SALISBURY, Conn. — From the stone walls stretching along rolling fields to the gentle pace of life, it’s easy be charmed by this state’s Northwest Corner, a region that lingers in the past.
“What’s not to love here?” says Susan Sweetapple, co-owner of The Falls Village Inn in Falls Village, about eight miles from Salisbury. “It’s beautiful and peaceful. You feel like you’re so far away from everywhere — but so close.”
The inn sits perched on a grassy bank with rocking chairs lining the porch and old-school-style bikes for guests to borrow. Original tin ceilings, claw-foot tubs, and vintage photos in the parlor retain the character of the building, which was used as a stagecoach stop in 1834. However, pillows made from John Robshaw’s block print fabric and Dash and Albert woven rugs blend old and new.
Upstairs the five bedrooms are named for their pastel colors. Neighbor and interior designer Bunny Williams assisted in the Colonial’s remodeling and decorating.
On a mild night guests dine under the blue and white awning on the side porch. Beer flows in the back tap room, with its old photos of the Skip Barber Racing School. Anyone is welcome to stop in for a pint and a Whippoorwill Farm grass-fed burger — even hikers right off the Appalachian Trail, which is just steps from the front door.
Spend a little time in the village of Salisbury, grabbing a chocolate croissant at Salisbury Breads or a sandwich at the Country Bistro and one thing is quickly apparent — everyone around here knows everyone. It’s hard not to in a town that rallies around a 65-meter ski jump. Several years ago a steel version replaced the wooden one built in 1926.
“What’s cool about the region is that you see thru-hikers doing the Georgia to Maine route, weekenders, and casual hikers,” says Pete Feen, co-owner of Peter Becks Village Store. Along with a selection of outdoor and casual wear, the shop offers free Saturday morning hikes to the public.
Lion’s Head, off a juncture in the trail, is a short hike that provides spectacular views of farmland, the rolling Litchfield Hills, and the Twin Lakes. Look north to see Bear Mountain, a great day hike that ascends to 2,316 feet, the highest peak in Connecticut.
On Sunday, Oct. 13, a crowd will gather at Satre Hill for the fourth annual Brew-Ski Fest, featuring over 100 craft beers from more than 20 breweries, including Berkshire Brewing Co., Charter Oak, and Otter Creek. In February jumpers including Junior Olympic hopefuls will compete here in the Eastern US Ski Jumping Championships, during the 88th Jumpfest Weekend.
Up the road in Lakeville — a village of Salisbury — an old barn houses the interior design shop Nest, which features colorful and refreshed pieces. “We have a passion for the chase,” says Mary Harvey, who along with friends Lisa Foster and Ellen Hubbard, scours estate sales and auctions for one-of-a-kind items.
Farther up the hill, sailboats and sunfish glide along Lake Wononscopomuc.
Through October anyone can swing by the Town Grove to rent canoes and paddleboats. Close by, the Housatonic River is a huge draw for fly-fishermen and kayakers. Clarke Outdoors in West Cornwall is the go-to spot to rent kayaks for a six- or 10-mile paddle down a stretch of moving flatwater and easy white water.
Following the Housatonic, narrow Route 7 carves through woods, intersecting with the town of Kent.
Along Main Street, discover “Roots on 7,” an installation of Steve Tobin’s Steelroots sculpture series by the Morrison Gallery. The lofty barnlike space will exhibit works of geometric abstraction by Don Gummer and George Wardlaw through Nov. 17.
“I can’t tell you how many people walk in here and take a deep breath,” says Robin Dill-Herde of House of Books, another fun place in Kent. “It feeds your soul.” Old wood floors and a shelf dedicated to independent bookstore bestsellers are as special as a misty jaunt up the nearby Kent Falls Trail that runs alongside the cascading water.
For true relaxation grab a drink on the flagstone terrace of the Hopkins Inn overlooking picturesque Lake Waramaug. It offers Austrian cuisine, simple accommodations, and quick access to unique shops in the village of New Preston such as Privet House and J. Seitz & Co.
Another prime cocktail spot is the veranda of the ultra-luxurious Mayflower Inn & Spa.
When night falls, find casual fare in a cozy atmosphere at the George Washington Tavern or enjoy the modern farmhouse vibe and locally sourced, seasonal dishes at Community Table.
Lakeville offers casual yet upscale dining options at Pastorale or The Woodland.
For a big night out drive 15 miles to Infinity Hall in Norfolk where headliners such as Martin Sexton and Keller Williams perform on the historic building’s original proscenium stage.
An unexpected discovery around every bend is what the Northwest Corner is all about.