New Paltz offers a mixture of hippy boutiques, historic sites and classic Hudson Valley nature. The area is well known to New Yorkers as the home of the Mohonk Mountain House but you don’t need to spend $600 per night to enjoy the local beauty and history. A $22 bus ticket will whisk you from the Port Authority Bus Terminal to the town of New Paltz in less than two hours. Conveniently, the bus station is located in the middle of town so you can immediately start to meander down Main Street. Whether you’re interested in culture, local food or beautiful sunsets, you’ll find it in New Paltz.
Things to Do in New Paltz
Meet the artists of the town by checking out Roost Gallery. The gallery is an artist cooperative and each member rotates their work through. The current exhibition by Betsy Gelvin features mixed-media based on natural themes. Each month, the gallery also host an artist talk, so check their calendar of events to see if your visit overlaps with one of these free nights of discussion and mingling.
To really connect with the heart of this village, head to Historic Huguenot Street (about a 10 minute walk from the bus stop) and learn the history of the Huguenots. This group escaped persecution in Europe for the friendlier pastures of the Hudson Valley and settled New Paltz in the 17th century. Dive deeper with a guided tour ($15) from the Historic Huguenot Society or download their new free mobile app to soak up the facts yourself.
After you’ve learned the area’s history head to Barner Books where, along with a whole section dedicated to local authors and local history, you’ll find vintage typewriters and other quirky antiques.
If you’re feeling a bit retro, peruse the boxes of vinyls at Jack’s Rhythms or Rhino Records to get your music fix. If games are more your thing, head around the corner Bacchus for a round of pool, excellent bar fare, and the most extensive craft beer (including their own) in town.
For outdoor enthusiasts, New Paltz is primarily known as the home to The Gunks, arguably the most famous rock climbing destination on the East Coast. But the nearby mountains offer more than climbing. A solid pair of shoes and love for hiking is all you need to explore the 22,275-acre Minnewaska State Park.
Or rent a bike from the Bike Depot and explore the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, which runs through town, is mostly flat and best of all, completely car-free.
Eat and Drink
For weekend brunch, head to the Main Street Bistro – the earlier the better as lines can get long at this popular spot. The wide array of omelettes, frittatas and breakfast sandwiches are not only reasonably priced but incredibly filling.
When the weather’s right, the outdoor spots for craft beer, cocktails and cider in New Paltz cannot be beat. Try Huckleberry for hand crafted cocktails and a cozy backyard vibe. Or for the best views of the Shawangunk Ridge, nab a spot on the Gilded Otter’s porch and try one of their home brewed beers.
Head slightly outside of the main drag to find Twin Star Orchard an excellent spot for a summer afternoon or evening. Start with a free cider tasting in their Brooklyn Cider House tasting room and then walk up to their barn area for incredible wood fired pizza, board games and dramatic sunsets over the orchard. In the fall, spend your afternoon apple picking.
Take the Bus from NYC
Take Adirondack Trailways bus from Port Authority to New Paltz ($39.00 same-day round trip).
Photos by author and Brooklyn Cider House/Twin Orchards
Sarah Knapp is a Brooklyn -based entrepreneur whose love for the outdoors and community building led her to the October 2013 creation of OutdoorFest. She has a BA in History, is a Wilderness First Responder and a NY state hiking, camp and boating guide. Her proudest achievement to date is reading the Aeneid in Latin.