Preserved Colonial Architecture and Beauty, a Gift of Nature
The notion that quintessential New England is an endless drive from the urban chaos of New York City is dispelled upon approaching the Litchfield Hills, a bucolic, 1,000-square-mile horse-breeding enclave tucked into the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in northwestern Connecticut. Unfolding beyond every bend of the area’s meandering roads is a classic Currier and Ives landscape of 18th-and 19th-century saltbox farmhouses, red barns, imposing white clapboard mansions, stone walls, and quiet lakes (including Bantam Lake, the largest natural lake in the state). Charming, picturesque hamlets and towns dot the area, with steepled Congregational churches rising next to tidy, emerald green town squares. Litchfield, Norfolk, and Salisbury are particular standouts in this regard.
Antique hunters should head for Woodbury (known as Connecticut’s antiquing capital) and its quiet and charming neighbors, Kent and New Preston. In nearby Washington, in the vicinity of the slender 5-mile long Lake Waramaug (“good fishing place”), the elegant 1894 Mayflower Inn is justifiably known as one of New England’s most opulent, with spacious interiors filled to the rafters with English and French antiques (and prices to match). The inn began life as a private boys’ school, and sits on grounds crisscrossed with well-groomed trails and streams. Meals are memorable, romantic, and surprisingly unfussy. Expect the freshest and purest of the area’s bounty: think game, freshwater trout, and the season’s tastiest vegetables, as interpreted by the inn’s expert chef. For dessert there are sweet dreams in four-poster featherbeds with Frette linens, and the promise of tomorrow’s sumptuous breakfast. In an area endowed with many gracious country inns, this one’s the tops.