Summer is the season for the big annual vacation. Looked forward to, planned for and much anticipated, the aim is to get as far away from the daily humdrum environment as possible.
However, at the end of winter and start of spring, cabin fever is at its height. The ideal cure is a short getaway; a near-at-hand exploration of the many gems that stud the picturesque state of Connecticut, often ignored in the quest for adventures further afield.
Chester–an archetypal New England small town, settled in 1692, Chester has a sense of history, an upscale ambience, and an enviable location near the iconic Connecticut River. Its shipbuilding and mill town origins have evolved into the present century, and yet it retains quaintness and charm in its picturesque Main Street, lined with beautiful architecture in the churches, shops, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants.
Chester takes great pride in its local Norma Terris Theater, which belongs to the world-famous Goodspeed Opera House. Occupying the sloping terrain bordering the River, Chester has more than its share of natural water bodies like lakes, streams, waterfalls, the river and man-made marinas. It is surrounded by a spread of state forest, interspersed with inviting hiking trails. A Y.M.C.A. camp and small airport are important features of the town. A vibrant community of residents embraces the outdoors, art, history, music, theater, crafts, cuisine and conversation. The epitome of small-town life, yet open to embracing the 21st century.
Guilford- in New Haven County lies along I-95, beside Long Island Sound and bordered by Madison, Branford, North Branford and Durham.
Its heart is the vast common that lends itself perfectly to strollers, people watchers, and those wishing to absorb the atmosphere of bygone times among the churches, memorials, monuments, old public buildings, storybook homes and smiling residents.
This little town has everything. The sea plays a big part in its attractions. The beautiful coastline, salt marshes perfect for bird watching, Chaffinch Island Park jutting out into the harbor with fabulous views of the sound, Falkner Island and Falkner Island Light.
The Anne Conover, WestWoods and Timberlands Trails systems provide both recreation and education. The area is dissected by two scenic routes, SR-146 and 77 along the shoreline and rural hinterlands.
Essex-This small harborside town is clubbed together with Essex Village, Centerbrook and Ivoryton. Essex’s attributes far outstrip its tiny size. It has won accolades as “The Perfect Small American Town” in the “1,000 Places To See Before You Die” travel guide. Prior to this, it achieved top ranking in “The 100 Best Small Towns in America.”
One cannot ignore Essex when talking of the somewhat clichéd “quintessential New England charm.” The trio of small towns boasts superb representations of early colonial and federal architecture, housing a unique blend of private residences, shops, boutiques, inns, restaurants, marinas and attractions.
The Griswold Inn, Connecticut River Museum, Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, and the Ivoryton Playhouse are prime examples. Shady streets and village lanes lead to the scenic banks of the Connecticut and Falls Rivers and Essex Harbor, all offering myriad opportunities for water sports. The good weather brings the community out to participate in parades and celebrations.
Litchfield – snugly located in the folds of the scenic Northwest Connecticut Hills, historic, upscale Litchfield ranks along with Greenwich as the home and playground of the rich and famous. On offer are abundant opportunities for cultural activities, shopping, sightseeing, dining and recreation.
A true haven in all seasons, it is a laid-back little New England town. Fresh air, small community markets, beautiful village green and a handful of eclectic, independently owned shops and boutiques, enhance its appeal in all seasons.
Old Saybrook- At the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and Connecticut River is the typical maritime New England town. The old homes display the wealth accrued by the sea-faring captains of yore. Manicured trees and shrubbery, winding tree-lined streets, and a downtown that features intriguing, locally owned non big-box stores. The air quality is pure, fragranced with sea salt- a perfect New England town, unspoilt by modern life that never fully emerged from the 19th century.
Stonington–in southeastern Connecticut is a classic New England seaside community. The harbor is straight out of a storybook or movie set. Interesting shops and great seafood restaurants beckon your indulgence. The peace and solitude take you miles away from all stress factors. Local inhabitants call it a day early, and later in the evening, the streets are empty and quiet. It's just you, the fresh ocean air and chirping birds.
While the sense of heritage is richly all around, today exists a modern day blend of history, technology, and recreation. The economic engine of tourism puffs energetically juxtaposed against a scenic backdrop of bright coastal waters, and wildlife.
Woodstock – although small from a population standpoint, it covers a large area of 62 square miles, and is the second largest town in Connecticut.
Woodstock's humming downtown features farmers’ stands of locally grown produce, a church, colonial homes and apple orchards. Local businesses include antiques, crafts, florists, orchards, furniture makers, and pottery. For history and archaeology buffs there are venerable old buildings and monuments to browse over. Chief among them is Roseland Cottage, a unique example of Gothic Revival.
Woodstock invites you to slow down, breathe deep and commune with nature. Woodstock reminds us that doing nothing special can also be a healing, refreshing vacation.
Ideal for a weekend, an extended few days or even overnight, these short breaks are just the ticket to refresh the mind, body and spirit after the long hibernation of winter.
Spring is the best time to explore Connecticut. Enjoy the crowd-less towns, snappy deals and cooler temperatures with little humidity. Explore the paths less traveled into and out of small towns, villages and ocean-side communities