Catskills vs. Poconos

Deciding between the Catskills and the Poconos for your next vacation can be a real head-scratcher. With both destinations boasting stunning natural beauty, exciting outdoor activities, and charming small towns, it's no wonder travelers are torn. Will you be swayed by the allure of one destination over the other? Read on to discover the unique features of each locale that might just tip the scales in their favor.
Catskills vs. Poconos

Table of Contents

Hey there, fellow traveler! If you’re struggling to choose between the Catskills and the Poconos for your next getaway, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to help you weigh the pros and cons of each destination and guide you toward the perfect vacation spot. So, buckle up and let’s embark on this comparative journey together!

History & Culture

So, let’s dive into the rich history and culture of these two picturesque destinations. Both the Catskills and the Poconos have storied pasts that continue to influence their present-day character. Ready to explore the tapestry of time? Let’s go!

Nestled in southeastern New York, the Catskills region has been a popular getaway for city dwellers since the 19th century.

Once a thriving center for arts and entertainment, the area played host to the iconic Woodstock festival and inspired Washington Irving’s famous tale, “Rip Van Winkle.” Today, the Catskills’ bohemian spirit lives on, with countless art galleries, museums, and cultural events dotting the landscape.

On the other hand, the Poconos in northeastern Pennsylvania has long been a go-to destination for honeymooners and outdoor enthusiasts. With a history steeped in coal mining and the railroad industry, the region’s past can still be felt in its charming towns and villages. From historical societies to preserved railway stations, the Poconos offer a glimpse into a bygone era.

Both regions are also home to Native American history, with the Catskills once inhabited by the Lenape tribe and the Poconos by the Munsee-speaking people. This rich heritage can be explored through various cultural centers and educational programs in the respective areas.

When it comes to arts and entertainment, both destinations offer an array of options. The Catskills might edge out the Poconos in terms of cultural diversity, boasting a vibrant arts scene with music festivals, theater productions, and film events. The Poconos, however, hold their own with community theaters, art galleries, and live music venues.

In summary, the Catskills and the Poconos both have deep-rooted histories and thriving cultural scenes. If you’re drawn to a bohemian, artsy vibe, the Catskills might be more your speed, while the Poconos offers a nostalgic, romantic atmosphere that’s perfect for couples and history buffs. Either way, you’re in for a culturally enriching experience!

Attractions & Activities

Ready to get your adventure on? Both the Catskills and the Poconos offer a wealth of exciting activities and attractions, making it tough to choose between them. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Let’s break down the best ways to spend your time in these two beautiful destinations.

The Catskills are known for their lush forests, rolling mountains, and scenic hiking trails. From the popular Kaaterskill Falls to the challenging Overlook Mountain, there’s a hike for every skill level.

If you’re more into water-based activities, the region boasts several rivers for tubing, kayaking, and fishing. And don’t forget about the ski resorts – Hunter Mountain and Windham Mountain offer thrilling slopes for winter sports enthusiasts.

Meanwhile, the Poconos also offer their fair share of outdoor activities. With numerous state parks, like Hickory Run and Bushkill Falls, you’ll find plenty of picturesque trails for hiking and biking.

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a must-visit, offering opportunities for canoeing, rafting, and even rock climbing. Skiing and snowboarding are well-represented here too, with resorts like Camelback Mountain and Jack Frost Big Boulder.

Looking for something a bit more leisurely? Both destinations have you covered. The Catskills offer golf courses with stunning views, such as the Hanah Mountain Resort and Country Club. Additionally, the region is home to several wineries and breweries for those who enjoy a good sip and a scenic backdrop.

Similarly, the Poconos has a variety of golf courses, like the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, with its unique island fairways. Wine and beer enthusiasts will also find a selection of vineyards and breweries in the area to whet their whistle.

In terms of attractions, both regions have unique offerings. The Catskills are home to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the site of the original Woodstock festival, and the Hudson River School Art Trail, which showcases stunning landscapes that inspired famous American painters.

The Poconos features the Steamtown National Historic Site, where visitors can learn about the region’s railway history, and the charming town of Jim Thorpe, with its Victorian architecture and historic sites.

All in all, both the Catskills and the Poconos provide a wide range of activities and attractions for nature lovers, outdoor adventurers, and those seeking a more relaxed pace. Whether you’re hitting the hiking trails, exploring charming towns, or enjoying local libations, you’re sure to find something that suits your fancy in either destination.

Eating, Drinking & Nightlife

Foodies, rejoice! Both the Catskills and the Poconos offer a fantastic array of dining options, local breweries, and nightlife experiences. Let’s dive into the culinary scenes of these two destinations and see what they have to offer.

The Catskills have a diverse food scene, with farm-to-table restaurants like the renowned Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room, offering seasonal dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients. If you’re craving something more casual, you’ll find a variety of cafes, delis, and diners serving up mouth-watering comfort food.

You can also explore the region’s many breweries and distilleries, such as Catskill Brewery and Union Grove Distillery, for a taste of locally crafted beverages.

Over in the Poconos, you’ll also find a delectable assortment of dining options, from upscale restaurants like the French Manor Inn and Spa’s elegant dining room to more laid-back spots like Barley Creek Brewing Company. The region’s food scene offers a mix of cuisines, with highlights including Pocono Cheesecake Factory for a sweet treat, and Alaska Pete’s for some classic American fare.

Just like the Catskills, the Poconos is home to a variety of breweries and wineries, like the ShawneeCraft Brewing Company and Mountain View Vineyard.

When it comes to nightlife, both destinations offer a range of options to suit your mood. The Catskills feature a selection of low-key pubs, bars, and live music venues, such as The Spillian and The Phoenician. Plus, you can catch a show at the Forestburgh Playhouse or Bethel Woods Center for the Arts for a night of entertainment.

The Poconos also offer their fair share of nighttime fun, with lively bars like the Thirsty Moose Saloon and live music venues like Penn’s Peak. If you’re feeling lucky, you can try your hand at the tables or slots at Mount Airy Casino Resort. For a more relaxed evening, consider taking in a movie at the historic Casino Theatre or attending a performance at the Shawnee Playhouse.

In summary, both the Catskills and the Poconos have a vibrant food and drink scene, as well as a variety of nightlife options to keep you entertained after the sun goes down. No matter which destination you choose, you’re in for a delicious and exciting time!


Alright, shopaholics, it’s time to compare the retail therapy options in the Catskills and the Poconos. Whether you’re hunting for unique souvenirs, trendy clothing, or local crafts, both destinations have something to offer for every shopper.

In the Catskills, you’ll find a collection of charming shops and boutiques, many of which are nestled in quaint towns like Woodstock, Phoenicia, and Tannersville. There, you can browse through stores like the Woodstock General Supply, offering eclectic items ranging from clothing to home decor.

For a truly unique shopping experience, check out the area’s various antique stores, such as Antique Alley or the Spruceton Road Antiques.

On the other hand, the Poconos present their own set of shopping opportunities, with options like The Crossings Premium Outlets, where you can snag deals on name-brand items. If you prefer a more intimate shopping experience, visit the charming town of Jim Thorpe, where you can peruse quaint shops like the Sellers Books & Fine Art or the Treasure Shop.

For a taste of local craftsmanship, head to the Pocono Bazaar Marketplace, which features a wide array of vendors selling handcrafted items, clothing, and more.

While both destinations offer unique shopping experiences, the Catskills might be a better fit for those seeking one-of-a-kind items and antiques. In contrast, the Poconos offer a more traditional shopping experience, with outlet stores and a mix of local boutiques.

So, whether you’re in the mood for some serious retail therapy or just want to pick up a few souvenirs, both the Catskills and the Poconos have plenty to offer. Just remember to save some room in your suitcase for your new finds!


Alright, let’s chat about where you’ll rest your head after a long day of exploring the Catskills or the Poconos. Both destinations have a range of accommodation options, from cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious resorts, so you’re sure to find the perfect place to lay your weary head.

In the Catskills, you’ll find plenty of charming inns and B&Bs that are perfect for a romantic getaway or a relaxing retreat. Some popular options include the Spruceton Inn, the Roxbury, and the Woodstock Inn on the Millstream. If you’re looking for a more upscale experience, consider staying at the Emerson Resort & Spa or the Scribner’s Catskill Lodge.

Meanwhile, the Poconos have their own selection of cozy lodgings, like the Ledges Hotel, the Settlers Inn, or the beautiful Skytop Lodge. For a more luxurious stay, you might opt for the Cove Haven Resort or the Mount Airy Casino Resort, which offers upscale amenities and plenty of entertainment options.

In summary, both the Catskills and the Poconos offer a variety of accommodations to suit different tastes and budgets. The Catskills may appeal more to those seeking a quaint and charming stay, while the Poconos provide a mix of cozy options and upscale resorts with added entertainment. Whichever destination you choose, you’re bound to find a comfortable place to call home during your trip.

Family-Friendliness & Children’s Activities

Now, let’s talk about how the Catskills and the Poconos stack up when it comes to family-friendly fun. Whether you’re traveling with little ones or bringing the whole extended family, both destinations have plenty to offer in terms of activities and attractions that cater to all ages.

In the Catskills, families can enjoy outdoor adventures like hiking, fishing, and horseback riding, along with indoor activities such as visiting the Catskill Mountain Railroad or the Hanford Mills Museum. For a day of thrill and excitement, the Zoom Flume Water Park offers slides and pools that are perfect for keeping the kids entertained and cool on a hot summer day.

Over in the Poconos, there’s no shortage of family-friendly fun either. Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the region’s many hiking trails, waterfalls, and rivers. If you’re looking for a more structured experience, consider checking out Camelback Mountain Adventures, which offers zip-lining, mountain coaster rides, and treetop obstacle courses.

For some indoor excitement, Kalahari Resort and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark provide a day full of water slides, lazy rivers, and splash zones.

When it comes to accommodations, both the Catskills and the Poconos boast a range of family-friendly lodgings, including cabin rentals, vacation homes, and resorts with kid-centric amenities. Many properties in both regions offer swimming pools, game rooms, and on-site playgrounds, ensuring that there’s always something fun to do for the whole family.

In conclusion, both the Catskills and the Poconos offer a wide array of family-friendly activities and accommodations. If you’re seeking a more nature-focused experience, the Catskills might be the better option, while the Poconos offer a mix of outdoor adventures and indoor excitement. Either way, you’re sure to create lasting memories with your family in these beautiful mountain regions.

Getting There & Getting Around

Alright, let’s dive into the logistics of getting to and navigating around the Catskills and the Poconos. Whether you’re hitting the road or hopping on a plane, we’ve got the scoop on how to make your journey as smooth as possible.

Getting to the Catskills is a breeze, especially if you’re coming from the New York City area. A road trip will take you about 2 to 3 hours (100 to 150 miles / 160 to 240 kilometers) depending on your starting point and chosen destination within the region. Alternatively, you can opt for a train or bus ride from NYC, which will also take around 2 to 3 hours.

In comparison, the Poconos are just as accessible from the NYC area. A drive will usually take around 2 hours (100 miles / 160 kilometers) depending on your starting point and specific destination. Bus services are also available from New York City, typically taking 2 to 3 hours to reach the Poconos.

Once you’ve arrived in the Catskills, getting around is most convenient by car. Public transportation options are limited, so renting a vehicle is your best bet for exploring the region at your own pace. This will also give you the freedom to visit the many quaint towns and scenic spots scattered throughout the area.

Similarly, in the Poconos, a car is the most practical means of transportation. Public transit options are scarce, so renting a car is highly recommended. With a car, you’ll be able to easily explore the region’s beautiful landscapes, charming towns, and numerous attractions.

In conclusion, getting to and around both the Catskills and the Poconos is relatively simple, especially if you’re traveling by car. Both destinations are easily reachable from the New York City area, making them ideal choices for a weekend getaway or an extended vacation. Just be sure to rent a car for maximum flexibility and freedom during your stay.


Now, let’s chat about the weather in the Catskills and the Poconos. After all, nobody wants to get caught in a downpour or shiver in the cold when they’re trying to enjoy their vacation, right?

In the Catskills, you’ll find that the weather varies depending on the season. Summers are generally mild and comfortable, with average temperatures around 70°F (21°C). Winters can be chilly, with temperatures dropping to an average of 25°F (-4°C) and snowfall being a common occurrence. So, if you’re planning a visit, make sure to pack accordingly.

Over in the Poconos, the weather is quite similar. Summers are pleasant, with temperatures averaging around 72°F (22°C), making it the perfect time for outdoor activities. Winters, on the other hand, can be quite cold, with average temperatures dipping to 28°F (-2°C) and snowfall being a regular feature. Just like in the Catskills, make sure you’re well-prepared for the weather during your visit.

In a nutshell, both the Catskills and the Poconos have similar weather patterns, with mild summers and chilly, snowy winters. So, depending on your preferred activities and tolerance for cold weather, you might want to consider the time of year when planning your visit to either destination.


Safety is always a top priority when traveling, so let’s talk about how safe you’ll feel when visiting the Catskills and the Poconos. After all, having peace of mind during your trip is essential, don’t you think?

Generally speaking, both the Catskills and the Poconos are considered safe destinations. In fact, they are both known for their friendly and welcoming communities. Of course, like anywhere else, it’s essential to be mindful of your surroundings and take common-sense precautions to keep yourself and your belongings safe.

When it comes to unique non-crime safety concerns, the Catskills and the Poconos share some similarities.

Both destinations are known for their outdoor activities, which means you’ll want to be prepared for potential safety hazards like slippery trails or wildlife encounters. Make sure you have appropriate gear and follow safety guidelines for any activities you participate in. And, as always, respect the environment and local wildlife.

In the end, the Catskills and the Poconos are generally safe and enjoyable destinations. It’s essential to stay aware and take necessary precautions, but overall, you should be able to relax and soak in the beautiful scenery without worrying too much about safety. So go ahead, start planning your trip, and get ready for an unforgettable experience!


Let’s talk dollars and cents, shall we? When planning your trip to either the Catskills or the Poconos, it’s always good to know what to expect in terms of cost. After all, we all want to get the most bang for our buck, right?

In general, the Catskills can be a slightly more expensive destination compared to the Poconos. Accommodations, dining, and activities may come at a higher price point in the Catskills. That said, there are still plenty of budget-friendly options available, so you can definitely find something that suits your wallet.

On the other hand, the Poconos tend to offer more affordable choices for travelers. You’ll find a wider range of budget-friendly accommodations, eateries, and activities here. This makes it an excellent choice for those looking to save a few bucks while still enjoying a memorable getaway.

In conclusion, if you’re more budget-conscious, the Poconos might be the better choice for you. However, if you’re willing to splurge a little, the Catskills can offer a more luxurious experience. Whichever destination you choose, just remember to have fun and create unforgettable memories!

Which Is Better – Catskills or Poconos?

Now that we’ve covered all the ins and outs of these two amazing destinations, it’s time to answer the million-dollar question: Which is better, the Catskills or the Poconos? Well, the answer really depends on your preferences and priorities. So, let’s break it down.

If you’re a history and culture buff, the Catskills might just steal your heart. With its rich heritage and artistic vibe, it’s sure to leave a lasting impression. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a wide array of attractions and activities, the Poconos might have the edge, offering plenty of fun for all ages.

When it comes to eating, drinking, and nightlife, both destinations have a lot to offer. However, the Catskills might appeal more to foodies, with its farm-to-table dining experiences and craft beverage scene. But if nightlife is a priority, the Poconos has a more lively after-dark scene to keep you entertained.

For shopaholics, the Poconos might be a better choice, with its diverse shopping options and bargain-hunting opportunities. Yet, if you’re in search of unique local goods, the Catskills has plenty of charming boutiques and artisan shops to explore.

In terms of accommodation, both destinations offer a range of options. The Catskills leans more toward luxury, while the Poconos provides a greater variety of budget-friendly stays. But no matter where you lay your head, you’re sure to find a comfy spot in either destination.

Families and kiddos will find both the Catskills and the Poconos to be welcoming and fun. However, the Poconos might have a slight edge when it comes to family-friendly activities and attractions.

Getting there and getting around are pretty similar for both destinations, with driving being the most convenient option. And while the weather varies throughout the year, both locations offer seasonal fun for all types of travelers.

Safety-wise, both destinations are considered relatively safe, with their own unique concerns. Just remember to take the usual travel precautions and stay informed.

Finally, when it comes to cost, the Poconos is generally more budget-friendly, while the Catskills might require a bit more spending. But don’t worry – both destinations offer options for all budgets.

So, which is better for you – the Catskills or the Poconos? Ultimately, it depends on your preferences, priorities, and budget. But whichever destination you choose, you’re bound to have an unforgettable adventure.