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The Legoland New York Resort in Orange County, N.Y., features seven themed lands, such as Lego Castle, Lego City and Lego Ninjago World.supplied

From Legoland to George Washington’s headquarters, this New York State region is filled with sites that can engage visitors of all ages and interests

Orange County is a mere 80 kilometres north of New York City, but its leisurely pace, lush landscape and many offerings make it seem worlds away.

At the new Legoland New York Resort, a theme park and hotel that opened in the village of Goshen in the Hudson Valley Region last summer, taking selfies with brick-built princesses and dodging pirate water cannons are just a few of the activities that have families flocking. Geared to kids aged two to 12, the park provides an engaging environment with rides, fun foods and opportunities to build your own Lego masterpiece.

“It’s meant to be a child’s first experience in a theme park, not too big or scary,” explains Matt Besterman, the facility’s public relations manager.

The resort is the third in the United States, after California and Florida, and ninth in the world.

Divided into seven themed lands, Bricktopia features the first Lego Factory Adventure ride, where Professor Brick takes you on a ride through a Lego factory where you can see yourself transformed into a Minifigure.

In Lego Ninjago World, little ninjas can master the art of Spinjitzu, while in the land of Lego Castle the Dragon ride zooms about, a gentle introduction to roller coasters.

“Our rides are what we call ‘pink knuckled,’ not terrifying,” says Besterman.

In the metropolis known as Lego City, kids can attend driving school and leave with their official Legoland driver’s license. Need to cool off? Lego Pirates offers a chance to take part in a wet and wild Splash Battle. Miniland, the most extensive of any in North America, features Lego-built cities across the country, from New York to San Francisco.

“As you walk through, you’ll see they are built to scale, using 22 million bricks,” explains Besterman.

Staying over is part of the adventure, and the resort’s 250 themed hotel rooms are based on Lego lines, such as Pirate, Kingdom and Lego Friends. Rooms have bunk beds and trundle beds for the kids, and separate sleeping areas for adults.

“I played with Lego as a kid and now my kids play with it. When you come here you see yourself as part of the story. All aspects of the park offer interactive ways to engage. Families come to build memorable experiences,” explains Besterman.

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Legoland is just one of many attractions Orange County offers. A seven-hour drive from Toronto, the region is filled with destinations and activities for all age groups.

Castle Fun Center is eight kilometres from Legoland New York Resort and its mini golf, arcades and go karts are geared to the 12- to 18-year-old set. There is kayaking on the Hudson and Delaware rivers, hiking trails, shopping at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets with more than 250 retailers and “you pick” farms that offer a variety of fruit and vegetables as well as corn mazes and petting zoos.

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Hiking in New York State's Hudson Valley Region is just one of the many outdoor activities that families can enjoy in Orange County.supplied

Plus, the county is a food and drink paradise.

The Craft Beverage Tour is incredibly popular,” says Amanda Dana, the county’s director of tourism and film.

There are 29 stops on the trail, including wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries.

“The Hudson Valley was the first wine-producing region in the country, and we have the oldest winery in the United States, Brotherhood, which has been in operation since 1839,” she explains.

At Angry Orchard, near Walden, N.Y., you can walk amongst the apple trees, do a cider-tasting in the Stone Barn or climb into the Treehouse for some cider education. The county’s craft breweries also offer tasting flights, and many have restaurants. Apple Dave’s Distillery blends a little history into its products, offering an applejack that uses the Revolutionary War-era freeze distilling method.

A rich agricultural past imbues the county’s farm-to-table dining options. Organic farms, such as Blooming Hill, offer sustainable fare and many restaurants and cafés serve dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.

If meandering through storybook towns is your pleasure, Dana suggests a stroll through Warwick hamlet with its many independent bistros and wineries.

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The U.S. Military Academy at West Point.supplied

And for those who like to dig into the past, the county overflows with history. At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, you can take a tour and visit the museum. At Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site, you will see the fieldstone farmhouse, home to George Washington’s Continental Army headquarters during the Revolutionary War.

Other military sites include Fort Putnam, Fort Montgomery State Historic Site and New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site.

Arts and culture also abound, with numerous galleries, museums and performing arts centres. In particular, the Storm King Art Center is a 500-acre outdoor sculpture park and museum with more than 100 sculptures, special exhibition programs and concerts. You can walk, rent a bicycle or take a tram to view these extensive grounds.

“We have a lot to offer, and our location is perfect. Although New York City is close, we are far enough away to really make it seem like you are in a different place,” says Dana.

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