The idea for Connecticut Day Trips was hatched when I moved from NYC back to my hometown in Connecticut in early 2011. Everyone kept asking me if I missed the city, and I surprised myself every time by saying, “No, I’m pretty happy here.” The truth is, I find Connecticut to be ideal for people who love travel, food and wine. It’s small geographical size is one of it’s greatest strengths, as you can get from one end of the state to the other in less than two hours, while passing beautiful scenery, terrific road food, plenty of museums to visit, mountains to climb, and trails to hike along the way.
Here are five places currently topping my list of venues to day trip to in Connecticut:
1. The Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington. For both it’s picturesque landscape and world-class impressionist art collection, I like to go to the Hill-Stead for the farmer’s market, the house tours, and to just stroll the grounds taking in the scenery.
2. Barcelona in Norwalk. I love Barcelona for their killer combination of paella and sangria. It’s my go-to restaurant when I visit my friends Nancy and Dan in Fairfield County, who thankfully, are also big paella-sangria fans making it much easier to share this huge family-style feast. (Thankfully, I have on right around the corner from me in West Hartford, too)
3. Plimptons in West Hartford. I grew up within walking distance to Plimptons in West Hartford Center (it’s one of the remaining stalwarts in the area), and while other kids wanted to hit up the Record Express and Baskin and Robbins (now a Ben and Jerry’s) after school, I loved to browse Plimpton’s rows of high-end office supplies and travel accessories, carefully selecting what I would purchase with an unlimited school supply budget. I guess that’s why I grew up to write about organization and productivity.
4. Antiques Marketplace in Putnam. For it’s combination of size and range of different antique items (furniture, table top, clothing, jewelry, art work), I don’t think you can beat the Antiques Marketplace. It’s your best bet for a one-stop shopping experience in the “Quiet Corner,” not too mention it’s close proximity to the wonderful 85 Main, Courthouse Bar & Grille, and Sharpe Hill Vineyard. This area is a daytripper’s paradise.
5. Haight-Brown in Litchfield. This is the winery to which I eagerly bring friends because it’s huge tasting room is the perfect marriage of large and inviting–so there’s no fighting for a place to sit–with a surprisingly cozy feel. They pair their wine with cheese and chocolate, and offer the chance to stop at my new favorite bar, At The Corner (also in Litchfield) for a burger and homemade potato chips.1