendly staff will help you find the books you want and need. The Golden Notebook holds many events including readings and book signings. They also sell online and ship!
- The Tea Shop of Woodstock offers a large selection of teas whether you want something familiar and comforting or new and exotic. They also sell a beautiful selection of tea pots, cups and saucers, canisters, pitchers, gift certificates, and more.
- Visit Candlestock for the largest selection of candles, candleholders and gifts.
- Pondicherry is a gift shop that sells yoga-related clothing, props, books, jewelry and music.
- Jean Turmo Ltd. sells chimes, statuary, tea pots, art, jewelry and beauty products.
- Talisman of Woodstock, one of my favorite stores, sells art, jewelry and unique gifts (I got my cookbook stand there).
- Don’t forget shopping for your companion animals. Woofstock Pet Supplies sells organic pet food, pet supplies, toys and more. Pick up a Woodstock-themed collar or t-shirt for your best friend.
- You can’t leave the town of music without getting yourself an instrument. At Woodstock Wooden Kazoo, Ms. G handcrafts wooden kazoos including the "BLuZKazoo." They are made from the finest hardwoods including walnut, maple, oak, cherry, mahogany and cedar. Famous musicians past and present, including Levon Helm and Pete Seeger, have made beautiful music with Ms. G’s Wooden Kazoos.
Mind, Body and Soul
Find your calm at Mirabai of Woodstock. They offer a huge selection of books devoted to inspiration, transformation and healing, World Music which you can sample on their listening station, exquisite statuary and jewelry from Asia and the South Seas, crystals from Brazil and beyond, incense from India, meditation and yoga supplies, and so much more. Mirabai also holds year-round workshops on positive energy, healing, meditation, Reiki and empowerment. Private angelic channeling and spirit guide readings are available.
If you’re looking for a place to relax, meditate and invigorate, visit one of Woodstock’s yoga centers. The Euphoria Yoga studio is an inviting, intimate sacred space in which the physical and mystical aspects of Yoga are practiced and explored. Woodstock Yoga Center has a variety of yoga class styles and teachers to choose from. At Shakti Yoga Studios, students increase their flexibility, strength, alignment and confidence through an intelligent, dynamic and safe yoga discipline. Mountain View Studio provides healthy and inspiring classes in dance, yoga, boxing conditioning, qi gong, music and martial arts.
For a unique and life-changing experience, you can have local artist Melissa Harris create your own spirit essence portrait. Melissa combines her background as a clairvoyant with her artistic abilities to create an original portrait that will be helpful in your path of development. Melissa also holds creative workshops in her local Woodstock studio.
- Garden Café on the Green: There are a lot of great eateries in Woodstock but the Garden Café on the Green is the area’s ONLY vegan restaurant. Located in the center of town on the Green, the Garden Café’s organic, vegan menu supports “personal, community and global health as well as local farmers and producers.” Chef Pam Brown prepares delicious food – salads, sandwiches, garden bowls, beautiful entrees and amazing desserts. Seriously, every single thing on the menu is delicious. The Garden Café is open for lunch and dinner Wednesdays through Mondays and serves breakfast/brunch on the weekends. When the weather is nice, you can be seated in the quiet outdoor garden. On Sundays, you can enjoy your food with a direct view of the drum circle.
- Joshua's Café and Restaurant is the longest-serving restaurant in Woodstock, serving people for over 40 years. They are dedicated to organic, farm-to-table resources and offer a global menu grounded in Middle Eastern cuisine. They offer many vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Be sure to get their Smorgasbord platter of chommus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, house salad, pepperoncini, Kalamata olives, dolmasi, falafel, and warm pita.
- At Yum Yum Noodle Bar, you can dine inside or out on the bluestone patio where you can see the Green and Overlook Mountain. Warm up with a noodle bowl filled with your choice of broth, noodles, and proteins including tofu and seitan. Or enjoy a raw kale salad, dumplings or a bento box.
- During the warmer months, Green Palate Vege-Terranean Grill is a must-stop on your Woodstock to-do list. Run by John Barbaro, Green Palate Vege-Terranean Grill brings authentic NYC pizza and Italian food to the area. The menu is filled with delicious food made with local, organic ingredients and love. Pizzas, meatballs, sausage and pepper heroes, potato croquettes and more – even desserts and espresso – are prepared outdoors right across the street from the Green. All the food is vegan, and there are many gluten-free options.
- For an amazing dining experience, head five minutes outside the village of Woodstock to New World Home Cooking Co. owned by Chef Ric Orlando, a 2-time “Chopped” winner, cookbook author, cooking show host, musician and all-around nice guy. New World Home Cooking Co. is a beautifully decorated place that manages to combine lively fun at the bar area with relaxing quiet in the dining areas. On many nights, there is live music. The walls are covered with the work of local artists. The servers are friendly and polite. The food is a festival of flavor and fusion. There are not only vegan and gluten-free options but entirely separate vegan and gluten-free menus! On Mondays, they offer a Meatless Mondays three-course Prix Fixe meal.
No one should visit Woodstock without visiting New World Home Cooking Co., and no one should leave New World without an extra order of the Pan-Blackened String Beans to go!
- If you are staying in Woodstock for an extended time and want healthy and delicious food brought to you or if you would like to continue enjoying the tasty flavors of Woodstock when you get back to the city, check out Healthy Gourmet To-Go. HGTG is a weekly gourmet delivery service providing vegan, organic, and gluten-free food straight to your door. Chef Roni Shapiro offers several weekly menus to choose from and delivers north of Albany down through Westchester, NYC, NJ ,and Brooklyn. Chef Roni also provides catering services, gift certificates and can help plan the right menu for special dietary needs.
- Sunflower Natural Foods Market is your one-stop shop for all your local, organic groceries. Family-owned and run since 1978, Sunflower strives to support local businesses and farms and provide organic, non-GMO healthy foods. They also carry a huge supply of vitamins, oils and natural health and beauty items.
- Every Wednesday from May through October, the Woodstock Farmers Festival hosts local vendors selling fruits, vegetables, artisan breads, maple syrup, and more. If you’re hungry, you must try the food from Aba’s Falafel, a family-run stand serving homemade falafel, tahini, and salads in a pita, using fresh produce grown on local farms.