242 East Main StreetThomaston, CT, 06787Phone: 860-283-7245
The past comes alive at this museum that honors the region’s railroad history
Take a trip into the past at the Railroad Museum of New England – and do it in the comfort of a vintage passenger car, part of a diesel-led train excursion through valleys and woods, past dramatic rock cuts and over the scenic Thomaston Dam. In addition to educational exhibits, the museum offers exciting opportunities to explore a variety of locomotives, passenger and freight cars and cabooses, representing the best of the region’s rich railroading history. Popular train trips include scenic excursions, chocolate tours that include a visit to a chocolate factory, spirit-tasting tours and trips that celebrate the holidays, from the Easter Bunny Express to the Pumpkin Patch train to the magical Northern Lights Limited and Santa Express.
On the Connecticut Wine Trail, you can literally taste the adventure as you meander from scenic vineyards to intriguing tasting rooms. The trail’s two dozen wineries offer a variety of wines, views and experiences. Some have tours; others just invite you to stroll. There are wineries in historic barns or fieldstone buildings; one is in a World War II-vintage airplane hangar! Some have live music, or cheese and chocolate pairings, comedy nights, tapas nights, movie nights. Some have restaurants; others have box lunches and picnic sites by a pond or on a patio. All offer tastings and participation in the Passport to Connecticut Farm Wineries program, where you collect stamps for wineries visited. Please check our website for winery reopening and safety information.
For Motivation, Try the Sundae Drive
Connecticut’s Sundae Drive trail with an accompanying brochure and map sends you off on a tasteful adventure along some of the prettiest roads and vistas of the Mystic region of this lovely state. The drive’s “Tasty Ten” hot spots of creamy flavor includes dairies and ice cream shops in Storrs, Pomfret, Mystic, Plainfield, Old Lyme, New London, Griswold, Salem, and Sterling. A winner for both adults and kids! Brochure and map.
Antique Sleighs Whisk You Through Woods and Fields
The pretty fields and towns of the Litchfield region could have been designed for winter sleigh rides, complete with lap robes, harness bells, and a top-hatted driver. Wood Acres Farm in Terryville has 25 acres of wooded trails, sleighs, and teams of draft horses to take you over the river and through the woods (if snow cover is sufficient). Magnificent draft horses will take you on a 45-minute ride through white winter beauty. You may spot a family of deer settled in woods for the winter. For details and reservations, call 860-583-8670.
Moving eastward and southward, the town of East Haddam on the Connecticut River is where you’ll find Allegra Farm, which hosts sleigh rides complete with bells, lap robes, hand muffs and tranquility. Guests are welcome to bring their own refreshments. 860-680-5149. [photo by Lori Kessel]
General Store in Salisbury Is a Browser’s Delight
Located in Northwest Connecticut, Salisbury General Store and Pharmacy at 20 Main Street in Salisbury is one of those purely delightful stores with merchandise far beyond what the name might imply. Located in the gateway to the Berkshire Mountains, the store welcomes visitors, tourists, hikers, and shoppers looking for gifts. The store stocks specialty soaps and spa products, unique gifts, toys, crafts, cards and party goods, wooden kitchenware like cutting boards, and textile arts. The store features the work of local artisans. Hiking supplies too! 860-435-9388.
Come Visit Connecticut’s Beautiful Barns
You don’t need to be a photographer or painter to appreciate the beauty of farm barns. These icons of farming life have caught the attention of Connecticut historians, who created a Connecticut Barn Trail. Use the trail and its maps to explore this beautiful countryside at your own pace. The trail has seven routes that highlight barns at farms and farm stands, orchards, wineries, and historic sites. 203-562-6312.
Absolute Bliss: A Day Along the Wine Trail
Connecticut’s mild climate makes the state a fruitful place for growing grapes, and the state’s wine-making industry has bloomed in the past three decades. A delightful way to sample Connecticut vintages is to take a drive along the Connecticut Wine Trail , a route that bypasses 15 vineyards (and some beautiful countryside). The trail consists of two sections, in the eastern and the western parts of the state. Blue highway signs mark the trail and the state produces a colorful brochure. Remember: the Winter Wine Trail is very active! a winery tour in winter is a great way to lift your spirits. All the wineries have tasting rooms and all offer at least one tour daily. 860-267-1399.
Craftsmanship in the Shadow of the Berkshires
During the past 21 years, Heron American Craft Gallery at 16 Main Street in Kent has become a destination for people who are searching out the dynamic, ever changing work of American crafts. This shop presents an explosion of color, wit, and whimsy in the form of unusual playthings, ceramics, jewelry, glass work, sculpture, rugs, and clothing. This shop in the foothills of the Berkshires honors the spirit of handmade goods. Open daily. 860-927-4804.
Garden Pottery With Antiquated Inspiration
The potter Guy Wolff is highly respected by people who love fine craftsmanship. Wolff says he is inspired by at 18th and 19th century English flowerpots and centuries old Asian vases. His pottery for use in the garden is sold and collected widely. He works and operates a showroom at a renovated 1740 house at 1249 Bantam Road, 1.1 miles west of Bantam on Route 202. 860-567-5577.
American Indian Museum Presents Authentic History
Located just off Route 199 in the town of Washington, the Institute for American Indian Studies museum and educational center focuses on the indigenous peoples of northwestern Connecticut. Changing exhibits highlight Native American culture from across America, while permanent exhibits focus on American Indian living traditions of the northeast. Outdoor exhibits include a replicated Algonkian Village and simulated archeological site. The Museum Gift Shop offers Native American jewelry, crafts, pottery, books and more. Open year-round. 860-868-0518.