Rest & Relaxation
Whether it’s a fireplace in your room at the inn, a steam bath at a destination spa or a hot show at one of our casinos, warming up to winter is something we do very well in Connecticut, Come with friends or that special someone and see what we mean. Relax. Revive. Find your comfort zone in a Connecticut winter.
Cozying Up to the Fire
A good fireplace can be a crucial decider when you make your overnight plans in Connecticut. It’s nice to find a bar or taproom that features an open fire (Mayflower Grace) in Washington has a very nice one, for example, and it’s got a piano, too!), or a restaurant where you can request a table by the fire – you can try the Altnaveigh Inn in Mansfield, Ondine in Danbury, Captain Daniel Packer Inn in Mystic, White Horse Tavern in Marbledale or The Inn at Woodstock Hill in Woodstock for that. But how about a fireplace in your room? That’s a special winter treat in Connecticut, and you can find it in good hotels and inns all around the state. Some places don’t have fireplaces in every guest room, so be sure to mention it when you make your reservation.
At the Inn at Stonington, the gas fire adds to the pleasure of a comfortable room, maybe with a water view, and proximity to the many pleasures of Stonington Borough, right outside the front door.
The Tolland Inn is a true classic old inn right in the center of a small town. The attention to detail is notable and the breakfasts are generous. A fireplace in the room seems very much in keeping with the vibe here.
Is it a genuine wood-burning fireplace that you’re looking for? Four of the five guest rooms as the extraordinary Rock Hall in Colebrook have them. There are few nicer pleasures than rekindling the fire upon waking on a snowy winter morning.
Ask for the Downeast room when you make your reservation at Abbeys Lantern Hill Inn in Ledyard and you’ll have a room with a wood-burning fireplace and an overall seafaring theme.
If you’re headed to Norfolk (“The Icebox of Connecticut”) for, let’s say, a concert at Infinity Hall, you may be very grateful to have a wood-burning fireplace in your room. You can find them at the Blackberry River Inn, right in town.
Winter is a prime time for nourishing the mind and body at a luxurious spa. Treatments give your skin a holiday glow, relieve seasonal stress and rejuvenate you during the long winter months. Escape to one of the many Connecticut spas that serve as complete relaxation destinations offering invigorating treatments, state-of-the-art health facilities, fitness classes, healthy spa menus and deluxe overnight accommodations.
For the ultimate indulgent pampering experience, head to the five-star Winvian Farm in Morris. The 5,000-square-foot spa offers facials, massage, body wraps, manicures and pedicures in one of six unique treatment rooms, including the Forty Winks Suite, featuring a wood-burning fireplace. Relax in the color therapy sauna, take a private yoga class or work out in the spa’s Playground, which offers cardio, yoga and pilates equipment. Recharge in the Relaxation Lounge, overlooking a reflecting pool and gardens, and sip an energizing drink from the juice bar or dine on light spa cuisine.
In Norwich, the Spa at Norwich Inn, once named the “Best Destination Spa in New England” by Yankee Magazine, provides the ultimate R&R escape. Choose from facials, manicures and pedicures, body wraps and polish treatments, hydrotherapy and massage, as well as a long list of fun fitness classes, including belly dancing, cardio water workouts and candlelight yoga. Fitness tips from a personal trainer, a guided 2.5-mile morning walk and meditation classes are complimentary to guests. Day and overnight packages combine spa treatments, fitness classes and healthy gourmet meals in Kensington’s, the on-site restaurant. Unwind after the holidays with the spa’s Nirvana treatment, which combines herbal body exfoliation with the Shirodarah treatment, in which warm herbal-infused oil is gently streamed onto the third eye to calm the mind and soothe the senses.
If you seek the calming effects of the ocean, take a day – or weekend – to rest at Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook. The spa uses only marine ingredients in its treatments for relaxation and balance. Enjoy the Spa Relaxation Package which includes a three course dinner for two, overnight accommodations, and two spa treatments.
In nearby Old Saybrook, the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa also offers a full menu of spa treatments using marine elements from the Brittany Coast of France, including organic sustainably cultivated seaweed that revives the skin with essential minerals. Detoxify and tone your skin after the holidays with the spa’s customized facial, which features organic ingredients from an array of fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices that address a variety of skin concerns such as sensitive, sun exposure, lost tone and radiance. In the health club, relax in the sauna, steam room or whirlpool, get an aquatic workout in the heated pool or try one of the many fitness classes, such as yoga, Tai Chi, pilates and Aqua Works. Nourish your body in the Fresh Salt, which serves up creative American cuisine, fresh local seafood and locally sourced ingredients for spa visitors. A Connecticut certified “green” lodging property.
The Red Door Spa in Groton at the Mystic Marriott offers a full menu of salon and spa services from signature skincare, massage and body treatments to nail care, hair design, makeup artistry and more. Enjoy the indulgent experience for which Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas are known. The hotel makes a great base for other activities to enjoy along the shore, and it’s a short drive up to the casinos, too.
Visit the Mayflower Grace in Washington and discover the shimmering pool, mosaic domed whirlpool and the subtly scented Thermal Sanctuary. The Spa House offers fully equipped exercise studios including a private pilates studio and outdoor yoga and meditation garden. The salon caters to your beauty needs with manicures, pedicures and hair treatments.
Romantic Inns by the Sea
Few things feed romance like a crisp sea breeze and a cozy room with a view. Whatever it is you choose to do during the day, you can count on a romantic inn at night. It’s just one of those things that we do extremely well.
Inn at Stonington. Stonington Borough is one of Connecticut’s most charming areas – walkable, historic, surrounded by water and dotted with shops and restaurants. The Inn at Stonington is the perfect spot right in the middle of it all.
Bee & Thistle Inn. Old Lyme is a venerable old Connecticut seashore town, replete with wonderful old houses and views on both the Sound and the Connecticut River. The Bee & Thistle Inn on the Lieutenant River has garnered many “Most Romantic” accolades over the years.
Saybrook Point Inn & Spa. Located right where the Connecticut River meets Long Island Sound, the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa offers fine dining, a terrific spa and comfortable rooms – not to mention romantic walks along the water. True romantics should check out the inn’s newly opened, adults only guest house called Three Stories.
Water’s Edge Resort & Spa. Do you crave waterfront lodging with all the bells and whistles? Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook fills the bill with sea-view rooms, extensive grounds, fine dining (including an extraordinary brunch) and a welcoming spa. Your romance will get all the back-up it needs.
Madison Beach Hotel. Do you like the idea of being right on the water, with nothing between you and Long Island Sound except for a strip of sand? Then the Madison Beach Hotel is for you, with fine dining, seaward views galore and the sound of the waves lapping at night.
With its appealing historic architecture, village greens and tidy shops, Connecticut still does “charming” very well. In fact, there are immensely attractive little towns all across the state that - with their shops, restaurants, galleries and inns - are perfect for a visit and even an overnight this winter.
Chester is a lovely little town on the west bank of the Connecticut River, surrounded by colorful valley hills and with a center of town that’s right out of central casting. You’ll find yourself charmed by places like the country French Restaurant L&E or the farm-to-table River Tavern, galleries such as Connecticut River Artisans and Chester Gallery, and shops like Ceramica. Find a list of all the merchants here.
Stonington Borough is unlike any other place in the state - in fact someone once wrote that it’s as if a piece of Nantucket had somehow separated itself and floated down to this southeast corner of Connecticut. Here, among its narrow lanes, the story of Stonington and the sea is everywhere, and it’s even home to Connecticut’s last remaining fishing fleet. Try an overnight at The Inn at Stonington, a meal at Noah’s and a visit to the Old Lighthouse Museum and you’ll soon feel right at home.
New Preston is situated on the shore of Lake Waramaug, arguably Connecticut’s loveliest lake. There are shops in the tiny town, and a restaurant or two as well, such as The White Horse Country Pub, Community Table or The Hopkins Inn. And you should certainly drive, bike or hike the 8-mile loop around the lake and stop at Hopkins Vineyard along the way.
Rowayton and Southport are affluent villages that are part of the larger Fairfield County towns of Norwalk and Fairfield respectively. Each features a MetroNorth station, water views in all directions, quiet streets and lanes, interesting residential and civic architecture and just enough shops and restaurants to make life interesting. The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood has long been noted for its fresh seafood and river views, while The Gray Goose in Southport is a nice way to end your local touring.
Pomfret will give you a real taste of how charming Northeast Connecticut can be. There is history at every turn of the road here, and much of it has been preserved in the houses and public buildings. There are quiet nights and long country views in Pomfret, but also galleries and shops (check them out here) and bed & breakfasts such as Chickadee Cottage, that are, in a word, charming.
Connecticut’s Endless Options
One of the great things about Connecticut is that you can experience so many different pleasures within such a small and easy-to-get-around-in space. After all, your interests are not limited to one area, so neither should be your exploration of Connecticut’s attractions. Here are a few “variety packs” to get you started.
Shopping and Bopping. For antiques lovers, there’s nothing quite like a ride down Route 6 in Woodbury on a fall afternoon. This is the home of the Woodbury Antiques Trail, offering dozens of shops along the way, as well as historic houses and places to eat. And when your day is done, get ready for an evening at Norfolk’s wonderful, intimate Infinity Hall, where you can dine and catch a show from the likes of Nick Lowe, Don McLean and The Yardbirds, to name just a few of this fall’s acts.
Penguins and Poker. By day, satisfy your curiosity about Connecticut shoreline and maritime history with a visit to Mystic, where the many pleasures of Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport await. There is no shortage of restaurants or other attractions in Mystic, either. Then by night, make your way a short distance either to Uncasville or Mashantucket, where the very different vibes of Mohegan Sun Casino and Foxwoods Resort Casino await. Here you can dine, take in a show, throw down a pair of aces, get a spa treatment, shop to your heart’s content and spend a memorable overnight.
Ancient and Modern. Connecticut’s story is a long, multifaceted one, but you can get a good handle on both ends of it without ever leaving Ridgefield’s Main Street. First of all, there’s the Keeler Tavern Museum, housed in a 1713 structure building that survived an attack by the British in 1777 and now serves as a popular museum that still has a cannonball lodged in one of its walls. Meanwhile, just up the street is The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, for more than 50 years as an avatar of modern art and design.
One way to enjoy a relaxing stay in Connecticut is to explore its many outlets for fresh, native foods. In the last 10 or so years, the state has experienced an explosion of outlets offering local treats ranging from cheese and meat to ice cream, fruit and vegetables. Here are a few of the most notable offerings:
Orchard Stores. What’s higher on your winter to-do list than a visit to an orchard store? These are now year-round retailers, offering the best of Connecticut farms, orchards and fields, and often with baked goods and other products as well. The Apple Barrel farm store at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, for example, has its own bakery as well as mounds of their own orchard apples, pears and berries. Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford goes back 140 years, but the farm market there is totally up to date, with local honey, eggs, flowers, bread and more to go along with the orchard’s own fresh produce. You can find many more possibilities for your winter wanderings right here.
Cheese. Suddenly, Connecticut cheese is on everyone’s lips. Small dairy farms now make and sell their own cheeses or pack them off to retailers. Cato Corner Farm in Colchester raises 40 free-range Jersey cows and makes and ages farmhouse cheeses for sale in its Cheese Room Store ranging from “mild and milky to runny and pungent to sharp and firm.” Beaver Brook Farm in Lyme offers a variety of cheeses (Feta, Pleasant Cow and Nehantic Abbey, for instance) as well as yogurt and raw milk. Litchfield’s Arethusa Farm raises champion dairy cows, and their products are available at its farm store in Bantam. Cheeses include Al Tavolo, Bella Bantam and Camembert. Fresh milk, yogurt and ice cream are also available.
Meat. If you’d like to take a break from the supermarket meat selections, there are all sorts of meats and meat products now on sale from small Connecticut farms, including beef, bison, lamb, chicken, pork, turkey and veal. You can get a complete rundown on them all here, but why not consider putting one of these on your shopping list: The bison meat offered at Creamery Brook Bison in Brooklyn is hormone- and antibiotic-free and lower in calories and cholesterol than beef. But if it’s beef you prefer, you might head for Eagle Wood Farms in Barkhamsted, where pork and eggs are also on sale. In Granby, Maple View Farm sells its own grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork as well as local eggs and maple syrup. Finally, there’s Nodine’s Smokehouse’s retail store in Goshen, where its wonderfully tasty hams, bacon, sausages and other treats can be found.
Covering the Casinos
Connecticut is home to a pair of truly world-class casinos - Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods - separated by only a few miles in Southeastern Connecticut. There are many good reasons to visit them both, of course, (live shows, great food, comfy rooms, lots of games to play) and here we cover some of them in detail. Come hide away on a long winter weekend!
Pampering. What’s a casino without a luxury spa? Not much, we’d guess, but our casinos are more than prepared to pamper. The Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun offers a complete menu of services and beauty treatments, while the G Spa & Salon at Fox Tower Hotel gets very high grades from Internet reviewers. There’s even the Norwich Spa at Foxwoods for those who’d like to overnight in a spa setting.
Live Shows. Among the shows scheduled at Foxwoods this winter are Jerry Seinfeld, ZZ Top, Jim Gaffigan and Barry Manilow. Mohegan Sun features Fleetwood Mac, Justin Timberlake and Bob Seger (not to mention nightly free concerts in the Wolf Den).
Shopping. Whether you’re browsing or buying, there’s a vast array of shops at Connecticut’s casinos. At Foxwoods, you’ll find Bulgari, Chopard, Pandora, Michael Simon and Hugo Boss, as well as the 80 or so outlets recently opened as Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods. Mohegan Sun, meanwhile, offers everything from Coach and Chico’s to Puma and Tommy Bahama.
Steak. Do you like steak and other steakhouse fare? If so, the casinos will satisfy your hunger in the most remarkable ways. At Mohegan Sun, there’s Michael Jordan’s Steak House and Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain. At Foxwoods, there’s David Burke Prime and Cedars Steak House. Make sure your appetite is sharp!
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