A thriving hamlet for artists, writers, and musicians with a college-town vibe, New Paltz is an easy jaunt from New York City, ideal come springtime with its multitude of outdoor adventures. Whether it's climbing mountains or taking in the fresh spring flora from the comfort of a rocking chair, New Paltz is the ideal weekend getaway for city-dwellers looking for a rustic town with a silver lining of culture and sophistication.
The weekend starts with your arrival at the Minnewaska Lodge, a local chalet that specializes in outdoor escapes. Built in 2001, Minnewaska Lodge brings a contemporary flair to the mountain retreat, exuding the energy of a new property. A quick 10-minute drive south of New Paltz in Gardiner, New York, the 26 guest rooms of the lodge are uniquely designed with wooden accents and prints from local photographers adorning the walls. Drop your bags and take a moment to unwind outside on one of the property’s many Adirondack chairs.
For the best first acquaintance with New Paltz, start with the charming Water Street Market, at the base of downtown New Paltz, right off the Wallkill River. Nearly two dozen vendors have set up shop along the outdoor path, ranging from local artists to farmers. Start the walk with a sweet in hand from Dohnut, the devilishly tasty pastry post where rotating specials include Sriracha, chai, and Nutella doughnuts. The indulgence continues at Jar’d Wine Pub, a tiny hotspot where locals seek out fine wine and inventive small plates, perfect for an end-of-the-week toast. Opt for the charcuterie plate of local meats and cheeses, along with the Yard Owl brew on tap, one of the Hudson Valley’s most prized small-batch breweries. There are some excellent small shops along the way, namely the unique finds at Maglyn's Dream, a boutique featuring local art, jewelry, and home goods. And for those looking for a piece of Hudson Valley history, stop in to the Antiques Barn mall where dealers feature jewelry, furniture, and racks of vintage clothing.
Once you’ve made your way through the market, head across the street for a low-key night at The Gilded Otter (average main: $15). The extensive menu at this gastropub with microbrew casks proudly on display in the dining room is best for its hearty options including the three-meat chili, meatloaf, and Cuban sandwich. As for the house-made beer on tap, the year-round Katzenjammer Kolsch is among the top pours.
Upon returning to Minnewaska Lodge, join the gathering outside as the lodge’s Adirondack chairs form a perimeter around two nearby gas fire pits. Guests gather to mingle, swap travel stories, and share favorite hiking routes under the starlit sky.
Plan ahead (reservations are required) to spend the better part of your day Saturday at the pristine Mohonk Mountain House, a national historic landmark set at the southern border of the Catskill Mountains on the secluded Lake Mohonk. Opt for their best value day rate at $78, which includes a gourmet lunch buffet, access to the resort’s main house and museum, and a well-plotted 85-mile network of mountain trails. The perfect day at Mohonk starts with a hike to Sky Top, the peak of the Mohonk preserve. Climb the 100 steps to the top of a man-made stone tower built in 1921 for unbeatable views of the Shawangunk Mountains. Loop back down the mountainside, passing some of the 125 signature wooden “summer houses,” or lookout huts, that dot the property, offering a cozy spot to relax, catch your breath, and take in the view. While the rest of the morning away on the sweeping porch that borders the lake with a row of rocking chairs for a peaceful rest before lunch. The dining room demands a large appetite with a blend of exotic dishes including Peruvian chicken and lamb kabobs, and more standard resort fare—think carving stations and a classic salad bar. After lunch, work off the calories aboard one of the rowboats available for an additional $13 per half hour at Mohonk Lake. Round out the day with Mohonk’s classic tea and cookie service at 4 pm just off the main porch before heading to the back of the house for the nightly Spirits on the Sunset cocktail hour, where simple cocktails are served al fresco.
As the sun sets, head back into New Paltz for dinner at A Tavola Trattoria (average main: $28), where Chef Louis Escoto has a host of flavorful tricks up his sleeve. A renowned eatery that arrived on the Hudson Valley scene in 2011, owner-chefs Nathan and Bonnie Snow set their sights on mountain life, decamping from their posts at Manhattan’s Sfoglia. Standouts of A Tavola Trattoria’s regional Italian fare include a grilled octopus starter, fresh basil ricotta gnocchi with Italian sausage, and pan-seared local duck breast with roasted local plums. The extensive Italian wine list represents a wide swath of Italy’s finest, while the cocktail list hits the mark with classic Italian libations as well as new standards.
For the best Sunday brunch, head to Main Street Bistro, where you'll have a hard time deciding among the savoriy omelets, frittatas, and stir frys or the bistro’s fluffy pancakes and French toast (average main: $8).
Walk off the filling breakfast exploring downtown New Paltz’s specialty shops; standouts include Cocoon, a quirky home decor store, Rock & Snow, an outdoor gear outfitter, and Krause’s Chocolates, where nearly everything is chocolate covered. After exploring Main Street, head over to the historic Huguenot Street and step back into the history of early settlers of the 1600s. Seven historic stone houses built as part of a community of Huguenot settlers remain intact, dating back to the early 18th century. Book the informative tour ($10 for adults, $8 for seniors) ahead of time for the best access to the site.
Finish the day at the Robibero Family Vineyards, a family-owned and -operated winery estabilshed in 2010. Wine tastings ($10 for 5 samples of wine, which includes a souvenir wine glass) at the wine bar bring out an assortment of rieslings and cabernet sauvignon, poured by an informed and friendly staff. End the weekend with a relaxing picnic on the vineyard grounds, as cheeses, meats, and crackers are available from the tasting room and pair nicely with the Robibero wine.
When to Go
April and May is prime season in New Paltz, as the spring blooms capture the best of the Shawangunk Mountains.