A Lot in the Hills

Things to do in the Litchfield Hills

Attractions in Litchfield Hills include exceptional restaurants, fabulous antiquing and one-of a kind shops, intriguing small museums and a wide variety of year-round recreational opportunities from skiing and canoeing to fly fishing horseback riding and even hay and sleighrides. Just in case you think that the northwest corner of Connecticut is nothing but rolling woodlands and farms, here are some ideas for your vacation planning.

Lake Compounce – New England’s Family Theme Park, Rte. 229 North (opposite ESPN, Exit 31 off I-84, 2 mi. north on Rte. 229, Bristol, CT 06010. Phone: (860) 583-3300.  The Lake has more than 50 thrilling rides and attractions for the entire family to enjoy, including Splash Harbor CT’s biggest Water Park and Boulder Dash voted the #1 wooden roller coaster in the world! www.lakecompounce.com.

Hunt Hill Farm, 44 Upland Rd., New Milford, CT 06776.  (860) 355-0300. Dedicated to preservation the Hunt Hill Farm Trust preserves two New England farms with ten historic buildings and 84 acres of farmland. It is the home of Skitch Henderson’s Museum and the Silo Store, Gallery and Cooking School. Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and WestConn, it offers cultural, educational and culinary programs to the public. www.hunthillfarmtrust.org.

Institute for American Indian Studies, 38 Curtis Rd., Washington, CT 06793.  860-868-0518. The Institute is a museum and education and research center dedicated to the study of the indigenous peoples throughout the western hemisphere, particularly those of the Eastern Woodlands. Longhouse Room with mural depicting village life, permanent exhibit with local artifacts, Connecticut archaeology exhibit, Children’s Discovery Room, temporary exhibit gallery featuring art and historical collections; Outside: 17th c replicated Algonkian Village, simulated Archaeological Site, Healing Plant Garden, Three Sisters Garden, Four Signed Nature Trails. www.birdstone.org.

Glebe House Museum & Gertrude Jekyll Garden, Hollow Rd., off Rte. 6, Woodbury, CT 06798. Phone: (203) 263-2855.  Architecturally interesting, this 1750’s minister’s farmhouse, or glebe, was where the first American Bishop of the Episcopal Church was elected in 1783. Site of only garden in the U.S. designed by Gertrude Jekyll. www.theglebehouse.org.

Tapping Reeve House and Law School, Rte. 63 South, Litchfield, CT 06759. Phone: (860) 567-4501.  America’s first law school 1774. Take a journey through the life of a real student from the early 19th century through role-playing, hands-on-areas, and interpretive exhibits. www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org

Keeler Tavern Museum, 132 Main St., Ridgefield, CT. Phone: (203) 438-5485.  Built in 1713, the house was a tavern, stagecoach stop, post office, hotel and home of noted architect Cass Gilbert.  Today costumed guides lead tours through period rooms reflecting life in rural CT from the 18th – 20th century. www.keelertavernmuseum.org.

Marion Anderson Studio, Danbury Museum & Historical Society Authority. 43 Main St., Danbury, CT 06810.  (203) 743-5200. The Museum maintains the John and Mary Rider House (c. 1785) featuring exhibits reflecting the foundation of Danbury and life in the town before, during and after the Revolutionary War. The John Dodd Hat Shop (c. 1790) features exhibits that detail the processes used in hat production and displays the variety of hats manufactured in Danbury; the Marian Anderson Studio has a new permanent exhibit celebrating the life and accomplishments of Marian Anderson, and maintains the birthplace of Pulitzer Prize winner and father of modern American music Charles Ives. www.danburymuseum.org.

American Clock & Watch Museum, 100 Maple St., off Rte. 6, I-84 Exit 38W/31E, Bristol, CT 06010. Phone: 860-583-6070.  The museum’s permanent exhibit tells the story of Connecticut Clockmaking & the Industrial Revolution.  The largest collection of American production clocks on public display.  www.clockmuseum.org.

Carousel Museum of New England, 95 Riverside Ave., Rte. 72, from exit I-84E, take exit 31 (Rt. 229 West St) to Rte. 72, Bristol, CT 06010.  Phone: 860-585-5411.  Displays one of the largest collections of carousel art and is a rare treasure filled with magic that will touch the child in you. www.thecarouselmuseum.com

Timexpo Museum, 175 Union St., I-84, Ex. 22 or 23, Waterbury, CT Phone: (203) 755-TIME or (800) 225-7742.  Located in an old brass mill building exhibits trace the history of Waterbury Clock from the 1850’s to the company it became in 1969, the Timex Corporation. www.timexpo.com.

White Memorial Foundation & Conservation Center , 71 Whitehall Rd., Litchfield, CT 06759.  (860) 567-0857.  The state’s largest nature sanctuary. Grounds open year-round daily. 4,000 acre nature preserve with 35 miles of trails for hiking, x-country skiing, birdwatching, picnicking, camping and boating. Nature Museum contains unique exhibits depicting the history and natural resources of the area, as well as a Children’s Room and Nature Store. Museum open year-round,  www.whitememorialcc.org.

Naugatuck Railroad, At The Railroad Museum of New England, 242 East Main St., Thomaston, CT 06010. Phone: (860) 283-RAIL.  Scenic 19.5-mile train ride departs from the historic 1881 brick train station in Thomaston.  The ride follows the Naugatuck River and passes through a state forest and past elements of the region’s industrial heritage to the Litchfield Hills. www.rmne.org.

Monastic Art Shop, Abbey of Regina Laudis, O.S.B.,  273 Flanders Rd., Bethlehem, CT 06751.  (203) 266-7637.  Cloistered Benedictine Abbey. Monastic pottery and other crafts, Gregorian Chant CDs recorded by the Abbey choir, DVDs, books, including “Mother Benedict” (biography of Abbey foundress) and “A Gregorian Chant Master Class” (Textbook and CD).  Vespers (5pm; Sunday 4:30 pm) at Abbey Church. 18th-century Neapolitan Crèche now open after major three-year conservation / restoration project. Crèche open to the public daily 10 am-4pm. Closed January 11, 2012 – Easter 2012.


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