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Sunday Drives
In a less complicated time a Sunday drive started with the entire family climbing into the sedan and heading off on an afternoon adventure. Today's Sunday drive promises a few hours escape from sports schedules, computer games and, if you don't bring it, your cell phone. It's still a family adventure — or an inspired solution when out-of-town guests show signs of growing restless or you’re restless about what to do with them. These mini-treks travel routes easily reached from any Valley town. Mileages were calculated from the first-mentioned location. So, tuck the kids in the rumble seat and enjoy a Sunday drive!

FARMS
Avon to West Simsbury back to top

The Basics: Total round trip is 22 miles. The Sunday Driver should allow at least two hours for an enjoyable tour of the farms and side-stops along the way. With the Talcott Mountain range above to the east, fertile farmland on both sides and rocky hillsides emerging to the west, this is a good chance to feel the Valley “in context."

START: The Pickin Patch, .5 north of Rt. 44, Avon

  1. The Pickin’ Patch. Early spring offers nursery stock, annuals, perennials, vegetables plants, and pick-your-own asparagus, strawberries, followed by corn lettuce tomatoes, squash and pumpkins. Get your hands dirty. You can be sure all is fresh. Or buy it from the farm store. 
  2. Rosedale Farm.  Well known for its corn, which is on the stand earlier than any place in the valley. Very select vegetables, baked goods and wine tasting from their award-winning vineyard.
  3. Drake Hill Park. A quick stop to walk over the old Drake Hill bridge decorated with beautiful flowers, and enjoy a nice view up and down the Farmington River, its water often sliced by rowing teams' sculls.
  4. Stratton Brook State Forrest. There are trails to enjoy and a shallow pond where you can fish and enjoy a swim in the clear water supplied the Hop Brook. 
  5. Simsbury Farms Golf and Recreation And Golf. An old apple farm now growing a town recreation area where tennis, courts, pools, a kids park and 18-hole golf course. You might want to hit a bucket at the driving range.
  6. Tulmeadow Farm. Once the largest dairy farm in Simsbury’s western hills, its principal product today is its famous lip-smackin' ice cream that draws long lines for cones, shakes and sundaes (of course) as soon as the air hints warmth. You can enjoy your treat on a hay bale or antique wagon seat amidst ambient cow fragrance that reminds you that you’ve got the real thing.

LITCHFIELD
North Canton to Litchfield Green

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The Basics: This is 60 miles round trip that is about 1.5 hours of actual driving. BUT the Sunday Driver should allow approximately 3.5 hours to enjoy it — plus time to get to the starting point.

START: Junction of Rts 309 and 179 in North Canton.

 

 

  1. Lamothe’s Maple Sugar House. on the northeast corner of the intersection boils off when the “sap is flowin” from late winter through early spring.
  2. Canton Clay Works. The work of local potters for sale here. A chance to see a kiln fired up and operating.
  3. Canton Center Store. Cheap coffee, great pizza and nice big Boars Head sandwiches.
  4. Case Farm. Cross over crystal pools of Cherry Brook up to a “toy house.” Farm-cut flowers, pickles, eggs, relishes, cukes and tomatoes sold on the honor system.
  5. Collinsville. LaSalle Market has good, big, cheap sandwiches all day; Crown and Hammer pub has good beer and grub and the Collins factory has an extra big antiques emporium.
  6. Burlington. Fill up at Casille’s maxi-menu restaurant or at the corner gas pump.
  7. Hogan’s Cider Mill.  It's hoppin’ here on crisp October afternoons. Samples of hard cider, gallons cold off the presses, bins of just picked apples, pumpkins, and gourds plus pies and cakes,. Bursting with energy and humor. Out back a golf operation where they lend you an old club for the driving range.
  8. Litchfield Green. Take a late lunch with the beautiful people at the ever-in-tune Connecticut legend, the West Street Grill, ogle $100,000 antiques, less-is-more wine, art, jewels. Then The Village Restaurant and weekend designer bikers vrooming around take you back to earth. Sort of.

Salisbury/Lakeville
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The Basics: A nice tour of small towns heading away from the bustle that offers lots of good food, antiques, entertainment, boutique shopping and a swath of Connecticut countryside to enjoy. Round Trip 60 miles – 1.5 hours; Sunday Driver 3.5 - 4 hours.

START: New Hartford Center at Rt. 44

  1. New Hartford Center.  You can park right in the middle of this little village, and it’s a short walk to everything. Two small antiques shops offer very nice but not expensive pieces, Chatterly’s, in the center of the town’s 19th century commercial block has great food and lots of character. Passiflora teashop has a delightful menu that states, "All our food is home-made with an eye to the lowest negative imprint on the planet." Route 44 Gallery and Framing has a surprising collection of Hudson River School originals.
  2. Winsted Downtown.  The road widens in Winsted, where Main Street offers 12 restaurants and a variety of used furniture/next-generation-antique furniture spots that are fun to wander about. Across the street stand some of the last mill buildings that were once the foundation of the local economy until most were destroyed in the infamous flood of 1955. Oh, just as you’re coming into town, left after MacDonald’s is go-cart track with batting cages.
  3. Norfolk.  In Norfolk, Route 44 turns right at the sprawling Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate where the circa 1906, 900-seat Music Barn is home to the Yale Summer School of Music — Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, which presents a full summer schedule of concerts. Just down the hill, the recently restored Infinity Hall Bistro, a 300-seat music-themed restaurant and bar, offers a regular menu of nationally famous classic blues, rock and folk artists. Around the corner, Post Office Square is a delightful collection of shops, boutiques and antique shops. Heading west, the placid Blackberry River flows alongside the road and its namesake, the Blackberry River Inn, offers overnight guests luxury in a circa 1793 Colonial mansion.
  4. Salisbury.  On the eastern edge of Salisbury, the Salisbury School campus extends on both sides of the road with its original 1901 neo-classical buildings. Another prestigious prep school, the 118-year-old Hotchkiss School is located in the Lakeville section of town. Salisbury's status as a summer community for New York's wealthy is reflected in the architecture of the large old homes that line Route 44. Antique Shops specialty shops like Harney’s Tea where you can sample a sip or two and The White Hart Inn, are all well worth at least a peek.
  5. Lakeville.  The transition from downtown Salisbury to the village of Lakeville happens quickly, and again the shop windows are filled with treasures that must be admired up close. Here too, year-round homes and summer places line streets that lead to the lakes — Wononskopomuc and Wononpakook, Traveling through both villages after 4 p.m., watch for pedestrians of the four-hoofed variety. Deer graze on and wander about these lovely old lawns with little concern for Rt. 44 traffic. Swing through the village and tour around the impressive Hotchkiss School whose students and parents provide a steady customer base for several excellent local dining spots.

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