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The 8 Best Things To Do In New Paltz


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Tiffi Doster


Hiking in the Shawangunk Mountains

Venturing into the Shawangunk Mountains is a must-do activity for outdoor enthusiasts visiting New Paltz. With over 8,000 acres of breathtaking natural beauty, the Shawangunk Mountains offer a plethora of hiking trails suitable for all levels of experience.


One of the most popular trails in the area is the Mohonk Preserve. This expansive nature preserve is home to over 70 miles of trails that wind through diverse ecosystems, including lush forests, scenic valleys, and stunning cliffs. The trails vary in difficulty, allowing hikers of all fitness levels to enjoy the beauty of the Shawangunks.


For those seeking a challenging hike, the Bonticou Crag trail is a favorite choice. This trail leads to a massive rock formation, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. The Skytop Tower trail is another notable option, leading hikers to the top of the Shawangunk Ridge, where they can enjoy 360-degree views of the region.


If you’re looking for a more leisurely hike, the Undercliff/Overcliff loop is a great choice. This trail follows the cliffs along the ridge, offering stunning views of the valley below. The Trapps Mountain Hamlet trail is also a popular option, passing through beautiful forests and offering glimpses of the iconic rock climbing routes that the Shawangunks are known for.


When hiking in the Shawangunk Mountains, it’s essential to come prepared with proper gear, including sturdy footwear, water, and snacks. It’s also advisable to check weather conditions and trail maps before embarking on your adventure. Additionally, be respectful of nature by following Leave No Trace principles and staying on designated trails.


Whether you’re an experienced hiker or new to the activity, exploring the Shawangunk Mountains will leave you awe-inspired by its natural beauty and provide you with a memorable outdoor experience. So, strap on your hiking boots and get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of this remarkable New York destination.


Exploring the Mohonk Preserve

If you’re a nature lover and enjoy outdoor activities, a visit to the Mohonk Preserve is a must when in New Paltz. Spanning over 8,000 acres, the Mohonk Preserve is a pristine natural landscape that offers an array of opportunities for exploration and adventure.


One of the highlights of the preserve is its extensive network of hiking trails. With over 70 miles of trails ranging in difficulty, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for a challenge or a beginner seeking a leisurely stroll, the Mohonk Preserve has a trail to suit your preferences.


The preserve is famous for its breathtaking viewpoints, such as the Skytop Tower. This iconic stone tower offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and the picturesque Mohonk Lake. The view from the top is a sight to behold and provides the perfect backdrop for photos and moments of serenity in nature.


In addition to hiking, the Mohonk Preserve is a haven for rock climbers. It boasts some of the best climbing routes in the northeast, attracting climbers of all skill levels. The Shawangunk Ridge, also known as the Gunks, offers a unique and challenging climbing experience with its quartz cliffs and diverse rock formations.


For those who prefer to take to the water, the preserve is home to several pristine lakes and streams. Visitors can enjoy canoeing or kayaking on Mohonk Lake or fishing in the tranquil waters. The preserve also offers educational programs on birdwatching and nature photography, allowing visitors to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the local ecosystem.


Another notable attraction within the Mohonk Preserve is the Mohonk Mountain House. This historic resort offers luxurious accommodations and amenities while being surrounded by the preserve’s natural beauty. Visitors can indulge in spa treatments, gourmet dining, and outdoor activities while enjoying a serene retreat.


Before visiting the Mohonk Preserve, it’s important to check the visitor center for any guidelines or restrictions in place, as the preserve aims to protect its fragile ecosystems. Visitors are encouraged to practice Leave No Trace principles, respecting the environment and leaving it undisturbed for future generations to enjoy.


Exploring the Mohonk Preserve is a truly immersive experience that allows you to reconnect with nature and indulge in a variety of outdoor activities. Whether you’re hiking, climbing, or simply taking in the stunning views, a visit to the Mohonk Preserve will undoubtedly leave you with unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for New Paltz’s natural beauty.


Visiting the Historic Huguenot Street

Step back in time and immerse yourself in history by visiting the Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz. This National Historic Landmark District preserves a collection of early stone houses, churches, and a burying ground, representing the rich cultural heritage of the Huguenot settlers who arrived in the area in the late 17th century.


As you explore Historic Huguenot Street, you’ll be transported to a different era. The street is lined with beautifully preserved stone houses, showcasing unique architectural styles and historical significance. Take a guided tour to gain insights into the lives of the early settlers and learn about their contributions to the community.


One of the highlights of the street is the Jean Hasbrouck House, a stone house dating back to 1721. This well-preserved example of Dutch Colonial architecture offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Huguenot settlers. Step inside and admire the period furnishings, historic artifacts, and the intricate details that make this house a living museum.


Adjacent to the Hasbrouck House is the Deyo House, a Federal-style mansion built in the early 19th century. This grand house is filled with period furniture, artwork, and decorative pieces, providing visitors with a sense of the opulence that characterized the early 19th-century lifestyle.


The street is also home to the Old New Paltz Stone Church, built in 1717, which is one of the oldest Reformed Church congregations in America. Marvel at the simple yet elegant design of this historic church and take a moment to appreciate its significance in the religious and cultural history of the Huguenot community.


While strolling along Historic Huguenot Street, make sure to visit the Huguenot Street Farm, a working farm that demonstrates traditional agricultural practices. Learn about sustainable farming methods, interact with farm animals, and taste farm-fresh produce.


Throughout the year, the Historic Huguenot Street hosts various events and programs that bring history to life. From colonial reenactments to educational workshops, there are plenty of opportunities to engage with the rich heritage of the Huguenot settlers and gain a deeper understanding of their influence on the development of New Paltz.


As you explore Historic Huguenot Street, take a moment to appreciate the significance of this historic site and the stories it tells. From the struggles and triumphs of the early settlers to the vibrant heritage that continues to thrive today, a visit to Historic Huguenot Street is a journey through time that shouldn’t be missed when in New Paltz.


Sampling Local Wines at Wineries

New Paltz and its surrounding region are known for their flourishing wine industry, making it a delightful destination for wine enthusiasts. The area boasts several wineries that offer visitors the opportunity to sample and savor a wide variety of locally produced wines.


When it comes to wine tasting, one of the must-visit destinations is the Shawangunk Wine Trail. Stretching across Ulster and Orange Counties, this trail is home to 15 wineries, each with its own unique charm and character. From boutique vineyards to family-owned estates, there is something for every wine lover along this scenic trail.


One of the notable wineries on the Shawangunk Wine Trail is Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery. With breathtaking views of the Shawangunk Mountains, this award-winning winery offers tastings of their handcrafted wines made from estate-grown grapes. Take a guided tour of the vineyards and learn about the winemaking process from the knowledgeable staff.


Another gem on the wine trail is Robibero Winery, a family-owned and operated winery that prides itself on producing small-batch, high-quality wines. Visit their tasting room and indulge in a flight of their distinctive wines while enjoying the scenic beauty of the vineyards.


If you’re interested in organic and biodynamic wines, a visit to the Palaia Vineyards is a must. This picturesque winery focuses on sustainable practices and offers a range of delicious wines made from hand-picked grapes. Enjoy a tasting while taking in the panoramic views of the countryside.


For a unique tasting experience, head over to the Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery. While not a winery, this renowned distillery is known for its craft spirits, including whiskey, vodka, and gin. Take a tour of the distillery and sample their handcrafted spirits, learning about their production process along the way.


Visiting the wineries in New Paltz not only allows you to taste exceptional wines but also provides an opportunity to engage with the passionate winemakers and vineyard owners. They are often eager to share their knowledge and stories, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.


Before planning your wine tasting adventure, it’s advisable to check the individual winery websites for visiting hours and any reservations required. Some wineries also offer additional attractions, such as live music events or food pairings, creating a well-rounded experience.


Sampling local wines at the wineries in New Paltz is not just about indulging in delicious wines, but also about immersing yourself in the local culture, history, and craftsmanship. So raise a glass and toast to the vibrant wine scene of New Paltz, where every sip is a celebration of the region’s fruitful terroir and the dedication of its winemakers.


Rock Climbing at the Shawangunk Ridge

If you’re an adrenaline junkie seeking a thrilling outdoor adventure, look no further than the Shawangunk Ridge. Renowned among rock climbers worldwide, it offers a world-class climbing experience that draws enthusiasts from near and far.


The Shawangunks, also known as the Gunks, boast an impressive array of cliffs and rock formations composed of quartz conglomerate. This unique geology creates a challenging and diverse climbing environment, making it a haven for rock climbers of all skill levels.


One of the most popular areas for rock climbing is the Trapps, a section of the Shawangunk Ridge that spans approximately two miles. With over 300 routes ranging in difficulty from beginner-friendly to advanced, there is always a new challenge for climbers to conquer.


For beginners or those seeking guided experiences, local climbing schools and guides provide instruction and equipment rentals. They ensure safety protocols are followed and offer valuable insights into navigating the routes and maximizing the climbing experience.


Experienced climbers can push their limits by tackling classic routes like High Exposure or Madame G’s. These iconic routes test both technical skills and mental fortitude, rewarding climbers with breathtaking views from the exposed cliff faces.


What sets the climbing experience at the Shawangunks apart is the close integration with nature. As you ascend the cliffs, you’ll be greeted by stunning views of the surrounding forests, rolling hills, and charming landscapes. The tranquil atmosphere combined with the physical exertion creates a unique and fulfilling experience.


While the Shawangunks are an excellent destination for seasoned climbers, they also cater to beginners looking to dip their toes into the world of rock climbing. Local climbing schools offer introductory classes and guided climbs, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for newcomers.


Before embarking on a climbing adventure, it’s important to be well-prepared. Familiarize yourself with the routes, bring appropriate climbing gear, and adhere to safety protocols. Additionally, respect the natural environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles and minimizing your impact on the fragile ecosystem.


Whether you’re a seasoned climber looking for a new challenge or a beginner with a sense of adventure, rock climbing at the Shawangunk Ridge promises an unforgettable experience. Conquer vertical heights, push your limits, and immerse yourself in the exhilarating world of rock climbing against the backdrop of stunning natural beauty.


Enjoying Water Activities at Minnewaska State Park

If you’re a fan of water activities, look no further than Minnewaska State Park, a stunning natural oasis located near New Paltz. This sprawling park is renowned for its crystal-clear lakes, scenic waterfalls, and tranquil streams, offering a plethora of opportunities to cool off and enjoy aquatic adventures.


One of the main attractions at Minnewaska State Park is the picturesque Lake Minnewaska. This pristine lake is a haven for swimming, kayaking, and canoeing. Take a refreshing dip in the sparkling waters to escape the summer heat or rent a boat to explore the tranquil surroundings at your own pace.


For those seeking a unique experience, paddleboarding is a popular option on Lake Minnewaska. Stand on a paddleboard and gently glide across the calm waters while taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and lush greenery.


One of the park’s hidden treasures is Awosting Falls, a magnificent waterfall that cascades into a pristine pool below. Take a refreshing swim in the cool waters beneath the falls and feel the invigorating spray on your skin. The experience is nothing short of magical and provides a refreshing respite from the summer heat.


If you prefer a more relaxed water activity, pack a picnic and head to one of the park’s designated picnic areas. Enjoy a leisurely lunch by the water’s edge, and let the gentle sounds of nature rejuvenate your spirit. The park also offers several scenic hiking trails that lead to picturesque overlooks, including stunning views of Lake Awosting.


Before heading to Minnewaska State Park, it’s important to check the park’s website for any specific guidelines or restrictions regarding water activities. Safety should always be a priority, so ensure you have proper swimming gear, life jackets, and other necessary equipment for your chosen water activities.


Minnewaska State Park is not only a playground for water enthusiasts, but it also offers a myriad of other recreational opportunities. From hiking to biking and even horseback riding, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the breathtaking scenery and create lasting memories.


Immerse yourself in the beauty of Minnewaska State Park and let the sparkling waters and serene landscapes rejuvenate your soul. Whether you choose to swim, paddle, or simply relax by the water’s edge, the park offers a refreshing and tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


Discovering the Dorsky Museum of Art

If you have a love for art and culture, a visit to the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in New Paltz is a must. Located on the campus of the State University of New York at New Paltz, this esteemed museum showcases a diverse collection of contemporary and historical artworks, hosting rotating exhibits that captivate and inspire.


The museum’s impressive collection features works from prominent artists across various mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, and more. From thought-provoking contemporary pieces to traditional artworks, the Dorsky Museum offers a comprehensive view of artistic expressions from both local and international artists.


The museum’s thoughtfully curated exhibits explore a wide range of themes and artistic movements. Visitors can immerse themselves in the works of renowned artists, discover emerging talents, and gain insights into the evolution of art throughout history.


One of the highlights of the Dorsky Museum is the Hudson River School Art collection. This collection showcases works by artists who were drawn to the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley during the 19th century. The paintings depict sweeping landscapes, capturing the serene and awe-inspiring vistas that inspired the artists of the Hudson River School.


In addition to its permanent and rotating exhibits, the museum also hosts educational programs, lectures, and workshops. These events offer visitors a deeper understanding of the artworks on display and provide a platform for engaging discussions on the role of art in society.


Before visiting the museum, be sure to check their website for any special events or exhibitions happening during your visit. Consider taking a guided tour to enhance your experience and gain insights into the art and artists featured in the museum.


The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is more than just a showcase for artwork; it serves as a cultural hub, fostering creativity and engagement within the community. By exploring its diverse collection and attending its events, you have the opportunity to connect with art on a deeper level and be inspired by the artistic expressions of our time.


So, whether you’re an art enthusiast, a casual observer, or simply looking to broaden your cultural horizons, a visit to the Dorsky Museum is sure to leave you with a renewed appreciation for the power of art and its ability to evoke emotions, inspire conversations, and spark imagination.


Browsing the Shops and Restaurants on Main Street

When visiting New Paltz, a stroll down Main Street is a must-do activity that offers a delightful blend of small-town charm, unique shops, and mouthwatering culinary experiences. This vibrant street is lined with an array of independent boutiques, cozy cafes, and eclectic restaurants, making it the perfect place for a leisurely day of exploration.


As you wander down Main Street, you’ll discover an eclectic mix of shops offering a wide range of items, from locally crafted art and jewelry to vintage clothing and home decor. Each store has its own distinct personality, creating a treasure trove of unique finds for shoppers.


Art enthusiasts will be delighted by the galleries that showcase the works of local artists, allowing you to bring a piece of New Paltz’s creative spirit home with you. These galleries often host rotating exhibits, providing an opportunity to discover new talents and be inspired by their artwork.


Food lovers will find themselves in culinary heaven along Main Street. The restaurants and cafes in New Paltz offer a diverse selection of cuisines, ranging from farm-to-table fare to world-inspired dishes. Whether you’re craving hearty Italian pasta, fresh seafood, or exotic flavors, there is a dining spot to satisfy every palate.


As you browse the shops and dine in the restaurants, you’ll also have the chance to connect with the friendly locals and soak in the warm and welcoming atmosphere that defines New Paltz. The local business owners take pride in their establishments and are often eager to share recommendations and stories about the town.


Don’t forget to explore the hidden gems and side streets that branch off from Main Street. These quaint alleyways are often home to specialty stores, independent bookshops, and cozy cafes that offer a more intimate and offbeat experience.


Throughout the year, Main Street hosts various events and festivals that bring the community together. From farmers’ markets to art walks and live music performances, there’s always something happening to add to the vibrant ambiance of the street. Check the local event calendar to see if there’s a special event taking place during your visit.


Whether you’re in the mood to browse the shops, savor delectable cuisine, or simply soak in the lively atmosphere, a visit to Main Street in New Paltz promises a memorable experience. So, take your time, indulge in some retail therapy, and immerse yourself in the flavors and charm of this bustling street.