Mohonk Mountain House is a hotel built around 1900. Since then, it has served wealthy New York City inhabitants as a summer retreat and spa. The grounds1 make an excellent day's hiking and contain beautiful gardens, well-manicured trails and awesome views2.
The hotel is located about 50 miles northwest of New York City in the eastern US state of New York. Travelling by car, this is about six miles west of New Paltz, New York, which can be reached from Interstate 87's exit 18, along Mountain Rest Road.
It is rather expensive to stay at the hotel itself. Rooms range from US$1753 to US$1,1604 per night. However, the gardens and scenic trails within the grounds of the hotel are free to walkers and hikers. This is by far the most scenic place in the New York metropolitan area. If you're in New York City, and have a ten-hour stretch of free time and have access to a car, this is a good place to go5.
If you arrive after 9am, on a fine day when the foliage looks its best, it will probably be necessary to wait for a parking space - although it is worth the wait. The best place to park is at the parking lot at the gate, for which you'll have to pay a small fee. From there, a tour bus runs to the main building. Alternatively, the wondrous trails - incorporating rocks, mud, running water - can be climbed, slipped through and traversed, in about an hour6.
As you approach the lake from the gardens and as you are arriving from the gate via the hiking trails, there are some public bathrooms and a water fountain on the left. Get a good drink of water there and then proceed up the hill to the stone tower.
After you reach the stone tower and the main building, have a good look around. The people at the main building don't treat visitors very well but that's OK, because you aren't giving them any of your money.
Then there is little else to do, except to enjoy the gardens and trails, and take lots of pictures.