Hudson Valley’s most iconic resort, Mohonk Mountain House, is located less than two hours north of New York City and is a favorite escape for New Yorkers and visitors year-round. The resort is best known for its stunning views, farm to table cuisine, and award-winning spa. However, the Mohonk Mountain House experience is so much more than that. Our insider guide, Alex Sherwood, Director of Hotel Operations and Endurance Concierge, has some amazing recommendations for what to see, do, taste, and experience. Sherwood first joined the Mohonk team in the late ’90s and was only thinking of staying for a few years at most. Little did he know he would fall in love with the beauty of the Mohonk and Shawangunk Mountains. Now, 20 years later, he still enjoys the trails, lakes, and one-of-a-kind locations found only in the Gunks.
What is included in your stay at Mohonk?
Our overnight rates include historic accommodations, three farm-fresh meals a day, afternoon tea and cookies, and most resort activities, including hiking, rock climbing, seasonal lake activities such as boating and paddle boarding, meditation and fitness classes, and winter activities including ice skating and snowshoeing.
Can you mention any notable guests?
We like to say that Mohonk is a playground for New York’s elite throughout its history. We’ve hosted five U.S. presidents, tycoons like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, and even the cast of Saturday Night Live for their annual retreats. More recently, we hosted the cast of Showtime’s Billions to film an episode in their latest season. It was a beautiful thing to see our grounds showcased and shared with viewers all over the world.
What is your perfect one-day itinerary onsite at Mohonk?
My perfect Mohonk day would start with a brisk morning hike. An easy hike can be a peaceful and introspective experience and, in my opinion, a great way to jumpstart the day. After that, I’d recharge with brunch. We have all the brunch classics, from eggs Benedict to French toast, as well as sandwiches, pastas, and more. Then, I’d jump right into one of our activities. Our experiences differ depending on the day, but outdoor activities like horseback riding, archery and rock scrambling are always very popular with our guests. I’m also a big fan of our meditation and yoga classes, which are great for both those with mindfulness experience and people who are interested in learning the practice.
Before dinner, I’d take a trip to our award-winning Spa for some R&R. You’ll feel completely refreshed and relaxed as the therapists work your muscles and make all your stresses melt away. Then, after a lovely dinner at the Main Dining Room, a nighttime movie or s’mores over a campfire would cap off a perfect day.
What about your perfect one-day itinerary for offsite experiences?
There are many small villages, hamlets, and towns to visit in the surrounding areas. Places like Phoenicia, Tannersville, and Hudson are becoming very popular day trip destinations with great restaurants, boutiques, and cultural institutions.
Where is the coolest place for cocktails in the area?
I’d recommend the Carriage Lounge at Mohonk. It’s a very intimate and comfortable space where you can chat and enjoy good company over some craft cocktails, local beers, and light bites. Every month, Mohonk bartenders also compete in a fun competition where they’re asked to create the best cocktail with a theme or key ingredient they’re given. We have a judging panel that chooses the best cocktail, which is then served exclusively at the Carriage Lounge for a month. We definitely have a lot of guests who come back to the Carriage Lounge every time they visit to try the special cocktail of the month.
My favorite place to grab cocktails outside of Mohonk is Garvan’s. It’s a gastropub set inside a quaint, historic house. The service and atmosphere are top-tier, and while the dinner there is great, it’s usually quite busy. You’ll have a better chance of grabbing a seat at the bar and enjoying some of their delicious cocktails.
What are the best restaurants for a romantic dinner?
I would be remiss to not say Mohonk for this one! Our Main Dining Room is a gorgeous venue with dramatic cathedral ceilings, historic woodwork, and panoramic views of the Catskill Mountains. We proudly serve farm-fresh cuisine made with locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, and our in-house dry-aged steaks and fresh house-made pasta are some of the best in the Hudson Valley.
If you’re interested in going off-property, A Tavola is a very solid trattoria with classic Italian cuisine and great ambiance. A little further out in Poughkeepsie is Brasserie 292, a charming bistro with lovely French-inspired dishes.
What is the best winery, vineyard, or orchard to visit? Why?
Whitecliff Vineyard is a great winery just a quick 15-minute drive from Mohonk. Like Mohonk, it’s a family-run operation and is one of the biggest vineyards in the Hudson Valley. You can visit their Tasting Room to try flights or glasses of their beautiful wines, which are grown with sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices.
What are the must-see attractions or destinations that you recommend?
Oh, the list goes on and on! I can think of so many places to visit. The Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park and the Ashokan Reservoir Rail Trail are two fantastic outdoor destinations in the area. If you’re really adventurous, you can try rock climbing with Alpine Endeavors, which offers guided rock-climbing experiences in the Shawangunk Mountains. The Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival is also an amazing sight to behold. Opus 40 is a one-of-a-kind sculpture park that’s great for an artistic excursion too.
As for food, I highly recommend grabbing cider doughnuts at Wallkill View Farms, some breakfast at Main Street Bistro, and the pickled veggies and beer at Yard Owl Brewery. Those are some of my favorite dishes around here.
Where do you recommend for first time hikers? What about for someone who wants something more challenging?
For most guests, the hike to Sky Top Tower is one of the must-do activities at Mohonk. Conveniently, there are many ways to hike to this destination. For beginners, the Sky Top Path is a light and straightforward hike that takes about 20 minutes. Those who want more of a challenge can try the Labyrinth, a rock scramble that will take you through Mohonk’s iconic Lemon Squeeze, a narrow crevice where you’ll have to thread through to reach the top. It takes about an hour, and it’s a very fun experience. Plus, the payoff of the views at Sky Top Tower is worth any hike.
What annual events should we add to our must-see list?
In the summer, our Garden Holiday is a must-see occasion. Every year, at the end of August, we transform our Victorian show garden into a complete showstopper with thousands of colorful, artfully planted flowers. I also think Mohonk in the winter is an underrated gem. When the Mountain House and the forests are covered with a blanket of snow, and you can take in those sights with a cup of hot chocolate next to one of our many fireplaces, it’s a magical feeling.
Where are the best views at Mohonk?
There are two places on our property that have the most romantic sunset views. In the Mountain House itself, the Sunset Porch is a 250-foot veranda with rocking chairs and a cocktail bar where you can grab a drink and watch the sun set beyond the Catskills. More adventurous guests can hike to the Eagle Cliff, overlooking mountains and valleys while birds surround you. It’s very special.
Are there any LGBTQ bars or LGBTQ friendly bars in the area?
Jar’d Wine Pub and Snug Harbor are two really nice bars in New Paltz that are LGBTQ-friendly.
Does New Paltz or the Hudson Valley celebrate Pride Month?
Yes! The Hudson Valley celebrates Pride Month every year. In Kingston, there is a yearly tradition where you can sign up to paint the streets in Kingston rainbow. There’s also a Pride parade right here in New Paltz. Of course, many local businesses will support the community with their own initiatives too, so definitely check out the area!
What are some iconic tourist souvenirs from the area?
If you want to bring home a reminder of Mohonk, the luxurious body lotions, shampoos, conditioners, and body wash that are found in our guest rooms are also available in the Gift Shop, as well as our signature tea blends that we serve every day. Hudson Valley is so rich in artistry and craftsmanship, and we try to take advantage of that as well. You can find a lot of works created by local potters, jewelers, candle makers and artists right here in our Gift Shop.
If you’re here from the summer to the fall, there are also a lot of great finds at the New Paltz Open Air Market. You can stop by on your way back home from Mohonk and grab local produce, cheeses, meats, art, and other goods that are all hyperlocal and made within a 40-mile radius.
Please finish the sentence: don’t leave the region without…
Don’t leave the region without an outside excursion that puts you in the heart of the Shawangunk Ridge. Locals sometimes refer to this as a “Shawangunk Moment.” It’s when you have a mindful moment and take in the environment. You’ll feel totally connected to your surroundings!
For more information, or to book your stay, visit Mohonk’s website.
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About the Author
Barry Hoy is a travel, food, and lifestyle writer who showcases great destinations, local experiences, and all of the must see (#bucketlist) places around the world. Travel is his passion, so he is always on the road or up in the air. If he’s not travelling, he’s most likely already planning his next trip. Follow along his adventures via Instagram @asianmapleleaf or on his travel blog at www.asianmapleleaf.com.