Rest & Relaxation
Warming up to winter is something we do very well in Connecticut, 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. Come with friends or that special someone. 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 Abbey's 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 Resort 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, 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 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.
EXTRAS: All lovers or would-be lovers please note that on this website there are many other suggestions for romantic interludes in Connecticut. Among the suggested Getaways for this winter you can find right now are River Valley Winter Romance, Winter Only and Winter Romance in the Litchfield Hills. There should be plenty there to keep your campfires burning all the way till the snow melts.
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 Oliva Cafe 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 Hickory Hill that are, in a word, charming.
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 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.
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. Among the places to sample this winter: 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. 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 Craftsteak, David Burke Prime and Cedars Steak House. Make sure your appetite is sharp!
Antiques in Winter
One of Connecticut’s great treats is take in the treasures of our antiques shops. It is likely that every one of the state’s 169 towns has at least one antiques shop in its midst, and you are most welcome to poke along at your own pace and find them all. Check out the new Connecticut Antiques Trail which takes you throughout the state. In the interest of time, however, we have a few highlights to tell you about.
The best-known of all Connecticut’s antiques alleys is undoubtedly the one that runs along U.S. Route 6 through the historic town of Woodbury. From the north end of town all the way south, the roadside, also known as the Woodbury Antiques Trail, is lined with dozens of shops, some grand and others quite modest in nature. According to the Woodbury Antiques Dealers Association, Woodbury “has over 30 professional dealers, offering virtually all categories, periods and styles of antiques, related accessories, gifts and bench-made reproductions from every corner of the world.”
At the other end of the state, in Putnam, you’ll find the Antiques Marketplace, an enormous affair with 350 dealer booths all under one roof in a 22,000-square-foot space. The merchandise runs from the local to the international, and the prices from affordable to, well, less affordable. Best of all, you never know what you might stumble into when there are so many places to explore.
And the Canal Street/Jefferson Street area of downtown Stamford has become a wonderful place for browsers and buyers to explore as well. The goods run from the 80 or so dealers on display at the Stamford Antique and Artisan Center, the high-end Greenwich Living Antiques & Design Center, and the anything-goes United House Wrecking (if need a vintage gasoline pump, barbershop pole or confessional kneeler - this is the place).
Sometimes, small antiques districts pop up in unexpected places. Bank Street in Seymour is home to a cluster, including Seymour Antiques Co. and Sher’s Bounty. You can park your car and easily walk to them all. In Old Saybrook, you can take in the pleasures of the waterfront as well as a handful of good antiques shops - Old Saybrook Antiques Center, for example, is a multi-dealer center specializing in American and Continental furniture.
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