Connecticut’s Best Backyard Bucket List

This article, written by Michelle Falcone of Easton, new secretary on the Executive Committee for the Western Connecticut Tourism District (WCTD), is the final article in a three-part spring day trip series. It provides a behind-the-scenes look on how local tourism is not only surviving, but many times thriving, during the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of travel all over the world and limited wanderlust in many ways. The good news: Road trips are on the rise. According to The Travel Industry Turned Upside Down, published in September 2020 by Skift Research, “’Drive-to’ will ‘propel recovery.’ 

“Among Americans polled in Skift Research’s July travel tracker, 67% said their first trip since the beginning of the pandemic would be by car, a figure that has been consistent since April.”

Personally, I am part of the statistic. I couldn’t wait to get back en route to my favorite day trip destinations. My bucket list for 2021 is a continuation of last year’s—enjoying the hospitality, creativity and generosity of Connecticut’s finest innkeepers, chefs, farmers, artists, historians, and the natural beauty that surrounds them all in Western Connecticut. 

Coastlines, cities or countrysides — even in light of so many changes — it’s impossible to deny the appeal of the picture-perfect scenes in the state. Awe is contagious. Over many years, I have visited numerous artist studios and have seen how the four-season faces of the Nutmeg State inspire an array of seascapes, landscape and floral vistas. I wish I possessed a sprawling museum space to enable me to bring every single painting and artwork home!

Of course, our state’s charm has inspired generations of artists. For example, the Cos Cob Art Colony formed about 1890 and lasted until 1920. Members were leading American Impressionist artists who gathered in the summer months in and around the Cos Cob section of Greenwich. They painted, discussed art, taught and, in essence, played a major role in the development of American art. 

Their legacy that influenced the country lives at places like Bush-Holley House, which is on the top of my bucket list this year. The distinct saltbox, known as the Holley House, is where many of the colony artists were temporary boarders.

While in the neighborhood, I plan to tick off another bucket list item: the Greenwich Art Society. An off-shoot of the Cos Cob Art Colony, the organization’s mission is “To enhance our legacy of personalized visual arts education, outstanding art exhibitions, and children’s community outreach.”

Art-related jaunts are not the only ones on my 2021 bucket list. I have a slew of antiques shops and wineries, many of which are open all year round, to visit. Inns are also a big bucket list item. My favorite inns are the ones steeped in history with creaky floorboards, wood burning fireplaces in guest rooms and gathering spaces, cozy nooks stocked with old-fashioned board games and innkeepers who welcome you as guests into their homes.

I look forward to the pleasure of overnight stays on my own, to rest and be pampered, and to the many possible reunions with family and friends to reconnect in a relaxed setting. 

Even before I arrive at my destination, my body warms as I imagine myself in front of a crackling fireplace, enjoying the day’s homemade treats. Just thinking of a hearty, farm-to-table dinner menu fills my stomach and nourishes my soul after a day filled with just enough activity — a brisk hike, a cooking or pastry-making lesson or possibly a mixology class. Whatever the day entails, I will look forward to the hospitality waiting for me when I return. 

To help you plan the perfect spring day trip, discover dining, lodging, attraction and event updates, and so much more, on Western Connecticut’s regional tourism website, https://www.ctvisit.com/listings/western-regional-tourism-district.

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