A Winter Weekend in New Paltz NY

It was cold. Windy. Freezing. Too cold to comfortably walk around with three little ones. Day after day, our big kids would declare “We’re not going anywhere today” and “We want to stay home all day”. And yet after a week of mostly staying at home, I said we HAD to get out.

So here’s how to plan a winter weekend in New Paltz, New York. New Paltz is a university town, home of the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Patlz. With it’s quirky college vibe, it’s a great summer destination for visiting the lush green Shawangunk Mountains.

However, did you know that it is also wonderful in the winter? Even if you are not into winter sports such as skiing and snowshoing, there is something for everyone. Between quaint boutiques, good food and drink and a laid back vibe, it can be a great family vacation destination.

Find out how this unexpected weekend from New York City can be a perfect getaway for you too!

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Halfway through our long winter break, we decided to get away from the bustling city for a weekend. The Mr. had a work meeting in New Paltz, NY, so we made the trip into a family affair.

Preparing for a Trip to New Paltz

On Thursday night, right around 6 o’clock, we told the kids we were going away! I gave them their small duffle bags and told them to pack their own bags: shirts, pants, sweaters, socks and underwear required, a couple books or toys, optional. They were beyond excited!

Before bedtime, their little bags were packed, and I had gathered the toddler’s and my things, tossed in their toiletries and made a food bag for the backseat.

Download a Family Packing List, if you don’t already have one.

Meanwhile, M got on the computer and booked a hotel. Our only requirement was an indoor pool. 

salt water pool at the Hampton Inn in New Paltz

Driving from NYC to New Paltz

New Paltz is under two hours drive from Manhattan. That said, coming from Brooklyn adds another 30-40 minutes, and since we were driving during rush hour we had to account for up to 3 hours to get to New Paltz from New York City.

To get to New Paltz, cross the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey. From there you can take the NJ-4 to the NJ-17 to the I-87 into upstate New York. I suggest using Waze to determine your best route.

The next morning we got up at our usual early time, and hopped into the car. The kids got breakfast in the car and by the time our littlest asked for a bathroom break we were already out of the NYC traffic!

Our first planned stop was at Whole Foods in Paramus, New Jersey. M had a work call planned for 9 am, so the kids and I shopped for snacks and fruit for the weekend. After our longish break, we were back on the road to New Paltz, NY. 

Arriving in New Paltz

It was a rainy Friday, so while M was at his meeting, the kids and I checked out October Country Comics. The kids picked out some comics and hung out.

After lunch, we went to check in to the Hampton Inn. This hotel was seriously great. It was new and modern, the staff was friendly and it was very clean!

As the rain continued, we went to the salt water pool. It was AMAZING! The weekend was off to a great start. 

Minnewaska State Park

Saturday morning was clear. The weather was less cold than usual for this time of the year, and that was great, because it was our nature day. Our big destination was Minnewaska State Park.

Awosting Falls

The first trail we walked was to Awosting Falls. The trail was wide and easy. The waterfall, the day after it rained, was just wonderful. So much water was rushing down. We discovered little patches of ice, along with dripping water from the rain.

The kids picked up sticks and rocks and all the little treasures that are harder to find in the city. Our two year old was happy as a clam in our hiking backpack.

We were surprised to see many people out on the trails and everyone we encountered was extremely friendly!

Lake Minnewaska

From there, we drove up to the upper parking lot, and started walking around Lake Minnewaska.

The Lake was mostly frozen, and it was very cool! Though it was windy up top, down by the shore the kids threw some rocks into the patches of water.

There is a nice recreation area with grass which we loved for running around. Currently a new visitor’s center is being built and the plans look amazing. By now it was early afternoon and we had blown through our snacks.

The kids were getting tired and cold, so we decided to call it a day and head back to town.

We picked up a late lunch from Main Course Marketplace, the same place we had had dinner the night before, and it was tasty and affordable!

The rotating menu meant that we visited three times in the three days we were there, no better recommendation than that!

Both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, we spent at the pool. The kids have been taking serious swimming lessons and it was so fun and relaxing to have them be mostly independent in the pool! 

Walkway Over the Hudson

Our destination of the day for Sunday, was the Walkway Over the Hudson, in Highland, NY. This is a pedestrian bridge crossing the Hudson River into Poughkeepsie, NY.

It was interesting and the view had so much potential, but was really more suited to warm weather, as it was very, very cold, very, very windy and very, very gray!

Nevertheless, we did head towards the middle of the bridge and then back the other way, down the Rail Trail. The trail is over five miles through the little towns in the area, but we were happy to just climb the old train car!

Driving on Local Road 9W

It was time to hit the road, head back towards the city. We decided to take the local 9W road and happened upon two points of interest!

First we drove by Hepsworth Farms. This was very cool because we get our CSA fruit from them and we could show the kids where our food is grown!

Then, we came upon the Kedem Winery in Marlboro, NY! Yup, that same Kedem grape juice we buy at the local Shoprite.

It turns out, that all of their wine is processed right there! The grapes come from from farms further north, processed there, and then go to a plant in New Jersey for bottling and distribution. We got to peek into their distillery, and see a video about the whole process, as well as taste some juice. 

We made one more stop on the way to visit friends, and then we were back home.

All in all, New Paltz was a cute little college town and while I’m sure it shines in warmer weather, we definitely enjoyed it as a winter weekend destination.

It was an easy drive and we all agreed that we should come back to the area when the weather is nicer and the trees greener! It was almost close enough to go on a day trip! 

Have you been to nearby upstate (downstate) New York? Do you have other recommendations for us for the next time we go? How do you make the best of winter vacations?

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