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Summer Destination Spots Around Hartford

Summer is here, and we are all looking for those fun spots to put on our Summer bucket list. From eating farm-to-table to soaking up the shoreline, we compiled a list of our favorites around the Greater Hartford area for you to try out this summer.

Wonder Around the Farm in Litchfield

The drive alone into the Litchfield Hills is worth the trip, but enter the town of Litchfield and it starts feeling like something straight out of a movie.

Walk around the adorable shops in the center and grab coffee at any of their unique cafes. Then drive over to Arethusa Farm and meet the award-winning cows that produce some of the most amazing dairy products.

After making some moo friends head over to ‘Arethusa a mono’ for a delicious farm-to-plate lunch. Finish off the trip by going across the street to Arethusa Farm Dairy for a (massive) scoop of their ice cream made by the cows you just met!

What you need to know for your visit:

  • Bring a cooler so you can bring back fresh dairy products and veggies from the farm stand!
  • You’ll want to wear sneakers or comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking around the farm, and hand wipes for after you touch the animals.
  • The Farm is ONLY open on Saturday from 12:30-2:30PM so plan accordingly!
  • Parking is best behind the farm store (parking on the ‘a mono’ side fills up very quickly).

Spend the Day at Chamard Vineyards

Whether hitting the beach or the outlets, the shoreline town of Clinton has a little bit to offer for everyone. But it’s the town’s farm-to-table French American dining and vineyard, Chamard, that really has made this town a destination.

For $10 a person, you can enjoy a selection of their heritage wines. And, you can finish off your day enjoying lunch in their bistro or walking through the winery’s scenic property and sunflower fields.

What you need to know for your visit:

  • Chamard offers live music every Friday (5:30-8:30 PM) and Saturday (4:00-7:00 PM) in the tasting room, so try to shoot for these times if you can!
  • Reservations for dining are recommended.
  • If you’re planning on spending the day here, consider getting a DD or splitting an uber with friends so you can really enjoy yourself (and all of the delicious wines!)

Explore Beautiful East Haddam

Historic East Haddam (only about 40 minutes from Hartford) is a beautiful town with plenty to explore on a lazy summer day. We recommend visiting Gillette Castle to explore the beautiful grounds with views of the river and doing the walkthrough of the historic castle.

From there hop over to Good Speed Opera House where you can lounge or picnic on the beautiful river banks, or have lunch at the vintage upscale Gelston house either indoors or on the outdoor porch where you can dine with views of the iconic East Haddam Swing Bridge. A short walk down the street will bring you to the Hillside Sweet Shoppe for dessert.

If you want to continue with libations head across the street to La Vita with an outdoor patio, refreshing and unique summer cocktails, and live music or book tickets for a musical at the Goodspeed Opera House. There is plenty to do in this scenic area, and we promise a relaxing summer vibe.

What you need to know for your visit:

  • Dress comfortable for a day of jumping around to the different historic areas, but if you plan to visit Gelston House indoor dining or Good Speed Opera House show you will want to bring a more appropriate dress.
  • Have a plan – there are plenty of other great things to do here such as hiking in Devil’s Hopyard State Park, kayaking the Connecticut River, or visit Ray of Light farm for rescued animals, so do your research!

Hide Away at The Blue Oar

The Blue Oar is a hidden oasis, nestled between the trees and Connecticut Riverfront, offering unique food and ambiance. Available by boat or car, the Blue Oar offers brightly colored seating, fresh dishes and the faint sounds of Bob Marley, which really sets the mood for a perfect summer afternoon. It’s a great little place to stop before (or, after) a trip to the historic Gillette Castle.

Photo cred: The New York Times

What you need to know for your visit:

  • The Blue Oar is a cash-only and BYOB establishment, so come prepared with cash, and your own craft beers and/or bottles of wine.
  • Along with booze, you can also bring your own tablecloths, silverware, glassware, centerpieces and more to customize your whole dining experience – perfect for a get-together or a super romantic date.
  • The Blue Oar is only open during the summer months from 5 AM to 11 PM most days.
Photo cred: The New Haven Register

Eat at Goats n Roses

This self-proclaimed “Edgy Eatery” is one of our favorite outdoor restaurants, only open in the summer. With a farm to table dining experience, the food alone is amazing enough to make the list, but its incredible atmosphere is truly the magical part.

Goats n Roses is located directly on Carter Hill Farm in Marlborough, CT. On the property, there is a cozy country inn, farm animals (with goats as the main attraction), an antique styled general store with an ice cream shop, and beautiful vintage decor and event barns.

Goats N' Roses

What you need to know for your visit:

  • Get yourself on the waitlist ahead of time (they are always fully booked, as it is popular but a very intimate setting).
  • Go hungry, because there is going to be a lot you will want to, and should, try.
  • Definitely take some time to wander around to view all of the cute details around the property.
  • Alcoholic drinks can’t be purchased at the restaurant tables, BUT just walk right into the inn’s tavern to purchase drinks at the bar. The tavern also has its own back patio with a limited food menu.
  • Goats n Roses is cash only, so bring cash! There is an ATM inside the inn, but better safe than sorry.

Drink at Fat Orange Cat Brewery

This intimate seasonal farm brewery makes for a perfect Saturday or Sunday outing this summer. The brewery specializes in high quality, small batch recipes and offers tastings, cans, growlers and growler refills on the property.

In addition to a tasting bar in the barn, they encourage guests to spread a blanket or find a table on their farm where you can drink their beer in the laid-back atmosphere.

fat orange cat brewery

What you need to know for your visit:

  • $5 will get you the tasting experience – go to the tasting bar to pay and get your take home glass and 4 tokens that you can redeem for your 4 good size tastings.
  • Check out the beer menu here.
  • Bring a blanket or folding chairs in case the many seating options are taken.
  • Don’t forget a picnic basket filled with tasty treats to snack on while you sample beers.
  • The brewery is dog-friendly so feel free to bring your furry friend along.
  • It is also family friendly, with many parents bringing along kids who enjoy petting the farm animals and exploring the property.