Nestled at the base of the Shawangunk Ridge (viewable from almost everywhere in New Paltz), this artsy, down-to-earth town is home to people from all different walks of life—musicians, rock climbers, visual artists, students, activists, and more—across its 34-sq-mile expanse.
The permanent population is just over 7,000 and fluctuates with an additional 7,000 residents during the academic year, thanks to SUNY New Paltz. The open-campus college is adjacent to the bustle of Main Street and offers fun experiences like the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, theater productions, interdisciplinary lectures, Division III sports games, and more throughout the year. The New Paltz Central School District serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade, rated 130th best in the state according to Niche’s 2022 report. (There’s also the private Mountain Laurel Waldorf School.)
Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate that the area is super bike and hike friendly. The Empire State Trail runs through town, Minnewaska State Park and the Mohonk Preserve are just minutes away, and New Paltz Bicycle Depot rents out bikes for day use. Local farms and orchards are sprinkled throughout the area, with quick commutes to Twin Star Orchard, Dressel Farms, Tweefontein Herb Farm, and New Paltz’s Open Air Market.
With so many residents from different backgrounds, you know the dining scene is especially eclectic. You’ll find fresh sushi and noodle bowls at Asian Fusion (and grab a drink at the adjacent Fuschia Tiki Bar); brick-oven pizza at the newly-opened Apizza!; classic Mexican cuisine at La Charla’s and Guac Taco and Tequila Bar; elevated breakfast at Main Street Bistro; and vegan menus at Commissary! and Karma Road Café. Thanks to students who love to eat out often, new restaurants and bars are constantly popping up.