by Ray Bendici
May 15, 2013
11:24 AMUnsteady Habits
Connecticut Specialty Trails Roundup
Looking for things to do and places around the state to visit this summer? Here are some of the trails—official and unofficial—that are available for you to explore in Connecticut.
Connecticut Art Trail - Talk about an "art" attack: Originally launched in 1995 as the Connecticut Impressionist Art Trail, the trail started exanding in 2005, and now features 16 museums and historic sites that feature not only Impressionistic works, but also modern and ancient art, European masterpieces and more. Ranging from pastoral sites such as the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme and Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton to more urban facilities like Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum and Yale's two art galleries across the street from each other in New Haven, the trail offers a wonderful variety of art and destinations, and a terrific deal—$25 for a one-year Art Pass, which gives you admission to the participating museums for one price! Other deals and getaways are also available.
Connecticut Freedom Trail - Dedicated to chronicling the accomplishments of the state's African-American community, the trail features more than 150 sites in 50 towns, including sites related to the Amistad slave ship incident and destinations along the Underground Railroad. Originally founded in 1996, the trail continues to grow, and features historical sites and houses, museums, monuments, cemeteries and other heritage locations.
CT Wine Trail - Oenophiles are invited to "taste the adventure," and with 25 wineries on the trail, there's plenty of adventure to taste! From Litchfield Hills to the Quiet Corner to the Connecticut River Valley, this trail covers almost the entire state, which unbeknownst to many is a cool-climate growing region conducive to producing grapes ideal for wine-making, one of our fastest-growing industries. (Check out this recent tasting we did for Connecticut wines.) Visitors are encouraged to get a Wine Trail passport, which can be stamped at each spot, and after a certain number of stamps, can be submitted for a chance to win prizes, including trips and bottles of wine, of course.
CT Beer Trail - One of the newer trails in the state, it's dedicated to all things beer in Connecticut, including dozens of breweries, brew pubs, specialty beer bars and even home-brewing supply shops. The trail also sponsors brewfests, brewery bus tours, tastings and other beer-centric events. Those who join the Trail Blazers Club get to attend special beer-related events as well as receive discounts and incentives at selected breweries and brew pubs.
Connecticut Chocolate Trail - Probably the "sweetest" trail in the state, on this adventure you'll find a dozen chocolatiers and local chocolate artisans, including world-renowned treat-makers like Knipschildst Chocalatiers, Bridgewater and Munson's chocolates as well as local producers such as truffle-makers H. Mangels of Milford. Behind-the-scenes and kitchen tours are available at many of the sites, and of course, there are occasional events and tastings, plus plenty of heavenly chocolate available for purchase.
CT Dino Trail - For such a small state, Connecticut has a large amount of dinosaur-related history, which is showcased at a trio of destinations: Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, where you can see actual fossilized dinosaur tracks; the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven, home to the enormous dinosaur skeletons and Rudolph Zallinger's mural "The Age of Reptiles"; and Nature's Art: The Dinosaur Place in Oakdale, which has a dinosaur-themed water park among its offerings. Ideal for familes, each of these stops has plenty of activities, exhibits and dino-related events to keep even the most diehard dino fans happy.
Connecticut Women's Heritage Trail - Sponsored by the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame, this trail features over a dozen sites dedicated to the contributions made by women to the state's illustrious history. Some of the destinations: The Prudence Crandall Museum in Canterbury, former home of the state's offical heroine; the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, residence of the author of the seminal anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin; and the Hill-Stead Museum, a magnificent mansion designed by Theodate Pope Riddle, one of the first female architects in U.S. history.
The Washinton-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route - Chronicling 120 miles of the path taken by Gen. George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau through Connecticut during their historic march in 1781, the first national historic trail in the state features historical societies, museums, monuments and other Revolutionary War points of interest. Interpretive markers along the route—which can be driven—tell the story of the march, with more information available at other sites along the way.
Connecticut Garden & Landscape Trail - For horticultrue fans and those who love to stop and smell the roses, this trail covers numerous retail garden shops, greenhouses and landscape centers across the state as well as many of the fine public gardens and arboretums. Passports for this trail can also be obtained, and for every 10 places visited, an entry will be made into a drawing for a $10,000 dream landscape.
Connecticut Antiques Trail - This isn't an official trail as of yet, although there is an effort afoot to bring the already-established smaller trails across the state together into one. Right now, there is one trail in Woodbury (the self-proclaimed "Antiques Capital of Connecticut"), featuring more than 30 shops and dealers, another trail in "Mystic Country," (a.k.a. Southeastern Connecticut), which includes 30 shops, barns and malls, and a plethora of shops in towns like Putnam, Old Saybrook and Westport.
Update: On May 22, the Connecticut Senate voted unanimously in favor of a bill that creates an official Connecticut antiques trail. (See Amendment Schedule B.) According to a press release, the new legislation "directs the Department of Economic and Community Development to establish a Connecticut antiques trail identifying and marketing sites in the state that sell antiques. These sites include major antique dealers, communities that feature a high concentration of antique dealers and auction houses that have annual sales in excess of one million dollars." A website and a promotional campaign will also be created for the new trail.