New Paltz is a picturesque community in New York’s Hudson Valley, surrounded by the Shawangunk Mountains of Ulster County.
For decades, it has been a haven for progressive minds and creative spirits yearning to escape New York City’s urban sprawl.
The town, which is home to the State University of New York at New Paltz, is buzzing with youthful energy, bringing with it a new wave of entertaining restaurants, boutiques, artisan stores, and events.
If you want to see more of the Hudson Valley, see our list of the 10 best things to do in New Paltz, NY.
1. Huguenot Street Takes a Step Back in Time
Upstate New York is steeped in colonial history from Native American tribes to Dutch, English, and French settlers.
The colonial history of New Paltz began in the late 17th century, and glimpses of its early days can be found along Huguenot Street.
Huguenot Street, located on the Wallkill River, is a 10-acre National Historic Landmark District.
There are several structures in New Paltz that date back to the 1600s when it was founded by French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution.
Along the street are seven intact colonial houses, a recreated church, and a reproduction wigwam from the indigenous Esopus tribe.
2. Investigate the Mohonk Preserve
The Mohonk Preserve encompasses over 8,000 acres in the Shawangunk Mountains, providing countless opportunities for outdoor exploration throughout the year.
One of the main reasons to visit Mohonk Preserve is for climbing, as the Gunks climbing cliffs are located there.
With over 1,000 routes and more than five linear miles of sheer cliff face, the Gunks is a world-class climbing destination with some of the best climbing in this region of the country.
There are also acres of boulders. Each year, they receive approximately 80,000 visitors.
The park’s slogan is “Choose Your Own Adventure,” and they mean it.
Hiking, biking, climbing, horseback riding, and running are all alternatives among the miles of hiking trails, rugged cliffs, and leaf-strewn wilderness roads.
There are more than 75 kilometers of carriage roads throughout the park for hiking and biking.
Equestrians of all levels will enjoy the Spring Farm Trailhead.
Mohonk Preserve also provides a variety of educational possibilities.
The preserve has offered a K-6th grade Field Studies Program since the 1980s, which has served as a model for other private-public education partnerships.
More than 40 regional schools have already signed up to join the program.
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3. Take a walk along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
Of course, getting in touch with nature isn’t tricky in New Paltz.
The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a 22-mile walkway that follows the historic Wallkill Valley Railroad’s route.
The railroad was decommissioned in the 1970s.
The Wallkill Valley Land Trust purchased the one-mile segment of rail connecting New Paltz and Gardiner, NY in 1991.
The route was formally opened two years later. It was expanded an additional 11.5 km in 2009.
The rail trail through New Paltz connects to the nearby communities of Gardiner, Rosendale, and Kingston.
Hikers, walkers, and cyclists consider it one of the best spots to visit.
Expect to witness a classic glimpse of what produces New Paltz so lovely along the journey, from orchards and farms to mountain views, rivers, and wide-open grasslands.
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4. Mohonk Testimonial Gateway Makes You Scared
Mohonk Testimonial Gateway, formerly the entrance to a historic mountain resort, is now an ominous relic of a bygone era.
For more than 30 years, the gateway served as the entry to the Lake Mohonk Mountain House, a well-to-do retreat that closed in the early twentieth century.
However, that was not the last time the structure was in the spotlight.
It also made an appearance in the 1985 cult horror film The Stuff.
The resort was erected in the 1870s, and the gatehouse was added nearly 40 years later to greet visitors as they passed through its gate and continued down the tree-lined road to the magnificent hotel.
The gatehouse has been protected since 2013 when the Town of New Paltz Historic Preservation Commission classified it as a historic site.
The gateway now serves as a new trailhead into the Mohonk Preserve Foothills.
It includes the ancient tower, Humpo Marsh, the historic Brook, Kleinekill, and Pine Farms, as well as a section of the preserve’s carriage roads.
5. Take a look around the Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary
The Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary is worth a visit if you’re strolling down Huguenot Street.
The 56-acre park rewards visitors with stunning river and mountain views, as well as a diverse range of wildlife to see.
It’s a birder’s dream, with 140 species of birds, 36 of which are on the Audubon Species of Concern list for the state of New York, to be found along the pond-laden walkways.
Screech owls, bluebirds, orioles, and sedge wrens, among many other species, can be found.
The neighboring farmland has been in use for approximately 400 years.
The refuge abuts two historic Huguenot farm plots and has 1,300 feet of riverfront on the Wallkill River.
6. New Paltz, New York’s Robibero Family Vineyards
You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy a visit to Robibero Family Vineyards.
Set on a lovely 42-acre estate just outside of New Paltz, this family-owned artisanal vineyard will enchant you no matter what time of year you visit.
Stroll through the rows of vines, watch the winemaking process in the cellar, and sip their exquisite award-winning wines on their charming outdoor deck under the arbor.
Each wine is one-of-a-kind and cannot be tasted or purchased anywhere.
You can order one of them online if you fall in love with it.
Their sophisticated indoor wine-tasting facility and scenic deck are available for large groups or weddings.
You will need to hire a caterer, but the wines will be provided.
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7. New Paltz, New York: DM Weil Gallery
The DM Weil Gallery’s goal statement is “why can’t fine art be fun?”
Visitors are assured of an interesting experience the moment they enter this modern art gallery in New York’s Hudson Valley.
The DM Weil Gallery’s expansive, vivid collection of artwork is matched with complimentary wine, espresso, and other snacks.
The gallery is free to enter, and it is not uncommon for the gallery to employ its unique 1911 Grotian Steinweg piano for complimentary mini-concerts.
Visitors can also interact with DM Weil and view her personal painting studio.
8. Dressel Farms is located in New Paltz, New York
Dressel Farms, a family-run business, provides enjoyable activities for visitors of all ages.
The most popular pastime is harvesting apples from the farm’s more than 300 acres of trees.
Apples not taken by visitors are delivered from Dressel Farms to grocery stores around the East Coast.
Dressel Farms grows a variety of fruits and vegetables in addition to apples, such as peaches, strawberries, raspberries, and gourds.
The farm’s roadside shop also sells and serves fresh ice cream and fruit to visitors.
9. Orchards of Twin Stars
Twin Star Orchards makes its famed Brooklyn Cider House ciders with just one simple ingredient: excellent apples.
All of the ciders produced are created from freshly harvested orchard apples and fermented in stainless steel tanks before being matured for 2 to 18 months.
Twin Star Orchards also has a U-pick apple experience, seasonal produce, freshly baked items, spirits and wine, a burger and wood-fired pizza pavilion, and a natural hard cider tasting area in addition to the cider.
Dogs are also welcome as long as they are properly supervised and well-mannered.
10. New Paltz, New York’s John R. Kirk Planetarium
The John R. Kirk Planetarium, located at New Paltz State University in New York, is a popular location for students of all ages.
The planetarium is an indoor theater with 44 seats.
Images of stars, planets and other astronomical bodies are projected onto the domed roof of the theater.
Because many of its performances are oriented toward a younger audience, the planetarium frequently hosts students, church groups, and scouting organizations.