A few weeks ago James and I took Friday off from work and decided to drive out to Litchfield County for the day. Lucky for us, the leaves in this area of the state had just reached their peak, which made for some beautifully picturesque views as we drove through the backroads of CT. For those who have never been, Litchfield County is in the Northwest corner of CT, sharing a border with New York and The Berkshires. We had never spent much time in this area but thought this would be a fun opportunity to explore a new spot. I put together a Litchfield County Travel Guide that takes you along for the ride, highlighting our personal recommendations on where to stop along the way!
For starters, if you’re going to venture out to Litchfield County, save it for the Fall. At times we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, but driving through all the windey backroads was so enjoyable with the vibrant leaves as a backdrop. We started off in Washington Depot and made our way through Warren, Cornwall, Goshen and Litchfield.
Our first stop was Averill Farm, per a recommendation from my friend. The drive up to the farm was memorable – narrow roads lined with trees that lead us to a tiny sign pointing us down a dirt road in the direction of the farm. After traveling down the road lined with apple orchards, we found ourselves on the top of a mountain with the most beautiful view. The farm was virtually empty – a pleasant surprise compared to some other well-known orchards in the state where you have to sit in traffic, fight for parking and make your way through crowds.
The family farm is located on a 260-acre property, which is primarily an orchard, yielding pears and apples. In addition to picking your own fruit, they sell their own apple cider, cider donuts (made fresh daily), cut flowers, and homemade jams and jellies. They also sell pies, pumpkins, gourds, corn, mums, maple syrup, honey, garlic and gifts – all locally sourced. We couldn’t leave without trying some apple cider donuts (delicious!) and purchasing some cider, honey, honeycomb and garlic. We also left with a bottle of their dry, non-sparkling hard cider. This organic cider is made with only two ingredients: freshly pressed apples and yeast. I’m not typically a fan of hard ciders, but Averill’s still version was very tasty. We cracked it open as soon as we got home – what a perfect way to end our day.
The rest of our afternoon was unplanned and spontaneous. We left the farm and headed north to Warren. Along the way we came across Hopkins Vineyard, a winery nestled in the Litchfield Hills overlooking Lake Waramaug. We hadn’t planned on wine tasting but couldn’t refuse the opportunity. Hopkins Vineyard is home to 11 varieties of grapes and has produced award-winning whites, reds and sparkling wines. Connecticut may not be the ideal setting for growing grapes, but it’s always fun to try wine made from the locally grown fruit. The tasting room is located in a large red barn that shares a space with their gift shop. We left with yet another bottle of alcohol, a Chardonnay. Hopkins Vineyard ended up being one of three vineyards we stopped at along our way – Miranda Vineyard and Sunset Meadow being the other two. Who knew our travels would have led us along the CT Wine Trail!
Next stop was Thorncrest Farm. On the way to farm located in Goshen, we passed through Cornwall and crossed the Housatonic River, via the infamous West Cornwall Covered Bridge. We continued on to Thorncrest Farm and Milk House Chocolates. We found ourselves on another dirt road, this one leading through forest to a very large and strikingly handsome structure.
Thorncrest Farm is known as the home of “Single Cow Origin Chocolates”. All chocolates are made using the farm’s fresh milk, cream and butter supplied by their very own cows. Their pralines and truffles are made with the best cocoa blended with only all natural flavors such as fresh fruit, herbs and honey. If you’re looking to experience farm to table chocolates, this is your place. It’s just about as local and as homemade as you can get. James and I ate an entire box to ourselves, both agreeing that this was the best chocolate we ever tasted. I wish we bought more! We also bought a bottle of Vanilla Milk (a signature item), which is a pure premium Cream Line Milk infused with Madagascar Vanilla Beans. It was the smoothest, creamiest, most naturally sweet milk I’ve ever tasted – what a treat!
While still in Goshen, we stopped by Nodine’s smokehouse – a little hidden gem that James had previously visited. Nodine’s makes their own gourmet smoked meat, poultry, fish and cheese. We picked up some jerky and a stuffed bread.
We decided to end our day in the town of Litchfield – a quintessential historic New England town. Before heading home we stopped by the Litchfield Candy Company, an old fashion candy store in the center of town. This cute little building is packed full of all the candy we grew up with as children – Fireballs, Airheads, Nerds, Twizzlers, Gummy Bears and even Candy Cigarettes. Wooden boxes filled with every candy you can imagine line the walls of the store. They also offer an array of chocolates and gift baskets. We couldn’t leave without filling a paper bag full of favorite nostolgic treats. If you’re in the area definitely stop in and support this local shop.
Arethusa Farm Dairy in Bantam was our last stop for the day – an ice cream shop opened by the President and Vice President of Manolo Blahnik. In addition to this retail shop, they also own Arethusa Farm and restaurant Arethusa Al Tavalo. Both the restaurant and ice cream shop exclusively use the farms dairy products. All of Arethusa’s products are showcased and for sale including milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, butter and cheese. Trying a scoop (or two!) of their ice cream in a freshly made waffle cone is a must. Arethusa ice cream – which is made from just milk, cream, eggs, sugar and natural flavor – is sinfully delicious. My favorite flavor is Sweet Cream with Dark Chocolate. Keep in mind they serve a very large scoop, so unless you’re really hungry stick to just 1 scoop!
That wraps up my Litchfield County Travel Guide! I hope this helps the next time you’re in the area!