If you day-dream of rolling green hills, covered bridges, red barns and quaint New England towns filled with antiques and good restaurants, then Litchfield County, Connecticut is the place for you.
Located in Northwestern Connecticut, Litchfield County has become a popular weekend retreat for busy New Yorkers. Its bucolic setting filled with grass fields, rivers, woods and farmhouses beckon those looking for peaceful scenery outside of the city. An outdoors paradise it is, hiking, kayaking, fishing and nature walks are some of the activities you can enjoy.
The towns of Litchfield County are as picturesque as the natural landscape. Think beautifully restored colonial houses, charming boutiques, village squares with that perfectly placed bench, art galleries, and good food to be enjoyed. The towns of Kent, Cornwall, Litchfield, and Washington are just some of the towns that are popular summer destinations – and, actually, not just during the summer, but throughout the whole year. Fall with its fall foliage is stunning.
If you’re like me and crave that country escape every now and then, you will love Litchfield County. Depending on where you live, it makes for a great weekend or day trip escape. If you’re thinking that sounds divine, but will the kids get bored? Well, if you do it the right way, not at all. We spent a recent Saturday on a day trip to Cornwall and Kent, and with a little research found plenty for the kids to do. We even found an animal drive-thru safari! Below is our 1 Day Trip itinerary. Some of it was pre-planned, but much of it was spontaneous rambling. You definitely want to make sure you spend time driving and ambling around and discovering what’s around the next corner. The scenery is so beautiful.
In order to do some of the things I wanted to do, like go around taking photos of the countryside and perusing shops in town, I researched some kid-friendly activities in the area to balance things out. I had no idea my research would bring me to a drive-thru animal safari! In Goshen, CT is the super-fun Action Wildlife where you can drive around the 50-acre wildlife safari and observe all sorts of animals from your car. If you want to get out of the car, you can do that too. We saw zebras, buffalo, mountain goats, monkeys, bison, deer and so much more. There is also a petting zoo and a playground. That’s where we started our day, and the kids had a blast.
From there we drove to Cornwall, by all accounts one of the prettiest towns in New England. And it is. For what it may lack in terms of town life (it’s pretty sleepy) it makes up for in its natural beauty. Views with hills in the distance, its famous covered bridge over the Housatonic River, idyllic homes with perfectly manicured lawns all make up beautiful Cornwall. We loved driving around Cornwall and looking at the scenery, and the kids enjoyed a stop at the covered bridge where there is a small park to hang out in.
Mohawk Mountain is located in Cornwall, the ski mountain that serves so many families as their first skiing experience, and Cornwall’s beautiful backdrop. Clarke Outdoors is in Cornwall as well, the popular outfitter store for all things kayaking, canoeing and rafting. If you’re into the outdoors, then you’ll be into Cornwall.
About 20 minutes from Cornwall is the attractive and artsy town of Kent. I just love this town. Funky shops and art galleries line its main street, and restaurants with outdoor patios abound. There are a number of cultural attractions, including the galleries, the Eric Sloane Museum and the CT Antique Machinery Museum. As far as town life goes, Kent is relatively happening. People are out and about, either dipping into shops or ending their day from the outdoors with a beer. We enjoyed walking around town and grabbing pizza at one of its local pizza joints.
Kent seems to offer that perfect combination of charming country town life and outdoor recreational activity. Hiking, fishing and kayaking are all staples of the area, and there are a few state parks in the area as well. Kent Falls State Park is where we headed to after our meal, and where we spent the late afternoon. It’s known for its cascading waterfalls, of which you can hike to the top. A ¼ mile hike, it’s fun to do with the family. At the bottom there is a large field with picnic grounds, the perfect spot to come with a packed picnic. Note: while the park offers hiking and fishing, there is no swimming allowed. Something we weren’t aware of since lots of people were basking in their suits! But their website strictly says no swimming.
And that was our day in Litchfield County. We’re looking forward to returning again later this summer or in the fall to see the fall foliage. Perhaps this time we’ll switch it up and head to Litchfield and Washington. For a country get-away it doesn’t get much better than this part of Connecticut. It’s like the Berkshires, only in CT.