Peace, Love, and Bethel Woods

Travel to the Sullivan Catskills, NY to the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival

By Emily Papa, Macaroni KID South Hills Publisher August 7, 2022

Take a walk with me back to 1969. Before all the distractions of technology, where the vibe was all peace, love, and happiness. Where messages were posted on a tree to connect lost friends and spread happiness. Embraced in the arms of Mother Nature, surrounded by 2,000 acres of love, and activated by music. 

Enjoying the quiet meditation space set up outside the Creative Arts Kids Program at Bethel Wood Center.  

The author was hosted to facilitate this article. All thoughts and opinions expressed are their own.

Bethel Woods Center, located in the Sullivan Catskills, NY, is the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. You didn’t have to grow up in the 1960s to appreciate everything Bethel Woods Center has to offer. Take the museum tour at Bethel Woods Center, and you’ll instantly be transformed to that era. 

Tour the grounds through the original, uncompromised venue and Conservatory and Atria where year-round programming is held for kids ages 4-12 and feel the positive vibes that are infused through their daily curriculum. Check out the Bethel Woods Center events calendar and catch a concert of a lifetime at the Pavilion to hear music that will set you in motion. Make a roadie’s dream come true and book a Behind the Scenes Tour where famous artists have roamed the hallways, and you get direct access to the stories, research, and operation of the Woodstock historic site. No matter your age or interest, this venue has something for everyone.

Macaroni KID Pittsburgh Publishers at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival Site.

Me and John, our docent and Woodstock Festival expert at Bethel Woods Center.

“To understand Woodstock, it’s important to understand how the culture of music was inspiring and shaping evolution.” 

That’s what our docent John told us as we were walking through the Museum at Bethel Woods; and he did an excellent job making sure we did just that. John, a hip man in his 70s from Slatersville, Rhode Island, serves as a specialty tour guide at Bethel Woods Center. His area of expertise is that from Havens to Hendrix, he was there for all 4 days of the Woodstock Music Festival. Now I’m not usually one for history, but there was something about listening to John recall the events from that weekend that had me hanging on to every word as he walked us through the museum. 

John travels from Rhode Island 8-10 times a year to give his tour, if you are lucky enough to get him as your docent!

John grew up during a time when the main source of information was brought into homes through a 19-inch black and white TV. In a world where the war was depressing, he found an escape in music that was uplifting. When he heard of the concert through an underground newspaper, he quickly sent in his $18 money order and received his tickets for the festival within days. Wearing his Alma Mater on a red shirt, so his friends would be able to spot him in the crowd, he made his way to the small town of Bethel.

The walls of the museum at Bethel Woods Center are filled with artifacts and the history of all the artists who performed at the Woodstock Music Festival.

Like it was yesterday, John shared stories with us from those four days of the Woodstock Music Festival spent with fellow college and high school students (breaking the news to us that only ¼ of the people in attendance were actually hippies). 

John educated us on the events of the festival and the movement it made; hoping to dispel some misinterpretations of the event. I loved hearing about his experience that weekend and for the anniversary weekends that came year after year when “alumni” would come back to the festival site on the anniversary of the festival weekend to camp out. 

I totally would have hung out with John at Woodstock!!

If you’re looking for your next bucket list item, I implore you to add Bethel Woods Center, located in the Sullivan Catskills, NY. Grab the kids, pack up the car, and get ready to travel to the Woodstock era and experience this incredible vibe for yourself. 

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We heard through good authority that Bethel Woods Center will start to offer overnight lodging in the future, but until then, consider staying at The Kartrite Resort and Indoor Water Park or Villa Roma Resort to fulfill all the needs of your family. Villa Roma is even offering a 10% discount to MacKID readers!

If you plan on making a weekend out of it, we also recommend taking a trip down the Delaware River with Lander's River Trips and most definitely searching for the infamous Sullivan Catskills doves. Still not convinced? Read 6 Reasons the Sullivan Catskills Needs to be Your Next Vacation from another PA MacKID Publisher. There are so many fun things to do in the Sullivan Catskills that it's easy to make this quick trip from Pittsburgh a family vacation you will never forget!

Peace, Love, and Macaroni! xoxo