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Litchfield Hills tourist area in the northwest corner of the state of Connecticut is pristine, green and clean. Main streets retain their identity and integrity. Trees count. Natural heritage is preserved. The states meandering tree-lined byways reveal pretty villages with stunning 18th through mid 19th century architecture, covered bridges, well presented nature centers and state parks. Much to the relief of visitors who appreciate heritage and natural beauty, the area is almost completely devoid of the “strip and mall” mentality that has gripped North America.
First step to utilizing and enjoying your time in Litchfield Hills is to request a package of information from the Visitor Bureau. Our country rambles took three days but the area warrants far more exploration. We could have spent a week exploring nooks, crannies, highways and by-ways. Visitors should plan at least one day in the Salisbury - Lakeville - Sharon and Cornwall area; a second day in the Litchfield Village area and a third around Woodbury in the southern reaches of "the Hills." Plan your days to include a variety of activities that suit your individual tastes and pleasures - hiking, touring restored homes, museums and specialty shopping.
Choose a centrally located "home base" accommodation from which to set out on your daily forays. This strategy allows you to enjoy three-four days of exploration without having to spend any time transferring luggage from one place to another. Our home base was the Interlaken Inn & Conference Center near Lakeville that was central to everything Litchfield Hills has to offer. We were impressed by the friendly staff, good service, rooms and amenities by this full service resort. Treat yourself. Ask for Room #159 - The Wicker Room.
First day, first stop. Holly Williams House, c1768 with a Federalist addition in 1808, is a living history museum that has a great interpretation of life in the 19th century from the perspective of women’s equality and women in history. The house was still lived in by Holley descendants when it was given to Salisbury Association. The gift included many fine artifacts, diaries, journals and other important papers.
Salisbury a short three miles from Lakeville, has a marvelous main street lined with interesting shops including Lion Head Books, Village Store (that rents bicycles) and the upscale food market La Bonne Epicure Market. Plan to spend at least one hour at Harney & Sons Fine Tea. Take your time. Learn about different teas, blending and the proper way to brew a pot of quality product. After tasting various teas blended by the company, it is guaranteed that you will purchase several varieties from their well stocked shop.
It is refreshing to drive country road where mature trees form a bower overhead, where old stone walls covered with vines weave for miles through the landscape; where ancient lilac, hydrangea and honeysuckle nestle against excellent, well- preserved examples of early American architecture; where white steepled churches are synonymous with beautifully manicured village greens.
White Heart Inn in Salisbury is an ideal place for lunch. With its c1806 Tap Room and quintessential front porch resplendent with wicker furniture it is a popular destination for weekend getaways, honeymoons and special occasions.
A good lunch deserves a walk. Your next stop should be at the 684 acre Northeastern Audubon Center near Sharon, that boasts nearly eleven miles of foot trails. After an informative introduction in the c1926 building, enjoy a leisurely walk through the property.
Sharon with its clock tower, delightful village green and heritage architecture is well worth a visit too. The fact that the state of Connecticut enjoys a high per capita income becomes apparent as one tours area byways. Expensive private holdings in a variety of architectural styles fit well into a landscape that is known as the cradle of American democracy. People here care about built and natural heritage. For the most part, new construction is sympathetic to that which has survived for more than two hundred and fifty years. The area has been a summer haven for wealthy Americans for a long time. One area estate, Topsmead, (short for "Top of Meadow") is an English Tudor Manor, designed by Henry Dana Jr. and built in 1925. Topsmead was the summer home of Edith Norton Chase, whose money came from Chase Brass & Copper. It was given to the state in 1971. The property is open year round. The house, well worth a visit, is open weekends only during the summer.
A country drive must include the covered bridge at Cornwall Bridge, and the villages of West Cornwall, New Preston, Warren, Washington and Washington Depot, culminating with a circle tour of Lake Waramaug. An evening meal is special at the Hopkins Inn and Hopkins Winery, prettily situated on north shore of Lake Waramaug. In good weather your meal can be enjoyed on the terrace, overlooking the lake. Austrian cuisine is complimented by an extensive wine list. Don’t forget a visit to the Winery Shop which features a wine bar on its upper level.
The Sloane-Stanley Museum near Kent with its extensive collection of early American tools, and recreation of the studio of noted artist and author Eric Sloane is a good start for your second day of exploring the Litchfield area. The village of Litchfield is noted for its great architecture, beautifully kept homes and vibrant business district which is situated around a magnificent village common. The Visitor Bureau has an excellent walking tour of the community, including information on Litchfield Museum and Tapping Reeve Law School.
The museum, located in what once was the public library, has a good collection of artifacts. One innovative feature is a map of Old Litchfield recreated in a gallery floor. Children use wooden models of original buildings to learn early history. Tapping Reeve Law School has an innovative interpretive approach to telling its history through visitors assuming the identity of students.
Lunch at West Street Café in Litchfield is a treat with its global style of cooking and great pub with Irish style meals.
After lunch a stop at White Flower Farm is in order. White Flower Farm is a mail order nursery that ships across North America. Pick up a self-guided walking tour and enjoy the grounds, gardens, gift shop and plant outlet. Check out their extensive collection of heathers.
Susan Wakeens Dolls just west of Litchfield offers fine, play and limited edition dolls in a nicely laid out shop. While you are visiting, create your own special edition doll from an assortment of faces, wigs, eyes and clothing.
Morgan’s Grill & Café at the Interlaken Inn is a great place for supper after a busy day of exploration.
Save a half day for the White Memorial Conservation Center, devoted to interpreting and preserving the 4,000 acres in its trust. The museum that underwent extensive renovations in 1998, presents lots of innovative hands-on activities for all ages. Visitors are encouraged to participate and to explore more than 35 miles of trail. The Center offers year round public programs, lectures, field trips and nature study programs. White Memorial is an excellent example of proper stewardship of land and money given in trust.
If antiquing interests you, Woodbury is billed as the antique capital of Connecticut with more than thirty-five shops listed for the discerning shopper. Browsing through specialty shops and antique stores in Woodbury and area can consume at least one full day. Whether or not you are a collector, the selection and quantity of antiques is well worth the time. Where else can one find more than three centuries of American and European history so tastefully displayed. I look upon such clusters of “antiquity” as mile long museums.
Living so far from the sea it is always a treat to find a restaurant dedicated to serving well prepared fresh seafood. Carmen Anthony’s Fishhouse in South Woodbury has won many awards in its short history and deserves every one of them. Sea food is their specialty. Staff is friendly and knowledgeable. Service is excellent. Their wine list offers more than 100 wines and after dinner drinks. For those who have a partner that doesn’t enjoy seafood, the restaurant also serves Carmen Anthony Black Angus steaks. One innovative service provided by this renowned restaurant is a private wine locker where the wines of regular customers are stored, awaiting the next celebration or special occasion.
Our last night in the Litchfield Hills area was spent at the Mill at Pomperaug Bed and Breakfast in Woodbury. This c1835 mill is situated by the side of a waterfall on the Pomperaug River. Hosts are Andrew Peklo and Abby Greenwald. Accommodation includes a dining area, kitchenette and deck. The suite is furnished with originals by Andrew who runs Peklo Design and Joinery out of the mill. Check out the amazing fireplaces in both mill and residence. Breakfast, a real treat, is served on the deck overlooking the falls in good weather.
IF YOU GO:
P.O. Box 968
Litchfield, Connecticut 06759-0968
Lakeville, Connecticut, 06039
Woodbury, Connecticut, 06798
The Village Green
Salisbury, Connecticut, 09068
The Hopkins Inn
West Street On the Green
Litchfield, Connecticut 06759
757 Main Street
South Woodbury, Connecticut, 06798
P.O. Box 385
Litchfield, Connecticut 06759
82 South Street (Route #63)
Litchfield, Connecticut 06759
(Admission charged, limited hours)
Kent Connecticut, 06757
23 Brook Street
Salisbury, Connecticut 06068
#1-860-435-5050 or #1-800 Tea-time
425 Bantam Road, Rte #202
Litchfield, Connecticut 06759
Sharon, Connecticut 06069
80 Whitehall Road
Litchfield, Connecticut 06759-0368
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