(page 4 of 5)
Bed-and-Breakfast: The Inn at Kent Falls
Kent, (860) 927-3197 (theinnatkentfalls.com)
We found it first and fell in love, so it doesn’t surprise us that the inn is turning heads in travel magazines and websites (TripAdvisor awarded it a 2013 Certificate of Excellence). The building dates back to the 1900s (authentic charm: check); it now offers the ultimate in bed-and-breakfast luxury (modern amenities: check); and some of Litchfield County’s most dramatic attractions, like the nearby namesake falls, plus restaurants, galleries and shopping are all a stone’s throw away (location: check, check, check). It really doesn’t get any better than this.
Country Inn: Inn at Woodstock Hill
Woodstock, (860) 928-0528 (woodstockhill.com)
We’re crazy about our country inns here in Connecticut. Some like them small, cozy and simply decorated, and trust us, these are plentiful. But for those who prefer the countrified works—a hideaway location, richly appointed rooms and an inn large enough to afford some privacy—there’s nothing like Woodstock Hill. The hostelry features 21 elegantly furnished rooms, fine dining, special packages and catering services for weddings and corporate events. Antiques lovers, take note: Woodstock is 10 minutes from Putnam, the Quiet Corner’s antiques mecca, and less than a half hour from Sturbridge, Mass.
Hotel (boutique): J House
Greenwich, (203) 698-6980 (jhousegreenwich.com)
Among the bevy of new hotels that have opened in the last few years, J House still stands out, a feat of innovative style and green design. It’s got a first-class restaurant, eleven14 Kitchen, helmed by François Kwaku-Dongo; two bars and a sexy outdoor lounge (with fireplace); handsome executive meeting rooms and conference space. There are 85 high-tech guestrooms with iPad-controlled light and temperature, deluxe mirror TVs, Frette linens and cool bathrooms with heated toilets. And you’re welcome to bring Spot along—the hotel is pet-friendly, too.
Hotel (city): The Study at Yale
New Haven, (203) 503-3900 (studyatyale.com)
This “lifestyle” hotel in the heart of Yale University’s art campus is a highlight of the New Haven scene, offering stylish accommodations, exceptional service, an inviting restaurant—Heirloom—a 24-hour café and a gallery with rotating exhibits of works by students of the Yale schools of art and architecture. The rooms and suites are serene refuges of sophisticated comfort, adorned with photos of the Yale campus.
Hotel (romantic getaway): Copper Beech Inn
Ivoryton, (860) 767-0330 (copperbeechinn.com)
There are getaways . . . and then there are wonderfully dreamy stays in lovingly restored rooms that bring out the romantic in all of us. The Copper Beech Inn wins the “come-hither” award this year for reasons you and your honey simply have to see for yourselves. Featuring 22 rooms in three separate buildings, the inn’s reputation for service and pampering is over the top (don’t miss the newly renovated Oak Room bar and dining area). By the way, the inn just happens to be in the scenic Connecticut River Valley, near tons of shoreline attractions, so the truth is you’ll be hard-pressed to choose from the plethora of nearby cultural pursuits . . . and the privacy of your room. Hmmm.
Splurge: Overnight: Winvian
Morris, (860) 567-9600 (winvian.com)
Your quirkiest getaway fantasies, whether they involve bunking in a treehouse (with bicycles at hand), taking over a lighthouse keeper’s cottage (in the woods of the Litchfield Hills, no less) or joining a secret society (Yale’s Skull & Bones, perhaps?), are luxuriously achievable at Winvian, a member of Relais & Chateaux. Depending upon which of the 18 themed cottages you choose, the price of an all-inclusive package can reach $1,650 a night—which includes three of celebrated chef Chris Eddy’s fabulous farm-to-table meals, supported by the resort’s own gardens. Given the impeccable grace and imaginative good humor evident in every detail, plus the “You’ll Never Experience Anything Like This Anywhere Else” factor, why not go for broke?
Golf Course (most challenging): Richter Park
Danbury, (203) 792-2552 (richterpark.com)
This full 18-hole course is one of the best in the tri-state area, featuring 6,740 yards of challenging shot-making from the longest tee with a par of 72. The layout at Richter Park compares well to some private clubs we know, but at a much lower cost. With grounds and facilities that are diligently maintained, Richter Park has been repeatedly recognized as one of the best public golf courses in the nation.
Public Beach: Hammonasset Beach State Park
Madison, (203) 245-2785 (ct.gov/deep)
Connecticut’s largest shoreline park offers over two miles of sun and surf for beach bums, along with boating, camping, saltwater fishing, hiking trails, concession stands and picnic areas. For nature enthusiasts, there are over 550 grassy campsites and the Meigs Point Nature Center, which hosts year-round programs and activities for all ages. With so much to offer, it’s no surprise over 1 million beachgoers visit Hammonasset every year.
Public Garden: Roseland Cottage
Woodstock, (860) 928-4074 (historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/roseland-cottage/)
There’s no way 19th-century businessman Henry C. Bowen (celebrating his 200th birthday this year) would fail to make the grounds complementing his summer Gothic Revival cottage spectacular, but he’d be pleased to know they’re still around 150 years later. His nearly 3,000-square-foot boxwood parterre garden, planted in 1850, is composed of 600 yards of mazelike boxwood-hedge framing that surrounds 21 beds of perennials (more than 35 varieties) and annuals (4,000 varieties). Many of the perennials—lilacs, rose bushes, Japanese cutleaf maples—have survived since their original planting. Annuals are planted by museum volunteers based on Bowen’s original garden lists, the most spectacular showcase being the central oval bed’s tricolor geranium display.
Trail: Peter’s Rock
North Haven (petersrockassociation.org)
The summit at Peter’s Rock gives an unrivaled, breathtaking view of Connecticut from the highest point in North Haven. The trails leading there highlight the Little River and surrounding wetlands, with ranging levels of difficulty for both experienced and new hikers. The historic rock once served as an Indian lookout, housed a hunting lodge and was used as a World War II location marker in case of enemy attack. The rock and its 10 surrounding trails are an unforgettable part of Connecticut history—a special place not to miss.
State Park: Shenipsit State Forest
Ellington, (860) 684-3430 (ct.gov/deep)
For such a small state, Connecticut is blessed with an abundance of terrific state parks and forests. One lesser-known treasure is the Shenipsit State Forest, spread into 11 parcels over 7,000 acres along the Massachusetts border in Stafford, Ellington and Somers. In addition to its unspoiled natural beauty and multiple recreational opportunities—hiking, fishing, picnicking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and hunting, among them—the site is home to the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, the Shenipsit blue-blazed trail and Soapstone Mountain. Atop the mountain sits a wooden observation tower that provides excellent views of the Connecticut River Valley and beyond.
Vineyard: Jones Winery
Shelton, (203) 929-8425 (jonesfamilyfarms.com)
We love Jones because it’s about so much more than wines, even though the label produces 14 varietals—including the award-winning First Blush, Woodlands White and Pinot Gris 2011. You can visit the surrounding family farm to pick-your-own strawberries and blueberries, take classes at the Harvest Kitchen (a farm-to-table cooking studio) and enjoy Sip & Savor dinners (where you’ll learn about pairing wines with meals). Our favorite visits involve pumpkin picking and hayrides in the fall and cutting Christmas trees in December—not to mention browsing the Holiday Gatherings Gift Shop.