The Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferry has been carrying people across the Connecticut River since 1655 and is the oldest continuously operated ferry in the U.S. It is also just one of many points of history-related pride in Glastonbury, which was incorporated in 1693 and is one of Connecticut’s oldest municipalities.
Despite its history, Glastonbury is not a quaint community that lives in the past. Instead, the town on the banks of the Connecticut River feels thoroughly modern with a sleek mix of local shops, national retail chains and a restaurant scene that is similar in quality to that of nearby West Hartford.
Just 7 miles from Hartford and bordering several towns including Rocky Hill, Manchester and East Hartford, Glastonbury has a population of 34,584 and a median household income of $108,600, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2016. The town includes the South Glastonbury historic district and has plenty to offer for visitors and residents alike.
Food & Drink
Several Hartford-area restaurant groups maintain a strong foothold in Glastonbury, including the elegant Italian-American spot Billy Grant’s Bricco Trattoria (860-659-0220, billygrant.com/trattoria) and Max Restaurant Group’s Max Amore (860-659-2819) and Max Fish (860-652-3474, maxrestaurantgroup.com). Other beloved spots in town include the popular Mexican restaurant Sayulita (860-430-9941, cantinasayulita.com) and Midwestern-style steakhouse J. Gilbert’s (860-659-0409, jgilberts.com). Glastonbury also has a wealth of specialty beverage destinations. The Crystal Ridge Winery (860-657-1004, crystalridgewinery.com) has a beautiful vineyard and a tasting room with views of Hartford. Liquid Nirvana (860-430-9255, liquid-nirvana.com) offers smoothies and other drinks. There are several coffeehouses in town with their own fan bases; one favorite is Daybreak Coffee Roasters (800-882-5282, daybreakcoffee.com). The coffeehouse is also home to an onsite roastery and visitors are greeted with the warm smell of fresh roasts when they walk inside.
The town’s independent bookstore, River Bend Bookshop (860-430-6608, riverbend
bookshop.com), specializes in children’s literature but offers a compelling mix of fiction for adults as well, with an emphasis on local authors as well as staff picks. During our visit, we were excited to find a handcrafted wooden placeholder for books. The store was opened in November by Glastonbury resident Meghan Hayden, who told us that after a few weeks the place had already developed regulars. “Book people have a way of finding bookstores,” she says. The Glastonbury resident says she decided to open a shop here because “we have the best town.” Nearby, the Sow’s Ear (860-633-0311, sowsearct.com) specializes in repurposed antiques, while Pinwheels Toys & Games (860-430-2954, pinwheelstoys.com) offers many interactive and science-inspired products for kids. The town is also home to the Shops at Somerset Square (212-608-5108, theshopsatsomersetsquare.com), an outdoor shopping center that is home to Victoria’s Secret, Lux Bond & Green, a Francesca’s women’s boutique and much more.
The Great Outdoors
Driving around Glastonbury, one sees many sweeping farm vistas and it’s clear there remains a strong agricultural element to the area. One of several working farms in town is Killam & Bassette Farmstead(860-833-0095, kbfarmstead.com; opening Memorial Day weekend), which raises pork and chicken. The meat is free of nitrates, growth hormones, steroids or artificial ingredients. But gazing over wide farmlands (and/or chowing down on farm-fresh products) is only one of many ways to enjoy being outside here. Other options include walking at the Glastonbury Ferry Landing (524 Ferry Lane). This is home to the previously mentioned Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferry. The historic ferry only operates seasonally (it opens April 1), but there is a hiking trail with great views of the water. Other popular town hiking spots include the portion of the East Coast Greenway which runs through town, the Buckingham Reservoir Trail and Cotton Hollow Nature Preserve (493 Hopewell Road).
Micki Gebhardt, a Glastonbury agent with William Raveis Real Estate, says residents are attracted to the town for its highly rated schools, lively town center, and community spirit. It also is within commuting distance to Hartford (15 minutes), New Haven (45 minutes) and Massachusetts (40 minutes).
What you can get…
For $259,000: A 1,456-square-foot restored Colonial farmhouse on a third of an acre with three bedrooms and one bathroom.
For $359,000: A 2,176-square-foot home on 1½ acres next to a nature preserve with three bedrooms and two baths.
For $639,900: A 5,309-square-foot modern Colonial on a little under an acre with four beds, four full bathrooms and one half-bath.
The school system received an A+ rating from niche.com and is currently ranked by the same site as the seventh-best district in the state, and the best in the state outside of Fairfield or New Haven counties. Six of the town’s eight public schools, including Glastonbury High School, are rated 8 or 9 (out of 10) by Great Schools.