Field Trip: New Paltz

For the next few weeks, I’ll publish a day trip idea on Sundays, and I am counting on readers to send suggestions. This is the second contribution from former Tribecan Carol Adams, who owned Torly Kid on Hudson until not too long ago, and now operates Torly Travels, a business that helps families plan trips and personalize itineraries. 

The quaint village of New Paltz and its extensive natural surroundings

This is on the outside limit for day-trip distances, but well worth it once you get there.

1:50 by car: New Paltz is a straight shot up the NY state Thruway to Exit 18.

2-hour train ride plus: the closest stop to New Paltz is Metro North to Poughkeepsie. A cab or Uber from there is 20 minutes to downtown New Paltz.

The town is very walkable, however you need wheels to reach many of the nature activities.

There is indoor seating permitted now in New Paltz, but many restaurants are still just doing curbside pickup. Here are two that have outdoor seating as well. Check days and hours by phone before you go, since the website updates are inconsistent.

    • Twin Star Orchards has great outdoor seating and an online ordering system for pizza, burgers and cider. There’s live music from 4 to 7p on weekends.
    • Clemson Bros. Brewery has outdoor dining and craft beer on Main Street. (Their original spot is in Middletown; they bought The Gilded Otter, which had been at this site in New Paltz since 1998, last year).

Many of the small boutiques in New Paltz are closed during the weekdays but open Thursday through Sunday. Many also limit the number of guests in a shop at one time or offer curbside pickup only. Masks are 100% required. Also if you want to rent bikes, check in advance since while there are several bike stores open, many are not doing rentals due to COVID.

New Paltz is located in Ulster County in the midst of the Shawangunk Ridge (the Gunks) and despite the fact that it’s a town of less than 10,000 residents, it does not lack for activities.

The Gunks are considered one of the best sites for rock climbing in North America and one of the main attractions in New Paltz. I recommend going from the train station directly to Mohonk Mountain Preserve. There you can pick up many trails at all skill levels for $15 fee. (Note this is NOT the same place as the Mohonk Mountain House resort.)

Minnewaska State Park is 15 min from downtown New Paltz and a little past the Mohonk Preserve. A day at Minnewaska could be spent at one of its four crystal clear lakes or its 50 miles of trails and countless waterfalls.

Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a 22-mile rails-to-trail that snakes along a former rail corridor through the towns of Gardiner, New Paltz, Rosendale and Ulster and ends at the Kingston city line. You can access the trail directly from Main Street so it’s a good option to combine with a visit to the town. The unpaved mostly shady and flat surface is perfect for walking and biking.

River to Ridge Trail, a newcomer to the area, is a 6-mile loop that connects downtown New Paltz with the Shawangunk Ridge. This trail has some hills and is in full sun so it is not recommended on a hot day.

A national historic landmark district, Huguenot Street is the oldest continually inhabited street in America and now consists of seven stone house museums, a reconstructed 1717 French church, burial grounds and a replica Esopus Munsee Wigwam. Self guided walking tours are available now while guided tours are suspended for COVID. We loved the peacefulness of wandering around the mini village of Huguenot Street without car traffic and lots of shade. The pup loved it too! If you are visiting in October, don’t miss the haunted tours.

Art lovers should make time for the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art on the SUNY New Paltz campus; the museum will open again on Sept. 12. Check the website for details.

The Mohonk Mountain House is the classic alpine resort — on steroids — but rates approach $1k a night. Instead you can visit for the day for much more reasonable fees. You can make a golf or spa reservation and get access to the whole place, or book a hiking pass for access to the trails and grounds. Check in to see if the farm-to-table dining options are open for day visitors.



  1. These town-profiles are a great ideal – and well-timed!

  2. Go follow Torly Travels. Carol really has the best ideas and travel suggestions. She will even plan an outing for you!! She’s the best in the travel business! Even during these Covid times she’s been creative and has amazing suggestions!

  3. We happened to be in New Paltz in August and came upon Main Course Marketplace for lunch. The food was outstanding! Everyone in my group enjoyed it so much that we ended up coming back for lunch the following day.