I really like New Paltz. There are great options for hiking, eating, and it’s got a generally kitschy vibe. If I lived closer I might be there every weekend!
My first visit was last summer. We started the day walking around the old homes from the 1700s on Hugenot Street and entering the visitor’s center to learn a bit about them.
After our bit of history it was time for lunch. The Village Tea Room is an absolutely lovely spot.
You can sit outside in the sun or under a shaded umbrella and await your food. There are lots of different choices here. Are you still in breakfast mode, do you want lunch, afternoon tea, or just a small plate? I got a Quinoa salad and a Hibiscus iced tea, they were both really great and Jeff enjoyed his chicken salad sandwich too.
As good as the food was, the dessert was even better and kept me dreaming of this place! We each got a piece of cake and shared them. Honey Bee and Salted Caramel Chocolate Buttermilk, and they were to live for! The Honey Bee was really a piece of art though, the exterior like a honeycomb drenched in honey, with little chocolate bees that had almond wings. This was probably one of the most amazing cakes I’ve ever had, and I’ve eaten a lot of cake.
After our indulgent lunch it was time for a hike, and we chose Minnewaska State Park. There is a park entrance fee if you don’t have the Empire Park Pass (if you buy this pass for $65 you have unlimited access to NYS parks without paying the fee, great deal if you frequent state parks like I do!). This place is huge, diverse, and beautiful. When we visited over the summer the rhododendron was blooming everywhere. The flowers, the greenery, and the rock formations made for a magical picture on the trails.
We hiked to lake Minnewaska and there was a crowded roped off swimming area so we chose to keep walking for a quieter spot to take a dip. It was all fun and games until I saw a water-snake and scurried to land. I love snakes, I love water, I don’t love the idea of the snake on the water with great speed. Anyway, more hiking to do!
Scenic flowing streams led to a great waterfall, and another small spot to swim if you’re in the mood.
This is truly a beautiful park, and you could spend a whole day exploring it. The shops on the main-drag in New Paltz are interesting to pop in and out of and if you build up an appetite the Gilded Otter was a great place to have dinner with outdoor seating. They have a great menu and are an award-winning brewery as well. We got a flight of beers with our dinner and I remember the blueberry one most vividly. It was delicious, and purple in color!
Over the weekend we visited New Paltz for the second time, and had an equally good time. We stopped at our beloved Village Tea Room again for brunch, even though there are other options this place was too good to pass up. Got a cheddar herb frittata which came with a potato pancake and an iced lemon green tea. Jeff got his chicken salad sandwich again. So good. You might have guessed it, we also go the cake again. It was as good as I remembered.
After brunch we journeyed to see the worlds largest garden gnome. I kid you not, this gem is right in our backyard. The gnome sits on the front lawn of Kelder’s Farm.
Aside from the gnome, this place has stunning views, a pick your own fruit farm, a farm market, a greenhouse, mini-golf, jumping pillow, and awesome animals to feed. Apparently you’re can milk a cow too, but she wasn’t present that day. Next time.
Our hiking destination was Sam’s Point Preserve, a real beauty. Parking fee is $10, which seems steep for a preserve when many are free to enter, but this place is truly gorgeous. This park is very large; you can spend a lot of time here. The trail map is fantastic. It is easy to read, has all distances marked, and all of the major points of interest are labeled. Right off the bat you see magnificent views with very minimal elevation to climb.
For a lot full of vehicles we didn’t have to deal with crowds, fortunately. We check out scenic overlooks, Indian rock, the lake, and abandoned cabins. We would have also checked out the ice caves, but they were closed due to hazardous conditions. We saw lots of birds, a bunny, and beautiful flowers along with the views.
Our hike was just under 5 miles, and we were hungry again. Dinner was at the Mountain Brauhaus, a fantastic German restaurant. The waiters and waitressare are dressed in traditional clothing, and there are many authentic options for eating. Outdoor seating with a limited menu is available, but this was our first time here so we wanted the real deal. Jeff got an alpaca stew to start and sausages with sauerkraut and german potato salad. I got roast turkey with lingonberry preserves. We both loved our meals.
More dessert for the day! A traditional apple strudel, too good to pass up.
The drive home was relaxing and scenic after a long day of fun. Can’t wait till my next trip to New Paltz, I’m thinking hike at Mohonk Mountain and dinner at Mexacali Blue! Stay tuned.