Orange Crush: You can now fly direct to New York's Orange County
Norwegian's new US flights bring you straight to New York's Orange County. Thomas Breathnach takes a reconnaissance trip.
Set the mood
"Come back and visit us in a few years!", says Cooper Boone, owner of the latest it-spot to hit Orange County, Foundry42+.
The café and home store (think antlers and Americanos; f42home.com) is just one domino in the gentrification of Port Jervis, a former end-of-the-line out-post on the Pennsylvania border, now jostling with every upstate NY town to become "the next Brooklyn".
So what's with the love affair?
Orange County (named after the prince, not the citrus), offers everything from the outdoors to the outlets, wilderness and wineries, plus a kooky granola daily grind marked by the likes of pumpkin-picking and crafternoons.
And, being base to Stewart Airport, hub for Norwegian's new US flights, New York's own O.C. has never been more in season.
Orange County's fertile valleys are blanketed by America's original vineyards. If you've got a nose for something vintage, why not visit America's oldest winery of all? Established in 1839, Brother-hood winery (above, brotherhood-winery.com) has been producing zesty Rieslings for the Hudson Valley hoi polloi for over a century.
Ten bucks (€8.30) gets you a generous tasting flight, souvenir glass plus a tour through the country's largest network of underground cellars. Art more your vice? Storm King Art Centre, a 500-acre sculpture park, is a unfiltered paradise for the thinking Instagrammer (stormking.org, $18/€15).
Cornwall-on-Hudson is both a chocolate box village on the riverfront and the region's launchpad for some epic kayaking. I grabbed my paddle for a three-hour leisurely crossing with Storm King Adventures (main photo, above), crossing to the banks of eerie Bannerman's Island and the ruins of its extraordinary castle.
Above me, a pair of nesting ospreys fished for lunch, while on the horizon, a bald eagle soared over the ridges. I'm still just an hour from NYC, right? See stormkingadventuretours.com; from $60/€50.
Overnighting away from the big city, you're likely in search of peace, solitude and an upstate state of mind. I found mine at the historic Bear Mountain Inn, where the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt vacationed during its golden era. The hotel gets busy, so check into the rustic Overlook Lodge for downtime. It's sequestered atop a winding mountain road with dramatic lake views (visitbearmountain.com; €75pps).
Who needs Manhattan for the perfect rooftop? The Thayer Hotel's Zulu Time bar and lounge (thethayerhotel.com), set in the grounds of the West Point army academy, is a spectacular spot for Hudson sundowners.
N.B. security is tight, so don't forget your passport!
Orange County offers landscapes worthy of any fall calendar shoot. That draws crowds, and being so close to NYC, lots of them! To really escape the masses, take advantage of the region's dream Appalachian hiking trails.
Get me there
Norwegian recently launched direct flights from Dublin, Belfast and Shannon to Stewart International Airport from around €129 each way (norwegian.com). Carry-on luggage is free but a checked-in 20kg bag will add €70 to your return fare.
From Stewart, it's a 40-minute (60km) drive to Port Jervice in Orange County, or an 80-minute ride to New York's Port Authority (bus transfers are synced to Norwegian's international flights for $40/€33 return). For more info on the county, see orangetourism.org.
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