This beautiful mountainous region west of the Hudson Valley has been a popular getaway since the 19th century. The romantic image of mossy gorges and rounded peaks, as popularized by Hudson Valley School painters, encouraged a preservation movement: in 1894 the state constitution was amended so that thousands of acres are 'forever kept as wild forest lands.'
In the early 20th century, the Catskills became synonymous with so-called 'borscht belt' hotels, summer escapes for middle-class NYC Jews. The vast majority of these hotels have closed, although orthodox Jewish communities still thrive in many towns – as does a back-to-the-land, hippie ethos on numerous small farms. In the fall, this is the closest place to NYC with really dramatic colors in the trees.