The beauty of a day trip is its simplicity. There’s no need to find a dog sitter, ask a neighbor to pick up your mail, or book a flight. If you can manage a little time off from work and have some disposable income — a few bucks, not a special savings account set aside for a dream vacation — then it’s doable. If it rains, you can just go on another day.
This town to the north of Hartford is especially accessible for Hartford residents because its proximity means that a car is not the only way to get there: on foot, by bike or train, on bus, or in a boat (if you know someone with a boat).
Our preferred trip goes something like this: pack up a picnic and head out on bicycles, meandering through Keney Park. Given the choice between taking the highway and riding through a wooded area with horses, always pick the latter. Watch people play cricket. Keney Park is large, and with part of it in Windsor, this will take you where you need to go. Exit Keney Park onto Windsor Avenue. Here, you take a right, then a quick left onto Meadow Road. You can ride along past some stables, and when the road fizzles out, you get on a paved cyclist/pedestrian path which connects to Windsor Meadows State Park. There are a few picnic tables and Connecticut River viewing areas along the way; in the park itself, there are more tables, grills, and a boat launch. This particular park has 155 acres and a bike/pedestrian path that crosses the Bissell Bridge. (If you want a much longer excursion, go that way, take some back roads in South Windsor and Manchester, and you can hook into Wickham Park and all the paths out that way.)
Continuing north — you’ll need to take your bike out onto the road eventually if you want to keep riding on a paved surface — in Windsor will get you to the town green/center. If you feel like riding or walking some more, the Windsor Center River Trail is a short one-mile loop, partially adjacent to the Farmington River. If you want to hear frogs croaking, go here. The preservation of nature so close to a town center does not seem to be the norm in Connecticut, but they’re doing it in Windsor.
Find a place to lock up the bike and explore the town center. By explore, I mean find food because you probably depleted your picnic rations before exiting Keney Park. (If you were silly and drove, there is a load of parking in the town center, so ignore the haters on Yelp who have trouble following the well-marked “public parking” signage.) Those looking for just a snack might want to check out Get Baked, a bakery with vegan and gluten-free items, along with bean & leaf coffee.
Also in this area is the Windsor Art Center on Mechanic Street, right next to the train tracks. The next exhibit opens on July 13th. It features street art, including graffiti, and highlights artists: Lindaluz Carrillo, Mike Cerullo, Justin Farr, Rachael Hockenberry, Ben Oliver, Armando Rivera, Smile, and Barbara Steele. During the run, there will be dance performances and a graffiti demonstration.
The town green is worth a quick look while you are nearby. There are the obligatory patriotic monuments and a cool fountain, picnic tables and benches, and a functioning drinking fountain. Something a little strange: Windsor has orange flags provided for pedestrians to carry when they cross the street. From a cyclist/pedestrian advocacy standpoint, one wonders why lower speed limits or speed bumps were not installed instead, but regardless, if you want more visibility, you can borrow some of it at the town green.
If you rode here, you might not feel like traveling any further, but another option is to continue to the northwest corner of town to the appropriately named Northwest Park. In its 473 acres you’ll find nature trails, an operational maple sugar house, reservoir, nature center, and the Luddy/Taylor Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum. (If you live in Connecticut or use tobacco products, you really ought to know how tobacco is grown and harvested.)
In September a country fair will be held in the park. In the winter, they rent cross-country skis and snowshoes, but if you have your own gear, can just go ahead and ski or snowshoe for free.
Other Windsor attractions include a skatepark, Vintage Radio and Communications Museum, the Chaffee House, the Strong-Howard House, the Oliver Ellsworth Homestead, and the Mercy Gallery. There’s an annual Shad Derby.
See more Windsor pics.