Woodstock, N.Y., is a retreat for music and art lovers
By Larry Olmsted, Special for USA TODAY
Forty years ago, the New York town of Woodstock became synonymous
with the counterculture when nearly 500,000 revelers descended upon
Max Yasgur's farm for what would become history's most famous music
festival (although the actual concert took place in Bethel, more than
40 miles away).
Though Woodstock still has establishments such as the Not Fade Away
Graphics lining Main Street, it has also become a popular getaway for
New York City residents. With upscale restaurants, boutiques and
gourmet shops, it has become a competitor to the Hamptons, and
longtime residents such as musician Levon Helm of The Band share the
town with newcomers such as New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter and
actress Uma Thurman. David Bowie and his supermodel wife, Iman, rent
a large home here, and the Clintons are supposedly looking for a
"It's very easy to get here from the city, even for the New Yorkers
who don't own cars," with bus service from Manhattan and easy
commuter rail service, says Brenda Graf of Westwood Metes & Bounds
Realty. "Parking is free at the station, and many part-timers just
leave their cars there all week."
Graf estimates that as many of as half of the properties belong to
second-home owners. "Our membership has increasingly become
second-home owners over the last few years, because golf is one more
thing they cannot do in the city," says Kieran Bell, an official at
the private Woodstock Golf Club. "Like the homes here, membership
prices are a fraction of what they cost around the city."
Sitting within Catskill Park, Woodstock has hiking, fishing and
biking in summer, and alpine and cross-country skiing in winter.
Because of its strict zoning, the area retains a rural feel and has
very little planned development and few condos. Most residences are
single-family homes on large lots, often several acres. "Privacy is a
big thing here, and most houses cannot see their neighbors," Graf says.
Nonetheless, the dollar goes a long way compared with other areas so
close to New York City. Second homes start in the mid-$200,000s in
Woodstock and even less in surrounding towns.
A look at three Woodstock neighborhoods
• Woodstock Village: Though the town of Woodstock includes hamlets
such as Bearsville, Shady and Zena, most of the retail and dining
options are in the village. This is the choice for second-home owners
who want to be within walking distance of things, especially those
without cars. There are many options in the $250,000-$500,000 range,
but the lots and houses are smaller than those outside the village.
• Woodstock: The majority of second-home buyers crave land, rural
views and privacy, says real estate agent Brenda Graf, and these are
readily available outside the main village. Almost all houses are on
at least 1 to 2 acres, and houses close to $1 million come on 5- to
20-acre lots. Few homes cost more than $1 million.
• Phoenicia/Hurley/Saugerties: Some second-home buyers choose these
three towns surrounding Woodstock for even lower prices. To the west,
Phoenicia has become a popular second-home community in the past few
years, Graf says. Saugerties lies to the east, on the Hudson River,
and is popular for its train access to New York City. Hurley directly
abuts Woodstock Village, and many houses here are close to the
village. The priciest Hurley home Graf has is under $750,000 and sits
on 7 acres.