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Connecticut Local Secrets 2010

Connecticut Local Secrets 2010
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by in May 2010

Best Outdoor Eating
MITCHELL’S ON THE RIVER, Rocky Hill
There’s no denying the summery pleasure of cheap eats at a breezy seafood shack. A mere stone’s throw from the Connecticut River, this seasonal al fresco joint hosts a laid-back crowd, noshing on fried fish, burgers, and ice cream at picnic tables overlooking the historic Glastonbury/Rocky Hill ferry launch. 273 Meadow Road. 860-529-3332

Best Pierogi
CRACOVIA, New Britain
Looking for Polish home cooking? In a city with a rich Eastern European heritage, this is the real deal: kielbasa, blintzes, and pierogi stuffed with potatoes and cheese; Lomza, Okacim, and other Polish beers are all here, too. 60 Broad St. 860-223-4443

Best Hidden Nature Preserve
STEEP ROCK RESERVATION, Washington
Follow the moderately strenuous Steep Rock Loop to the summit for a glimpse of what locals call the Clam Shell, a dramatic oxbow in the Shepaug River. Parking: River Road (off Route 47). 860-868-9131; steeprockassoc.org

Best Double Feature
PLEASANT VALLEY DRIVE-IN, Barkhamsted
First-run movies are featured at one of the last remaining drive-in theaters in the Nutmeg State. The 1950s-style concession stand is a nostalgic nod to the era when watching movies under the stars was as American a pastime as baseball. 47 River Road (off Route 181). 860-379-6102; pleasantvalleydrivein.com

Best Rookie Paddle
THE BANTAM RIVER, Litchfield
Paddlers love this quietly meandering river and its resident beavers, herons, and songbirds. The lazy stretches of flat water, which spill into the state’s largest natural lake, are gentle enough for a novice. Boat launch: White’s Woods Road. 860-567-0857; whitememorialcc.org

Best Place To Go Nowhere
QUINTESSENTIAL GARDENS AT FORT HILL FARMS, Thompson
The land here has been farmed for more than 300 years. Pick organic blueberries, wander through more than 70 display gardens, or take a class in medicinal herbs. But the highlight is a trio of soul-soothing labyrinths created with more than 1,500 lavender plants. 260 Quaddick Road. 860-923-3439; pickyourownlavender.com

Best Treats
SWEET MARIA’S, Waterbury
The best-loved spot in the city for traditional and delicious Italian confections. The chocolate almond macaroons are worth a drive. 159 Manor Ave. 203-755-3804; sweet-marias.com

Best Simple Pleasure
CHESTER/HADLYME FERRY, Chester
A ferry service has been shuttling passengers back and forth on this pretty stretch of the lower Connecticut River since 1769. Today, the Selden III carries a handful of cars and bicycles on the five-minute journey (cars $3, bikes $1), with views of Gillette Castle and the emerald hills known locally as the Seven Sisters. 148 Ferry Road (off Route 148). 860-443-3856; ct.gov/dot

Best Farmstand
WHIPPOORWILL FARM, Lakeville
Blink and you’ll miss the whimsical sign at Allen and Robin Cockerline’s tidy farmstand. Here you’ll find a selection of cuts of grass-fed beef plus naturally raised pork and chicken, as well as raw honey, fresh eggs, and organic produce. 189 Salmon Kill Road. 860-435-2089; whippoorwillfarmct.com

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