Phoenicia, Two Ways
Well, I was downright grumpy when I got back yesterday. One step through my apartment door and I started stomping around like a toddler who didn't want to talk about it. I started to unpack immediately, not wanting any looming reminders that vacation, was in fact, over. To say that I wasn't ready to come home would be putting it lightly. I would have been perfectly content tubing down the Esopus three more times, eating ice cream day after day, and breathing in that fresh mountain air. Luckily, I woke up in better spirits today, and I do in fact want to talk about it, because it was truly an incredible trip.
Labor Day weekend took us to Phoenicia, NY. I had heard rumors that this small town was quiet, outdoorsy, and an easy three-hour drive from the city. It proved to be exactly that. We opted for the Trailways bus, which left from Port Authority and dropped us right in the center of town in Phoenicia. I'm not a bus person, but this was probably one of the most fluid experiences I've had to date. While it might have been nice to have a car to explore beyond the few restaurants and shops in town, I think it also eliminated the stress of driving here, there, and everywhere.
When I first booked this trip I knew I wanted to check out The Graham & Co. for it's minimalist look and feel. (That and its oh-so-Instagrammed pool.) Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea, leaving them booked solid for the weekend. I was able to squeeze us in Thursday night in the bunkhouse, which we were lucky enough to have upgraded to the standard single. That left me scrambling for somewhere to stay for the remainder of our trip. More on that in a bit.
If there's one thing The Graham does well it's the details. I suppose that in a room with so little, what's there really needs to count for something. While at its foundation it's simply a spiffed up motel, I appreciate the attention to branding and design throughout. Everything from the coverlet on my bed to the bar soap in the bathroom was branded. And while the window treatments and the orange glow of the light outside our door at night left something to be desired, I'm fully aware I'm being nitpicky. We made use of their fairly bare-bones bikes, which were parked right outside and could be taken at will. Floating around in their pool was pure bliss. I'd return again just for that. I do question whether the room was worth the $155 plus tax that we paid. Turns out the bunk house at $30 less is surprisingly nicer than it sounds, and there are actually multiple shared bathrooms rather than one. I may go that route next time.
Now for part two. After a bit of research I stumbled upon the Phoenicia Lodge for the remainder of our trip. Our stay at each hotel couldn't have been more polar opposite, but in a good way! Located further from town, The Phoenicia Lodge is ideally suited to those with a car. By no means trendy, it has an air of old school charm with furnishings as though you've stepped back in time. I can honestly say that the service was better here as well. The owners are some of the sweetest people, quick to point out hikes in the area or offer any advice. We loved digging through their DVD library, picking a movie to fall asleep to each night. I know you don't come out this way for the WiFi, but it's worth mentioning that it worked like a charm. Even the simple breakfast provided in the common room was more than welcome — making it easy to sit outside with a coffee each morning. It seems those who know about the Lodge have been coming here for years, and are happy to preserve their secret. Did I mention our room was $80/night? Our neighbors also highly recommended the cabins, complete with a kitchen unit and outdoor grills. My only regret is that we didn't discover the hammocks in the backyard until the last day.
Though this town certainly isn't large enough to need much explaining, here were a few of our favorites:
Trailways Bus from New York City to Phoenicia / $32.25 one way
The Graham & Co. / Old 1940s motel turned trendy. If you want to be economical I suggest staying in the bunkhouse. Spend the day floating around in the pool on an inner tube.
The Phoenicia Lodge / A rustic collection of cabins and a motel situated a little further from town. A bit like going through a time warp. Go here if you want to ditch any reminder of NYC life.
The Phoenicia Diner / I have to say it — their menu is really well designed. The food is good too. Far enough away to need a bike or a car.
Sweet Sues / Known for their pancakes. Every. Variety. Of. Pancakes. My boyfriend loved the pancake sundae. I loved the goat cheese, caramelized onion, and tomato omelet.
Brios / Get the pizza.
Phoenicia Delicatessen / The German women who made our sandwiches reminded me of my own grandmother. Oh and she carries ginger beer in stock — what's not to love? We stopped in to pick up a picnic lunch before our hike.
The Ice Cream Station / Standard (but delicious) ice cream and fudge fare. We went here every night. Vacation, right?
Town Tinker Tube Rental / A bit of an adventure on class two rapids. Some of the reviews I read had me downright scared. Wear proper footwear and opt for the helmet. We went on a water release weekend (higher water levels) and I did, in fact, get thrown from my tube as warned. But honestly, that was the best part.
Tanbark Loop / A two mile loop with two lookout points. The trailhead is located close to the center of town. If you're in decent shape, this is a totally doable hike.