Not planning to go anywhere for Thanksgiving break? Never been anywhere in New England besides New Haven and New York? Here are my suggestions for some cute New England towns you can visit for a day or two over the upcoming break.
This town of 656 people (pronounced kwee-chee: The town is as fun as saying the name of it is.) is famed for being the headquarters of the glass company Simon Pearce. The company has a beautiful complex there. It includes a delicious restaurant, where I had a wonderful autumn-themed meal when I visited in October. The restaurant is situated on the Quechee Gorge. The company utilizes the rushing water to hydroelectrically power its entire operation, and sells off leftover energy to power the rest of the town (I don’t really understand how that works at all — and I may have failed the electricity unit of high school physics — but it sure is pretty). There’s also a small art gallery that shows off local pottery and paintings. Even more exciting is the glass-blowing studio in the basement, where you can watch people make glasses and vases. There’s something wonderfully contradictory about watching the technicians use roaring fires and big metal rods to produce beautiful, delicate glass pieces. It’s also right next to Dartmouth College if you need to make a stop and remind yourself to be grateful that you don’t go to school at middle-of-nowhere Dartmouth.
This is easily accessible by train. The main street of Westport is probably the closest place to New Haven (about an hour closer than New York) with a variety of shops and great restaurants (not just Junzi for the third night in a row). I love Rive Bistro, which is situated on the waterfront, and has everything from classics such as oysters to farro and kale salads. Head to the main street for stores at a variety of price points, and which range from retail chains such as Theory to local businesses. The Anthropologie store is in a gorgeous locale converted from a community swimming pool (the bottom floor is even somewhat aquatic-themed). There are also some wonderful shows at the Westport Playhouse.
New Preston, Connecticut
This is a town straight out of Gilmore Girls. It’s full of picturesque buildings and trees just starting to lose their orange leaves. Your first stop should be Nine Main Bakery — a delicious place for breakfast or lunch in the heart of the town. Last time I went, pastries were half-off because it was after 3 p.m. (but they were still amazingly delicious and quite fresh). J Seitz is a really cool store ranging with deliciously soft sweaters and blankets that scream winter in New England. You can also poke in at Averill Farm, a 10th-generation family farm offering fall fruits and other delicious nibbles.
New Haven, Connecticut
If you are stuck in this town because you can’t drive (I’m right there with you) or you’re too lazy to venture far away, use this time to take advantage of some of the things you can do right here that are just a little too far away for you to normally go to. Check out Fussy Coffee, just a little bit of a walk past Benjamin Franklin College for inventive drinks and delicious brunch. Take a long walk to the Divinity School, arguably the most beautiful spot on campus. It takes about half an hour, but then it’s beautiful and secluded, and a good spot to get some reading done. Or take advantage of one of the many art studios in the basements of each college, such as Branford’s pottery studio (just make sure you have a Branfordian to swipe you in).
Claire Kalikman | firstname.lastname@example.org .