Clichés tend to tumble out of the mouths of visitors describing this reserved village tucked in Connecticut’s quiet northwest corner. Idyllic. Quaint. Quintessential New England. It’s no wonder. Litchfield, surrounded by rolling countryside, woodlands, wineries, organic farms, preserved parks, and nature sanctuaries, has a handsome village center, with well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century homes encircling a picturesque green. People make their way here for a break from busy lives; chefs, designers, producers, and authors come to avoid being seen. But no matter who you are, there’s no need to give up the good life: You can dine on artisanal, farm-fresh dishes at an A-list bistro, buy a rare, early American antique, and pick up an impossibly soft, new handmade Italian leather jacket.
The sprawling Litchfield Inn (432 Bantam Road, 860-567-4503, www.litchfieldinnct.com, rates start at $199) just got a multimillion-dollar facelift. Thirty-two rooms feature lush linens, flat-screen TVs, and updated baths, while on the grounds gardens and paths ring a peaceful courtyard. Look for the 8,000-square-foot spa, with indoor pool and fitness area, to open later this summer. If money is no object, consider a one-of-a-kind stay at luxurious Winvian (155 Alain White Road, 860-567-9600, www.winvian
.com, $499-$1,650). Located about three miles from the village, this unique resort sits on a 113-acre estate with 18 cottages designed by 15 different architects. For example, the two-story Treehouse cottage sits 32 feet off the ground, with two fireplaces and bird’s-eye views of surrounding woods. The Helicopter has an authentic 1968 Coast Guard helicopter in the middle of the cottage that houses a bar and entertainment center.
Start your day with homemade hash and farm-fresh eggs at come-as-you-are Patty’s (499 Bantam Road, 860-567-3335, from $3.95). In-the-know locals head to longstanding Wood’s Pit BBQ and Mexican Restaurant (123 Bantam Lake Road, 860-567-9869, www.woodspit
bbq.com, entrees $9.95-$20.95) for dry rubbed, slow-smoked ribs and authentic Mexican platters. Wood’s happy hour (Tue-Sat 2-5 p.m.) with dirt-cheap drinks, appetizers, and sandwiches draws a lively crowd. In the mood for something more refined? The airy, earth-toned Bantam Bistro (at the Litchfield Inn, 432 Bantam Road, 860-361-6764, www.
bantambistroct.com, entrees from $14-$35), with a chic, ivory granite bar, large communal table, and cozy side booths, offers farm-to-table, artisanal cuisine with Italian touches. Try the braised chicken ravioli or the pan-seared halibut with roasted radishes and lemon salted chips. The Saltwater Grille (26 Commons Drive, 860-567-4900, www.litchfieldsalt
watergrille.org, most entrees in $24-$29 range), with outdoor patio seating, is a fave for ultra-fresh fish, raw-bar selections, and a smart wine list.
DURING THE DAY
The Norman Rockwell-ish village with its picturesque green, white-steeple church, and historic homes, is a great place to stroll. Browse the small cluster of stores, including upscale Jeffrey Tillou Antiques (39 West St., 860-567-9693, www.tillouantiques.com), specializing in fine American furniture and art from the 18th and 19th century, Kitchen Works (23 West St., 860-567-5011, www.kitchenworksct.com) for gourmet kitchen and glassware, and R. Derwin Clothiers (43 West St., 860-567-4095, www.rderwinclothiers.com) for upscale clothing (think: handmade Italian leather jackets and English tweed blazers). Pick up a bottle of wine at Casa Bacchus (41 West St., 860-567-1117, www.casabacchus.com) and a selection of hand-crafted, locally made cheeses from Arethusa Creamery (822 Bantam Road, 860-361-6600, www.
arethusafarm.com), then head to White Memorial Conservation Center (80 Whitehall Road, 860-567-0857, www.
whitememorialcc.org, free). The 4,000-acre wildlife sanctuary has more than 35 miles of hiking trails, a small nature museum (adults $6, children ages 6-12 $3), and several picnic areas. Even novice paddlers can canoe an easy, 10-mile, downstream stretch of the Housatonic River. Rent canoes from Clarke Outdoors (163 Route 7, West Cornwall, 860-672-6365, www.clarkeoutdoors.com, rentals $52-$56 including shuttle service). There are plenty of scenic drives in this area. Try the Connecticut Wine Trail with stops at the picturesque Haight-Brown Vineyard (29 Chestnut Hill Road, 860-567-4045, www.haightvineyards.com), Sunset Meadow Vineyard (599 Old Middle St., Goshen, 860-201-4654, www.sunsetmeadow
vineyards.com), and Miranda Vineyard (42 Ives Road, Goshen, 860-491-9906, www.
mirandavineyard.com). All are within minutes of Litchfield’s center village, and offer tastings, often paired with meats, cheeses, and chocolates. Garden lovers will not want to miss well-known White Flower Farm (167 Litchfield Road, Morris, 860-567-8789, www.white
flowerfarm.com), with five acres of display gardens.
The Village (25 West St., 860-567-8307, www.village-
litchfield.com) is a friendly hangout with stiff drinks, above-average pub grub, and live entertainment on summer weekends. A younger, slightly grittier crowd goes to Bohemian Pizza and Ditto’s (342 Bantam Road, 860-567-3980), a colorful, ramshackle joint with tasty, thin crust pizzas, local brews, and live music. The historic Warner Theatre (68 Main St., Torrington, 860-489-7180, www.warnertheatre.org), housed in a restored 1931 Art Deco building, is about six miles up the road and offers more than 160 musical and theater performances a year.