This week, my partner and I made a day-trip upstate; trading the height of the buildings for the tops of mountains. Although I love the city, it definetly has its perks and downfalls. I count myself lucky to live here because there is so much to find within the boroughs, but there are also three significant airports within reach, Amtrack stations throughout the island, and busses that will take you all over America. But with so much within reach, it’s hard to not need “an escape” from it all.
For over a year, my partner and I seem to try and get out of the city each month. Because of the opportunity to explore is so plenty, we often find ourselves catching a train or bus just outside of the city limits to try and explore more of New York State and the surrounding Northeast.
This time, we made our way to Port Authority Bus Terminal, where Trailways, a charter bus service, had regular trips to New Paltz. The small town south of Kingston in Ulster County, situated on the cusp of the mountains to the north, is a quaint mountainside town. It’s weird to think that roughly 85 miles from downtown are cities like New Paltz which nestle in the Catskill Mountains that overlook rivers and lush green worlds.
The ride took about an hour and a half, and the first stop is New Paltz. The bus drops you off in town, and it’s a quick ten-minute stroll along Main Street where you can find the bustling spots for a bite to eat, relaxed coffee shops, and boutique stores.
As a reader, I had to check out the bookshops in the area. Inquiring Minds and Barner Books are across the street from each other, and both offer great new and used the inventory to add to your own shelves at home. I spent a lot of time perusing Inquiring Minds, which offered cozy nooks for both adults and children to spend an afternoon reading. Plus, next door is a local chocolate shop and a cafe serving up to twenty different varieties of cereal. Yum!
From there we headed to Historic Huguenot Street; a National Historic Landmark that is comprised of 30 buildings dating back to 1687 when Dutch settlers purchased land on Wallkill River to build homes and establish their families. During the summer, the preservation efforts offer guided tours every 30-minutes where you will get additional information on the history of the area as well as access inside the buildings.
Because it ran for about an hour, we opted to us the free-app and explore the area for ourselves through their interactive map and history snippets. Running alongside the historic street is the Wallkill River, Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary, and New Paltz Gardens for Nutrition. The grassy path is mowed regularly for leisurely walks around the pond and bird watching.
Off in the distance, you can see the shadowed mountain ranges, cascading in elegant shades of navy across the baby blue sky. If you don’t have your own car, call an Uber to Mohonk Preserve, a fifteen-minute drive out of town and visit the all-inclusive Mohonk Mountain House. The stunning castle-like hotel overlooks Mohonk Lake and ridges in the distance. If the nightly price range is out of your budget for a stay, the Reserve offers a day pass that allows hikers to enjoy the preserve on their property.
For a small town, New Paltz shows off its spectacular beauty in such a relaxing way. Even if hiking isn’t your forte, there are three breweries in town and numerous restaurants that show off the antique and rustic charm of the city. My favorite stops were Clemson Bros. Brewery and Schatzi’s Pub & Bier Garden of New Paltz. We had a little difficulty getting back down the mountain with Uber since it was a little out of the way from the few drivers in the city, but luckily one woman made the trip out and gave reccomendations of other places to visit upstate.
Before our bus left at 8:00pm, we grabbed a locally brewed beer and headed to dinner where we enjoyed a relaxing night on the patio sipping a German beer that catapulted us back to our last summer spent abroad. Although there is nothing quite like Eibsee Lake and being in the shadows of Zugspitze, something is charming about this little piece of European grandeur in New York. If I could do anything differently, I would definitely save up and stay at the hotel for a few nights, and come back in the autumn when the leaves are changing, and the crisp air hangs over the mountains in the distance.