Ellenville Boasts a Rich History and Cultural Attractions Galore

Located at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains, the Ulster County village leans into its storied past while welcoming new businesses.

At the base of the Shawangunk Mountains lies Ellenville, a small Ulster County village with a rich history. A part of the Borscht Belt—a region once home to grand summer resorts such as now-defunct Grossinger’s and The Concord—the town was bustling in the mid-1900s when Catskills tourism was at its peak. But ultimately, when vacationing to the area decreased in popularity, so did Ellenville.

However, in recent years, the village has once again been on the rise thanks to new residents and businesses. “It’s a small town that’s growing fast,” says JoAnn Owsinski, a staff member of the Ellenville-Wawarsing Chamber of Commerce (EWCOC). She adds that with the addition of the Catskills Borscht Belt Museum, the village has garnered attention. “We have people from all over the country calling about it.”

The Culture

Ellenville’s past life as a vacation hotspot is honored by the Catskills Borscht Belt Museum on Canal Street, which first opened its doors in 2023 for an exhibit called “Vacationland!” The permanent, renovated museum building complete with interactive exhibits, archival film and audio, and more is scheduled to open next year, but for now its pop-up exhibits continue to be very popular.

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Ellenville’s annual Blueberry Festival attracts thousands to the village.
Ellenville’s annual Blueberry Festival attracts thousands to the village.

Last year, thousands flocked to Ellenville to celebrate the inaugural Borscht Belt Fest: Two days of food, comedy, live music, and more (get in on the action this year on July 27–28). Additionally, performing arts center Shadowland Stages presents a variety of plays each year (check shadowlandstages.org for this season’s schedule).

Family Life

Local children attend the Ellenville CSD, which has a total enrollment of 1,475 students across two campuses in pre-K through 12th grade.

Every year, families look forward to events sponsored by EWCOC, such as the Blueberry Festival. On August 10, over 150 vendors will take over Canal Street and Liberty Square. Throughout the day, you can sample and buy blueberry-infused foods (from jams to desserts), listen to live music, and participate in an amateurs-only blueberry muffin competition.

On the Town

Amid Ellenville’s burgeoning renaissance, the village has welcomed several new shops and restaurants. Morning Sunshine, a café and provisions shop; Sideways, a seasonal wine, cider, and beer garden; home goods shop Inland; and new and used vinyl store Everything Nice have all opened since the pandemic. More are on the way—The Common Good, a bookstore and bar, is set to open this summer. “A lot of industries and tourism left after the Borscht Belt era. Finally, people are supporting small businesses, and want to regenerate downtown,” says Tori Messner, co-owner of Morning Sunshine. A few old favorites in Ellenville include Sook House Korean restaurant, the Mexican cantina Gaby’s Café, Cohen’s Bakery, Aroma Thyme Bistro, which serves up American classics, and the wine and tapas bar Marbella.

Ellenville on the town

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The Borscht Belt region’s popularity can be partly attributed to the surrounding nature, and present-day Ellenville is no different. At the southeastern edge of the village lies Sam’s Point, a hiking area in the Minnewaska State Park Preserve with nine different trails (a visit to the ice caves during the summer is a must). Witch’s Hole and parts of the Vernooy Kill state forests are located just outside of Ellenville’s boundaries.

Owsinski, who has lived in the village for over a decade, offers this: “Ellenville is a very friendly village, and the Chamber of Commerce and business owners have tried to do a lot for the community. It’s definitely moving forward.” We have to agree.

To find a real estate agent in Ellenville or any Hudson Valley town check out near-me.hvmag.com/realtors.

Related: Morning Sunshine Makes Dining Delicious in Ellenville

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