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By Mary Lhowe
With its deep roots in America’s Colonial times, Connecticut presents some of our most beloved images of early New England: pretty towns, rolling farmlands and vineyards, charming restaurants and shop and museums. The state has developed lots of self-guided trails for wandering visitors. Some of our favorites are the Connecticut Wine Trail, where you can stop to sip local wines; the Connecticut Art Trail among museums and galleries; and the photogenic Historic Barn Trail. The Appalachian Trail passes through the western Litchfield, region, so there are many opportunities for day hikes. [Map of Connecticut] Below is an overview a few of the best drive routes. Find more drives and details at our Connecticut foliage drives page.
Kent and Mount Tom State Park loop — This drive in Connecticut’s rural region of farms and rolling hills passes the Housatonic River, famous for fly fishing and white water rafting, and through the charming town of Kent, known for its art galleries and antique shopping. This part of Connecticut has three of the state’s covered bridges, in Kent and West Cornwall. Mount Tom State Park is a major outdoor recreation resource. The state-wide CT Wine Trail will guide you among many vineyards and wineries that host tastings and a simply beautiful to stop for a picnic. Route map.
MYSTIC / NORTHEAST REGION
Last Green Valley Scenic Byway — The Last Green Valley is a national heritage corridor touching 35 small towns in northeastern Connecticut. Interestingly, it is considered a “dark sky” region in America – so it’s good for star gazing. This route passes pretty town greens, wildlife preserves, farms of alpaca and bison, walking paths, history museums, wonderful and usual shopping, especially in the scenic town of Brooklyn ( stop at the Brooklyn Green Historic District!) and Woodstock, which also is home to historic Roseland Cottage and Taylor Brook Winery . Route map.
NEW HAVEN REGION
Essex to Guilford shoreline loop — This shoreline loop drive moves through the beautiful towns of Essex, Old Saybrook, Guilford, and Deep River. On the waterfront is the popular Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. It has along shoreline on the Long Island Sound and lots of space for water play and sun bathing. If your drive takes you near the shoreline town of Guilford, stop at Bishop’s Orchards on Post Road to stock up on pumpkins, apples, and treats for the road. Route map.