The ideal summer escape must include a few nonnegotiables: excellent vibes, unforgettable moments spent in nature, top-notch tipples and of course, dreamy watering holes to cool off in. Fortunately, we’ve found a special kind of oasis that ticks off all of the above—and then some. Round up your mates, lover or kick it solo, and set your GPS for the beautiful Orange region. Brimming with scenes that look like something out of a Netflix countryside rom-com (and just under four hours’ drive from Sydney), the high altitude out in Orange means slightly lower temps aka—the perfect escape to cool off this summer. Ready yourself for award-winning restaurants, incredible hikes and a getaway that you’ll remember for seasons to come.
Here’s where you need to eat, play and stay in the Orange region this summer.
Indulge In Award-Winning Food And Wine
The most important part of every great getaway involves a robust list of delicious eats and tipples—fortunately, the Orange region is jam-packed with them. Organise a designated driver and plan a day visiting the region’s extensive list of wineries. Your first stop should be family-run Swinging Bridge Wines. With incredible views of Mount Canobolas from the cellar door, sip your way through their range of chardonnay, shiraz and pinot noir—a speciality in this cool climate. Next, you can’t visit Orange without stopping at Ross Hill Wines. Australia’s very first climate active carbon neutral certified winery—and the first Aussie producer of carbon-neutral wines—this incredible spot won 2023 Orange360 Cellar Door of the year. As well as offering complimentary winery tours daily at 10am daily, there’s also cooking classes too for you to learn new skills at. Others to add to your list include Nashdale Lane Wines (housed in a 70-year-old apple packing shed), and Philip Shaw Wines, one of Australia’s highest and coolest vineyards.
Stomach rumbling? We got you. For brekky, hit up Agrestic Grocer for smooth brekkie brews, homemade sourdough and a stellar bacon and egg roll; Groundstone for fluffy crumpets smothered in blueberry compote, honeycomb butter and local honey, and swing by Racine Bakery for flaky almond croissants and a loaf of sourdough. For a long lunch book a table at The Greenhouse of Orange, and tuck into gourmet gastro pub-style meals that hero local produce. For dinner, The Union Bank is a no-brainer. Devour mussels with nduja, rum-glazed pork and sumac cauliflower with tahini yoghurt. Or if you prefer to let someone else do the planning, check out the Orange Country Food Trails. There are five to choose from, ranging from seasonal farm visits to Indigenous food experiences.
Stretch Your Legs On Stunning Walks & Hikes
Feel like you want to walk off some of that delicious food and wine? The Orange region is home to a slew of beautiful trails that range for day strollers to those wanting a bit of a calf burn. The Orange Heritage Trail is the perfect way to explore the region. The self-guided tour starts at the Orange Visitor Centre, takes around 1.5 hours to complete, and will see you explore around 40 historical spots in the area.
Federal Falls Walk is a 4km loop that will see you meander through snow gum forest with the soundtrack of grey currawongs guiding you along the way. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Federal Falls. For the ultimate sunset and sunrise views, head up to the Pinnacle Reserve and Lookout. Set amongst gum trees, the views of Towac Valley are breathtaking. If you want to see some native wildlife on your walk, check out Borenore Karst Conservation Reserve. The ancient limestone caves look like something out of a Disney movie and are home to protected species like the eastern bent-winged bat. Bring a torch so you can admire the clusters of columns, stalactites and stalagmites.
If a sun-soaked stroll is more your vibe, head to Kurt Fearnley Park. Nestled in Carcoar (hometown of legendary Paralympian Kurt Fearnley) it boasts beautiful views of the Belubula River. Pro tip: bring your goodies from Racine Bakery here for the perfect picnic spot.
Explore The Great Outdoors On Two Wheels
If you’d rather explore the region on two wheels, rent a bike (or BYO) and check out one of the Orange region’s many trails. There’s a whole range of tracks to discover, from family-friendly city loops to the stunning but challenging six-stage Orange and Villages Bicycle Trail—a multi-day course that covers 360 km and traverses the region's towns and villages. For something a bit shorter, but no less beautiful, try the Banjo Patterson Loop. The poet was born on the outskirts of the Orange region, and this 50km ride will take you through an area steeped in Australian history. The Millthorpe Coffee Ride will see you wind through the historic town of Millthorpe—where stopping for coffee or lunch is a must—and along postcard-perfect country lanes. Short on time? Try the Black Sallee Loop. At just 9.5 km you’ll get to take in sights like Gosling Creek, Hilton Reserve and Bloomfield Park—21 hectares of native and exotic fauna.
Cool Off At Natural Swimming Spots
You won’t miss beaches when visiting the Orange region, there are loads of dreamy natural swimming holes to explore. Pack your swimmers and make tracks to Carcoar Dam. Fringed by rolling hills and greenery, the dam is a haven for water sports. Go for a dip, kayak, waterski or even try a spot of fishing—the dam is filled with golden perch, trout and Murray cod. Float in the tranquil waters of Lake Canobolas Reserve, nestled at the foot of Mount Canobolas. There are two sandy beaches to throw a towel down on and a pontoon to jump off. Post-swim, you can refuel at the Lakeside Kiosk and Cafe. The lake is open from early morning until sunset—and the best news? Dogs are allowed. If you like your swimming holes with a side of magic, follow the Central Mines Trail to The Falls Waterfalls at Summer Hill Creek for a dip at the base of a thundering waterfall. Soak up the sunshine, tuck into a picnic on the nearby boulders and thank us later.
Rest Your Head At Incredible Accom
Whether you’re looking for luxury digs, an adorable B&B or a budget-friendly caravan park, there’s an accommodation option to suit every type of traveller. Located in the heart of the Orange region, check into The Byng Street Boutique Hotel. Perfectly blending a historical homestead with bold pops of colour and luxury furnishings, a stay here includes fresh local brekky in the stunning Yallungah Dining Room. Basalt Luxury Accommodation offers three intimate one-bedroom rammed earth studios. Perched on the highest point of a cherry orchard (a casual 1100m above sea level), unwind in your stone bath with sweeping views, before sipping wine and stargazing at night around the outdoor fire pit. Trust us, a sleepover here is an experience you won’t soon forget. Another fave has to be Mayfield Vineyard Cottages. Nestled amongst rolling vines, settle into one of four cosy cottages kitted out in luxe furnishings, providing the perfect setup for a countryside getaway. If you’re travelling with mates, opt for the 1910 heritage homestead which sleeps up to five people.
If you’re after a campground, pitch your tent or set up your caravan at Bakers Shaft Reserve Camp alongside the babbling Belubula River. Or settle in at Cargo Road Wines, which offer powered camp sites (plus hot showers) on the northern slopes of their vineyard—it’s also pet-friendly.
Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by Orange360 and proudly endorsed by Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.
Images: Supplied and Instagram.