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Staycation in New Paltz

Discover, enjoy, spend the day!

Visit New Paltz

New Paltz is, hands down, one of my favorite college towns. Full of eclectic local shops that sell everything from antiques to salt lamps. Your family will also love all the worldly food options, grab your foodie passport, it's the perfect place to take a staycation! As if that is not enough to entice you to visit, then how about all the hiking, biking and swimming within minutes of downtown! It is like going to Brooklyn and Lake George all in one place!

Let's start our New Paltz adventure by exploring all the outdoor spots within minutes of the bustling downtown! Minnewaska State Park may be one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It has something for everyone; waterfalls, lakes, swimming, hiking and lots of history! The carriage trail, below the lake, leads to Awosting Falls. This is a nice easy hike that leads to a peaceful oasis. My daughter took no time in stripping off her shoes and dunking her toes right in!

The top area of Minnewaska, is home to Lake Minnewaska. A brilliant blue lake edged by impressive cliffs. Trails lead all around the lake and there are plenty of places to catch amazing views, eat a picnic lunch or take a refreshing swim. There is a small beach with lifeguard, locker room and bathrooms.

After you have gotten your fill of breathtaking scenery, if that is possible, it is time to head back to the downtown area of New Paltz. It is not time for shopping yet, we still have some outdoor sightseeing to do! Huguenot Street is a place frozen in time and carefully preserved. Fleeing religious persecution a group of French and Dutch families settled this area in the late 1600's. This historic street is now home to educators, artists and volunteers who want to share this rich history with visitors. You will feel transported back in time with stories, reenactments and demonstrations; it is such a special place.


After perusing the 1600's, feel free to immerse yourselves back in nature by taking a hike in the Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary, the entrance is located right off Huguenot Street. The sanctuary is 56 acres of hiking trails that are home to a wide range of habitats that your family can explore. Ponds full of crawlies, forests full of birds and wild flower fields full of pollinators. My daughter absolutely loves exploring here. We often find bright orange salamanders and huge praying mantises, it's a creature playground!

After all that nature your family will definitely be ready for some urban culture! New Paltz has no shortage of art, shopping and global dining options. Let's head over to SUNY New Paltz, to check out the Samuel Dorsky Art Museum. This family friendly art museum is full of rotating modern art that my daughter loves. They have amazing community programs, such as Sunday Family Art (check their calendar for upcoming events). These programs take an in-depth look at the art, geared toward kids and they end the program with a creation they can take home! The museum is open Wed-Sun 11am-5pm and is free to enter, but please consider leaving a 5$ donation. Please read the visitor page on parking at the SUNY campus.

After your family has exhausted their creative needs, let's head back out to explore more of downtown. Our next stop is Water Street Market! This great little shopping area reminds me of a European village! Full of organic eateries with adorable outdoor seating, eclectic antique shops filled to the brim with everything you could imagine and lots of  handmade gift stores. This is my favorite area in New Paltz! Kids will love checking out local street performers and tossing coins in the beautiful water fountains!

After filling your bellies and senses with all that Water Street and downtown New Paltz has to offer your family will be ready for one last stop; the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. You can bike or walk this trail and it's the perfect place to work off those amazing donuts that you may or may not have eaten. The Bicycle Depot rents bikes daily and is an easy ride over to the trail. My favorite part of the rail trail is the Rosendale Trestle, a re-purposed railroad trestle made into a walking/biking area that affords the most amazing views; reminiscent of a tiny Walkway Over the Hudson!

New Paltz is so much more than just a small college town, it is full of art, culture and locals who have pride in their little slice of the Hudson Valley! It is the perfect place to go on a staycation! There is no end to the things you can explore and discover!

*I have in no way covered all the amazing places the New Paltz has to offer. Please feel free to let me know about your favorite places!

Other articles by Katie's Hudson Valley Travel Journal