A Family Vacation at Mohonk Mountain House

It was a brisk November weekend, but we were there to celebrate: Two of our group of nine—including three generations—were celebrating milestone birthdays. We’d headed to Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz because we wanted the whole family, ages 6 to 70-something-we-won’t-publish, to have a ball. We had high hopes, and the 145-year-old family resort exceeded our expectations. We danced, we ate, we hiked, and then we ate some more.

Want a great family weekend? Here’s why Mohonk Mountain House may be the destination for you:

It’s like a cruise ship on land. If you’ve ever cruised the high seas, you’ve probably had your choice of activities from dawn to midnight, you’ve eaten so many cupcakes and mini-quiches your belly hurt, and you’ve discovered something new every day. That’s Mohonk, but without the queasy stomach or the lifeboat drills. There’s no shortage of things to do, nooks and crannies to explore, and quiet places to sit and look out at the scenery.

Speaking of scenery…. We are talking gorgeous, people. As in, this is the place for fall leaf peeping. It’s gorgeous in winter, too, and in summer you can splash and boat in a giant lake. Get ready to fill up your phone—you’ll want to snap dozens of photos of your little ones out in nature. (I know, right?)

And if you’re hungry…. Scratch that. There is no way to be hungry at Mohonk Mountain House. Every meal boasts a giant buffet, or two—or nine. There are carving stations. There are soup stations. There are omelette stations. There are cupcake and bruschetta and guacamole stations. And, if you have the type of kid who’s into a limited color palette on his plate, there’s an all-beige station of chicken fingers and mac and cheese. At night, you can order off a three-course menu, and we’re talking gourmet choices. The five adults in our group chowed down on seared ahi, pappardelle with some kind of crazy delicious ragu, hangar steak, lobster bisque, and venison loin. And don’t even get me started on brunch. You’ll stay for hours. You’ll eat way more than the daily recommended allowance. You’ll run extra miles on the treadmill the following week. Take my word for it.

If you have the energy after all that food, start hiking. There are acres and acres of trails, from a lazy walk around the lake to a climb to a pretty tower with amazing views. If you don’t feel like walking, saddle up. The on-site stables offer trail rides and lessons, too. Feeling super daring? Throw some tomahawks. Yes, even this middle-aged mom in clogs and a cardigan took out some aggression with a sharp, spiraling axe. I even hit the target once. Imagine that.

Ready to rest? The rooms at Mohonk Mountain House are generously sized, but nothing out of the ordinary. What makes them special are the amenities: Our room had a giant balcony overlooking the lake. The kids’ room boasted a fireplace. The bathrooms are large and well-stocked. And the mountain air adds that little touch of fairy dust, which, combined with all that food and all that tomahawk throwing, sends you right off to dreamland.

A few things you should know if you go to Mohonk Mountain House:

  • Book ahead. Waaaay ahead. While we were checking in, one couple arrived to celebrate their anniversary, and they asked to be switched from a room with twin beds. (I know. Ugh.) Nothing doing; every bed in the place was taken. And, when we say “book ahead,” we don’t mean only rooms. When we called the week before our trip to make appointments for trail rides through the stables and treatments at the award-winning spa, they were totally booked up. Not a single appointment. Not one. 
  • Bring your dancing (and hiking, and riding) shoes. At night, we particularly enjoyed the square dancing and the cover bands.
  • Let the little ones run wild. Well, maybe not wild, but one thing that’s nice about this place is that you feel safe and secure. The kids can go up to the buffet or to the game room by themselves. You can sit and have another glass of wine. It’s all good.
  • Plan to leave late. Even though checkout is in the morning, you can still use the facilities all day long. Enjoy the pool and the library, pick up some gift shop swag, and put the kids in their PJ’s for the ride home. They’ll be dreaming of their next trip to Mohonk.


Leaf Peeping: A Fun Family Activity in the Fall

A Family Road Trip to Pennsylvania

Main image:  Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz 
Courtesy Mohonk Mountain House