Looking for fun in the Nutmeg State? You won’t have to look far! Read our picks for the best attractions in Connecticut for 2015. BEST FARM EXPERIENCE SUNFLOWER MAZE AT LYMAN ORCHARDS, Middlefield Sunflowers—350,000 of them—tower above your head, their wall-to-wall angelic faces glowing with daylight. This room without a roof is the happiest place […]
By Yankee Magazine
Jun 01 2015
Best Garden Reincarnation | The Glebe House Museum & Gertrude Jekyll Garden, WoodburyPhoto Credit : Julie Bidwell
Looking for fun in the Nutmeg State? You won’t have to look far! Read our picks for the best attractions in Connecticut for 2015.
BEST FARM EXPERIENCE
SUNFLOWER MAZE AT LYMAN ORCHARDS, Middlefield
Sunflowers—350,000 of them—tower above your head, their wall-to-wall angelic faces glowing with daylight. This room without a roof is the happiest place you’ve ever been lost. The annual Sunflower Maze makes August the best month to visit the Lyman family’s agritainment complex, with pick-your-own fields, the Apple Barrel market, even 45 holes of golf. Maze proceeds benefit the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s pediatric-cancer unit.
32 Reeds Gap Road. 860-349-1793; lymanorchards.com/events/sunflower-maze
BEST FREE MUSEUM
SUBMARINE FORCE MUSEUM & HISTORIC SHIP NAUTILUS, Groton
Climb down into the narrow passageways of the USS Nautilus and imagine a submerged voyage to the North Pole aboard this record-shattering, Connecticut-built vessel. Self-guided audio tours of the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine—which made science-nonfiction headlines by journeying 20,000 leagues under the sea—are the highlight of visiting this U.S. Navy museum.
1 Crystal Lake Road. 860-694-3174; ussnautilus.org
HISTORIC HIGHLIGHT – BEST CONCERT VENUE
INFINITY MUSIC HALL & BISTRO, Norfolk (1883)
Infinity has a new big sister in Hartford now, but the original 300-seat music hall still hosts the state’s most memorable concerts. Architecturally fabulous and acoustically superb, the venue is so intimate, it feels as though living legends are performing just for you. There’s even a chance that you’ll bump into performers in the bistro after the show.
20 Greenwoods Road. 866-666-6306; infinityhall.com
BEST NEW DOWNTOWN
STORRS CENTER, Storrs
Connecticut is rightfully proud of UConn’s academic and athletic accomplishments, and the all-new dining and shopping district that’s sprung up steps from campus is the place to embrace Huskymania. Tour the university’s colorful, free Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry. Shop for UConn gear at the Co-op. Dine at Geno’s Grille, and take home the Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach’s almost-as famous pasta sauces.
9 Dog Lane. storrscenter.com
BEST SHOE STORE
A 20,000-square-foot showroom with equivalent warehouse space below makes Shoeniverse New England’s largest shoe store. More shoes than you’ve ever imagined—in an insane range of styles and sizes for all—make it a shoe lover’s Shangri-la. Everything’s discounted even before the frequent sales. Owner Judy Legare is on a mission to make shoes an affordable indulgence: “like an ice cream cone.”
315 West Main St. 860-886-0070; facebook.com/TheShoeniverseStore
BEST SPECIALTY WINES
ARRIGONI WINERY, Portland
Want to pair wine with pancakes or pumpkin pie? Arrigoni’s specialty wines are subtly crafted, and your tasting favorites may surprise you. Chocolate Love, a red blend, has just hints of the chocolate infused at the end. Smashed Pumpkin is a crisp, autumnal white made with locally grown fruit. And maple-syrup-sweetened Sugar House belongs on your breakfast table.
1287 Portland–Cobalt Road. 860-342-1999; arrigoniwinery.com
HISTORIC HIGHLIGHT – BEST GARDEN REINCARNATION
THE GLEBE HOUSE MUSEUM & GERTRUDE JEKYLL GARDEN, Woodbury (1925)
Famed horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll designed more than 400 gardens in Europe. She lent her touch to only three in the U.S., and Connecticut’s is the sole survivor. Garden lovers are enthralled by the story of how Jekyll’s plans for the Glebe House grounds were lost, then rediscovered after a half-century and brought to life.
49 Hollow Road. 203-263-2855; theglebehouse.org
BEST NOSTALGIC PICNIC SPOT
FROG ROCK REST STOP, Eastford
The boulder that State Representative T.J. Thurber painted in 1881 was a popular picnic backdrop for generations. But when Route 44 was straightened, Frog Rock was no longer roadside, and the site became overgrown and vandalized. In 2013, new landowner Joe Lernould repainted the quirky attraction and opened an antiques shop and food truck. It’s worth the drive for buttery hot dogs, lobster rolls, and photo ops.
212 Pomfret Road. 860-942-0131; facebook.com/FrogRockEastfordCt
CANTON BARN, Canton
Forget eBay. Get in on the old-fashioned action, as auctioneer Richard Wacht and his partner, Susan Goralski, disperse estates before your eyes most Saturday nights. Order a slice of homemade pie, grab a seat cushion, and raise your hand to bid. There’s no buyer’s premium and no reserve. From fine furnishings to quirky possessions, everything’s going home with new owners.
75 Old Canton Road. 860-693-0601; cantonbarn.com
BEST UNDERGROUND DESTINATION CENTER CHURCH CRYPT, New Haven (1814)
Duck down into the basement of Center Church for a spine-tingling encounter with New Haven’s early settlers. Visiting hours on Thursdays and Saturdays April through October introduce you to the crypt’s inhabitants, who perished between 1687 and 1812. Notables include Benedict Arnold’s first wife and Rutherford Hayes’s ancestors. Colonial epitaphs still stir emotions.
311 Temple St. 203-787-0121; newhavencenterchurch.org/history.html