LEAF PEEPING: IN CONNECTICUT, THE BLAZE OF AUTUMN IS AROUND EVERY CORNER
Awash in Color from Mountain Top to Shoreline, Fall Foliage is Celebrated with Tours on Country Roads, Weekend Walks, Farm Stands and Festivals
HARTFORD — August 15, 2005 — From the Litchfield Hills to the ocean shoreline, the blaze of fall foliage in Connecticut is everywhere. Around every corner, along every winding road, the brilliant reds and yellows of maple forests and the more subtle changing of colors in fields and valleys are inescapable. They provide a unique character and a brilliant backdrop to some of autumn’s most pleasurable pursuits. Walking, biking or driving on quiet country lanes, stopping at farm stands for apples, pumpkins, cider and hayrides, spending a day at festivals and fairs celebrating everything from ethnic or regional foods to a bountiful harvest: all these are made immensely more memorable immersed in color.
How fortunate it is that, for the millions of residents of metropolitan areas in the region, Connecticut’s fall foliage is close by, not hours away. Combined with a friendly welcome and comfortable bed at any of the state’s B&Bs, country inns or modern motels and hotels, a superb meal or two and the many enjoyable activities of autumn, leaf peeping is the ideal excuse to make a weekend escape or sneak in another vacation.
For example, along the Quinebaug and Shetucket rivers in northeastern Connecticut, aptly called The Last Green Valley on the Washington to Boston metropolitan corridor, there are Walking Weekends scheduled for October 7-10 and October 14-16, during what is usually peak leaf peeping season. More than 100 free guided walks are offered throughout the region. For more information, call 860-963-7226.
The Last Green Valley also recommends four cycling tours of the region, including a trip along the Long Island Sound coast to Mystic and Stonington and wheeling through the Pachaug State Forest. Visitors interested in antiquing along the way might opt for a bike tour through Pomfret and Putnam. Also known as, the Quiet Corner of Connecticut, the region even offers an autumn Cycle & Stay package in connection with the Tour des Farms bicycle tour. Designed to showcase the state’s farmland and farms, the tour package, scheduled for September 16-18, just as the maples are changing, includes two nights lodging and hearty breakfasts, the Tour des Farms rides, an optional self-guided bike tour and many extras. Call 866-363-7226 for more information, including a list of participating B&Bs and visit www.thelastgreenvalley.org for more details on fall color.
The Tour des Farms also takes place in the Litchfield area (the weekend of September 24) in northwestern Connecticut (203-284-3663). Noted as one of the state’s most spectacular locations to view fall foliage, the region’s residents take full advantage of this time to celebrate the natural fireworks with special events. Two of Connecticut’s most popular and venerable country fairs take place during leaf peeping season: the oldest and largest in the county, Terryville Country Fair (September 16-18) and Harwinton Fair (October 1-2). Both provide a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the season, the harvest and Connecticut’s agricultural traditions.
In addition to the fairs, the many farms and farm stands, and such seasonal treats as the 11-acre Corn Maze at White Hollow Farm, the Litchfield area is ideal for fall foliage driving tours. Visit www.litchfieldhills.com (860-567-4506) for detailed itineraries for day trips highlighting the region’s best-loved attractions, historic landmarks, quaint villages and, of course, multi-hued hills and valleys. There is A Cornucopia of Classic Countryside, featuring Torrington, the charming village of New Hartford, Barkhamsted, Riverton, where the Hitchcock Chair Company Store is located, and much more. A Treasury of Americana focuses on the region’s lengthy and fascinating history. There are two antiquing itineraries and Hills, History and Yankee Ingenuity, again dwelling on Litchfield’s unique role in American life. The site also includes a tour of photo opportunities. What could be better during September and October?
Other regions of Connecticut are equally appealing for those looking for autumn color. The Greater New Haven Convention & Visitors Bureau recommends Apple Orchards and Panoramic Views, a driving itinerary that touches on many of the area’s most scenic attractions. These include historic and charming Durham, with its orchards and vistas from the top of Powder Hill; Wadsworth Falls State park and the summit of 1,002-foot Castle Craig. An alternative route in the New Haven region is Salt Marshes and Winding Country Roads, featuring the Shore Line Trolley Museum, the Thimble Islands, Guilford Green and the Guilford Handcraft Center and Dudley Farm. Visit www.newhavencvb.org or call 800-332-STAY for more information.
Three other websites provide extensive information about fall foliage driving tours in Connecticut. One is www.bbselectregistry.com, the site for Distinguished Inns of Connecticut, where visitors will find detailed descriptions of tours throughout the state. The Visit Connecticut Tourism website features fall foliage driving routes in the ’52 Getaways’ section – seven loops in various parts of the state that encompass all the best autumn color viewing areas (www.CTVisit.com). The Connecticut Department of Environment Protection, www.dep.state.ct.us/updates/foliage, recommends 10 prime viewing spots, including Cobble Mountain in Macedonia Brook State Park in Kent, the Stone Tower in Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden and the observation tower in Shenipsit State Forest in Somers.
Revolutionize the leaf peeping experience October 1-2, on the Historic Lebanon Town Green in Lebanon, and celebrate the 225th anniversary of a cavalry encampment honoring the Washington-Rochambeau trail. The Lebanon encampment preceded a march by French troops led by comte de Rochambeau across Connecticut to join George Washington’s army in the fight for American independence. Re-enactors will pitch tents on the mile-long Green and recreate the march along with providing special programs and historical interpretations. Visit www.geocities.com/lcraigeweb/lebanon05 for Lebanon event details.
Leaf Peepers may also want to plan their Connecticut visit around other special autumn events. How about the 44th Annual Chrysanthemum Festival in Bristol, September 23-October 8 (860-584-4718) 0r the 25th Annual Chowderfest at Mystic Seaport, October 8-10 (888-973-2767) Here are some other options:
- A stop for fresh produce at the Gardener’s Markets in Wallingford, September 3, 10, 17 (203-284-1807)
- The Hebron Harvest Fair, September 8-11 (860-228-9403)
- The 11th Annual Greater Danbury Irish Festival, September 9-11 (203-730-8211)
- The 35th Annual Lobster Festival in Chester, September 10 (860-526-3866)
- The 13th Annual Chilifest in New Haven, September 17 (203-387-7700)
- The 4th Annual Wild Mushroom Festival in Mystic, September 25 (860-536-1216)
- The 37th Annual Apple Harvest Festival in Southington, September 30-October 2, 7-9 (860-276-8461)
- The 29th Annual Apple Festival in Trumbull, October 1-2 (203-268-5566)
- The 11th Annual Fly Fishing & Outdoor Fair in Old Saybrook, October 8 (860-388-6585)
- The Garlic & Harvest Festival in Bethlehem, October 8-9 (203-266-7350)
- The 18th Annual Highland Festival in Scotland, October 9 (860-423-9634)
- The 6th Annual Fall Foliage Weekend in Manchester, October 15 (860-528-0856)
- The 27th Annual Pumpkin Festival in West Hartford, October 15 (860-232-1134)
- The 10th Annual Vineyard Harvest Festival in Stonington, October 15-16 (860-535-1222)
For further information about fall foliage vacations and the 52 Getaways to Connecticut, restaurants, resorts, country inns, B&Bs and other places to stay in Connecticut, please call 888-CTvisit (888-288-4748) or log on at www.CTvisit.com. Connecticut offers visitors a multi-faceted wealth of attractions, historical, cultural and recreational activities, diverse and beautiful natural landscapes, parks, beaches and wilderness sure to fulfill any getaway need.
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A Sampling of Accommodations in prime fall foliage areas of Connecticut:
- Bird-in-Hand B&B, Coventry (860-742-0032)
- Elias Child House B&B, Woodstock (860-974-9836)
- Homestead Inn, New Milford (860-354-4080)
- The Brass Eagle B&B, Winsted (860-379-0923)
- Westbrook Inn, Westbrook (860-399-4777)
- Simsbury 1820 House, Simsbury (860-658-7658)
- Avon Old Farms Hotel, Avon (860-677-1651)
- Hyatt Regency Greenwich, Old Greenwich (203-637-1234)
Detailed information about all these accommodations and hundreds of others in Connecticut can be found at www.CTvisit.com