Litchfield County is probably the part of the state that I love the most (shh don’t tell the others) but that I never get to as much as I would like. During the summer and fall I try to get out there a couple times each season and go to my usual haunts and try any new spots that have opened. I recently had the chance to take a trip to Litchfield County for a weekend away and Manchester Honda lent me a brand new 2019 Honda Insight to hit the road with. And truthfully, the car was so great that I didn’t want to give it back (shout out to it being a hybrid and cutting my normal gas bill in half, having an in-car wifi hotspot, and a brake alert to attempt to teach me to not be the worst tailgater in the state). I would normally wish you deepest apologies if you encounter me on the road- but not in this car!
While there, I naturally decided I had to put together a Litchfield County guide for you guys. Now, there is a lot to do in Litchfield County- far too much to fit into one guide. So, know that I will write more. In the meantime, this guide right here is my go-to guide; my if-you’re-only-going-to-get-to-Litchfield-County-once-in-your-life guide, or a perfect 48 hours in Litchfield County guide. It’s filled with places that I know are consistently good, and that I’ve always had a wonderful experience. So go pack your bags and make your reservations.
Check into The White Hart Inn
Located right on the Salisbury town green, The White Hart is a historic inn that perfectly meshes New England and British charm together. Established in 1806 the inn was renovated and reopened with new owners in 2014. It retains that “I’ve been here forever” charm, while being completely updated with new amenities. The results are luxurious and cozy, with traditionally decorated spacious rooms, really good wallpaper (if you’re into wallpaper like I am) and truly the comfiest of beds. There are bikes for guests to use in case you feel like taking a ride around town, corn hole to be played on the front lawn, and two wonderful dining options led by British chef Annie Wayte.
Have brunch at Mountainside Cafe
Once you’ve torn yourself out of the cloud of a bed at The White Hart, make your way down to Falls Village for brunch at Mountainside Cafe. This adorable roadside restaurant features ingredients from local farmers and producers, and makes one hell of a skillet. The Super Mario skillet has a base of eggs and potatoes and comes loaded with pancetta, parmesan, cremini mushrooms, roasted cherry tomatoes and arugula. Other favorites are the yogurt parfait (which I never say!), and the streusel French toast. It’s important to eat up while you’re here because you’re skipping lunch today- sort of. There is a very large afternoon snack coming, so don’t worry! Like I would ever let you go hungry.
Explore Litchfield Center
Litchfield center is made up of one picturesque New England street lined with shops and restaurants. Stop in Dottie’s Provisions for a quick coffee pick me up, Kitchenworks and Gourmet Gifts, or Bradford House Antiques for a nice addition to your home, or one of the many upscale clothing stores. And if you need a little break, @ the corner, and The Village Restaurant are great to pop into for a drink.
Indulge in some ice cream at Arethusa Farm Dairy
Just down the road from Litchfield center is Arethusa Farm Dairy. This shop sells milk and cheese products, and ice cream made from the cows located a few minutes away. Arethusa is known for its super premium old fashioned ice cream which it serves in very large scoops. They let you split scoops between two flavors, which is truly a Godsend because it’s very hard to choose. Their coffee and chocolate are as rich as they come, and they alternate seasonal flavors throughout the year. My go-tos are the sweet cream with chocolate chips, strawberry and mint chip.
Grab a beer or two at Kent Falls Brewing
Getting to Kent Falls Brewing is quite literally an “over the river and through the woods situation” and that’s one of the things I love about it. Connecticut’s first farmhouse brewery is located in, well… a farmhouse, surrounded by fifty acres of land where pasture raised chickens and pigs roam, and hops and cider apples are grown. They specialize in farmhouse ales, and unofficially, the best beer names around. My current favorites that they’re serving/selling on the property are Medio, an American farmhouse ale; The Barrel Fermented Gose (Peach), a gose; and Equinox, a farmhouse ale. (Can you tell I like sours?) You also can join them for a farm tour Saturday’s at 2pm and learn about their farm to bottle beliefs.
Have dinner at The White Hart
After your beer tasting (make sure you grabbed a few bottles to go), head back up to The White Hart for dinner. Here you can sit in either the airy and bright Garden Room or the more traditional and cozy Tap Room and experience chef Annie Wayte’s version of British inspired comfort food. The scotch egg, and fish and chips were better than anything I ate on my recent trips to England, the fish with a perfectly crisp battered outside, and the egg yolk a shade of burnt orange, from a local farm. The house-made pretzel is salted like you dream a pretzel to be, and the Moroccan spiced chicken is a wonderfully fresh and light dish if you’re feeling more that direction.
Have breakfast at White Hart Provisions
You’re on a weekend getaway, sleep in a bit. Then, when you’re ready, stumble downstairs to White Hart Provisions: The White Hart’s cafe. The adorably perky color scheme of slate blue and canary yellow (along with a coffee) will wake you right up. A complimentary hot beverage, cold beverage and breakfast pastry are available to each guest, and a more extensive menu with items like a bagel with lox, avocado toast or a bacon butty can be ordered as well.
Hike Kent Falls State Park
Once you’ve gotten your sustinence for the day, take your time driving the long, beautiful windy roads of Litchfield County down to Kent Falls State Park. There is a fee for cars with out of state license plates, but if you’ve got Connecticut plates you’re good to go. Meander across the covered bridge up to the dramatic 70 foot waterfall, and hike one of the three trails up and behind the falls for a nice morning walk. The trails here are fairly short, so I recommend starting with the red trail from the parking lot, then switching to the yellow trail, rejoining the red trail at the top of the falls, before crossing them and taking the park path down- for the most possible trail time.
Grab lunch at Swyft
Once you’ve worked up an appetite hiking, Swyft is the perfect place to replenish yourself. Located in the adorable center of Kent Barns, Swyft serves wood-fired pizza, and seasonal, farm driven small plates and entrees under the guidance of Chef Joel Viehland. If you want to die and go to heaven, the Rosso pizza, with stracciatella, garlic, oregano and tomato; and the bolognese with beef, pork, veal and tomato ragu are must orders. The mozzarella and burrata are made in house, with milk and cream from Rock Cobble Farm just down the road. Seasonal dishes like the Martha pizza, and the salad of farm lettuces are also sourced from here. Their pizza is available for take out, and might I suggest ordering one or two on your way out to snack on at your next destination?
Enjoy a wine tasting at Hopkins Vineyard
The drive from Swyft to Hopkins Vineyard will see you by the shores of Lake Waramaug. A designated scenic route, the loop around the lake is worth driving for the views and glimpses of available real estate (someone please buy me a house there?). Once you’ve explored, make your way up the hill to the vineyard. Here you can grab a seat in their wine bar and look out over the lake while enjoying wine and cheese plates, do a wine tasting in their winery, or you can settle yourself at a table on the lawn and enjoy a picnic (happy you brought those pizzas now, huh? Which, pro tip, go great with their Red Barn Red wine).
Have your final meal of the weekend at Community table
Before you drive back to wherever home is, there is one last meal to be accounted for. Community table has gone through a few different iterations throughout the years, most recently taking a year long break to reopen in May of 2018 with a new chef at the helm. Englishman Paul Pearson is now behind the restaurant and while the interior has kept its signature Scandinavian charm, he is putting his own touches on the menu. While the menu items like peekytoe crab and corn hushpuppies, and slow cooked Maine halibut with sweetcorn, potatoes, toasted corn husk broth and lime, will change with the seasons and the available local produce, you can guarantee that you’ll feel transported out of Connecticut.
Thank you to Manchester Honda for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.