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Whether you achieve it by savoring a refreshing boat cruise on the open water, overindulging in your favorite ice cream, enjoying a Sunday afternoon jazz brunch, splashing away merrily in a water park attraction or lazing a whole day long at the beach, summer “cool” is pretty much a state of mind. Here, we explore just a few of the many ways you can keep those Farenheit highs from bringing you low.
When they’re overheated and b-o-r-e-d by the summer doldrums, munchkins don’t roll far from the parental doughnut. Just like us, they need remedy, fast! Spell relief—and give them the bonus of a stunning educational experience—by visiting the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center and immersing them (via elevator or escalator) in the permanent exhibit’s simulated Glacial Crevasse, where they can see the dripping water, feel chilling air and hear the sounds of creaking ice and whistling winds. Thus mellowed, they’ll be ready to take in the 85,000-square-foot center’s wealth of dioramas, films, interactive exhibits and archaeological collections illustrating the rich history of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation as well as the region’s natural history. (pequotmuseum.org)
A visit to the Mark Twain House & Museum combined with a Sunday buffet brunch of Japanese cuisine and American breakfast favorites at the museum’s Murasaki Café, topped off with a session of live jazz: That’s a crazy quilt of cool. On June 19, Murasaki’s “Café Eiko” celebrates Father’s Day with songwriter, pianist and raconteur Jimmy Roberts, composer of the long-running off-Broadway show I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Blues singer Antoinette Montague, smoldering in the style of her mentor Etta James, raises the temperature July 24—luckily, the museum’s geothermal wells keep the air conditioning circulating evenly and greenly (as befits the first museum in the country, and the first building in Connecticut, to attain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] certification from the U.S. Green Building Council). There are two seatings each date at 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.; $40 covers everything except alcoholic beverages, available for an additional charge. We’ll have plenty of hand-cut sushi and a tempura Twinkie, please (the best justification a Twinkie ever had). Reservations a must. (860/280-3130; marktwainhouse.org)
Through its 252-year history Norfolk has always been The Icebox of Connecticut, reliably colder than anywhere else in the state year-round, no matter what other towns may lay claim to the deepest freeze from one snowfall to the next. This point of pride, declared on blue-and-white banners downtown, is at least partly attributable to geography—rising 1,770 feet above sea level, Norfolk is one of the state’s highest elevations. So it’s the first place we head when the rest of Nutmegland gets sultry, and for good reasons. Among them: Yale School of Music’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, on the grounds of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate in July and August; Infinity Hall, the rocking bistro-cum-concert-hall hosting Todd Rundgren June 26 and the Lovin’ Spoonful July 17; and three state parks, including Campbell Falls, which crosses state lines into New Marlborough, Mass.
The Sweet Spot
Of course we all scream for it, but in today’s economy, that doesn’t mean we want to drain the gas tank (or raise our body temperature) searching out mom-and-pop ice-cream stores across the state every time we have a craving. Thanks to The Farmer’s Cow, a consortium of six Connecticut dairy farms—Hytone Farm in Coventry, Cushman Farms in Franklin, Mapleleaf Farm in Hebron, Graywall Farms in Lebanon, Fort Hill Farms in Thompson and Fairvue Farms in Woodstock—homemade satisfaction is only as far as your local Stop & Shop. In year one, eight all-natural flavors (including Hay! Hay! Hay! Vanilla, Black Raspberry Moo Chocolate Chip, Milking Time Cookies & Cream, Heifer Nutter Peanut Butter Cup and Cow Barn Chocolate) are already stocking store freezers, and have been honored with a 2010 Green Coast Award for “promoting sustainability” and “improving the health of the planet.” Sit on the couch in front of the fan and dig in. (thefarmerscow.com)
Feel the Breeze
Cruising along on the breezy open water is a sure way to cool down on these hot summer days. Mystic Whaler Cruises (800/697-8420; mysticwhalercruises.com) offers a variety of options aboard its 110-foot schooner, including a sunset lobster dinner cruise, overnight trip and five-hour day-sail excursion. Ports of call include Block Island, Newport, Shelter Island and Martha’s Vineyard. Lady Katharine Cruises (866/867-4837; ladykatecruises.com), departing from Hartford, Middletown, East Haddam or Haddam, offer entertaining cruises along the Connecticut River. Try the Sunday Brunch Cruise, Jazzy Lunch Cruise or Entertainment Cruise.
Fun With H2O
To keep the kids (and you!) refreshed and entertained, a water park is the way to go. Luckily, you don’t have to go far to find one, as we’re home to Lake Compounce in Bristol (860/583-3300; lakecompounce.com), America’s oldest theme park. Water attractions abound here, including Anchor Bay (featuring a lazy river and water slide), Mammoth Falls (a raft adventure) and Clipper Clove (with a 300-gallon water bucket, water cannons and slides). On the next real scorcher, try Saturation Station at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury (203/758-2913; quassy.com), which offers more than 30 ways to get soaked, from cascading fountains to water cannons to bucket waterfalls. There’s also the gigantic Tunnel Twister waterslide, with more than 400 feet of twisting, turning water action. The kids will thank you if you take them to Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park in Portland (866/860-0208; brownstonepark.com), where they’ll get to experience cliff jumping, wakeboarding, kayaking, watersliding, snorkeling and swimming—how’s that for cool?
Take a Dip
Sometimes your only option to beat the heat is to pack up and head to the beach. Hammonassett Beach State Park in Madison is Connecticut’s largest shoreline park, offering two miles of beach for swimming, sunning, or strolling along the boardwalk. Nearby Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme is another ideal option, with a gentle, sloping, stone-free beach and a large stone pavilion that makes for a great picnic spot. Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven not only features a nice beach, there’s also a Splashpad, a super-fun series of freshwater fountains designed to delight and cool at the same time.