10 Top Towns

Settled by the Dutch, Quakers, or Huguenots, nestled in the Catskills or on the river’s banks — these 10 Valley communities all have one thing in common: They’re great places to call home



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christman’s windham house resort golf courseThe 18th green at Christman’s Windham House Resort wraps up a challenging 7,072-yard course that winds through the mountain’s rolling hills — and leaves golfers with memorable views in case their rounds were sub-par

Photograph courtesy of Christman’s Windham House

Greene County

Windham

In 1997, Men’s Journal named this mountain redoubt in the upper reaches of Greene County one of the top 10 “Dream Towns” in the U.S. Nothing has changed in the last 13 years to affect Windham’s standing. In fact, we think it keeps getting better.

This is a one-of-a-kind tourist town. Outdoor enthusiasts flock here for hiking, fishing, hunting, golf — there are two magnificent 18-hole courses — and, of course, the skiing at Windham Mountain, with 46 trails and 10 lifts. This August, the International Cycling Union’s 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup finals will bring an estimated 30,000 riders and their fans into town. But culture mavens can also get their fix at one of several art galleries or at the famed Windham Chamber Music Festival.

So while there are a number of vacation homes here, more and more folks are deciding to call Windham home on a full-time basis, including commuters to Albany (which is just about 40 miles away). It seems the nice mix of city sophistication and down-home country charm is irresistible. Cathy Hennessy, a sales manager at Giandana-Loftus Real Estate, and her husband bought a second home here in 2001. But last year, they sold their primary residence in the Jersey suburbs, and moved to Windham. “We decided to come up here and slow down the pace,” she says, noting that there is no grocery store, just a deli that stocks the staples. The nearest malls (in Kingston or Albany) are at least 45 minutes away. The nearest traffic light is 10 miles away. “When people come to visit, they ask ‘What’s that noise?’ ” says Hennessy. “And I say, ‘The silence.’ ” The nights are just as dark as they are silent, she reports, making Windham ideal for stargazing.
And to top it all off, fine dining has finally arrived. Bistro Brie & Bordeaux, a classic French eatery — and a onetime Best of Hudson Valley winner — opened in a charming space on Main Street a few years ago. And now the Cave Mountain Brewing Company, which has been in business since September 2008, makes its own craft beer, root beer, and even absinthe.

Town Facts:

Location: Upper Greene County, bordering Catskill State Park
Population: 1,900
Median Household Income: $36,000
Nomenclature: Known as Osbornville until a political rival of Bennet Osborn, the postmaster for whom the town was named, had the place rechristened Windham
Notable residents: Scott Adams, cartoonist and creator of “Dilbert”

» Next stop: Highland Falls, Orange County

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