The State of Connecticut lies to the north of Long Island Strait, the stretch of ocean water that separates the coastal towns of Bridgeport, New Haven, Old Lyme and Mystic and other small villages in Connecticut from Long Island in New York.
When you look at a map of Connecticut, you see names such as Milford, Cromwell, Newington, West Haven, Kent, Essex, Colchester, New London – names that are all very English in origin. There is no doubt that the many of the early settlers who came from England wanted to transport a little bit of England with them, and the smaller the town or village, the more that this is apparent.
In many of the smaller towns you will even find a Village Green, a Village Church, and a high street or Main Street, with a cluster of houses with their white picket fences. Add a porch, veranda, rocking chair and an American Flag out front, and you know you have found the picturesque, idyllic ‘small town America’.
The best thing about Connecticut is visiting the small towns both along the coast and inland, and while there are some biggest cities, it is the small towns and villages that have the charm and style that makes Connecticut so popular for people seeking a contrast to big city New York and Boston. Much of the State is also covered by forests, so in the Fall there are all the colors of the leaves changing as winter approaches. Snow comes with winter, and in Winter it is harder to get around, and some places also close up, but with Spring arriving, everything takes on a new life.
Connecticut is only a small state in size, about 100 miles across and 60 miles from top to bottom, making it easy to see around. Some of the cities, like Bridgeport, the biggest city with a population of around 144,000 people developed through manufacturing, and industry, and like many American Industrial cities, they have suffered from both urban sprawl and inner city crime and decay. Revitalising the inner city is high on the agenda of city planners, and Bridgeport is an example of this.
Some of the places and things to see in Connecticut are as follows –
Fall Colors – (early October to mid to late November). Fall colors and the timing of the change of color will depend on the types of tree, the season and temperatures. Most people know that Chlorophyll is what makes leaves stay green, but what they may not know is that for Deciduous trees that drop their leaves in winter, the drop in temperature as winter approaches causes the trees to stop producing Chlorophyll and it is this that causes the leaves to change in color.
Connecticut has a number of State Forest Parks where you can see the Fall colors, some with lookouts too, but equally if you travel to any of the smaller roads to or near these villages – Kent, Cornwall, Somers, Norfolk, Bloomfield, Hamden, Hampton or Litchfield you will find lots of good places to see and witness the change of colors. There are also bike trails too in a number of locations too.
New Haven – with a population of around 130,000 started as a Dutch Settlement for a short while, before English settlers arrived to establish the New Haven Colony in 1636. From the early days, the City was built around the New Haven Green in the Center, a 16 acre green space that stills exists to this day. The old City Hall building (1861)is located at 165 Church Street.
New Haven is most famous as being the home of Yale University, one of the ‘Ivy League’ Universities in the United States, with its history dating back to 1701.
New Haven was also a big industrial center for many years, and best known for the small armaments that it produced – with Whitney rifles, Colt 45’s and Winchesters all produced here. The Eli Whitney Museum is located here at 915 Whitney Avenue (See www.eliwhitney.org ).
There are many Galleries and museums in town – some of these being
SMALL TOWNS and VILLAGES – the great thing about driving is just heading wherever the road or the mood takes you to discover the ‘hidden gems’ that make for a great memory.
Look for the farms, the small cider makers, small breweries, wineries, fishermen, lobsters, antiques, boutiques, cafes, corn mazes, old houses, shops and lots more…
These are just some of the small villages that you might just come across -
Here in Connecticut there are a small number of these covered bridges to see – the oldest being at Kent (built in 1842), West Cornwall (1864) and the newest in Brooklyn in 2010. There are also ones at East Hampton (1936), Avon (1968), East Haddam (1976) and Somers (2002). See www.coveredbridgemap.com/ct for directions to find them.