The Catskills have been a favorite rural retreat from New York City and its surrounding areas dating back to the point of the city's origin.
- The Catskills inspired the birth of America’s first artistic movement, The Hudson River School of Art, during the late nineteenth century which quickly gained recognition from New York City’s artistic community. The Hudson River School paintings inspired many generations of artists, including the elites.
- The famous American author, Washington Irving, wrote about the mountains in his legendary novel, Rip Van Winkle, where he fell asleep in the Catskills Mountains for 20 years after an encounter with the ghost of Henry Hudson and his men.
- The Catskills have long been a haven for musicians and other performing artists. Perhaps the most famous event and locale in area is the Woodstock Music and Art Fair which was held in Bethel, New York for three days during mid-August of 1969. Woodstock was described as an “An Acquarian Exposition, Three Days of Peace and Music” and it drew approximately 400,000 young people. Acts at Woodstock included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Santana and The Who. The event is immortalized in the film, Taking Woodstock (2009).
- The Catskills was also setting for the 1987 hit movie, Dirty Dancing
- The Catskills span from the Hudson River Valley west into central New York State and occupy five different counties (Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster). It is a vast forest preserve which is protected from many forms of development under New York state law. The region contains more than 30 peaks over 3,500 feet high and six prominent rivers. The Catskills continue into the immediate southwest of Pennsylvania, known as The Poconos.