New Paltz, NY, Guide (23/52)

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New Paltz Guide – The Farmhouse at New Paltz, plus Gardiner, Mohonk, Minnewaska and more

First settled by French Hugenots fleeing religious persecution in 1678, today the town of New Paltz provides sanctuary to New Yorkers and Brooklynites seeking a different type of escape; to the students of SUNY New Paltz who lend the town a distinctly bohemian vibe; and to those lucky locals who call it home year round.

Less than 90 minutes from NYC by car, New Paltz and its environs provide everything you could desire from a weekend escape to the country: historic architecture, delicious food at every turn; some of the best day hiking in the State; New York’s original and most storied craft distillery; and what just might be our favorite cocktail bar in all of New York (or anywhere for that matter) – the Gardiner Liquid Mercantile.

The Digs: The Farmhouse at New Paltz

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Perched on two bucolic acres beside the Wallkill River, The Farmhouse at New Paltz is the perfect country set to explore it all from. The immaculately restored 1890 four-bedroom property abounds in period features like original wood flooring, and a wood burning fireplace that makes the living room the definition of cozy. A gorgeously appointed country kitchen will have you wanting to forego the many local dining options and cook up a treat with produce from local farms instead. It’s the prefect size to share with friends (or check out the guest cottage if your’re a twosome), and immensely difficult to leave once you’ve gotten that fire going.

Friday Night Dinner

If you’re driving up on Friday night, take the opportunity to stop in at Liberty Street Bistro for dinner. Chef Michael Kelly – alumnus of Bouchon, Gordon Ramsay’s London, and Michelin star winning Batard – is turning out some of the best value ($49 three course) Michelin worthy fine dining in New York.

Saturday

11am Storm King Art Center

If you’re driving up on Saturday, and have never previously visited, now’s your chance to experience the sublime Strom King Art Center. Justifiably celebrated as one of the World’s leading sculpture parks, its collection of over a hundred sculptures are dispersed across the park’s five hundred rolling acres. It’s hard to say which is more impressive, the sculpted landscape, or the pieces of art on show. The two coexist in a harmony, each complementing the other and producing an experience that is equal parts tranquil and spectacular. Storm King would serve as a perfect day trip from the city in its own right, especially if you were to come with a picnic in tow. Others have written more eloquent paeans to its majesty but simply put: Storm King is good for the soul. And yes, for your Instagram too.

OR….10am Hiking at Minnewaska 

If you’re already in town, or if Storm King is an old haunt, start your day in Minnewaska State Park instead. Amidst the Shawagunk mountains, Minnewaska is a day hiker’s dream and somewhere that’s been on our bucket-list for eons. This 6.5mile suggested route should take about 4 hours. It packs in waterfalls, lakes, and views for days that should sate your appetite for adventure. The Village Market and Eatery and Cafe Mio in the nearby town of Gardiner are good bets for lunch and supplies before returning to The Farmhouse to freshen up.

4:30pm Tuthiltown Distillery Tour

Be sure to arrive at the Tuthiltown Distillery in time for their last – 5pm – tour of the day. Guests are walked through the whole grain to glass process before enjoying a tasting that sample their full range of delicious spirits. Tuthilltown quite literally started New York’s craft distilling revolution. Prior to Prohibition, there were over 1,000 farm distillers producing various spirits. It was only in 2005 that Tuthilltown was able to acquire a license to bring back small batch production to the Hudson Valley, becoming the State’s first whiskey distillery since prohibition.

Today Tuthilltown is turning out some of America’s most celebrated liquids from the 220 year old gristmill complex. Their award winning Hudson Whiskey line, Half Moon Orchad Gin, and Indigenous Apple Vodka all make use of hyper-local grains and produce. You’ll likely leave with enough bottles of booze to start a bar. And a very good one at that.

6:30pm Beer and Bratz Beneath the Mountains

Grab a spot on the deck outside the Mountain Brauhaus. If the views of the Gunks looming above don’t transport you to Bavaria the servers plying you with German drafts in lederhosen should do the trick. Stay for dinner in the wood paneled lodge-like restaurant which has been stuffing patrons with hearty German fare for almost as long as the Hugeunots have been in town (well since 1955). Reservations are as essential as the Herring followed by Veal Schnitzel A la Holstein. Save room for desert at your next stop.

9pm Cocktails at the Gardiner Liquid Mercantile 

5 minutes back down the road – the Gardiner Liquid Mercantile –might be New York’s first destination cocktail bar. You’d be forgiven for planning your trip around a night out here. Since visiting for the first time, we’ve made some pretty outrageous detours to eat and drink here on our way back into New York from points further North. The Mercantile picks up where Tuthiltown left off, making use of the best that New York has to offer, and turning it into something even better still. Which makes sense as its co-founder, Galbe Erenzo, was formerly Chief Distiller down the road.

Their license requires that they utilize only products from within New York State, and the result is nothing short of spectacular. The bar, headed by the effervescent and supremely creative Zoli Rosen, can mix it with the very best of them (as was evidenced by a recent pilgrimage from the team at NYC’s Dead Rabbit). Think bacon fat bourbon old fashioned. Or a pumpkin pie cocktail topped with a flaming marshmallow. Or the “second best” amaretto sour you’ll ever have. And whatever you order from their kitchen is just as good. If you don’t dine here, desert is a minimum requirement. Of course, it’s more than just a bar, and in addition to distilling some of their own spirits, the mercantile serves as a hub to showcase and sell the best that the region and State has to offer. A designated driver or taxi (10mins to New Paltz) will prove essential.

Sunday

8am Farmhouse Breakfast

Nothing like a home cooked breakfast to get you ready for the day. If you’re too hung over to cook, the Main Street Bistro in New Paltz is a great alternative.

9:30am Mohonk Preserve

For sheer variety, it’s hard to top the 8,000 acres of forests, cliffs, ponds, streams, and killer views within The Mohonk Preserve. There’s a $12 entrance fee per hiker (comes with a trail map), that is justified by the perfectly maintained trails. You could spend months coming back here each weekend and do a different hike each time, but nothing will compare to this 6mile loop which takes in Bonticou Crag and Table Rock. The 360 degree view that rewards you for your twenty minute rock scramble to the top of the Crag is one of the very best in the whole Hudson Valley (and then some), and the crazy rock formations that accompany it are just begging to be instagrammed.

1:30pm Lunch and Exploring New Paltz

Head back into New Paltz and refuel on modern American pub fair and a mesmerizing craft beer selection at Huckleberry. Check out Water Street Market, a hub for many of New Paltz’s best independently owned coffee shops, boutiques, and antique stores. Beyond Water Street, Cocoon and the Inquiring Minds bookstore are worth seeking out before paying an essential visit to Lagustasluscious Commisary to get your hands on some of their justifiably famous artisanal vegan chocolates. The newly opened Commisary sells the entire range from a café where the spiced hot chocolate mixed with espresso will leave you and your taste buds buzzing.

5pm Historic Huguenot Street

Remember those Huguenots? No trip to New Paltz would be complete without a wander along the Historic Huguenot Street. The seven stone houses, church, and several other structures date from the early 1700s and constitute one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the entire country. Once you reach the end of the settlement follow the road around the bend until you reach the Nyquist Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary on your left.

The various trails through the serene 56 acre reserve are flanked by high grasses, wild flowers, and woodlands that host a staggering (and very vocal) array of birdlife. Pick a path to follow until you hit the Wallkill River and then follow the trail left as it winds its way along the riverbank back into New Paltz. The whole loop, which is particularly gorgeous at sunset in the summer, should be about 2 miles (including the Huguenot Street) and take about 90 minutes.

7pm One Last Meal

 The intimate and funky Jar’d wine and tapas bar is a great bet for one last bite before heading back to NYC. Or for something more formal, A Tavola is one of the best Italian restaurant this side of the Bronx. Don’t worry if you feel like you’ve missed something in these parts. You have. But you’ll be back. Maybe next weekend?

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