23 Best & Fun Things to Do in New Paltz (NY)

Looking for the best and fun things to do in New Paltz, NY?

New Paltz is a small picturesque town in Ulster County, New York, United States, located in the southeastern part of the county between New York City and Albany.

This town is famous for the State University of New York at New Paltz – a great site for rock climbing. There is the Shawangunk Ridge which is regarded as one of the best rock-climbing sites in North America.

New Paltz is a top pick for outdoor lovers, with Huguenot Street, Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary, and wineries all part of the town. Also, the historic Mohonk Preserve is one of the main draws of this area!

So, let’s see the best things to do in New Paltz, NY.

Things to Do in New Paltz

1. Explore Mohonk Preserve

Mohonk Preserve
Credits: Ruth Peterkin/ Shutterstock
Mohonk Preserve

The Mohonk Preserve covers more than 8,000 acres in the Shawangunk Mountains and offers endless outdoor exploration opportunities throughout all four seasons.

They truly mean it when they say that the park allows you to choose your adventure. There are miles of trails that lead to craggy cliffs and backcountry paths with leafy vegetation.

You can also choose to hike, bike, climb, ride horseback, or run while in the preserve. There are more than 75 miles worth of carriage roads that can be used for biking and hiking in the park.

Equestrians of all abilities will find the Spring Farm Trailhead ideal. Mohonk Preserve’s best reason to visit is climbing, as it is home to the Gunks Climbing Cliffs.

With more than 1,000 routes and over five miles of sheer cliff faces, the Gunks is a top-notch climbing area. There are also acres of boulders that are visited by approximately 80,000 people each year.

Mohonk Preserve also offers many educational opportunities. The preserve’s K-6th grade Field Studies program has been offered since the 1980s.

This program has served as a model for private-public partnerships in education, and its program is currently being offered to more than 40 schools in the area.

Mohonk Preserve is definitely one of the best places to visit in New Paltz.

Address: 35 NY-299, New Paltz, NY 12561, United States

2. Explore Main Street

Main Street
Credits: VincentJames21 / Flickr
Main Street

Recognized as the heart of New Paltz, Main Street is an area any visitor should explore before leaving the city.

Meander Main Street is the first impression that every visitor gets of New Paltz’s bohemian college town.

New Paltz’s hub is a great example of the convergence of cultures, with weekend visitors from New York and tie-dye-clad students as well as residents.

Main Street and its branches are filled with cozy coffee shops and local boutiques, as well as many restaurants.

You’ll find everything you need, from Thai and Mexican restaurants to Indian, Vietnamese, and farm-to-table cuisines.

Main Street is also home to many historic buildings. There’s a lot of New Paltz to be found along Main Street, including the Groovy Blueberry vintage clothes store and Jack’s Rhythms vinyl shop.

Water Street Market, also in the street, is an open-air shopping center that houses dozens of antique dealers.

Added to that, the street features Himalayan Arts, which sells incense and jewelry from the Himalayan regions.

3. Watch the stars at John R. Kirk Planetarium

John R. Kirk Planetarium
Credits: Vadim Sadovski/ Shutterstock

The John R. Kirk Planetarium is located at the New Paltz State University of New York. It is a famous destination for learners of all ages and adds to our teeming list of top things to do in New Paltz.

This planetarium is an indoor theatre with a domed ceiling and a seating capacity of 44 persons. It has a projector that displays images of planets, stars, and other astronomical bodies onto the ceiling.

John R. Kirk Planetarium is a regular host to students, scouting organizations, and church groups because many of its presentations are targeted towards a younger audience.

However, families and businesses can easily reach out to the planetarium’s director to schedule private shows.

Address: 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, New York

4. Huguenot Street

Huguenot Street
Credits: Garrett Ziegler / Flickr
Huguenot Street

For individuals interested in history, add exploring m Huguenot Street to your list of things to do in New Paltz.

The colonial history of Upstate New York runs deep, starting with Native American tribes and ending with English, Dutch, and French settlers.

The colonial history of New Paltz began in the late 17th-century. Visions of its early days can be seen along Huguenot Street.

Huguenot Street, a National Historic Landmark District covering 10 acres, is located on the Wallkill River.

Today, many buildings date back to the 1600s, when New Paltz was founded to escape religious persecution.

The street is home to seven colonial houses, a rebuilt church, and a replica Esopus wigwam.

The historic stone-house museums and a restored French Church from 1717 offers more than 300 years’ worth of history.

The museums’ walls tell the stories about Native Americans, French Huguenot refugees, and Dutch settlers.

A free, downloadable walking tour of the historic district includes information about the collections, history, and photos.

5. Check out DM Weil Gallery

DM Weil Gallery
Credits: DM Weil Gallery / Facebook
DM Weil Gallery

DM Weil Gallery is a modern art gallery in New York’s Hudson Valley that displays an astonishing collection of artwork. It is the largest modern art gallery in town.

With a mission statement of “why can’t fine art be fun?” the DM Weil Gallery is has a goal of providing a total entertainment experience s by stimulating all your senses.

Visitors are assured of much fun as possible the moment they step into DM Weil Gallery. The expansive and dynamic artwork collection at this gallery is blended with espresso, complimentary wine, and other treats.

Usually, the gallery uses its special 1911 Grotian Steinweg piano for complimentary mini-concerts.

Entrance into the gallery is free! And visitors can interact with DM Weil herself while browsing her art studio.

Address: 208 Bruynswick Road, New Paltz

6. Explore New Paltz Art Galleries

New Paltz Art Galleries
Credits: silverkblackstock / Shutterstock

New Paltz, like many other small towns in Upstate New York, has developed a strong artistic reputation.

This area of New York is home to many artists, including those who fled big-city life.

The city also attracts residents from nearby communities and arty transplants from across the country.

Among the galleries in the city is The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art (1 Hawk Drive) l located on the State University of New York’s New Paltz campus.

Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art has both a permanent collection and rotating exhibitions that showcase local artists as well emerging artists from all over the world.

To enjoy the outdoor sculpture walk and its cultural events calendar, you can make your way from here to the Unison Arts Center (68 Mountain Rest Road).

Another option is the DM Weil Gallery (208 Brunswick Road), which features contemporary art exhibits.

You can also visit the Mark Gruber Gallery (13/New Paltz Plaza), specializing exclusively in Hudson Valley fine arts.

7. Wallkill Valley Rail Trail

Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
Credits: Reid Dalland / Shutterstock
Wallkill Valley Rail Trail

One of the best fun things to do in New Paltz is exploring the Rail Trail through Wallkill Valley.

The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail runs 22 miles along the route of the old Wallkill Valley Railroad.

In the 1970s, the railroad was abandoned. The Wallkill Valley Land Trust bought the one-mile rail section connecting New Paltz with Gardiner, NY, in 1991.

The trial was officially opened two years later. In 2009, the trail was extended by 11.5 miles running through New Paltz, connecting to nearby towns Gardiner and Rosendale.

This is a popular spot for walkers, cyclists, and hikers. You’ll see the best of New Paltz, including orchards, farms, mountain views, rivers, meadows, and open meadows, while on this path.

The trail crosses Rondout Creek and rewards you with stunning views from a trestle 150 feet above the water. The River-to-Ridge Trail links the rail trail to the Mohonk Preserve.

8. Pick apples at Dressel Farms

Dressel Farms
Credits: Zoom Team / Shutterstock

Dressel Farms is a family-run operation that provides visitors with fun activities irrespective of age. It makes our list of top things to do in New Paltz.

The farm, which spans 300 acres of land, is covered with trees, from which visitors pick apples – this is the most popular activity on the farm.

Apples not picked by visitors are shipped to grocery stores throughout the East Coast.

Dressel Farms also produces staple fruits and vegetables, including raspberries, strawberries, peaches, and gourds.

They also have Dressel’s Fresh Cider made from 100% hand-selected Dressel Farms apples with no colours, flavours and no added preservatives.

Visitors can also buy fresh ice cream from the farm’s roadside stand. It is open every day and features fresh fruits from the farm.

Address: 271 State Route 208, New Paltz, NY, 12561

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9. Mohonk Testimonial Gateway

Mohonk Testimonial Gateway
Credits: Osaze Cuomo / Shutterstock
Mohonk Testimonial Gateway

Mohonk Testimonial Gateway was once the gateway to a historic mountain resort. Now it is an unsettling reminder of a past that has passed.

This gateway was used as an entrance to Lake Mohonk Mountain House, a wealthy resort that closed in the early 20th-century.

The structure wasn’t forgotten. It was also featured in The Stuff, a 1985 horror film. The resort was constructed in the 1870s.

The gatehouse was added nearly 40 years later. It served as a welcome to all travelers who passed through it and continued down the tree-lined path to the hotel.

Since 2013, the Town of New Paltz Historic Preservation Commission has designated the gatehouse a historic landmark.

Today, the gateway is a new trailhead to the Mohonk Preserve foothills. It includes the tower, Humpo Marsh, the Brook, Kleinekill, and Pine Farms, as well as portions of the preserve’s carriage roads.

Address: 35 NY-299, New Paltz, NY 12561, United States

10. The Dorsky Museum

Dorsky Museum
Credits: Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art (SDMA) / Facebook
Dorsky Museum

The Dorsky Museum is located at the State University of New York at New Paltz, and it comprises over 9000 sq ft exhibition space square spread across over six galleries.

Originally known as the College Art Gallery, the Dorsky Museum has launched over 65 years ago and was dedicated in 2001.

Its purpose was to enhance the university’s teaching mission, which transformed the “College Art Gallery” into one of the top art museums in the region.

The permanent collection of the Dorsky Museum includes more than 6,000 artworks from all parts of the world, and they span over 4,000 years.

Though encyclopedic, you will find here American art, focusing on 19th-century American prints, the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain region, contemporary metals, and photography.

The museum has a temporary exhibition program which is tagged one of the best in the region. It features installations and exhibitions.

A visit to the Dorsky Museum is one of the best things to do in New Paltz.

Address: 1 Hawk Dr, New Paltz, NY 12561

11. SUNY New Paltz Campus

SUNY New Paltz Campus
Credits: VincentJames21 / Flickr
SUNY New Paltz Campus

New Paltz’s main attraction is its youthful energy. The town is home to the State University of New York (SUNY), New Paltz.

This university brings around 8,000 students each school year. The university, which was established in 1828, is the center of the town’s creative energy.

Although the Samuel Dorsky Museum is located on campus, it’s just one of many cultural institutions that can be found on-site.

The John R. Kirk Planetarium is also located on the campus. This 44-seat dome theater puts on free shows for the public on selected evenings.

The Smolen Observatory is also open for public viewing and hosts “astronomy nights” on a regular basis.

There are many events hosted here throughout the year, including music and theater performances, as well as the annual PianoSummer series which features piano concerts in summer.

A visit to this university should not be left out of your list of things to do in New Paltz.

Address: 1 Hawk Dr, New Paltz, NY 12561, United States

12. Denizen Theatre

DENIZEN Theatre
Credits: DENIZEN Theatre / Facebook
DENIZEN Theatre

For some theatre time, add a visit to Denizen Theatre to your list of things to do in New Paltz.

The Denizen Theatre was opened in 2018 and is a non-profit arts organization. It’s best known for its live theatre performances in its black box theater seating of 70.

One of the most distinctive features of the space is its design-forward structure, the glass façade and high ceilings greet guests.

The lobby doubles as an art gallery. There is no permanent stage at Denizen, and each play has a changing capacity.

This means that there are no two Denizen experiences alike. Concrete blocks all noise from outside, allowing guests to truly be immersed in every moment.

Denizen also hosts events with local non-profits who share the same vision of supporting artists and organizations.

Address: 10 Main St Suite 501, New Paltz, NY 12561, United

13. Nyquist Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary

Nyquist Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary
Credits: Paul Comstock / Flickr
Nyquist Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary

If you are a lover of nature, add a visit to the Nyquist Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary to your list of things to do in New Paltz.

It’s worth visiting the Nyquist Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary if you are on Huguenot Street.

You will find beautiful views of the river and mountains, as well as wildlife while in the area.

Birders love this area. They take their binoculars along to the pond-laden paths in an attempt to spot about 140 species of birds.

About 36 of these species are on the Audubon Species of Concern for New York. Bluebirds, screech owls, and orioles are all common sights.

Nearly four centuries of agricultural history have seen the surrounding farmland.

The sanctuary borders 1,300 feet on the Wallkill River’s riverfront and touches two historic Huguenot farm parcels.

Do visit this attraction while in the city to enjoy all that it has to offer.

Address: 133 Huguenot St, New Paltz, NY 12561, United States

14. Hike the River-to-Ridge Trail

Located in the heart of the Hudson Valley, the River-to-Ridge Trail is a great choice for your list of things to do in New Paltz.

This trail starts from the edge of the Village of New Paltz, by the west of the Carmine Liberta on Route 299.

River-to-Ridge Trail offers hikers, walkers, cyclists, runners, equestrians and others real access to the Shawangunk Ridge.

It is one way to have a great outdoor experience amongst families, residents, and visitors, especially hiking enthusiasts. Additionally, it suits users of all age brackets.

Go with your camera, get some beautiful views of the local area and have fun!

15. Robibero Family Vineyards

Nyquist Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary
Credits: RK6 / Shutterstock

Robibero Family Vineyards is open to all levels of wine knowledge. This family-owned artisanal winery is located on 42 acres outside New Paltz.

It will charm you no matter what season it is. You can stroll among the rows of vines and see the winemaking process in the cellar.

Then, you can sit under the arbor on the beautiful outdoor deck to enjoy their award-winning wines.

Every wine is unique and can only be bought or tasted in one place. You can order wine online once you have fallen in love with it.

You can rent their modern indoor wine tasting room or picturesque deck for large parties or weddings. While you will need to hire a caterer for the event, there is no need to worry about the wines.

Address: 714 Albany Post Rd, New Paltz, NY 12561, United States

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16. New Paltz Farms and Orchards

Farms and Orchards
Credits: kozirsky / Shutterstock

New Paltz is home to many farms and orchards, true to its upstate New York reputation.

It can be rewarding and amazing to visit the orchards and farms, especially during the fall harvest.

Among the many orchards in the city is the orchards Jenkins-Lueken Orchards, 69 Yankee Folly Road, which is well-known for its apple crop.

Guests can even pick their own pumpkins and apples in the fall at the orchard. The orchard can be set up for picking your own berries in the summer.

The Family-owned and operated orchard has been in business for over 50 years.

The farm store is open all year and sells seasonal products as well as apple cider, baked goods, and other items.

Dressel Farms (271 State Route 208) is another family-owned business in New Paltz. It has 300 acres of apple trees and strawberry fields.

You can also find seasonal products at the farm stand, such as cider donuts and honey.

Visit the Sunday New Paltz Open Air Market, located on Church Street between Main & Academy.

You can find locally-grown produce, arts, crafts, and baked goods at the market, located within a 40-mile radius of New Paltz.

Each week the market hosts 18 vendors and sometimes features live performances by local musicians.

17. The Village Tea Room

While you are in New Paltz, it is expedient that you taste some varieties of dishes. This is where the Village Tea Room comes into play.

The Village Tea Room is located in a strange 200-year-old building that used to be a tailor shop. Its lovely restaurant and bake shop, though small, offers great tea.

Not only does it offer tea, but it also has a delicious blend of European classics like scones and gravlax mixed with American fish cakes, gravy and baked chicken.

They are open from Tuesday to Sunday between 8am-9pm. Do well to stop by as it is one of the best things to do in New Paltz.

Address: 10 Plattekill Ave, New Paltz, NY 12561

18. Minnewaska State Park

Minnewaska State Park
Credits: James Parascandola / Shutterstock
Minnewaska State Park

One of the best things to do near New Paltz is visiting Minnewaska State Park, nestled among the Shawangunk Mountains.

To enjoy the park’s many waterfalls, clear lakes, and dense forest, visitors only need to drive about an hour from New York City.

Minnewaska boasts more than 50 miles worth of trails. Visitors can ride their bikes, climb rocks, swim, or even scuba dive from the ample space available.

Minnewaska has a newly opened campground that can host overnight guests. It is fully equipped with showers, toilets, and cooking facilities.

The campground is open from mid-May through mid-November.

Address: 5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson, NY 12446, United States

19. Walkthrough Water Street Market

Next on our list of great things to do in New Paltz is Water Street Market. If you want to purchase some items while in the city, this market fits in well.

Water Street Market contains 20 award-winning shops, making it perfect for relaxing retail therapy.

Exploring Water Street Market would be one of your favourite things to do in New Paltz if you want to spend time browsing through lovely boutiques and little stores.

This market is the perfect place to shop for gifts (especially during the festive period) or a treat for you!

20. Lagusta’s Luscious Chocolate Shop

Lagusta's Luscious Chocolate Shop
Credits: Igor Normann / Shutterstock

You might forget your weight loss plan once you step into Lagusta’s Luscious Chocolate Shop.

The chocolate shop features rows upon rows of chocolate bars, truffles, and bonbons. All products are handmade, organic, vegan, and made with ingredients that come from fair-trade farms or local farmers.

Lagusta’s chocolates are a great example of how something so delicious can be made healthy and with consideration for the environment.

You won’t think about the environment when you go to the store. Instead, you will be thinking about how many boxes of chocolate you can pack in your bag and which ones you should choose.

There are truffles with beet-coriander and lemon, truffles with pomegranate and lemon, and chocolates made with yuzu cream.

Subscribe to the Chocolate of the Month Club to receive monthly specials delivered to your home.

A visit to this New Paltz attraction is one of the best things to do in New Paltz with kids who love chocolate.

Address: 25 N Front St, New Paltz, NY 12561, United States

21. A Tavola Trattoria

A Tavola Trattoria
Credits: A Tavola Trattoria / Facebook
A Tavola Trattoria

For a memorable dining experience, add a visit to A Tavola Trattoria to your list of things to do in New Paltz.

A Tavola Trattoria is a rustic, warm, and inviting dining attraction filled with soft jazz. Also, you will find a large basket of fresh produce, as well as a blackboard listing all the farms that supplied the food.

The restaurant is lit by a wall of glass that overlooks the street. Candles create an Italian neighborhood trattoria atmosphere at night.

This is a wonderful place to go if you’re looking for romantic ideas in New Paltz. It features innovative interpretations of classic Italian dishes such as pasta, branzino grilled, and Pappardelle Bolognese.

Although the wine selection is limited, it has been carefully chosen to complement the menu. You will want to leave room for dessert.

Address: 46 Main St, New Paltz, NY 12561, United States

22. Coppersea Distilling, New Paltz

Coppersea Distilling
Credits: jazz3311 / Shutterstock

Coppersea, a historic award-winning distillery located in Springtown, the Hudson Valley, is an old-fashioned gem.

Their whiskies and eau-de-vie are made from grain and fruit grown on their 75-acre farm in New Paltz’s Walkill Valley.

The farm is nestled between Shawangunk Ridge and the Walkill River, under the huge Bonticou Crag.

Copper stills are still used in the Hudson Valley’s 1800s distillery. They malt their own grain, distill them in a direct fire still, and then ferment them in old-fashioned wooden tanks.

It produces a high-quality spirit that has been aged in brandy, wine barrels, and bourbon.

Their whiskies contain 80% corn and 20% barley. The distillery offers guided tours, as well as whiskey tastings by appointment.

The tour lasts approximately an hour and includes a visit to the malt house, distillery, barrel warehouse, and Tavern for a tasting.

Address: 239 Springtown Rd, New Paltz, NY 12561, United States

23. Eat good meals at Main Street Bistro

Main Street Bistro
Credits: MAIN STREET BISTRO / Facebook
Main Street Bistro

If you are not certain about what to have for breakfast, head straight to Main Street Bistro – a place where they’ve got it all.

You might need to exercise some patience with the line running down Main Street. But one thing is certain: you will be rewarded with incredible choices and a pleasing, fantastic atmosphere.

They serve Scooter Frittata Skillet, Salmon Hash, Italian sausages, classical eggs in any way you want. They even make tofu taste so great in diverse ways.

Everything here is fresh and prepared with care, so you can still come back for lunch too.

Address: 59 Main St, New Paltz, New York

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Plan your trip to New Paltz

Like we’ve learned, New Paltz is a vibrant and fun village with lots of things to do and see.

There are lovely buildings, a lively music scene, diverse outdoor activities, cute little boutiques for shopping, farm-to-table eateries and cafes for people watching.

It is a great place to spend the weekend and even an entire vacation. So, start drawing out your plans to that effect.

And if you need some guidance, this piece is always available for you to fall back on. Feel free!

Happy travels.