Nestled in the Hudson Valley area of the southern Catskills, New Paltz, New York, is the perfect place to escape from it all. Spend your days exploring a nature preserve where waterfalls tumble over rocks, and forests blaze orange and red in fall. Then sleep in a world-famous castle perched above a gorgeous, glacier-carved lake. The entire scene is backed by Shawangunk Ridge (“The Gunks” or “Shongun” to locals), a mountain ridge that attracts rock climbers from across the globe. New Paltz is an eclectic mountain town where trendy restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs mingle with vintage clothing stores, peace flags, hemp shops, and outfitters. Dress it up, dress it down, or just get out there; New Paltz lets you have your weekend your way.
Founded in 1677 by French Huguenot refugees from Mannheim (now southwest Germany), the area was governed for over 150 years by 12 Huguenot partners and their heirs. The spectacular glacial lake is named Lake Mohonk, after a Native American word that means “Lake in the Sky.” About 150 years ago, twin Quaker brothers Alfred and Albert Smiley purchased 2,800 acres around the lake for $28,000. An eight-room home on the property was used as a small resort for friends and family. It became so popular that it was enlarged many times between 1869 and 1910, growing into the spectacular Mohonk Mountain House, perched like a castle above the reflective lake. The Smiley brothers envisioned a peaceful retreat where people could enjoy the beauty of nature. Past guests include Presidents Taft and Roosevelt, the Rockefellers, and the Vanderbilts; today’s guests include numerous Hollywood luminaries.
The 267-room Victorian castle of American chestnut, pine, and cherry has 138 working fireplaces along with modern amenities like Wi-Fi. Choose from an almost unlimited menu of activities including 85 miles of hiking trails; kayaking, rowing, or paddleboarding on the lake; swimming in the lake or indoor heated pool; strolling or touring the spectacular gardens and maze; browsing the library; tennis; lawn games; mountain biking; tomahawk throwing; rock or ice climbing; archery; basketball; billiards; disc golf; carriage rides; golf; fishing; skiing; ice skating; snowshoeing; yoga, meditation, and nutrition classes; horseback riding; nightly movies; and an award-winning spa. Choose rooms or suites in the Mountain House or the Grove Lodge, or stay in a cottage. The Main Dining Room features panoramic views, dramatic cathedral ceilings, and original woodwork from 1893. Sip cocktails in the Carriage Lounge, dine at the “Chef’s Table” in the kitchen, visit the old-fashioned soda fountain, or go al fresco at The Granary.
Of course, Mohonk Mountain House isn’t the only place to stay in New Paltz. Maplestone Inn Bed and Breakfast is a stone farmhouse that dates to 1790. Bowl or play croquet on seven acres of lawn and enjoy a three-course gourmet dining room breakfast by the fire. The eco-friendly Moondance Ridge Bed and Breakfast incorporates the feel of a spa experience. On site, you’ll find gardens, a labyrinth, sauna, Reiki therapy, pond, and reflection area on this nature preserve, a certified wildlife habitat.
In the New Paltz village, you can stroll Main Street and visit antique, book, and gift shops. The Mohonk Mountain Stage Co. offers drama, poetry, comedy, and children’s programs in a variety of venues. Each September brings the Survival of the Shawangunks Triathlon, wherein participants change competition modalities seven times instead of the usual two, and must be self-sufficient, for example carrying their running shoes as they swim. They may be pushing themselves to the limit, but you can take your pick of fun activities in New Paltz, or just sit back, relax, and drink in the beauty of this New York paradise.
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