the bear cafe (845-679-5555), combining new american cuisine with top-notch service, is a must-visit. depuy canal house (845-687-7700), set in a romantic 1797 building, has garnered raves from craig claiborne to zagat's. the four-sourse, $35 -prix-fixe dinner at fluer de lys (845-676-4542) is a tremendous value. sweet sue's restaurant (845-688-7852) ios a favorite for brunch, although a stack of their scrumptious, dinner-plate-size pancakes has yet to be consumed by a single mortal. terrapin (845-331-7852) offers outstanding cuisine with a new american touch, including standouts like garlic soup and horseradish-crusted ahi tuna. -l.v.

how to get there


the catskills region is well served by american (800-433-7300; www.aa.com), with flights available to albany and newburgh/stewart airports. for general tourist information, call (845) 338-5100 or visit www.catskillguide.com.

what to do
the ridge hike at north lake is one of the most breathtaking in the catskills - on a clear day you can spy five states. the mountain-lake-bathing season is admittedly short in the catskills, but on those days that necessitate cooling off, head to the semi-secret big pond (near alder lake on the delaware county side of the border).

a great way to explore all the quiet back roads and disused logging paths is by mountain biking: grab a rental from the friendly folks at table rock tours and bicycle shop (845-658-7832) in rosendale. call the outfitters at town tinker (845-688-5553) in phoenicia and float down the esopus in a giant inner tube (advisable only at the end of the summer when the water is warmest).

ed's fly-fishing & guide services (845-657-6393) in shokan will take you out and teach you the hows and whys of the sport.