The Hudson Valley: Places to Explore


New Paltz

A vibrant cultural scene, a magnificent natural setting, and abundant outdoor activities are among the draws of this small college town, home to a State University of New York campus. The school lures serious students of the arts, many of whom end up living in the area after graduation. These artists, craftspeople, writers, and musicians have helped make this an energetic place with diverse shopping, dining, and arts offerings.

Founded in 1677 by Huguenots who received a patent from the colonial governor, New Paltz is one of the oldest communities in the United States. The settlers originally wanted to build on the flats, on the west side of the Wallkill River, but rethought that plan after the American Indians warned them about the river's spring floods. Building on the higher, eastern bank was an excellent decision: buildings dating from the early 1700s still stand throughout town. Several serve as bed-and-breakfasts today, so you can experience them personally.

In the distance, beyond a main street of casual eateries and quirky shops, rise the craggy cliffs of the Shawangunk Mountains. With steep faces of white quartzite conglomerate that reach more than 2,000 feet above sea level at some points, the Gunks, as they're casually known, are a premier destination for rock climbers in the northeast. Sky Top Tower, which sits atop a prominent ledge, is a landmark for miles around.