Exploring the Great Northern Catskills of Greene County with Miss New York
With its natural splendor and memorable can’t-miss spots, Great Northern Catskills of Greene County makes the Empire State proud.
Miss New York

On a beautiful, sunny Friday morning, I embarked on a journey to the Great Northern Catskills of Greene County, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. I started my day at Moynihan Train Hall in Manhattan, where I grabbed a delicious breakfast before boarding the train. Over the past year as Miss New York, traveling by train has become my preferred mode of transportation. It’s perfect for multitasking: Amtrak allows me to attend meetings, prepare for the day, enjoy my breakfast or even do my hair and makeup—all while on the move.  

Upon arriving at the quaint Hudson train station, I was warmly welcomed by Tom Martinelli, Miss New York’s partner with New York By Rail, Kathleen Tan, a dedicated volunteer with the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse and Erin Dennin from the Great Northern Catskills of Greene County. It was my first visit to the Hudson Train Station, and I was delighted to learn that it was also celebrating its 150th anniversary. As a history enthusiast, I deeply appreciate discovering businesses and sites that have significantly impacted smaller communities over so many years.  

On my way down to the water, I encountered a class of enthusiastic third graders on a field trip. As it turned out, one of the students would be joining me in the flotilla to celebrate the anniversary of the Lighthouse! It was such a wonderful surprise to connect with these children before beginning my tour.  

miss ny students

After taking pictures with the students, I boarded the pontoon and we set off for the lighthouse. I was greeted by a group of inviting volunteers, which heightened my excitement for the private tour of this historical site. It was my first experience riding on the Hudson River, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. As we sailed to the lighthouse, we waved at people enjoying the beautiful weather in their sailboats and kayaks. The sky was a clear, brilliant blue matching everyone’s sunny disposition.

Unlike most lighthouses situated near the shore, the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse holds a unique charm as it stands in the middle of the Hudson River. As we docked, I felt a genuine sense of gratitude. It was a privilege to be part of an experience that underscores the importance of history and the restoration of sites that have helped shape their communities.  

Before my visit, I didn’t know that the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse was once home to many families throughout its history. It wasn’t just a beacon of light, but a place filled with family memories. I found it fascinating that the lighthouse now serves as a historical site offering tours, a private party location and even a spot where people have gotten engaged—unsurprising given its stunning setting.  

Our tour began on the first floor, which included a living room and a kitchen. As someone who has always been interested in history, I appreciated the effort to preserve the original appliances from the last family that lived there. The coal stove, once belonging to the Brunner family, was still in place—an appliance that cooked the family’s meals and served as a heater during the colder months. Additionally, many of the family’s artifacts were carefully preserved in a cabinet (Emil Brunner’s gravestone, pictures of the family and some of their original silverware) adding to the rich, historical narrative of this special lighthouse. I also learned that the historic structure’s light was crafted from French sand, chosen because people loved the beautiful way it caused the light to shine.  

One of the most intriguing facts I discovered was the unique design of the edifice. It was shaped like a boat to prevent ice from damaging the structure. During the winter, the lighthouse’s occupants would skate to land as a means of transportation. How incredible it must have been to sail to shore in the summer and skate there in the winter! I know I would’ve loved that growing up.  

After absorbing the rich history of the lower level, we ascended the spiral staircase to ring the bell—the moment I was most excited for! I was fascinated to learn that the bell in the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse is indeed one of the few remaining of its kind. This bell, formerly used as a fog signal, is a rare and significant piece of maritime history. Saving the best for last, we ascended to the top floor to take in the stunning view of the river, the communities of Hudson and Athens and the Catskill Mountains. The breathtaking panorama did not disappoint.  

On our way down, we made an unexpected stop on the second floor and discovered multiple bedrooms, each with generously sized closets—my kind of room! We concluded our tour in the gift shop, which was filled with remarkable artwork of the lighthouse. I was lucky enough to snag a striking postcard as a memento.  

After departing, we sailed to the scenic village of Athens and enjoyed lunch at a charming restaurant called The Athens Rooster. On our way, we stopped at two shops: a cultural center and an art shop. At both places, we were greeted by the kindest and most welcoming people—a true testament to the wonderful community of Athens.

As we walked into the popular eatery, I immediately felt at home. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee, delicious sandwiches and delectable pastries enveloped me. I wasn’t a bit surprised when my meal turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable. I savored a mouth-watering chicken parmesan sandwich paired with one of the best iced lattes I’ve ever had. While enjoying our meal, I noticed a bookshelf at the entrance, which added a nice literary touch to the cozy atmosphere.  

After our delightful meal, we strolled through the picturesque town of Athens. As we admired the charming, cottage-like homes and buildings, we paused at a local shop called The Opera House, an interior design store. There, we were warmly greeted by the owner and her two adorable dogs, Hulk and Harriet. We took our time appreciating the unique items the shop had to offer before continuing our walk through the town’s various alleys.  

Our next destination, Treetopia, offered a unique experience—it was where we were lodging, or more accurately, “glamping.” Treetopia, nestled in the beautiful Great Northern Catskills of Greene County, is truly a one-of-a-kind destination that seamlessly blends luxury with nature. This one-of-a-kind retreat features tiny homes and glamping tents, each thoughtfully crafted to provide a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and, yes, there’s a pool!

Miss NY's Tiny House @ Treetopia Campground

My travel companion and I lodged in Tiny Home 2, a truly special experience. It was both cozy and modern, offering a surprising spaciousness despite its small size. We also spotted the fire pit conveniently located outside our tiny home and were thrilled at the thought of making s’mores later that evening! Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed by the generous owner, Jenny Yu, whose special presence assured us we were in good hands.  

We made our way to downtown Catskill for dinner with our awesome Uber driver, Roddy, taking a stroll along the strip and popping into some local businesses. Our first stop was the renowned Catskill Chocolate Co., a must-visit according to every local we encountered. Stepping inside, the atmosphere was reminiscent of a charming European candy shop. The pecan truffle stood out as my favorite—a definite “wow!” recommendation! We also stopped at Mahalo Gift Shop, a retailer that offers a wide selection of locally sourced gifts and souvenirs, perfect for commemorating your visit to this bucolic town.  

Our last stop of the night was Frank Guido’s Port of Call and little did I know the treat we were in for. Known for its warm and social atmosphere, the restaurant serves up a menu brimming with delicious seafood, steaks and Italian specialties. Before placing our food order, we walked down to the dock, where we soaked up the sun and admired the stunning sunset over the Hudson River.

I chose the Ahi Tuna special for my meal, and it was the most delicious Ahi Tuna I’ve ever tasted. Additionally, I had the pleasure of indulging in lobster and oysters ordered by my wonderful dining companions. Throughout the meal, our table was visited by both friends and strangers, leading to an evening filled with engaging conversation. The meal we enjoyed at Frank Guido’s marked the perfect conclusion to a day filled with adventure, leaving me even more eager for our upcoming explorations in the Great Northern Catskills of Greene County

Our second day in Athens kicked off at the delightful Stella’s Pizzeria II, conveniently located by the Hudson River. Being a breakfast enthusiast, I was thrilled to start my day at this adorable spot. I enjoyed a cup of freshly brewed coffee and treated myself to a flavorful Mexican omelet, feeling energized and ready for the day ahead.  

We journeyed to the Coxsackie Yacht Club where I was warmly welcomed. To my surprise, I was presented with a certificate naming me an honorary member of the club! But the real highlight of my visit was my first-ever fishing experience. Picture this: As I arrived, they mentioned a youth fishing tournament. I admitted I had never fished before, and they promptly guided me to the dock with a fishing pole. With the help of a kind gentleman, I was quickly set up and given instructions. Within 30 seconds, I caught my first fish! Some might call it beginner’s luck, but I’d like to think I’m just a natural.  

Miss New York Steering the Coast Guard Vessel During the Boat Parade Flotilla

After taking pictures with some of the amazing community members at the Coxsackie Yacht Club, including the fire department and several precious doggies, we headed to Athens Boat Launch to embark on the boat parade, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. I had the honor of riding with the Coast Guard, leading the flotilla.  

Before the parade began, we made a stop at the Athens Riverfront Park where I had the chance to meet and chat with members of the community. Additionally, I did an interview with News10, discussing the crucial role of preserving historical sites. It was a privilege to advocate for this important cause on such a platform.

Following our brief stop at the Athens dock, we commenced the boat parade along the Catskills. Along with riding with the Coast Guard, I had the privilege of being alongside the Great Northern Catskills of Greene County historian, which was truly remarkable, considering the wealth of history surrounding us. We discussed how this region was among the pioneers in prioritizing environmental sustainability and how the Great Northern Catskills of Greene County has remained dedicated to preserving its natural resources.  

As we cruised along the Hudson River with a fleet of 20 boats trailing behind us, we marveled at the stunning view of the Catskills. The grandeur of the mountain peaks provided a magnificent backdrop against the clear sky. Amidst our admiration for the breathtaking scenery, we were surprised to encounter a bear swimming across the Hudson! It was my first time witnessing a bear in the wild, and I was amazed by its swift pace as it crossed the mighty river. The bear seemed to match the speed of some of the boats, a sight that highlighted the diverse natural wonders of the Catskills.  

Before we turned to sail towards the Hudson dock, we waved at the community from one of the docks further down the river. Then, the Coast Guard allowed me to take the helm, which I was thrilled to do! It was my first experience steering a boat, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Shortly after, we sailed past the lighthouse, admiring its beauty, and docked at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park to continue the festivities for the historic anniversary.  

A variety of tents were set up, offering great food, drinks and beautiful flowers, along with a lively atmosphere thanks to a live band. I took the opportunity to speak with the festival host during a break in the band’s performance, which made the experience even more special, and I was grateful to share a little bit of my journey as Miss New York with an incredible community of New Yorkers.  

Reflecting on my weekend in The Great Northern Catskills of Greene County while celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, I’m so grateful for the unforgettable experiences and beautifully warm hospitality. Exploring historical sites, meeting new friends and immersing myself in nature reminded me of the importance of preserving our heritage and cherishing our surroundings. The boat parade, delicious meals and unique lodging at Treetopia made for a weekend I’ll certainly always remember. My time at the Coxsackie Yacht Club, where I became an honorary member and experienced my first fishing adventure, was particularly special. And I still believe I’m a natural outdoorswoman!

Greene County, I’ll be back. Definitely.

Experience all of the Great Northern Catskills of Greene County via Amtrak to the Hudson Station, only 2 hours from Manhattan; Don’t forget to use the See New York and Save 15% discount.

The Great Northern Catskills of Greene County is in close proximity to the Hudson Station. Pick up your reserved #NYTRAIN Enterprise Rent-a-Car right at the Hudson Station. You can return the car at designated spaces at the Hudson Station or in the municipal lot across the street. Click here to reserve your car or call the Hudson office today at: 518-828-5492.