Feel the excitement, warmth and wonder of the season at these great family-friendly spots
The Orange County Arboretum in full holiday regalia.
Orange County, nestled in the rolling hills of the Hudson Valley, puts all the wonder of Christmastime on full display. ‘Tis the season to experience incredible holiday lights, shop for unique gifts at special venues and discover seasonal traditions from days of yore. Hear the jingling bells of horse and carriage rides along quaint village streets lined with cute shops and restaurants. Whisper your heart’s desire into Santa’s ear or, better yet, tell Eggbert – the Hudson Valley’s best-loved talking egg – what you really want for Christmas. Take in the fragrant scents of tree farms, as you choose the perfect Christmas tree or fresh holiday greenery to decorate your home. Just an hour’s drive from New York City, bask in the holiday glow of Orange County. “Yule” experience even more holiday warmth with a stay at one of Orange County’s cozy B&Bs or select hotels.
“Orange County caters to the kid in all of us this time of year. You can’t beat the festive atmosphere,” said Orange County Tourism Director Amanda Dana. “We have amazing shopping – from maker markets to designer brand outlets – tons of holiday fairs and performances, traditional farm and homestead experiences. There is truly something for every member of the family. Of course, our gorgeous winter scenery tops the list, it will leave you breathless. Come make new memories and traditions with family and friends.”
The calendar at www.OrangeTourism.org is filled with holly jolly events. Here are a few suggestions:
- Holiday Lights in Bloom, Thomas Bull Memorial Park Arboretum, Route 416, Montgomery, NY: Wander through beautiful garden-themed light displays, be amazed by the many paths of lit trees, glowing flowers, animals and insects, and a brilliant 9/11 Memorial Garden adorned with patriotic decorations. Friends of the Arboretum will be on hand selling handmade crafts at the Holiday boutique inside the Ottaway Education Center while supplies last, until December 15. This free event is open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. through December 29. Contact Orange County NY Parks at (845) 615-3828, or visit orangecountynyparks.com.
- Santa Photo Experience at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, 498 Red Apple Court, Central Valley: Even during his busiest time of year, Santa loves visiting with kids and families. So, bring yours to Woodbury Common for the biggest Christmastime photo opportunity of them all! Children can give Santa a couple Christmas wish list ideas and pose for a picture worthy of framing – and certainly sharing – with the man himself! Santa and his helpers will be welcoming visitors throughout December: Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.; Sundays from 12:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. He will also be there on Christmas Eve, from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. To expedite your visit, consider a FastPass, available by clicking here: https://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/woodbury-common/stores/santa-photo-experience/stream/its-santa-photo-time-6146647. Contact Woodbury Common at (845) 928-7467.
- Family Fun Holiday Workshop with Santa, 240 Main Street, Goshen: Could there be a better place to hear “those sleigh bells jingling and ring-ting-tingling than at Goshen’s historic Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame? Come on out, see the museum’s holiday décor, and join Santa for a photo in a one-horse open sleigh. There will be lots of sweet treats, games and holiday crafting – make a red horsey Christmas stocking or Star of David suncatcher. Take an exciting ride on the Museum’s harness racing 3-D Simulator. Each child, age 3-12, will receive a small gift (while supplies last). This event takes place on Saturday, December 14, and reservations are highly suggested. Admission is $5/child; parents are FREE! For additional details or with questions, call (845) 294-6330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit harnessmuseum.com
- Hudson Valley Farm & Flea, 250 Lake Street, Newburgh: It’s a unique holiday shopping experience full of “Made in America” gifts for anyone on your list. The Hudson Valley’s finest makers, artisans, musicians, filmmakers, designers, vintage collectors and more will be sharing their handmade wares and creative creations, alongside local craft and farm-to-table foods. Join in this day of family activities including the talents of the young actors from the Riverside Theatre Arts Academy. This event takes place on Saturday, December 14th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $5.00/person; children under 12 are FREE. Call (845) 569-9065 for details, and visit: https://hudsonvalleyfarmandflea.com.
- Christmas on the Farm with Eggbert, 56 Devitt Circle, New Windsor: Eggbert the talking egg has made his seasonal return to Devitt’s Nursery & Supply. Stroll the beloved holiday trail, complete with real-life farm animals and adorable animatronic critters – with tons of awesome photo opps along the way. Stop in Eggbert’s throne room for a chat before visiting with Santa himself. Of course, Devitt’s Holiday Shop has all your holiday décor needs! Christmas on the Farm is open now through the day after Christmas. Cost to walk the trail is $8 for anyone older than three years old. Hours are: Fridays from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.; Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.; Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.; with special hours on Tuesday, December 24 (11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.) and Thursday, December 26 (11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.). Holiday Shop is open daily: Mondays – Thursdays, from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. For details and inquiries, call (845) 561-1968, or visit devittsnsy.com.