Journey by Design: Sunrise Ruffalo’s Guide to the Catskills

Journey by Design: Sunrise Ruffalo’s Guide to the Catskills

By Melissa Dalton
The design boutique owner shares her and husband Mark Ruffalo’s favorite haunts in the Catskills hamlet of Narrowsburg, New York.

When asked how she would sum up her time in the Catskills in just three words, Sunrise Ruffalo says, "My first thought is ‘In the pond.’" Indeed, the tiny hamlet of Narrowsburg—Ruffalo’s favorite stomping grounds in the region—is located at a crook in the Delaware River near the foothills of the Catskills Mountains, which creates a beckoning backdrop of water and greenery. 

Ruffalo  was struck by the setting ever since her first visit to the area in the late 1990s. "I could not get over how verdant it was," she says. "There are so many natural springs, waterfalls, streams, and lakes that feed into the Delaware River." 

At 113-feet-deep, the Big Eddy is the deepest point on the Delaware River. It’s located at Narrowsburg, a hamlet in the Town of Tusten.

And while dropping a boat in the river or hiking one of the many area trails is not to be missed on any summer visit, Narrowsburg also boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. The community is home to the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance as well as the annual art fair Riverfest and the Deep Water Literary Fest, at which Ruffalo’s husband, actor Mark Ruffalo, has previously performed. "I spend most of my time on Main Street in Narrowsburg," she says. "Not only is my store, Sunny’s Pop, located there, it is full of some of the best food, retail, and art galleries in the area." 

The Narrowsburg Observation Deck overlooks the Big Eddy and is located on Main Street.  

Ruffalo grew up in New Orleans and has long held an interest in art and interiors, which really came together on childhood visits to both of her grandmothers. "One was an ultra-chic Parisian living in France and the other was a San Francisco socialite," she says. "Both had impeccable taste. I would also say it's hard not to be inspired by the architecture growing up in the city of New Orleans." 

In the summer of 2017, Sunrise opened a pop-up shop in nearby Callicoon, "as a way for me to empty out my barn of incredible antiques I had been saving over the years," she says. Having received such a positive response from that endeavor, she found a permanent home for the pop-up on Narrowsburg’s Main Street later that same year. Now, her store, Sunny’s Pop, sells a unique collection of antiques, handmade housewares, and one-of-a-kind finds. 

Sunny's Pop

Sunny’s Pop has a curated selection of home goods, artwork, textiles, clothing, and accessories.

When selecting objects for her store, Ruffalo sticks to her gut. "I make an effort to stay very in-tune with myself as I'm constantly influenced by the friends I meet, the places I go, and the art and music I find," she says. "With these new discoveries, my tastes change slightly which allows the store's style to evolve and grow as I do. As long as I can continue to go with the flow like the river, so will Sunny's Pop."

"The store is featuring these linen and wool rugs that are hand woven on the grounds of this stunning, 12th-century monastery. Even the plants used to dye the wool is grown on-site, and the rugs are soft beyond belief," says Ruffalo. The store’s textile selection also includes alpaca throws by Brahms Mount, hand-woven silk knots by Bartleby Objects, and a silk woven pillow with velvet backing hand-sewn by Abbatte.

"A few of the products I am totally loving right now include dish ware from Philly, rugs from Madrid, throw beds designed in France, and this fabulous birdhouse wheel-thrown in Vermont," says Ruffalo.

Toiletries and bath supplies include the Rainy Day towel collection by Donna Wilson, wool and leather tissue box covers by Graf Lantz, and West Third Brand perfumes.

When to Visit

Ruffalo says any season is suitable for a visit to the Catskills. "The summer is amazing because of the time you get to spend outdoors in the river or the pond," she says. Autumn offers stunning foliage and ideal hiking conditions. Ruffalo’s family likes to ski and ice skate in the winter, and spring is when she goes for the blooming forsythia bushes and tulips. 

"I have been a full-time resident before, but while the children are attending school, my family tries to be in the Catskills the second they are out," says Ruffalo. "So right now, we are part-time residents, but we try to come up every weekend and stay all summer."

What to Do

Start the day in the sculpture garden at Forrest Meyer’s art studio "located just on the other side of the bridge from Callicoon, NY," says Ruffalo. "His outdoor sculpture garden is truly unique, and quite the experience to walk through."

"On hot summer days the family and I head down to Skinner’s Falls, just south of Cochecton, New York, on the Delaware River to drop our paddle boards in for a gentle cruise around, followed by picnics on the rocks along the river’s edge," says Ruffalo. "Guests can rent kayaks from Lander’s to make a daylong trip out of it."

Check out all the shops on Narrowsburg’s Main Street, especially Aaron’s One Grand, a bookstore that specializes in compiling top 10 desert-island reading lists from well-known thinkers, writers, artists, and other creative minds.

For food, Ruffalo suggests grabbing a wood-fired pizza at the Laundrette.   

"I always recommend the black olive and pepperoni pizza or kale Caesar salad," she says. "Although they have incredible cocktails, I always go for my guilty pleasure: Coca Cola in a glass bottle."

"Evenings can seem quiet and calm in the mountains along the river, but if you are a night owl looking for some life past sundown, the Emerald Ballroom gets grooving with a variety of bands from near and far on the weekends," says Ruffalo. "It even has a quaint alleyway off of Main Street that offers an incredible view of the Big Eddy."

Accommodations can be found at the Moonriver Inn, pictured above.

"When guests are looking for places to stay, I would recommend one of the amazing Airbnbs on the Narrowsburg flats," says Ruffalo.

"The Catskills is such a special place to visit because of its incredible natural beauty, the clear, crisp waters of the Delaware River, and how serene and calm it is no matter where you visit here," says Ruffalo. 


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