New Paltz is a playground for urbanites craving an immersion in nature. Plenty of green space and abundant outdoor activities are just 90 minutes from New York City.
Mother Nature has geographically blessed the Hudson Valley town with rocky ridges and pristine forests, but there are enough cultural options to keep city slickers satisfied. With its funky collegiate vibe and pedestrian-friendly village, it’s a lively weekend getaway.
The Mohonk Preserve ($15/day for hikers, $20/day for bikers and climbers, FREE/ages 12 and under; 845-255-0919, mohonkpreserve.org) is an 8,000-acre wonderland of flora and fauna. Craggy cliffs and towering rock formations provide spectacular scenery. Located on the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, rock climbers from around the globe flock here. Hikers and mountain bikers will enjoy miles of rambling carriage roads graced with scenic vistas.
For more outdoor exploring, there’s the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail (wvrta.org), a 22-mile recreational path. Hikers, cyclists and horseback riders enjoy pastoral views of flower-filled meadows and orchards ripe with seasonal produce. Rent two wheels at Bicycle Depot ($40/day, $25/after 2 p.m.; 15 Main St., 845-255-3859, bicycledepot.com) and pedal away.
A group of French Huguenots settled in New Paltz in the 17th century, seeking religious freedom. Today, Historic Huguenot Street (closed Wednesdays, guided tours $15/adults, 10 percent off for seniors; 81 Huguenot St., 845-255-1889, huguenotstreet.org) keeps their story alive. Guided 90-minute tours allow visitors to see the interiors of three historic houses and a replica Esopus Munsee wigwam.
The village is home to a variety of independently owned shops, including several bookstores and a retro record store, Jack’s Rhythms (54 Main St., 845-255-1082, jacksrhythms.com), plus a number of art galleries. For additional visual stimulation, head to the SUNY New Paltz campus and check out the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art (closed Mondays and Tuesdays, suggested admission $5; 1 Hawk Dr., 845-257-3844, newpaltz.edu). The permanent collection is rich in American art, including the Hudson Valley and Catskills region.
Where to eat
The Village Tea Room (closed Mondays and Tuesdays; 10 Plattekill Ave., 845-255-3434, thevillagetearoom.com) is a charming spot featuring farm-to-table cooking. Ethereal scones and showstopping cakes explain why it’s a teatime favorite.
For upscale dining with a sense of history, Garvan’s (closed Mondays; 215 Huguenot St., 845-255-7888, garvans.com) occupies a 1759 building and serves simple but excellent fare like roasted chicken and shrimp scampi.
New Paltz is loaded with bars, and some good wines are being made in the area from leaders like Robibero Family Vineyards (714 Albany Post Rd., 845-255-9463, robiberofamilyvineyards.com). Sample a wine flight ($12), listen to live music and, on weekends, enjoy pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven.
GOOD TO KNOW
Getting there: New Paltz is just under two hours by car from midtown Manhattan. Adirondack Trailways ($22/each way; 800-858-8555, trailwaysny.com) also runs multiple daily buses from Port Authority; the trip takes approximately 95 minutes.
Getting around: The village is very walkable, though a car is necessary to reach many of the nature-oriented treasures.
Where to stay: Mohonk Mountain House (1000 Mountain Rest Rd., 855-883-3798, mohonk.com) is an iconic resort in an elegant Victorian castle. Surrounded by unspoiled wilderness, the sprawling grounds are magnificent. Meals, which are included in the rate, utilize the bounty of locally sourced products from nearby farms and purveyors. The spa is a worthy splurge. Moondance Ridge (55 Shivertown Rd., 845-255-4161, moondanceridge.com) is a modern bed-and-breakfast a mile from the village, with five private rooms and luxuries such as in-room whirlpool.