If you’re a urbanite, you might have found yourself many times under the bright, hot lights of a NYC clothing store listening to the excruciatingly loud, banging electronic music and found yourself getting more and more agitated while trying to shop. I was happy to leave that part of city life behind and gave up shopping in stores long before I left the city.
I was reminded of this last week, when I found Just Shop Boutique, in Arkville, a discount clothing store with labels to love: Clare V, Laveer, Thakoon, rompers, suits, and much more for low prices, all in a calm, country setting. I had planned to order some shirts online, but saw the red, tartan shirt in the Just Shop window and was lured in. I spent hours ferreting around in there with my mother-in-law, grabbing stuff and then putting it back. Then grabbing stuff and then putting it back. I was very restrained, but wanted to buy all of it. To get an idea of how excited I was, know that I bought a wool, stars-and-stripes poncho for my English sister-in-law ($28). I also bought a traditional, Turkish bath towel, that you can use for camping or a scarf (versatile), for $45. This is an item that I’ll own for life. (The red shirt didn’t fit.)
Plus, just across the road, there are both booze and sandwiches. A few seconds up the road, there’s the flea market, at which my family members religiously stop on their way home from my house to find cute stuff like a crystal serving bowls for a reasonable price. Suddenly, Arkville is a place where you can drink martinis and find a Thakoon striped shirt, overlaid with lace tank top. Score! While I was browsing a week or two ago, in came a woman shopping for a dress to wear to a local wedding because her dress was slit to the waist and kept blowing over her head. Right on, sister.
So, if you’re looking for a whistle-stop tour, a city girls’ weekend outing, or you’re a local with guests to entertain, here’s my plan for your 48 hours in Arkville. A tiny village with a great deal to see.
Arkville Bread Breakfast (or “Jack’s Place”), is located in a blue and red converted train caboose. You can’t miss it and it does the best fish and chips. Although that dish appears rarely, they still stock all the English condiments and a wide selection of beverages. Jack’s does hearty, comfort sandwiches, like the brisket sandwich, which is delicious. They have plenty of vegetarian options. Laurie makes her own hummus and the veggie-hummus wrap is delicious. I also love their bean burger wrap.
Up the hill towards NYC is Oakley’s Bar & Grill, a local favorite for pizza, wings and burgers. Try the white pie, with spinach. There’s also Maine Black Bear Seafood Restaurant ((845-586-4004), a rustic fish restaurant on the Dry Brook River at the intersection of Route 28 and Dry Brook Road. The owner drives up the east coast every week for fresh fish. Well, he used to last time I checked. Call him.
In addition to Just Shop Boutique (845-586-6040), there’s the fabulous Pakatakan Market, on Route 30, which is about a 6-minute drive away and open until 2pm on Saturdays. At this farmer’s market, you can load up on fantastic, local lotions, potions, local meat, baked goods, honey and honey products, mushrooms, cheese, vegetables and much more. More on that precious place in my next post, but get there by 8am if you want the good stuff like fresh, local Shiitake mushrooms. If you go there, you can stop at the Outsiders Cafe on the way.
Union Grove Distillery is run by Todd & Jeanine Pascarella and Brian & Penny Mulder. They do tours of their distillery and sell cocktails in their handsomely decorated tasting room from noon to 9pm from Wednesday to Saturday.Their vodka is winning awards all over the country. On weekend nights, there’s sometimes great music. Right now, they’re offering spruce tips and white fir tips soaked in their vodka. There might be some of that fantastic vodka that they aged in bourbon barrels left to buy: maple spirit vodka. Nevertheless, their wonderful bartender mixes a mean cocktail. There’s a piano, if you care to play.
I’ll give you my favorite two trails in the area, but you don’t even have to drive anywhere, really. Just put on a pair of comfortable shoes and walk up along Route 28 in the village proper. Check out the old, very picturesque railroad station which has ancient trains, two stations and picnic tables. I do this at least once a month when I need to stretch my legs before a board meeting because I’ve been sitting all day. You don’t need to worry about dangerous traffic because the speed limit in the village is 35mph. Plus, this is a popular spot for State Troopers who are frequently on the corner watching out for us and we love them for it. The speed limit is 45mph on Route 28 between Arkville and Margaretville, where you’ll find the weekend flea market.
There’s also the Catskill Center, with its art gallery and the Fire Department that always welcomes donations. The Catskill Forest Association is located here and this organization hosts foraging tours and guided nature walks in the area. Plus, If you drive up Route 38 a few miles, you’ll find a gym! The Catskill Recreation Center has yoga, dance classes, a trainer, a swimming pool and a gym.
For serious hikers, do the local Seager Trail, which is my personal favorite and utterly gorgeous with its own flowing river, waterfall and swimming hole. (Bring waterproof boots). This trail also leads to both Balsam (above) and Eagle Mountains, both 3600ft high, if you’re feeling adventurous. Or try the Huckleberry Loop in Margaretville. Both trailheads are a five-minute drive away.