The town of Monroe NY is the most populated town in Orange County, NY with only 3% of the County’s land mass but 43,000 residents. Currently, the town encompasses three villages: Monroe, Harriman and Kiryas Joel. It is important to note, though, that changes are coming to the area. In late 2017, town residents voted “yes” for a proposal for the village of Kiryas Joel to become its own town in 2020, the Town of Palm Tree. Efforts are underway to establish Palm Tree a year early than originally planned, in 2019. For more information on the town of Monroe, visit their website.
Dutch and English came to the area as early as the 1600s. By the mid 1700s the construction of a grist mill and damming of the Ramapo river led to a permanent settlement. The official town of Monroe was incorporated in 1799 and was named after President Monroe. In the early 1800s the Orange Turnpike provided stage coach access and the town grew rapidly. The Erie Railroad came to town in 1841. Mining or iron ore and cheese and dairy industries enabled the town and population to grow. Horse racing brought visitors to the area as well. An interesting fact – Monroe is the home to the original Velveeta Cheese factory, and is also the birthplace of Liederkranz cheese.
The Monroe NY Historical Society is located at 101 Mine Road in Monroe NY. For much more information on Monroe’s history, you can check out the historical society’s website here and can also visit them on Facebook (see the bottom of the link for more information).
During most years, the town hosts an annual cheese festival in September to celebrate. The festival typically is held at Crane Park in the center of town. In the past it has included DJ music, entertainment like line dancing, mechanical bull, kids tent, video game trailer, photo booth, Monroe Historical tours and food.
Other typical Monroe area events include the Monroe Clean Sweep, where area residents volunteer to clean specific area streets. There is a weekly farmer’s market during the summer, and a carnival is usually held as well.
Also during the summer, there are also free concerts held at the Gooseponds. Some of the 2018 bands are “Dead on the Tracks,” “Gregg Van Gelder Band,” “Trophy Band Orchestra,” “The Northern Songs,” “Ian Strauss,” “The Pickles,” “Forever Ray,” and “Mighty Spectrum Band.” Whatever your tastes, you can find something to enjoy!
If you are looking for a great place for exercise, the Goose Pond trail in the main square of Monroe provides a 1.6 mile loop for running, walking or biking. You can park near the Airplane and playground, use one of the free spots around either of the two ponds, or park in the park and ride lot near the “Bourbon Street” restaurant. Many people also use that area for dog walking. There are seats located in various spots around the lakes.
Another perfect spot for stretching ones legs is the 11 mile paved trail Orange Heritage rail trail . Area residents use the trail for running, walking, skating or biking. The rail trails extends from the Harriman all the way up to Goshen, NY. There are multiple access points and parking lots. They can be found in Monroe, Chester and Goshen.
In Harriman, you can find the state’s second largest state park with over 200 miles of hiking trails, 31 lakes, and beautiful vistas. The park in partly in Orange county, and also in Rockland, so it is bigger than the 1 mile town of Harriman.
If you are interested in a gym, Monroe has the South Orange Family YMCA which is located at 45 Gilbert Street Extension in Monroe. The facility has exercise equipment, exercise, yoga and cycling rooms, a basketball court, free weights and more. Plans have been discussed about adding a swimming pool as well in the near future. In addition, there is a Gold’s Gym, a Retro Fitness, a Crossfit GPS, and ST3 Kickboxing.
Monroe has two major groceries stores. One is Stop & Shop, which is located at 475 Route 17M near McDonalds. Parking and spots for carts are plentiful. The other is ShopRite which is also on Route 17M, but near Burger King at 785 Route 17M. One word of caution about ShopRite – the entire parking lot is on a slight tilt and shopping carts have a tendency to roll away from you. In addition, if you prefer to do your grocery shopping at Walmart, you are in luck. Walmart is located at 288 Larkin Drive, also in Monroe. And finally, if you’re interested in excellent Italian deli foods, you will want to visit the Best of Little Italy which is located in the ShopRite shopping center.
In addition to food choices, Monroe NY has multiple choices for purchasing wine or other liquor. Star Wines & Liquors is located in the Stop & Shop center. Not only does the store have an extensive in-house selection, but they have a detailed website for online shopping and delivery. And their rewards card provide financial rewards after the purchase of a certain amount of products. There is also a wine store in the ShopRite center, the Patriot Wine & Spirits store. If you’re more interested in cases of beer, you might want to check out Monroe Discount Beer & Soda which is located at the corner of 17M and Lakes Road in the center of town.