Leave the vicinity of NYC for the Hudson Valley and the urban jungle transforms into rolling mountains and small communities that make up the beginnings of upstate New York. Nestled next to a portion of the Appalachian mountain chain and not far from the Catskills is the oldest of these communities—New Paltz. Known for its progressive and diverse SUNY School, wherein one can find much culture at its art museums and numerous theater venues, being a college town is but one dimension of this area.
Founded in the 1670s by French-speaking Protestants, some of their first houses still remain, pristine examples of 17th and early 18th century architecture. These are preserved on what is known as the oldest continually lived-on street in North America, Huguenot Street. Tours of the houses run from May-November, but even in the offseason, a walk through this historic district makes for a nice afternoon, coupled with a venture onto the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, a former railroad line transformed into a beautiful woodsy nature path. The extensive apple orchards in the area are also a nice walking (and picking) destination.
For farther afield adventures, head to what are known locally as the Gunks, the piece of the Appalachians known as the Shawangunk Range. Learn how to scale the range—even if you’re a novice from the New Paltz location of Eastern Mountain Sports. Mirroring the diversity of the college, there are plenty of small-scale boutiques and restaurants on New Paltz’s main drag. For eats, check out the Zagat-rated 36 Main for an elegant dinner and extensive wine list or Main Street Bistro anytime of the day for a more casual ambience. But for a real decadent experience, head to the top of the Gunks and visit Mohonk Mountain House. A hotel/resort from a bygone era, it provides excellent views of the surrounding highlands along with golf, mountain climbing, plenty of hiking trails, mountain biking, boating and fishing, diverse gourmet dining, a spa, and other amenities.
36 Main (845) 255-3636 36main.com
Apple Hill Farm (845) 255-1605 applehillfarm.com
Dressel Farm (845) 255-0693 dresselfarms.com
Eastern Mountain Sports (845) 255-3280 emsclimb.com
Huguenot Street (845) 255-1660 huguenotstreet.org
Main Street Bistro (845) 255-7766 mainstreetbistro.com
Mohonk Mountain House (845) 255-1000 mohonk.com
SUNY New Paltz (845) 257-7869 newpaltz.edu
The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail gorailtrail.org