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Report by Paula Antolini
October 18, 2015 10:19AM EDT
Connecticut Fall Foliage Driving Tours
It’s the peak time of the season in New England for taking a drive to see the beautiful foliage. So many choices, so many beautiful drives!
City Meets Country on Route 15
Since 1934, drivers have enjoyed the Merritt Parkway’s (Route 15) lush greenery in the summer and breathtaking colors during the fall. Drive up this historic highway, named a National Scenic Byway, and discover the area’s charming farm towns, rich culture and exciting metropolitan centers.
Begin in Greenwich and take exit 28/Round Hill Road to the Audubon Center. Explore the 295-acre sanctuary with seven miles of trails to enjoy the flora and fauna.
Back on the Merritt, take exit 35/High Ridge Road and turn left onto Route 137 North. Stop by the Stamford Historical Society and Stamford Museum & Nature Center, then visit the Bartlett Arboretum, the perfect spot for fall foliage, featuring 91 acres of trails, award-winning trees, gardens and greenhouses.
Back on the Merritt, take exit 36/Route 106 North heading toward the classic New England town of New Canaan. Veer onto Route 124 by turning right onto Elm Street, then left on Main Street, which bends into Oenoke Road. Explore the New Canaan Historical Society.
Head south on Route 124 to Route 106 North. When Route 106 splits, turn right and stop to view the current exhibit at the Silvermine Guild Arts Center.
Take exit 45 off the Merritt onto Route 58 North to Easton. Take in the picturesque Aspetuck Reservoir en route to Aspetuck Apple Barn for autumnal foods and flowers. Turn back onto Route 58 heading south and take a left onto Center Road. Take a left onto Route 59. Stop at Silverman’s Farm, a pick your own orchard with apples and peaches, as well as pumpkins, seasonal foods, flowers, cider and aviary.
For information on additional activities and attractions in Coastal Fairfield, visit www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com.
Seaside Escapes on Route 1
Explore Route 1’s scenic beach villages, featuring lively Main Streets and historic landmarks against a backdrop of the season’s bold reds, oranges and yellows.
Start by exploring downtown Branford’s shops and restaurants, then follow the scenic Route 146 to Stony Creek, winding around the harbor to the Thimble Islands. Climb aboard one of the Thimble Island cruise boats (Islander Sea Mist Volsunga IV) for a narrated foliage cruise around these legendary pirate hideouts, now stunning private vacation homes.
Travel east on Route 1 to the historic shoreline town of Guilford. Stop at Bishop’s Orchards, where you can pick your own apples and pumpkins, then sample the on-site winery’s award-winning apple wines and browse the market’s gourmet offerings.
Continue to Guilford’s truly grand town green, one of the largest in New England. Stroll the shaded block for prime window-shopping along the charming storefronts.
Nearby, the Henry Whitfield House is New England’s oldest stone house (circa 1639) and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Explore the three floors of 17th- to 19th-century furnishings.
In Madison, visit Hammonasset Beach State Park. Connecticut’s largest shoreline park offers a boardwalk, camping, boating and fishing, as well as a year-round nature center.
For information on additional activities and attractions in the Greater New Haven region, go to www.centerofct.com.
River Rambles on Route 9
With a scenic river, dense forests and picturesque small towns laden with history, it’s no wonder why the Nature Conservancy has named the lower Connecticut River Valley “one of the last great places.” Drive up Route 9 and witness its beauty for yourself.
Pick apples and the perfect pumpkin at Scott’s Connecticut Valley Orchards (exit 5) in Deep River, then explore Gillette Castle (exit 6 or 7) in East Haddam, the unique home of eccentric actor William Gillette (a.k.a. Sherlock Holmes).
Plan an outing at the internationally acclaimed Goodspeed Opera House (exit 7) to see “La Cage Aux Folles” (through September 10) or “A Wonderful Life” (September 18 – November 29). Across the river from Goodspeed, in Haddam, climb aboard RiverQuest for a narrated cruise of the lower Connecticut River and spectacular foliage views.
Continue to Middletown’s Main Street (exit 15), named one of “America’s most romantic Main Streets” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Browse the shops and choose from a variety of ethnic cuisine. Indulge in handmade confections at Tschudin Chocolates & Confections. If you have kids in tow, turn onto Washington Street and stop at Kidcity Children’s Museum, where interactive exhibits encourage kids ages one through eight to play “pretend.”
For information on additional activities and attractions in the River Valley region, go to www.centerofct.com.
Alive with Color on Route 7
Named by National Geographic Traveler as one of the most scenic driving destinations in the country, the Litchfield Hills are a top choice for leaf peeping. Stretching up western Connecticut, Route 7 offers art, history and plenty of opportunities to get back to nature.
Begin your tour on Route 7 in Ridgefield. Veer onto Route 35 to visit Ridgefield’s National Historic District with its mansion-sized homes, shops and museums. Along Main Street is the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring changing exhibits by cutting-edge artists from around the world, and the Keeler Tavern (1772), where guides in Colonial garb present collections of furniture, art, decorative objects, tools and the British cannonball embedded in the corner post.
Continue on Route 7 to Danbury’s Main Street. Visit the Danbury Museum & Historical Society, which includes a tour of the 1785 Rider House, the 1790 John Dodd Hat Shop and the Marian Anderson Studio.
Follow the Housatonic River along Route 7 through New Milford to the picture-perfect village of Kent, awarded the #1 Fall Foliage Town in New England by Yankee Magazine. Along the way is Bull’s Bridge, one of two covered bridges in Connecticut open to auto traffic. The center of Kent has many exciting antiques shops, art galleries and fine dining. Next, stop at the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association Museum, boasting the largest display of steam and gas tractors in the state. Kent Falls State Park features Connecticut’s highest waterfall and a scenic path leading to the summit.
Follow the Housatonic River along Route 7 to West Cornwall. Take a ride through the classic red covered bridge on Route 128 to the storybook village center, featuring whimsical shops and craft galleries.
For information on additional activities and attractions in the Litchfield Hills, go to www.LitchfieldHills.com.