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Suggestions on Side Trip from NYC

Buenos Aires
Level Contributor
162 posts
17 reviews
Suggestions on Side Trip from NYC


We are a family of four (2 adults + 2 kids - 6&10 yo) from Argentina.

We are arriving to JFK on Feb 14th, 2016. We'll be in the area for 16 nights, and as we have already visited NYC a couple of times, we wanted to do something diifferent, ending our stay in Manhattan.

Doing some research on the area, I came across Minnewaska State Park, and absolutely loved it.

I know it will be freezing and snowing, but there is no alternative because those are the dates we have.

Please, I kindly ask for your advise on this itinerary:

Feb 14th 8AM - Arrive at JFK

- Rent a Car and drive to the area (New Paltz, Poughkeepsie, etc.)

- Spend a couple of nights.

- During that stay visit Minnewaska park and get a glimpse of the area.

Feb 16th drive to Boston

- Spend 3 nights and get to know the city

Feb 19th drive back to NYC

- Return the car in Manhattan and spend 11 nights there.

We are not winter sports people, but we love the possibility of combining city vacations with nature. The winter pictures we saw of the park were absolutely breathtaking.

So, here are my doubts:

a) Is it possible to drive during that time of the year to New Paltz (or near) from JFK? I drive a lot but have no experience on snow.

b) Where would you recommend to stay (hotel) to be near the park and other suggested things to do? Already checked Mohonk Mtn House. It seems very nice, but the price really hurted. Is there an alternative to it?

c) How do you get access to the park? Do you have to drive up there? Is it possible with snow / ice? Or do you park in a common area and make your way up by trekking?

d) What do you think about the combination with Boston?

All seem like relatively short drives. I assume that the complication may come from weather conditions and that's where I need advise.

I've already posted questions on other TA forums, but I was not very decided / clear on what we wanted. So, now with some better idea, I figured I'd come back.

Thanks in advance for your time and input.



14 replies to this topic
Vestal, New York
Destination Expert
for Auburn, Finger Lakes
Level Contributor
11,514 posts
208 reviews
11. Re: Suggestions on Side Trip from NYC

I think your initial instincts were good - your kids would be far more interested in Minnewaska - Mohonk and Olana are adult attractions, IMHO.

Kingston, New York
Level Contributor
7 posts
9 reviews
12. Re: Suggestions on Side Trip from NYC

New Paltz and the surrounding area is beautiful anytime of year. From NYC the most direct route would be via the NYS Thruway (a toll road). Provided it isn't snowing on the day of your travel, the highway will be maintained & should be free of snow.

Minnewaska NYS Park is a wonderful recreational area. You drive to the park & enter at the booth where you pay a car fee. There are 2 main parking areas - lower & upper. This past winter the upper lot wasn't accessible by vehicle, only the lower lot was. From the lower lot it is a fairly short hike to beautiful Awosting Falls. The upper lot gives you access to walk around the carriage trail that surrounds Lake Minnewaska. It is possible to walk / hike up to the lake from the lower lot, but it's all uphill.

Another, nearby recreational area is the Mohonk Preserve - not to be confused with the Mohonk Mountain House property (which is also nearby). The Preserve has multiple trailhead locations and parking areas scattered throughout the several 1000 acres of land that it protects. It's my opinion that the Preserve has WAY more to offer than Minnewaska. You can check out more details about the Preserve here, including day-use fees:


Mohonk Preserve also has both a FB page and a volunteer photographer FB page. It might be helpful to like them both to start to get an idea of what a magnificent area it is.

It is possible to hike from Minnewaska into the Mohonk Preserve and vice versa as they are neighbors - although in the winter, this might make for a long, arduous hike. I would strongly suggest that if you are planning to visit either location in the winter, that you make sure you have appropriate footwear that includes microspike type of footwear traction. You don't need to get expensive kinds, ones that stretch over the bottom of your winter hiking boots are fine. I don't think that you'd be able to safely hike in the winter terrain of these areas without them.

Finally, another suggestion for something to do in the area includes a visit to the Walkway Over the Hudson - this is a must actually. The walkway entrance on the Highland side of the Hudson River is just a 20 minute drive from New Paltz. The winds over the walkway can be biting in the winter, so be sure to dress appropriately & check their website of FB page for delayed openings or closing due to winter weather - in fact, be sure to do that if visiting either outdoor recreational area too. They close certain trails in the winter.


I frequent both recreational areas year-round. Any other questions or clarifications, just ask!

Buenos Aires
Level Contributor
162 posts
17 reviews
13. Re: Suggestions on Side Trip from NYC

Thank you so much!!!!! I'll be asking some questions for sure!



Albany, NY
Level Contributor
1,219 posts
10 reviews
14. Re: Suggestions on Side Trip from NYC

You might consider the Rocking Horse Ranch. It is a resort, but is targeted specifically to families and has winter activites popular with kids like horse drawn sleigh rides, ice skating and snow tubing. I am not sure what the winter rates will be. You might want to send them an email.


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