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October is one of our favorite months here in Connecticut, and it’s not hard to figure out why. The hills and valleys—and even the town greens and front yards—come alive with color. The air is crisp and sometimes frosty in the morning yet often pleasantly mild at midday—and fragrant with the aroma of fallen leaves. There is a renewed energy in fall after the languors of summer, and a desire to get out and explore. And guess what? On the pages that follow, we’ve got some great places in Connecticut for you to go spend a happy day and night or two.
The Inn at Stonington,
Is there anything that we love about Stonington in summer that we don’t love even more in fall?
The views of Long Island Sound, for instance, get even longer and bluer at this time of year, when the air clears and cools down, and the horizon comes into sharp focus once again.
The narrow, charming lanes of Stonington Borough once again grow quiet and serene, populated more by residents than by hard-charging daytrippers.
The activities along the waterfront, such as fishing and boating, remain in season, and there’s a lot more elbow room for both. The summer fishermen may have disappeared, but the fish haven’t gone anywhere.
The town’s shops and restaurants are notably less crowded; it’s always nice to command the full attention of the shopkeeper and the server.
The price of some things comes down. For example, a second-floor seaside room at The Inn at Stonington cost $260 on a weekday night and $349 on a weekend until Sept. 7, when it dropped down to $250 and $310 (with a further reduction to $190/$240 come November).
So that is where we’ll begin, at the inn, in Room No. 7, a model of simplicity, good taste and comfort with a big, luxurious bath, a gas fireplace and a small balcony that overlooks Stonington Harbor and Fishers Island Sound. The inn has a pleasant, homey vibe and it’s right in the middle of things on Water Street, which makes walking here and there around town a very easy thing to do. It also serves complimentary wine and cheese in the evening and a continental breakfast, both of which make this an easier place to love.
Of course, other good places to eat are easy to find in Stonington Borough. Just up the street from the inn is Noah’s, a classic neighborhood restaurant that serves three good meals a day, has its own bakery and bar, and big front windows that open onto the passing scene. On the water right behind the inn is Skipper’s Dock, specializing in seafood (of course) and offering a big Sunday brunch every weekend during fall and winter. Also nearby and worth checking out are Dogwatch Café, overlooking the bobbing masts of Dodson Boatyard, and Milagro Café, a tiny, colorful spot that serves very good Mexican food.
Once you pull away from the table, you will want to do some walking through the borough. You can do this randomly and probably not go too far wrong, but a far better idea would be to pick up a copy of “Historic Walking Tour of Stonington,” a fact-crammed pamphlet available at many locations in town. They probably mean the town is “historic” rather than the tour, but in any case the pamphlet describes a loop down Water Street, past the Old Lighthouse Museum to The Point (a wonderful place for watching the sun set) and then back up via Main Street. Along the way are many historic houses and buildings, as well as local businesses, all described in the write-ups.
Not on the tour but nearby are the Velvet Mill Studios on Bayview Avenue. Here, artists and craftspeople labor during the week on the site of the historic American Velvet Mill, then open their doors on weekends to sell their paintings, ceramics, weavings, photography, prints, sculpture and more. Some of the galleries are open seven days a week, so be sure to check the website at velvetmillsstudios.com.
For those who can’t imagine going to Stonington without getting out on the water, there are now coastal cruises aboard the Gansett to keep in mind. Gansett is a handsome wooden 50-foot passenger vessel that plies the waters between Dodson Boatyard in Stonington and the Plimpton Dock in Watch Hill, R.I., every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Running through the end of October, these cruises are a great way to get up to Watch Hill for a few hours and maybe even have a drink on the porch of the magnificently restored Ocean House there. See oceanhouse.ri/yachting.php for details. For more information, call 860-535-2000 or go to innatstonington.com.