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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 and technology, 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. Thousands of food lovers make the trip to the New Paltz area for its popular food festivals, including the Gardiner Cupcake Festival at Wrights Farm in May, the Taste of New Paltz Festival at the Ulster County Fairgrounds in September, and the Ulster County Fair in late July.

New Paltz is one of the oldest communities in the United States and several buildings dating from the early 1700s still stand throughout town. Some 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.

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