David Rockwell's New Paltz, New York

Courtesy of Mohonk Mountain House

Architect and designer David Rockwell shares his picks for dining, drinking, and sightseeing in New Paltz, New York. Rockwell is the founder of Rockwell Group, an architecture and design firm based in New York.

What neighborhood do you live in and how long have you lived there? I bought a weekend home in New Paltz 12 years ago, but my family and I have been going there for almost 20 years.

Where do you put up friends visiting town? Our friends stay with us, but if there’s not enough room, we have them stay at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, an amazing resort in the middle of the mountains (1000 Mountain Rest Rd.; 845-765-3286; mohonk.com).

Where is the best place to find your hometown’s signature dish? I don’t think there’s a signature dish. However New Paltz is known today for its farm-to-table cuisine and was founded by Huguenots in the late 17th century, so perhaps the house made chicken liver pate from the Huguenot restaurant best represents the town’s history and cuisine. The restaurant sources all of its meat from the Karl Family Farms, which is only six miles away (36 Main St.; 845-255-5558; thehuguenot.com).

What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? When we entertain visitors, we usually eat simply prepared produce, meat, cheese, and fruit at home. We pick up many items from the New Paltz Farmers Market (24 Main St.; newpaltzfarmersmarket.com). When we take friends out to dinner, our go-to place is A Tavola (46 Main St.; 845-255-1426; atavolany.com), an Italian trattoria.

Where can you find the best cocktails? Tuthill House at the Mill in Gardiner crafts cocktails using their award-winning whisky and gin from their distillery Tuthilltown Spirits, located next door to the restaurant (20 Grist Mill Ln.; 845-255-4151; tuthillhouse.com).

Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? I would go to the Bocuse Restaurant (1946 Campus Dr.; 845-471-6608; bocuserestaurant.com) on the campus of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park—roughly 25 minutes away by car—for their modern interpretation of classic French cuisine. The restaurant is a lab, theater, and training ground for future chefs.

What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon? In the spring or summer, it’s fun to explore the historic Huguenot homes in New Paltz. You can bring a picnic lunch and wander the grounds or take a guided tour of the beautiful 18th century stone houses.

What is your Sunday morning routine in your neighborhood? I make an omelet and read the New York Times in my backyard, which overlooks the “Gunks” (Shawangunk mountain range).

Where is the best brunch? Main Street Bistro is a great casual place to have a leisurely brunch. I eat pretty healthy, so I usually order an egg white omelet with green pepper, tomatoes, and feta cheese (59 Main St.; 845-255-7766; mainstreetbistro.com).

Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? Mudd Puddle Coffee Roasters & Café, a small, husband and wife-owned coffee shop that roasts their own beans. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I usually order iced tea (10 Main St.; 845-255-3436; muddpuddlecoffee.com).

What’s your favorite view in town? The view from my home of the Shawangunk mountain range.

What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? The five-mile Underhill/ Overcliff Carriage Roads loop at The Mohonk Preserve leads you to spectacular views of the Shawangunk Cliffs.

What are your favorite offbeat cultural attractions? Opus 40 in Saugerties is worth the 40-45 minute drive north from New Paltz if you want to see an obsessive, quirky, and incredible work of art. It’s a seven-acre sculpture garden that features works made from hand-carved bluestone mounted on bluestone surfaces by the late artist and Bard College professor Harvey Fite. Fite, who lived and worked on the property, continued to work on the project from 1939 until his death in 1976 (50 Fite Rd.; 845-246-3400; opus40.org).

What’s your favorite shop or boutique? In the summer, I love to entertain family and friends by cooking on our outdoor grill. I buy fresh seafood from Gadaleto’s market (246 Main St.; 845-255-1717; gadaletos.com). Groovy Blueberry, a quirky shop that sells tie-dyed clothing made by local artisans, is another favorite (57 Main St.; 845-256-0873; groovyblueberry.com).

What’s the best-kept local secret? The Hudson Valley has many emerging artisans and craftspeople and several of these designers, including Jessica Wickham, Niche Modern, Rexhill Furniture, and Hudson Beach Glass have galleries in the area. Finch (613 Warren St.) sells both new pieces by local designers and midcentury antiques. Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon sells beautiful hand blown glass bowls and other objects (162 Main St.; 845-440-0068; hudsonbeachglass.com).

Image Credits: The Huguenot, Opus 40

In our Hometown Guides series, we're seeking the best restaurants, bars, vistas, and things to do in a given place from the people who know best—the artists, designers, chefs, and store owners who live there. See more Hometown Guides »