Great Fall Getaways: Litchfield Hills, Connecticut

Photograph by Christopher Churchill

Photograph by Christopher Churchill

For the Epicurean

Yes, Connecticut has a wine industry. Get a taste of it at the Hayloft Wine Bar at Hopkins Vineyard; there you can while away an afternoon by lovely Lake Waramaug, sipping Duet chardonnay and nibbling pâtés and cheeses. Later, make new friends around the oversize black walnut dining table at the aptly named Community Table, where Gramercy Tavern alum Joel Viehland draws upon area farms and purveyors for his sustainable, creative cuisine. (Eco-bonus: The restaurant runs partly on solar power.) Speaking of brews, the beer list, menu, and totally reasonable prices at the White Horse Country Pub keep locals (and visitors) coming back. Handmade truffles and Belgian hot chocolate, meanwhile, make Belgique Chocolatier a must-try for travelers with a sweet tooth.

For the Adventurer

Take the trail to the top of the 250-foot cascades at Kent Falls for a heart-pumping excursion with a breathtaking reward; the state park just may be the gold standard for leaf-peeping in New England. Or hop aboard one of Mick Murphy’s Aer Blarney Balloons to see Litchfield’s rolling hills from above. The hourlong rides depart from Bethlehem’s grass-strip airfield at daybreak or just before sunset, and on a clear day, you can see as far as the Manhattan skyline. Wimpy when it comes to heights? Trotting through Topsmead State Forest atop a well-mannered Morgan from Lee’s Riding Stable will keep you a lot closer to the ground.

For the Antiques Fiend

Woodbury has been dubbed the antiques capital of Connecticut, and a cruise along Route 6 is sure to turn up stellar finds (think worn-in farmhouse tables and elusive 19th-century French sideboards). With 17 showrooms, the charming Mill House Antiques & Gardens has one of the best selections. It’s located inside a former gristmill — a sight unto itself. If it’s a Liège-glass chandelier you’re after, inquire at G. Sergeant Antiques, where owner Gary Sergeant displays refined antiques in a period barn. Sniffing for a new Persian rug or a semi-antique carpet? Add Abrash Galleries to your list.

Where to Stay

Rooster Tail Inn (fall rates from $295) has six suites with spalike bathrooms and conveniences such as high-def TVs and WiFi. But for pure quietude, book one of four cozy rooms at Hidden Valley Bed & Breakfast (fall rates from $190), a country estate overlooking a nature preserve of the same name.

Save this Date: October 8 – 9

Follow your nose to the Garlic and Harvest Festival (, and you’ll discover how to grow, braid, and cook with the “stinking rose.”

The Essentials

Drive time: Two hours, 40 minutes