67 Main Street, Steamboat DockEssex, CT, 06426Phone: 860-767-8269
Lots to see, but even more to do, at this river museum on Essex Harbor
Learn about the Connecticut River – or sail on it! – when you visit the Connecticut River Museum, on park-like grounds overlooking scenic and historic Essex Harbor. There’s plenty to see, from models of yachts, nautical paintings and history exhibits to the tools used in early fishing, hunting and trapping to a vertical, three-floor river mural that goes up a staircase. And there’s the model of the Turtle, the Revolutionary War submarine. But there’s also so much to do: Go on a winter wildlife eagle cruise to see bald eagles, or cruise aboard the Onrust, a replica of a 1614 Dutch sailing ship.
So much to see and do, indoors and out, in this historic town
Outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, shoppers and nature-lovers will all enjoy the charms and attractions of historic Wethersfield. Open historic homes range from Puritan times, through the Revolution (including the home where Washington and Rochambeau planned the Yorktown campaign) to the early 20th century. The town also has 644 acres of parkland for hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, skateboarding and swimming, among other pursuits, as well as a nature center. Main Street offers eclectic shops and galleries, and the town hosts several festivals and events, including arts and crafts fairs, a corn festival and weekly farmers’ markets. Take the country’s oldest continuously operating ferry, marvel at the giant trees in the Broad Street Green, enjoy a movie night or a town tour by lantern.
One Tower and a 1,200-Square-Mile View
Walking a one-mile trail through beautiful woods is an easy price to pay for a visit to Heublein Tower in Talcott Mountain State Park on Montevideo Road in Simsbury. Guests may tour the house and tower, built as a summer home in 1914 by Gilbert Heublein. The 1,000-foot high promontory provides splendid views of Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and Long Island Sound. Hikers and birdwatchers may encounter a variety of wildlife. Heublein Tower historic home and museum is accessible by walking trail only.
Year-Round Fun in Nature and a Coffeehouse, Too
Located on Lang Road in Windsor, Northwest Park & Nature Center is a 473-acre recreational facility that has the virtue of staying open and lively throughout the year. There is a nature center, 12 miles of trails to enjoy during the winter and summer, maple sugaring, a Coffee House Concert Series that brings live music to listeners, and more. Annual events include Country Fair, pancake breakfasts, maple sugaring demonstrations, owl prowls, holiday wreath-making workshop and other forms of fun for all ages. Nice outdoor activities for parents and kids. Phone: 860-285-1886
Wadsworth Presents a Mix of Art and Entertainment
The marvelous Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford is a grand place to visit, particularly after the mid-decade overhaul of the galleries. Permanent and changing exhibits are always worth a fresh visit. This museum leads the way in providing events and entertainments to showcase and enhance exhibits. These may include films, talks, live music, even Sunday brunches. There’s always something to enjoy. 860-278-2670.
Beautiful Oasis in the City
on Trinity Street in Hartford is a wonderful public sanctuary that merits a full-day visit. The park is home to a carousel that dates from 1914 – the golden age of these structures that combine artistry, magic, and simple fun. For people who love the artistry of nature, Bushnell Park is an urban arboretum of rare and native trees. Visitors can pick up a brochure and take a self-guided walk of magnificent trees from many parts of the world. The park also has beautiful fountains, statues, a pond, and a performance pavilion. The park offers free tours of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch and hosts many public events. Open: May to mid-October. Phone: 860-232-6710.
Historic Aircraft on Display at Air Museum
The New England Air Museum at 36 Perimeter Road at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks is New England’s largest aviation museum and one of Connecticut’s most interesting attractions. It houses more than 80 aircraft and an extensive collection of engines, instruments, aircraft parts, uniforms and personal memorabilia. Within this collection are the Sikorsky VS-44A; a B-29 Bomber; the Silas Brooks Balloon Basket (1870); the Bunce-Curtiss Pusher (1912); the Sikorsky S-39; and a Kaman K-225 helicopter. The museum hosts lots of special events, many of them welcoming to children. Open year-round. 860-623-3305.
Ten Thousand Villages Brings the World to You
Visit the Ten Thousand Villages store at 967C Farmington Avenue in West Hartford to browse and purchase folk art, ceramics, textiles, baskets, jewelry, wall hangings, pillows, rugs, mirrors, vases, incense, candleholders, and furniture handmade by artists in the developing world. Enjoy international music, the aroma of gourmet coffee, and rich chocolate. Your fair trade purchase helps improve the lives of thousands of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. 860-233-5470.
Hop-Scotch Your Way Among CT’s Farmers Markets
Summer and fall in particular are the times for harvesting, cooking, and eating fresh produce grown right where you live. Connecticut has devised a Farmers Market Trail – including a very helpful trail map – that guides you to farmers markets, with all the details about days, times, locations, and products. These are places with live music, entertainments for kids, hand-made goods and gifts. The Trail map tells you where to find farm-to-table eateries, walking trails, art galleries, and historic sites. The map shows ATMs near markets.