The Thimble Islands, Connecticut

I've had a wonderful six week run of staying in the tri-state area until last week's trip to Canada. It's given me the chance to explore Long Island, upstate New York, and Connecticut on the weekends and visit old favorites while discovering new places. The Thimble Islands are totally under-the-radar but make for a great afternoon, with three different boats doing 45 min-1 hr narrated tours of the 23 islands within a three-mile radius. You don't get off on the islands, because they're privately owned. I kept imagining a really wonderful, luxurious B&B on one of them!
Many of the islands have just one Victorian-style home on them, and it feels like you're taken back 150 years. Our guide was full of fun tidbits, like Tom Thumb came to one of the islands to court another little person and circus performer, Miss Emily. And President William Howard Taft made the Thimble Islands his summer White House for a short time.
All three of the boats leave from Branford, CT and if you just show up, one is likely to leave within 15-20 minutes of your getting there. We went on Captain Bob's Thimble Island Cruise.

Where the boats leave in BranfordMy aunt lives in Fairfield, CT so on the way to Branford, we stopped in nearby Guilford for a Connecticut-style lobster roll (butter and no mayo) at Guilford Lobster Pound. Perfect summer day!

Mystic, Connecticut

I remember visiting Mystic Seaport a lot with my aunt when I was little.  On our way to Rhode Island last week, we stopped in Mystic for lunch.  It was one of those windy, cold, rainy New England days which was perfect for a pre-Thanksgiving Day lunch.  Connecticut has no shortage of perfect little towns, and Mystic is definitely one of them. 

We had lunch at S&P Oyster Co., the best place in Mystic for water & town views.  The hostess gave us her favorite "cuddling" table. Of course, we had to stop to see Mystic Pizza, the same one from the movie that launched Julia Roberts' career.

Mystic PizzaS&P Oyster Co.--the interior & our "cuddling table" viewS&P Oyster Co.The river going through MysticMain street running through town Kitchen Little, famous in Mystic, but better for summer days

Connecticut Fall Getaway: Lyman Orchards

After our morning of exploring Madison and Guilford, we headed out to Lyman Orchards.  I've been here many times, because it has the best applesauce I've ever had. I can't buy it anywhere else because I'm so spoiled by it so I always stock up and then lug back jars of it on the train. Their no-sugar applesauce is the best-the sugar added kind is too sweet.  They have a great selection of produce and always do these amazing cider doughnut holes in the fall. 

We went to pick apples and found a pretty rockin' fall festival.  There was a corn maze, pony rides, hot apple cider, pumpkin patches, and kettle corn being popped, which was so good and not too sweet.  I stocked up on my six jars of applesauce, the most we could carry back with all the other loot. 

 

Connecticut Fall Getaway: Madison & Guilford

Happy Halloween!  I hope you have a fun day planned whether you're dressing up or just passing out candy. I'm flying back to the city from Santa Fe today and think we'll be able to make a friend's housewarming party.

I go and see my awesome aunt in Fairfield, Connecticut pretty regularly. She was instrumental in helping me move to New York City.  I love going out there-we've done many days of Connecticut exploration, including the Mark Twain museum in Hartford, Westport, and Pepe's Pizza in New Haven. 

Last weekend, we planned a perfect fall getaway exploring the tiny towns of Madison & Guilford.  The weather gods were on our side, and we had amazing sunny but cold air. 

I always get off the train in Fairfield and our first stop is normally Las Vetas Lounge for coffee. Before I moved to the city and stayed with my aunt, I spent many hours here studying and writing. I always get a small cappuccino to go. 

Las Vetas Lounge, Fairfield, CT Next up, we headed out to Madison, CT because I wanted to see the famous R.J. Julia bookstore. I had heard about it before but then I read this article, where Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) says it is really special. Even more reason to go! 

R.J. Julia Bookstore, Madison, CT

The bookstore is phenomenal, like a slice of Americana that you don't think can exist anymore.  It's on an adorable Connecticut main street, with great shops and restaurants. I could spend hours there browsing, and ended up buying The Silver Palate Cookbook. So many of the books had detailed explanations from staff members of why they recommend it, and I wanted to read all of them.  We ended up eating lunch in the great R.J. Julia cafe before moving on.

Just finished this book & loved seeing another person's thoughtsR.J. Julia Bookstore Cafe

After Madison, we drove to Guilford.  I am a huge Gilmore Girls fan and have been to Washington Depot, CT a few years ago, which is the town the creators say inspired the show's setting.  Guilford is a thousand times better and literally could have been a movie set. The perfect town square, restaurants, a candy shop, library, post office, churches...I fell in love.  Which reminds me I need to research a good B&B to stay at if we need a quiet weekend away. 

In the next post, we head to Lyman Orchards for apple picking, pumpkin patches and kettle corn!