If you’re going to tool around a bit in the Hudson Valley, New Paltz is a great pick. About 90 minutes from New York City, this Ziptrip has a lot to keep you busy: a little history, a little nature, a little shopping. Perfect.
The bar at A Tavola Trattoria, one of the stops along the way. Pan seared monkfish.
Stop first at Café Mio (2356 U.S. 44, Gardiner, NY 12525; 845-255-4949; miogardiner.com), a little family-friendly joint in nearby Gardiner, just before you reach New Paltz. (Be warned, the popular Main Street Bistro can be jammed on a Saturday.) Café Mio has a simple vibe, open kitchen, and friendly service. They specialize in local fare, and feature a list of farms and purveyors so you know where your eggs and everything else are coming from. Swing by for breakfast and don’t miss the homemade corned beef hash with mashed potatoes.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Next stop: Mohonk Preserve (3197 Rte 44 55, Gardiner, NY 12525; 845-255-0919; mohonkpreserve.org) in what’s called the “Gunks” or the Shawangunk (pronounced “sha-WAN-gum”) mountain range. New York’s largest nonprofit reserve welcomes 150,000 visitors per year, and encompasses 8,000 acres of forests, fields, and streams.
Mohonk Preserve: Jon Crefeld (in red), a guide from Alpine Endeavors, teaches visitors how to climb.
You can do all manner of outdoor activities at Mohonk, be it hiking, biking, bird watching, or horseback riding. (Though beware the start of hunting season - probably not the best time to be a moving target.) Rock climbing is also a huge draw, and cliffhangers come by the busload to scale Mohonk’s rocky cliffs. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or just getting started, it’s worth looking into some local pros, such as Alpine Endeavors, an AMGA-accredited guide service who can safely show you the ropes.
DESTINATION RESORT & SPA
If you’re going to check out Mohonk, though, you’ve got to visit the Mohonk Mountain House (1000 Mountain Rest Rd, New Paltz, NY 12561;855-291-9849; mohonk.com), a monolithic Victorian castle resort that’s been family owned and operated (by the same family!) since 1869. They’ve received scads of awards, including Number One Resort in the U.S. for 2013 by Condé Nast Traveler. They have pretty much everything you could possibly want in a destination resort: guided hikes and tours, yoga and meditation, a pool, ice skating rink, award-winning spa, afternoon tea, book signings, family-friendly environment, movies, and live music.
Katie Martello and Elizabeth Strein enjoy the roaring fire.
SHOPPING & SNACKS
If you’ve had enough sightseeing and are ready for some serious shopping, stroll through historic Huguenot Street and stop at Water Street Market (10 Main St, New Paltz, NY 12561; 845-255-1403; waterstreetmarket.com), a mini-shopping village with everything from an antiques barn to stylish clothing and jewelry and specialty shops. You might want to fuel up with a pumpkin spiced latte at Mudd Puddle Coffee Roasters and Café, or choose from their impressive selection of fresh loose teas.
Stores within Waterstreet Market.
The Cheese Plate, right next door, will blow you away with their huge and hearty selection of imported, regional, and local artisan cheeses—including selections from Hudson Valley, May Hill, Hawthorne Valley Farm. Their fresh pretzel croissants might even make the most steadfast break their gluten-free rule.
Specialties from the Cheese Plate.
If you have time, pop into Adair Vineyards (52 Alhusen Rd, New Paltz, NY 12561; 845-255-1377; adairwine.com) for a quick tasting before dinner. Believe it or not, winemaking was once a thriving business in the Hudson Valley. Adair boasts 10 acres of vines composed of two white varieties, Seyval Blanc and Vignoles, two red varieties, Foch and Millot. They currently produce more than 20,000 bottles a year.
For dinner, it’s hard to top A Talavo Trattoria (46 Main St, New Paltz, NY 12561; 845-255-1426; atavolany.com), the crown jewel of Main Street. Included in Zagat’s America’s Top Restaurants Guide for 2013 and Best Italian Restaurant in the Hudson Valley by Hudson Valley magazine. So yeah, they know they’re good. The rustic charm, dark wood floors, and super-friendly staff will make you feel at home, and the food speaks for itself. Savor seasonal, local dishes like the roasted cauliflower with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, and the pan-seared monkfish over carrot and coriander puree.
Musician Abram Izaac Kaplan, performing at right, at Cafeteria Coffee House.
Walk off dinner by strolling up Main to the super loungey, lamp-lit scene simmering inside Cafeteria Coffee House (58 Main St., New Paltz, 12561; 845-633-8287; cafeteriacoffeehouse.com), where you can catch an acoustic set and ogle the wall of guitars (they buy and sell guitars there during the day).
Although New Paltz is just 180 miles round trip, it’s 180 degrees away from Manhattan.
Terri Trespicio is a lifestyle expert and writer living in Manhattan. Visit her at territrespicio.com and on Twitter @TerriT.