What to Do in New Paltz: A 24-Hour Guide to the Creative Hub

The college town buzzes with community activities, restaurants, and breathtaking Hudson Valley views.

Adobe Stock / Dino Davaros

Ulster County’s popular college town buzzes with community activities, restaurants, and breathtaking Hudson Valley views.

By Julia Colombo, with additional reporting by Matt Moment and Sabrina Sucato

If Beacon is the Williamsburg of the Hudson Valley, then New Paltz must be Bushwick. The creative hub is home to countless alternative shops, cultural attractions, and innovative eateries. With SUNY New Paltz right in town, the locale thrums with life at all hours. In this ever-changing area, it’s safe to say that a trip into town is never the same.

8:30 a.m. – Breakfast at Russo’s Family Deli


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On the corner of Main Street and South Oakwood Terrace, this delightful Italian deli opens at 8 a.m. ready to serve. The breakfast menu offers a plethora of hearty breakfasts, including French toast, four breakfast sandwiches on house-made focaccia, and the combo plate, comprised of two eggs, toast, and the customer’s choice of bacon, ham, sausage, and home fries. Gluten-free bread substitutes are available for each bread-based meal. Better yet, the self-serve coffee and tea is ever-flowing. The indoor tables are plastered with Italian newspaper clippings, and the outdoor tables rest beneath Russo’s red awnings, where you can enjoy your meal outdoors during the warmer months.

9:15 a.m. – Go shopping on Main Street


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We’d be remiss not to highlight New Paltz’s eclectic collection of stores and shops. Check out the selection of sterling silver jewelry and crystals at Dancing Hands Jewelry, or the array of tie-dyed bags, clothes, bandanas, and more at Groovy BlueberryNew Paltz’s self-proclaimed “One Stop Hippie Shop.” Step into the town’s part-witch shop, part-plant shop, Ritualist, to find plants of all shapes and sizes, along with tarot decks, elixirs, and crystals.

10 a.m. – Grab a sweet treat at The Bakery


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Hidden on North Front Street is The Bakery. Don’t let its out-of-the-way location fool you—The Bakery has been a staple of the New Paltz community for four decades. With pastries, cookies, tarts, tiramisu, cannoli, and apple cake baked fresh every day, there are countless options for anyone seeking something sweet.

Looking for something a little more savory? Bagels, a lox platter, bialys, and scones also grace this diverse menu. Grab a cappuccino, chai, mocha, or matcha latte and sit indoors or outside, where seating areas are clustered around trees that shade those enjoying their morning time snack.

11 a.m. – Stroll along the River-to-Ridge Trail in New Paltz


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At the River to Ridge trail, you can walk off your breakfast at Russo’s, treats from The Bakery, and any other goodies that enticed you on Main Street. (We warned you that New Paltz is a foodie’s haven!) The trail is easy and well-maintained with a parking lot and an iconic view. What more could you ask for?

12 p.m. – Dig into lunch at Lola’s Cafe


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Lola’s is the place for lunch in New Paltz. With southwest bowls, vegan chili, and various panini, sandwich, salad, and wrap options, you will never leave Lola’s wanting more. Check out the Brussels sprouts salad with grilled chicken, crispy Brussels sprouts, crumbled blue cheese, baby mixed greens, rosemary vinaigrette, and more. Or, try the turkey and brie panini with roasted turkey breast, melted brie, blackberry compote, and baby greens on a whole grain ciabatta. Whatever you order, you can rest assured that your meal is made with fresh, delicious ingredients. The spacious indoor dining area can host groups, couples, or single eaters, while the outdoor patio seating is perfect for a bite on a sunny day.

1 p.m. – Find antiques, art, and more on Water Street

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This little street is a distillation of the art, food, and culture you can find in New Paltz proper. In the way of bites and sips, you have Mudd Puddle for coffee, The Parish Restaurant for New Orleans-style grub, Jar’d for wine, and the Udder Place for ice cream. If you’re not feeling peckish (you just ate at Lola’s, after all), there’s still plenty to do; peruse the multiple antique stores, the record shop, and artist Ryan Cronin’s studio.

Related: Best Pizza in New Paltz Has an Incredible Backstory

2:30 p.m. – Discover your new favorite artist at the Dorsky

Venture onto the SUNY New Paltz campus to explore the artistry housed within the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art. The museum features a wide variety of mediums and styles, from contemporary art and photography to drawing and sculpture.

5:30 p.m. – Find the burger of your dreams at Burger Box


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Burger Box opened in 2021 and has quickly become one of the town’s favorites. Sister duo Stephanie and Tiffany Verney’s dream of a burger bar with creative twists on classic burgers and fries never disappoints. The burger joint offers 100-percent grass-fed beef from Kilcoyne Farms in the Hudson Valley, Impossible burgers, chipotle black bean burgers, and chicken options for their sandwiches.

Order the garlic rosemary burger, with rosemary onion jam, garlic aioli, tomato, and arugula, or the Conca d’Oro, with a pepperoni pizza bun, mozzarella, basil aioli, and arugula. If you’re feeling adventurous, dare to devour the burger of the month. Elevate your meal with beer or wine; the eatery’s selection is sourced exclusively from breweries and wineries in the Hudson Valley.

7 p.m. – Enjoy a live performance at the DENIZEN Theater


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What better way to enjoy an evening than with live theater? DENIZEN Theater is a nonprofit arts organization with a professional, intimate theater on New Paltz’s Water Street. Behind the simple concrete exterior sits a flexible black-box theater which can accommodate a 70-person audience. The theater focuses on new works, emerging playwrights, and powerful themes.

9 p.m. – Booze and billiards at Bacchus in New Paltz


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Looking for a bar with craft beers, a billiards room, live music, and the occasional drag show? Look no further than Bacchus. Named for the Greek god of wine and pleasure, this cozy brick-walled establishment is one of the liveliest late-night haunts in New Paltz. Stop by for karaoke night or one of Bacchus’s theme nights, and don’t forget to shoot some pool!

10:30 p.m. – Stay the night at Moondance Ridge Bed & Breakfast

After a long day of exploring the town, head to Moondance, the idyllic bed and breakfast of your dreams. With five cozy rooms, whirlpool tubs, and electric fireplaces, guests sleep soundly at this nature-surrounded B&B. A reservation includes a yummy homemade breakfast, access to the onsite sauna, and a chance to explore the grounds complete with a pond, waterfall, and seven-circuit labyrinth.

Related: Rabble Rise Doughnuts Celebrates a Love of Baking in New Paltz

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