Things To Do In Litchfield, CT: Top 23 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn
Hiking trail in White Memorial Conservation Center, one of the best things to do in Litchfield, CT

Things to Do in Litchfield CT: Top Spots to Explore Charm and Adventure

spend time browsing the historic homes along the main streets of Litchfield, CT, near the town hall

Locals call Litchfield, Connecticut, “New England’s most beautiful town”. It’s a National Historic Landmark, founded in 1719. And for a century, it was a center for business and law centered on the Litchfield Town Green.

 

Start your visit at the First Congregational Church of Litchfield. It was built in 1791 and rebuilt in 1828. It’s earned the title of the most photographed church in New England. This place has seen countless visitors, including some famous ones. The town was home to Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and her abolitionist brother, Henry Ward Beecher.

 

But Litchfield County is also a place for hiking, biking, walking, and meditating. You can go horse riding or wine tasting. Or, take a drive around the magnificent Litchfield Hills of CT. For generations, it’s been a summer retreat. After all, it boasts stunning scenic views, lakes, waterways, and restaurants.

 

Ready to explore the list of the best things to do in Litchfield, CT? Let’s get into it:

 

Quick hits

  • Embark on a unique adventure as you explore the charming and historic town of Litchfield, CT!
  • Delve into history by visiting top attractions like the 1812 County Jail. Experience award-winning spirits at the local distillery.
  • Engage in a variety of outdoor activities. From horseback riding to birdwatching, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
  • Don’t miss out on the seasonal events and festivals. They add to the excitement of this New England destination.

A Brief History of Litchfield, Connecticut

Litchfield County jail in 1811

The town of Litchfield, Connecticut, was established in 1719. It once served as the county seat of Litchfield County and was the birthplace of the first law school in America.

 

Historical sites abound in this New England town. One such site is the 1812 Litchfield County Jail. It’s the oldest public building in the area. During the American Revolutionary War, it held notable Loyalists captive. These included William Franklin and David Mathews, who was then Mayor of New York City.

 

The birthplace of Ethan Allen, one of the great people born in Litchfield, Connecticut

In 1784, a man named Tapping Reeve established the first law school in the United States right here in Litchfield. The school welcomed over 1,100 students. Among them were Aaron Burr, Jr., Horace Mann, and Levi Woodbury. Woodbury was the first justice of the US Supreme Court to attend law school.

 

A significant milestone in women’s education was also reached in Litchfield around the same time. Sarah Pierce founded the Litchfield Female Academy in 1792.

 

And since then, it’s mostly been a summer retreat and secluded home for celebrities and the wealthy of the Northeast. Though this Northeast weekend getaway destination is not as exclusive as that makes it sound.

 

The Best Things to do in Litchfield, CT

Exploring Litchfield Hills

Litchfield is a cache of historical sites, vineyards, distilleries, and nature reserves. It doesn’t matter if you’re a history buff, a wine aficionado, or a nature enthusiast. Even if you’re just seeking a delightful CT day trip destination, Litchfield has plenty to offer. Explore Litchfield Center or the surrounding Litchfield Hills. Make a visit to the Oliver Wolcott Library.

 

Litchfield Law School and Tapping Reeve House

Tapping Reeve House artifact

Step back in time with a visit to the Litchfield Law School and Tapping Reeve House, the first law school in America. The institution was founded by Tapping Reeve and boasts a history of educating notable figures. These include Aaron Burr Jr., Horace Mann, and Levi Woodbury. This rich history makes it a significant part of America’s past.

 

The school offers interactive exhibits and role-playing activities. These experiences allow visitors to understand what it was like to be a 19th-century law student.

 

First Congregational Church of Litchfield

First Congregational Church of Litchfield, CT

When you’re in Litchfield, the First Congregational Church is a must-see. This architectural gem holds the title as New England’s most photographed church. Its Greek Revival style features simple lines, black shutters, and a white spire. It’s an eye-catching sight on the Town Green.

 

The church’s history is captivating. It was the chosen place of worship for Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher. Both Beechers were influential figures in American literature and social activism. Their father served as the pastor of this church.

 

Litchfield Historical Society

Litchfield Historical Society exhibits

The Litchfield Historical Society is your gateway to the town’s past. Here, you can immerse yourself in the local history through interactive exhibits and a rich source of information about the town’s past.

 

Whether you’re deeply interested in history or just a curious visitor, the Litchfield Historical Society is a must-see during your trip to Litchfield.

 

Haight Brown Vineyard

Haight Brown Vineyard wine grapes on their beautiful vineyard

For wine enthusiasts, a trip to the Haight Brown Vineyard is a must. As Connecticut’s oldest winery, it provides immersive wine tours and a delightful tasting room. And if you are looking for more of the best wineries in CT, head over to Hopkins Vineyard. They offer a selection of wines, from Seyval Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon, reflecting their long-standing wine-making tradition.

 

Litchfield Distillery

If spirits are more to your liking, the Litchfield Distillery offers an exceptional experience. Learn about their crafting process during a guided tour. Then, sample award winning spirits like locally crafted:

  • Bourbon
  • Gin
  • Vodka
  • Whiskey

 

White Memorial Conservation Center

White Memorial Conservation Center

The White Memorial Conservation Center is a haven for nature lovers. Sprawling over 4,000 acres, this nature reserve is home to a diverse range of wildlife. It offers a variety of outdoor activities on the trails, and on Bantam Lake, one of the largest lakes in CT. You can enjoy bird-watching, hiking, fishing, canoeing, camping, and photography. This place is perfect for appreciating serene landscapes or peaceful walks. The White Memorial Conservation Center is a welcome escape from the hustle of city life.

 

Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy

Bantam Lake

The Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy, home to over 60 species of waterfowl, welcomes nature lovers. Here, you can participate in guided tours and learn about their conservation efforts. Plus, you get the chance to observe these magnificent birds up close.

 

Mt Tom State Park

Elevate your appreciation for the outdoors at Mt Tom State Park. With hiking trails, a stone tower, and an array of water activities, this park provides a myriad of fun and adventurous experiences.

 

For a rigorous hike or a relaxing day by the water, this top pick among parks in CT is the perfect destination.

 

Topsmead State Forest

Hiking trail through Topsmead State Forest

Explore the raw beauty of nature at the Topsmead State Forest. This picturesque forest offers:

  • Hiking trails
  • Historic homes
  • Gardens
  • Butterfly garden

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful walk in the woods or a place to enjoy a quiet picnic, Topsmead State Forest is the place to be.

 

Boyd Woods Audubon Sanctuary

Seeking peace and tranquility? The Boyd Woods Audubon Sanctuary is your answer. This serene nature reserve is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. It offers walking trails for a leisurely stroll. For birdwatchers, it provides ample opportunities to spot various species.

 

Lee’s Riding Stables

Horseback riding in Litchfield, Connecticut

For a different kind of outdoor adventure, why not try horseback riding at Lee’s Riding Stables? With horses and experienced guides for riders aged 7 and up, this is a fun and unique way to explore the town’s scenery.

 

Action Wildlife

For a dose of exotic wildlife, make sure to visit Action Wildlife, a drive-through zoo featuring a variety of animals from around the world. From zebras to bison, you’ll get up close and personal with some truly amazing creatures in nearby Goshen, CT.

 

Seasonal Events and Festivals in Litchfield

The charm of Litchfield extends beyond its historical sites and natural attractions. The town is also known for its lively atmosphere, brought to life by various seasonal events and festivals. The Litchfield Jazz Festival fills the air with soulful melodies. It’s a great excuse to head to Litchfield, CT, in July.

 

The Fire & Ice Family Funfest transforms the town into a winter wonderland during this annual CT winter festival. There’s always an exciting event on Litchfield’s calendar.

 

Restaurants in Litchfield, CT

After all your explorations, you’re sure to be hungry. Luckily, Litchfield boasts a variety of restaurants that cater to every taste. From intimate cafes to upscale restaurants, Litchfield’s food scene offers a wide range of delectable choices.

 

The Village Restaurant

One of the local favorites is The Village Restaurant. Having been around since 1977, this restaurant has made a name for itself with its cozy atmosphere and great food.

 

Whether you’re craving American cuisine, seafood, or pasta, The Village Restaurant has got you covered.

 

Arethusa al tavolo

If you’re seeking a more upscale dining experience, consider trying Arethusa al tavolo. This fine-dining restaurant is known for its delicious New American dishes. The ingredients are locally sourced, ensuring freshness and quality. The menu includes everything from cheese and charcuterie plates to pan-roasted scallops and Pekin duck. With such diverse offerings, it’s easy to see why this is on the list of most romantic restaurants in CT.

 

Peaches ‘N Cream

If you’re looking for something sweet, head over to Peaches ‘N Cream. This gourmet ice-cream parlor serves homemade ice cream and sorbets that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

 

Arethusa Farm Dairy

Cow at Arethusa Farm Dairy

Arethusa Farm has an interesting tale to tell. The Webster Family were the original owners, naming the farm after a local variety of orchid. Fast forward to 1999, and George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis acquired the property. They quickly began delivering milk and dairy products to the local area. In 2001, they went a step further and established their own dairy herd. The farm gained recognition, winning the Premiere Holstein Breeder award at the World Dairy Expo from 2009-2013. Then, from 2014-2019, they expanded with a new storefront in New Haven, CT. Today, Arethusa Farm is renowned for its unique ice cream flavors and award-winning dairy products.

 

Directions to Litchfield, CT, from Greenwich, CT

Ready to make the trip to Litchfield? If you’re coming from Greenwich, CT, a straightforward drive along Route 7 through Litchfield will take approximately 1 1/2 hours. It makes for a pleasant day trip from our Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast.

 

Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay in Litchfield, Connecticut

A quiet morning with a cup of coffee on vacation in Litchfield

Or extend your visit! After a day of exploration and dining, rest and recharge at one of Litchfield’s many accommodations. From charming inns to boutique hotels, you’re sure to find the perfect place to stay.

 

The Litchfield Inn

The Litchfield Inn is a great choice for those seeking comfort and convenience. Offering 32 guest rooms and a banquet room, it’s a welcoming place to rest after a busy day of sightseeing.

 

Winvian

If you’re looking for a unique experience, Winvian is the place to stay. This extraordinary accommodation boasts eighteen resort cottages on the most luxurious bed and breakfast farm stay you’ll find.. Each was designed by a different architect, totaling fifteen in all. With its distinctive amenities and atmosphere, Winvian guarantees an unforgettable stay in nearby Morris, Connecticut.

 

More Towns and Cities to Explore Near Litchfield, Connecticut

Covered bridge in Cornwall in the Litchfield Hills region, near Litchfield, CT

If you want to extend your trip, numerous towns and cities in the Litchfield Hills are worthy of exploration.

 

These neighboring areas offer even more unique Connecticut attractions and activities to enjoy.

 

Kent, CT

Main Street in Kent, Connecticut

Kent, CT, has a variety of attractions that are sure to keep you entertained. Visit the Kent Falls State Park, explore the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association, or simply enjoy a scenic bike ride.

 

This cute little New England town is worth a visit anytime of year. That said, October in CT is the most famous time, of course.

 

Norfolk, Connecticut

Norfolk is home to another historical society. As is the case with most Connecticut towns.

Norfolk, Connecticut, is a haven for history lovers. You can visit the Infinity Music Hall and Bistro or explore the Haystack Mountain State Park.

 

If you’re interested in local history, the Norfolk Historical Museum is a must-see on the list of attractions, activities, and things to do in Norfolk, CT.

 

Torrington, CT

Torrington center

Torrington, CT, is another great destination. With its own set of historical sites and outdoor activities, it’s a great place to explore.

 

Don’t miss out on the Warner Theatre or Burr Pond State Park.

 

New Milford, Connecticut

New Milford, along the green in June

Finally, New Milford, Connecticut, is an appealing town with much to offer. From the New Milford Town Green to the Lovers Leap State Park, you’re sure to have a great time exploring all that New Milford has to offer.

 

Tl;dr

Litchfield, Connecticut, is a town that has drawn visitors for centuries. It boasts a rich history, unique festivals, charming boutiques, and a mouthwatering culinary scene around its local farms. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history aficionado, or a food lover, you’ll find something here to captivate you.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is Litchfield CT worth visiting?

Litchfield CT is without question a must-visit destination. Its appeal lies in its rolling hills and serene beauty. Antique shops and art galleries abound for the culture enthusiasts. History lovers will appreciate the historic homes and gardens. For those seeking a tranquil getaway, B&Bs and romantic inns are plentiful.

 

What movie stars live in Litchfield CT?

Litchfield CT has been home to various famous movie stars. These include Dustin Hoffman and Stephen Sondheim. Marilyn Monroe and Denis Leary also resided in this charming town.

 

Why is Litchfield CT famous?

Litchfield CT gained fame for its significant role in the Revolutionary War. It was home to Colonel Tallmadge and Ethan Allen, the leader of the Green Mountain Boys. It was also the birthplace of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the renowned author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Today, Litchfield CT is recognized as a popular resort spot and a hub for agriculture.

 

Where is the fall foliage in Litchfield CT?

For a vibrant fall foliage experience in Litchfield, Connecticut, visit Enders Falls and Tunxis State Forest. These locations are situated on Route 20, near East Hartland and West Granby. Enjoy the stunning views, but remember to be Bear Aware!

 

What is Litchfield CT known for?

Litchfield, Connecticut, is a quaint small-town destination. Its appeal lies in its stunning natural beauty and a variety of outdoor activities. The town is steeped in history, being the birthplace of Ethan Allen, a hero of the American Revolution, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, the renowned author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Apart from its historical importance, Litchfield serves as a popular resort spot. It’s also known for its agriculture, particularly dairy products from the locally famed Arethusa Dairy Farm.

 

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