by Ray Bendici
Jul 18, 2013
10:07 AMUnsteady Habits
5 Cool Ways to Beat the Dog Days of Summer in Connecticut
Chapman Falls in Devil's Hopyard State Park is one of the "cooler" places to be found in the state.
Has the heat of summer bored you into submission? Think beyond your pool or another day at the beach.
1. Take Me on a Sea Cruise
They say there’s always a breeze by the ocean, so why not enjoy it while also learning local history, exploring the environment or just soaking in the beauty of the Connecticut coast? Some of our favorites:
• Thimble Island Cruise, where you can hear stories of buried pirate treasure while touring the picturesque archipelago.
(203) 488-8905, thimbleislandcruise.com
• SoundWaters offers interactive afternoon eco-cruises out of Stamford’s Cove Island Park aboard a three-masted schooner as well as sunset cruises where you can sit back and relax while the day slips into night.
(203) 323-1978, soundwaters.org
• Mystic Whaler Cruises provide family-friendly five-hour tours of Fishers Island Sound (including a hearty lunch) aboard a 110-foot tall ship.
(800) 697-8420, mysticwhalercruises.com
• Schooner Inc takes the 91-foot Quinnipiack out of Long Wharf in New Haven for science and sunset cruises as well as family pirate sails every Saturday.
(203) 865-1737, schoonerinc.org
2. A World of Ice
It doesn’t get much cooler—literally and figuratively—than a trip to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, where visitors get to descend into a re-creation of a glacial crevasse complete with melting ice, whistling winds and a chill straight out of the Ice Age. Visitors step back in time to witness how the Connecticut landscape was carved out by glaciers as well as see life-size replicas of ancient flora and fauna present during the era. It’s also an opportunity to learn how the indigenous peoples adapted to life under such harsh conditions.
3. By a Waterfall
One of the benefits of Connecticut’s rugged terrain the multitude of scenic waterfalls around the state, perfect destinations to visit with a picnic basket in hand. The cool mist, water cascading over rocks, the simple beauty of nature . . . .
Make your own trail of some of the more impressive ones in the state: Chapman Falls at Devil’s Hopyard State Park in East Haddam (seen above); Indian Well State Park in Shelton; Kent Falls State Park in Kent; Southford Falls State Park in Oxford; Campbell Falls State Park in Norfolk; Enders Falls at Enders State Forest in Granby; and Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middlefield.
4. Find a treat in “The Icebox”
At a general elevation of 1,365 feet (with some points reaching more than 1,700 feet), tiny Norfolk tucked away in the Litchfield Hills is known as the “Icebox of Connecticut.” Temperatures here are the coolest in the state throughout the year, including a monthly average of only about 68 degrees in August. In addition to the climate, there’s lots of cool music here—the Yale School of Music’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival presents the best of classical music throughout the summer at the Ellen Battell Stoeckel estate, while Infinity Music Hall & Bistro offers great contemporary music, including acts like Chick Corea (Aug. 2 & 3), Shawn Mullins (Aug. 16) and Leon Redbone (Aug. 25).
5. Cave In
Exploring a few of the many caves around the state is an opportunity to have a little adventure while staying cool in the shade. Some interesting spots to try: Baker’s Cave at Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme; the Indian caves at Chatfield Hollow in Killingworth; Squaw’s Cave in Bolton Notch State Park; the Wolf Den at Mashamoquet State Park in Pomfret, which gained notoriety after Revolutionary War hero Israel Putnam crawled into it to vanquish a wolf that was terrorizing local farms; Leatherman’s Cave in Black Rock State Park in Thomaston, one of the many used by the legendary 19th-century wanderer; Phillip’s Cave in Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding; and Judges’ Cave at West Rock Ridge State Park in New Haven, which gained its fame after serving as a hideout for a pair of 17th-century judges during an upheaval of the English monarchy.
For those who are more into serious spelunking, Tory’s Cave off of the Housatonic Range Trail in New Milford is a 50-foot-deep marble-solution cave open to public exploration—it’s a challenging excursion with tight spots and wet walls; an experienced guide is recommended and bats are a legitimate concern here, so visit at your own risk.