…Daniel Day-Lewis, Christine Baranski, Michael J. Fox, and Dustin Hoffman (well, maybe not with them but where they live in picturesque Litchfield County). Back in their old stomping grounds, your DSTA proprietors recently took advantage of a beautiful sunny day to rediscover some small town gems in Northwest Connecticut and the surrounding environs.
The Tour began on back roads in the town of Farmington and continued on to Harwinton (pop. 5,200). Harwinton is a wonderful rural community with a historical district consisting of typical New England frame homes and a school dating from the 18th century.
Reluctantly skipping the pancake breakfast being held at the Harwinton Fire House, we continued our journey through scenic northwest Connecticut. Rorie would like everyone to know she bypassed the Litchfield Candy Company, although it was calling her like a siren calls sailors to the rocks! She did note that the huge Weight Watchers meeting sign across the street from the candy store probably influenced her decision.
Moving on, we headed to New Preston (pop. 1,100) where the sound of rushing water and a spectacular waterfall greeted us. The Aspetuck River runs right through the center of the village and provides a dramatic backdrop to the high-end shops, antique stores and restaurants lining both sides of the street.
This is the Harry Erickson Pavilion (named after a beloved community volunteer) which was built in 1897 as a community hall and once housed a post office. Today it serves as home to the Boys and Girls Club of New Preston.
Rorie wanted it to be known that, once again, she remained strong and ignored her inner sweet tooth as we walked past the aptly named candy store “Sweets”.
Right outside of the village is Lake Waramaug, named after the chief of the Wyantenock tribe. The lake occupies parts of the towns of Kent, Warren and Washington, and is ringed by gorgeous summer cottages, boathouses and mansions. After driving around the entire lake, we stopped at the well-known Hopkins Vineyard Winery, which has been owned by the Hopkins family for over 225 years. The winery’s tasting room and wine bar offer samples of its award-winning “grape nectars”. Across the street is the Hopkins Inn, a lovely 19th century B&B and restaurant. Both places sit above the lake and provide spectacular views.
Although there was beauty everywhere, and our heads were swiveling from side to side to take it all in, it was this vintage 50s Chrysler Traveler in the parking lot of the Inn that really got our attention.
We continued our journey through the town of Warren (pop. 1,254), where we came upon a spectacular church located in an mesmerizingly pretty setting.
We rolled on to the town of Kent (pop. 2,858), which borders New York state. Like so many classic New England towns, Kent has an abundance of architecturally beautiful homes and buildings.
The town center was hopping with people strolling the streets, eating in the funky cafes and restaurants, shopping the boutiques, and browsing the art galleries.
The village has public art placed throughout its many green spaces. Here’s one of several metal pieces by sculptor Steve Tobin.
Kent is the town where Rorie finally caved in and at long last satisfied her craving for ice cream at the SoCo Creamery. Their handcrafted scoops of happiness are made a mile away in Great Barrington MA. A big scoop of Cappuccino Kahlua Crunch did the trick and she ate it so fast the ice cream didn’t even have time to melt in the cone.
After her “pause that refreshes” the Tour crossed the Connecticut border into Millerton, NY (pop. 953). Millerton is an eclectic small village named “one of the ten coolest small towns in America” by Frommers Travel Magazine in 2007. The Town is brimming with cultural and “foodie” destinations including a really nifty 1950’s diner, art galleries, artists studios, a movie house (formerly a grange hall) with live Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, restored train depot and great walking trails.
After strolling through the town, we wandered into Sapersteins, an old fashioned clothing store. Established in 1946, this store is jam packed with every basic apparel item that any family member could possibly need. It reminded us of the old Woolworth’s stores where there was “stuff” everywhere including hanging from the ceilings. Its boy’s department had a “Husky Shop”, which Bart said was not a happy reminder of his shopping experience when he was young.
Hip and homey and without a chain store in sight, Millerton was another fun and interesting stop on the Discover Small Town America Tour.
We meandered back into Connecticut through the small towns of Norfolk, Winsted, New Hartford, Barkhamsted, Canton and Avon. These are all beautiful places with lots to see and do, so if you’re looking for a scenic drive, get off the highways and explore these countryside communities.
Next…The Tour plans to explore more back roads of Connecticut, Rhode Island, the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard. Stay tuned!