As summer proceeds towards its inevitable demise, it is time to pause and take a breath to prepare for the next season. And no better time to do this than the approaching long Labor Day weekend.
There is no place more conducive to this than the Quiet Corner – a peaceful, bucolic area of North-eastern Connecticut, lying within a designated National Heritage Corridor. Also known as “The Last Green Valley”, this region lies along the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers.
Pomfret, Woodstock, Putnam, Thompson, Eastford, Brooklyn & Killingly among others are the gems that stud this crown. Set among rolling hills, forests, working farmlands and pastures, these towns and villages offer much to residents and visitors alike. www.visitnect.com.
18th century period architecture, ranging from Greek Revival to Federal and Colonial; tracts of evergreen and deciduous forests, glacial deposits, rustic stone-wall edged fields, and quaint town greens are characteristic of the area.
Chain and Big Box retail establishments give way to boutique and specialty shops, and galleries housing unique treasures. Locally owned restaurants range from quaint and casual to elegant fine dining; country inns and B&Bs are lavish in their warm hospitality.
Outside, national parks and state forests, hiking trails, nature preserves and quiet country roads beckon, to be explored by bike, car or on foot.
SR 169 is a National Scenic Byway running right through the Quiet Corner. This beautiful 32 mile route is pretty throughout the year, but is absolutely spectacular during fall foliage season when the flamboyance of autumn palettes attract leaf peepers from all over the world. It runs northwards, connecting Lisbon to Woodstock, through Brooklyn and Pomfret, past historic town greens, buildings and churches.
Stop enroute for refreshments and sample home-grown, locally produced foods: beer and wines, cheeses, ice-cream, maple syrup and a variety of heirloom crops.
Explore local antique shops, flea and farmers’ markets, museums and award-winning wineries and vineyards.
Or indulge in a hot air balloon flight, followed by a relaxing spa treatment, topping off the day with al fresco dining and cultural entertainment, particularly in Putnam which is fast achieving a reputation as the dining, antiques, shopping and cultural center.
Stay the night for a more leisurely exploration. Small hotels, intimate B&Bs, luxurious inns, even private cottages and homes offer cozy ambiance, friendly service with special touches and great food. Pet and family friendly accommodations are also available!
*For the history buff our nation’s past comes alive through the exploits and relics of revolutionary heroes like Nathan Hale and Israel Putnam, and abolitionists like Prudence Crandall.
*For the craft-lover, of any age, there is plenty of experiential learning to immerse themselves in. Local artisans will lead you through culinary training, needlecraft and knitting classes, pottery, mosaics, painting, jewelry making, glass-blowing, wine-tasting and oenology sessions.
*For the nature-lover, The Connecticut Audubon Center and adjacent Bafflin Bird Sanctuary offers year round nature programs, bird and botanical walks, nature photography, and art exhibits. www.ctaudubon.org/visit/pomfret.htm
Take a soothing walk, or hike in the Mashomoquet Brook State Park in Pomfret; visit Wolf’s Den which saw the end of the wolf species in Connecticut, indulge in water-sports in Quaddick or West Thompson Lake, or paddle in one of the many rivers and streams.
*For the gardener, a visit to the Roseland Cottage’s historic parterre garden on Woodstock green and other lush, historic greenhouses and florists are a treat for the senses.
One can truly escape from the city to this destination location, within easy driving distance of Hartford, Rhode Island, Boston and even New York. This tiny corner of our small state does offer big city options, for rest, relaxation, shopping and entertainment, wrapped in the magical cocoon of the traditional New England countryside.
Photo Tour of the Quiet Corner– Courtesy – Jim Tourtellotte
GD Publishing, Putnam, CT