In the age of Covid-19, finding pleasure in the outdoors is especially worthwhile. Social distancing is more practical under the open sky, and outdoor recreation offers a precious escape to a populace stricken with cabin fever. These final months of 2021 present numerous reasons to escape the indoors before the weather gets too cold, and the state of Connecticut offers a wide range of opportunities, most within a two-hour drive from New York City.
ENJOY OUTDOOR FAMILY FUN
One of the best things about Connecticut in July and August is the abundance of outdoor activities. The waterfalls, trails and vineyards are only a few choices to consider. The state has numerous public parks and playgrounds for all ages to enjoy, along with scenic walks and drives through some of the most beautiful places in the country.
For a particularly fulfilling outdoor experience, take the New England Seacoast Villages Tour in Mystic. You’ll learn about historic homes, wooden ships and so much more on your stroll near the scenic riverside area. The tour takes two-and-a-half hours, and you’ll visit a working oyster dock, an 1853 mansion that belonged to a sea captain, a lobster pound and other locations along the way.
It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of Connecticut, and a couple of days just isn’t enough to see everything it has to offer. Connecticut has something for everyone, from beautiful trails to hike, museums and other historic locations to explore. You can start your day off with a stroll on the Farmington River Trail and experience the lush greenery that so much of the state has to offer. You may see some wildlife on your walk, so be prepared for that experience and always exercise caution.
There’s plenty of routes to roam here, whether you’re in the mood for a short walk or a full day hike while you explore the small villages along the 18-mile trail. Hartford is home to the Mark Twain House & Museum, which can be an excellent place to learn more about Twain and his history. The house, built in 1874, offers regular tours and historical options with ghost tours and murder mysteries conducted regularly.
For an unforgettable experience everyone can enjoy, consider taking the family to The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. There are more than 2,700 aquatic animals here, representing more than 300 different species. Work your way through 75 live exhibits and better understand the underwater world and how the animals interact with one another and survive. There’s also a “touch tank” where you can gently touch rays, jellyfish, sharks and intertidal species.
WINE AND DINE IN HARTFORD
Connecticut is home to many beautiful vineyards you can explore, too. Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford is a hilltop winery that offers tours with a side of spectacular, scenic views. If you’re looking for more of a boutique winery with a tasting room, Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery is also in the Wallingford area. Stonington Vineyards, in Stonington, is another opportunity to see the beauty of the vineyards and check out some great wine options. You may also want to visit Arrigoni Winery, Jerram Winery, Staehly Tree Farm & Winery, and plenty of other amazing vineyards throughout the state.
The Connecticut Wine Trail offers visitors a chance to enjoy the scenic grandeur of New England in the fall as well as the intoxicating product of Connecticut’s wineries and vineyards. These institutions have been creative and resilient in their response to the pandemic, offering events with limited capacity, curbside pickup for wine purchases, and partnerships with restaurants facilitating pairing recommendations for takeout meals. Check online for an up-to-date list of upcoming events like live music performances, wine tastings and chocolate and wine pairings.
A LAKE RETREAT ON CANDLEWOOD ISLE
VRBO (vacation rental by owner) has seen a boom since the start of the pandemic, where New Yorkers are looking for safe retreats within driving distance. Only one-and-a-half hours from New York City, the Candlewood Lake area is a homey refuge with luxurious rentals that offer stunning views and comfy amenities. One of the more exclusive listings sits on the top of a ridge overlooking the lake and is one of the most private homes on Candlewood Isle. The 6100 sq. ft mansion offers hotel-style amenities with an outdoor hot tub, pool table, ping pong table, three bars and a movie theatre that converts to a disco. There’s even a professional Karaoke system that provides hours of family fun (VRBO property #4330969ha).
The centrally located property is a short distance to shopping, restaurants, watersports and the Danbury Airport, where you can complete a one-hour familiarization flight and fly an airplane under the direction of a certified flight instructor for $70 an hour.