Beyond Hartford: Old Wethersfield

found at Antiques on Main

Not as adventurous as heading to Providence or Mystic, but much easier to get to and still enjoyable. A local bus will take you here if it’s too far to walk or bike. But proximity to Hartford is not the reason this place is being suggested. It’s surprisingly peaceful when compared to Hartford or even other parts of Wethersfield, like the Silas Deane Highway corridor. Much of that quiet is thanks to the buffer created by both the Wethersfield Cove and Folly Brook Natural Area, land that contains trees at-risk of being cut down to accommodate a small airport in Hartford.

For the average person, a few hours in Old Wethersfield ought to do it, but I can see a history buff spending a weekend here. Historical sites and plaques are everywhere! There are museum tours to be had, but if you are like me, you’d rather move at your own pace and go the self-guided route. The Wethersfield Heritage Tour is just that — a three-mile walk with 22 interpretive markers. (more…)

Beyond Hartford: Providence

You probably don’t remember the Beyond Hartford series because the last one of these happened in 2013. Beyond Hartford provides some day trip options for people on a budget. We will be bringing back this series, sporadically. If you have suggestions for places to check out within 200 miles, send an email.

Elsewhere, I’ve written about how it may not be easy to get to Providence from Hartford, but once you’re there, it’s fairly accessible without a car. A trip automatically becomes more enjoyable when getting from place-to-place is not a pain in the ass. This fits the bill. It’s a place where you can do research and plan everything out, or just show up and wander, finding treasures without direction or intention. (more…)

Beyond Hartford: Windsor

“The Streets Is Talkin’ exhibit will be at the Windsor Art Center from July 13-August 24, 2013. This truck serves as an advertisement for it.

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). (more…)

Beyond Hartford: Willimantic +2

Becoming engaged in the community means finding it nearly impossible to imagine living anywhere else. Willimantic is the one place that emerges as a substitute in the event of us being chased out of town. Just as there are people we meet whose lives impact us deeply, there are places we have lived that do the same. Willimantic is one of them.

Willimantic, located 28 miles from Hartford, is a section of Windham. When people in that area want to disassociate themselves with the little city, they make it clear that they live in Windham, which is spoken with a certain tone of voice, like when people around here want it known they are not from Elmwood.

Already feels like home.

Willimantic has been called the “Thread City” because of its onetime booming textile industry. Like many industrial towns, it has since collapsed. This does not, however, mean that only ruins remain. The city evolves constantly. Besides major industry, there have been changes in the smaller employers and ventures. In the late 90’s they had a local currency, Thread City Bread. (more…)

Beyond Hartford: Book Barn +3

People rave about a lot of things, most of which seem overrated like American Idol, coconut milk ice cream, and low carb diets. A strategy employed here is to play the waiting game, which works well with our slow-to-warm-up temperament.

It has taken years of glowing reviews to get us down to the Book Barn in Niantic. Checking out their website might have kicked us into action sooner, as they announce that although the Book Barn “maintains a ‘web presence‘, [they] view the Barn as a traditional brick-and-mortar (or cats-and-sheds) shop and as such do not participate in this new-fangled ‘e-commerce‘.” For all the cute kittens on the Internet, none are as perfect as those you can actually pet and get scratched by in return. They (the people, not the cats) provide free coffee, meaning it is possible to combine three of the best things ever: browsing affordable used books, drinking coffee, and having fanged beasts throwing themselves into your path. (more…)