From fitness junkies to foodies, Connecticut is serving up all the ingredients for a good time
When stumbling out of a restaurant in a food coma, there’s nothing you want more than to lie down and never move again. But travelers in Connecticut know that missing out on the abundance of blood-pumping outdoor activities is not an option — just take one look at the view from Castle Craig Tower and you’ll know what they mean. So, hit up the trails before treating your taste buds, and enjoy the best of Connecticut’s culinary and outdoor adventures.
Hiking and Hamburgers
No other park in the state can match the view from the observation platform atop Castle Craig Tower near Meridian. A short hike will take you to the tower, which overlooks the 1,800 acres of hiking trails and picnic areas of Hubbard Park. The park is perfect for leisurely strolls or group nature walks. As if that’s not enough, the nearby Mattabesett Blue Trail takes adventurers down a rich and lush nine-mile interconnected trail, where you can catch glimpses of glassy ponds and soaring hawks. If you’re closer to Burlington, the Tunxis State Forest offers gorgeous scenery for anyone taking on the challenge of its mountain biking and hiking trails. Here, visitors can find crosscountry skiing, fishing, hunting and boating.
After burning off all that energy, indulge in some history at Louis’ Lunch in New Haven. This is the birthplace of the hamburger, as recognized by the Library of Congress. They keep their burgers simple here, and still serve them between slices of bread instead of buns — just as they were at their inception in 1900 — but their juicy patties prove there’s no need for bells and whistles when you’ve got it right on the first try.
Their famous Connecticut contemporary is Ted’s Restaurant in Cromwell, which is famous for its steamed burger. Patties are steamed and topped with molten cheese which encapsulates the meat. There’s no better motivation than the promise of this mouthwatering burger when you hit a rough patch of hiking.
Zip lines and ‘za
Don’t limit your travels to the ground. The Empower Leadership Sports and Adventure Center in Middletown offers tree-climbing, scavenger hunts, team-building programs and a half-mile guided zip line tour over lush forests. Groups with an even bigger taste for adrenaline will want to visit Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park for even more opportunities for adventure, including rock climbing, wakeboarding, cliff jumping, scuba diving and a waterpark.
It takes a brave traveler to seek out these exhilarating activities. But it takes an even braver one to pick a side in the decades-old Connecticut pizza war.
New Haven is home to some of the best pizza you will find in the United States, with Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria frequently topping national lists. Their white clam pizza doused with garlic, olive oil, oregano and parmesan is nationally renowned. Pepe’s long-time rival is Sally’s Apizza, located just a few doors down. Devoted Sally’s customers swear by the thin crust and slightly charred edges of their tomato, garlic and mozzarella pizza.
Of course, that’s without even mentioning the equally legendary Italian Bombshell pie (bacon, sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, onion and peppers) at New Haven’s Modern Apizza, or the groundbreaking mashed potato pizza at BAR. On second thought, maybe you don’t need to pick a side. Anyone for a second lunch?
Swimming and Seafood
Although walking through gentle seaside towns on the Connecticut shoreline can be a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, there are also activities which will get your blood pumping. Swimming, scuba diving and saltwater fishing are all popular activities at Hammonasset Beach State Park, a two-mile beach which is the largest shoreline in the state. Thousands of visitors come here each year for camping, picnicking, the nature center and water activities.
Hit up the trails before treating your taste buds, and the best of Connecticut’s culinary and outdoor adventures.
The best place to go to escape the noise is the little-known Satan’s Kingdom State Recreation Area along the Farmington River in New Hartford. You won’t find any demons here, but you will find great spots for tubing, canoeing and kayaking. For longer tours in kayaks, rafts or canoes, Clarke Outdoors in Northwestern Connecticut offers everything from tranquil trips down the river to white water rafting for the more daring traveler.
After testing your courage on the water, try out a daring dish at Miya’s Sushi. New Haven’s history as a maritime town led to this restaurant being one of the country’s first sushi bars.Today Miya’s focuses on “future sushi,” creating sustainable dishes from invasive species and plants. Their forward-thinking menu includes the Kanibaba, which features Chesapeake Bay blue catfish toasted in potato skin and topped with lemon dill remoulade, garnished by deep-friend Asian shore crabs which are found in nearby Branford.
On the more traditional side is Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough, which is beloved for their warm, buttery lobster rolls. Visitors have been coming to their location in Noak for a seafood feast with a view of the Connecticut coast since the restaurant opened in 1947. Whichever dining option or outdoor adventure your group chooses, one thing is for sure – you won’t leave without tired muscles, a full stomach and dozens of stories to bring back home. ctvisit.com/interest/ parks-forests .