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A Tank Away

Stepping back in time in Wethersfield, Conn.

The Silas W. Robbins House is a grand, Second Empire-style Victorian house with five rooms for guests.

Pamela Wright

The Silas W. Robbins House is a grand, Second Empire-style Victorian house with five rooms for guests.

Wethersfield has its share of fast-food joints, strip malls, and sprawl. But venture a few blocks off its busy thoroughfares and you’re in an entirely different world. The leafy, step-back-in-time
Old Wethersfield neighborhood, the first permanent settlement in Connecticut, is also the largest historic district in the state, filled with 18th- and 19th-century homes. Main Street is a beauty, lined with stately 100-year-old trees, small museums, and lovely pocket gardens, ending at the shores of pretty Wethersfield Cove. And — yes — George Washington really did sleep here.

STAY

The magnificently restored Silas W. Robbins House (185 Broad St., 860-571-8733, www.silaswrobbins.com, $195-$325) is a grand, Second Empire-style Victorian house, surrounded by 2 acres of landscaped lawns and gardens. Five spacious rooms are individually appointed with luscious fabrics, quality antiques, and private baths. Guests can also hang out on the front porch or in the elegant parlor room, with a fireplace, decorative moldings, and fine woodwork. The circa 1830 Chester Bulkley House B&B
(184 Main St., 860-563-4236, www.chesterbulkleyhouse.com, $105-$165) is a finely renovated brick Greek Revival house, with tons of charm. The five rooms, three with private baths and two with a shared bath, are filled with floral fabrics, fancy woodwork, and period antiques. If you’re looking for cheaper digs, consider the value-packed Motel 6 (1341 Silas Deane Highway, 860-563-5900, www.motel6
.com, rates as low as $50), a few minutes’ drive from historic Old Wethersfield. The rooms have all been updated with bright colors and modern baths.

DINE

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Lucky Lou’s Bar and Grill (222 Main St., 860-257-0700, www.luckylousbarandgrill.com, entrees $14-$24) is the fanciest place in town. It’s housed in a historic Colonial building with intimate dining rooms and a large outdoor terrace. The menu is extensive, including casual fare like burgers, BBQ pork burritos, lobster sliders, and clam strips, and larger entrees, like the seafood pesto served over pappardelle and a tasty chicken parmigiana with gooey, smoked mozzarella. Aroma Bistro (227 Main St., 860-436-5772, breakfast $2.25-$7.95, lunch $8.45-
$12.95) is a local hangout for breakfast and lunch known for its array of breakfast sandwiches (we like the Pot of Gold with Irish bangers, caramelized onions, egg, and gouda cheese) and hefty burgers (try the Hanover with sautéed peppers and onions, fried egg, bacon, and cheddar cheese). The tiny Cove Deli (285 Main St., 860-721-1200, $9.50-$10.99) serves homemade soups and freshly made sandwiches, including a tasty chicken salad with cranberries and almonds and the grilled chicken with salsa, avocado, and cilantro-lime mayo in a tomato-basil wrap. Locally owned Village Pizza (223 Main St., 860-563-1513, www.villagepizzau.com, gourmet pizzas $12.50-$21) has been around for 30 years and still attracts a loyal crowd who crave their traditional Greek-style, thin-crust, and whole-wheat pizzas. For ice cream, go to Main Street Creamery (271 Main St., 860-529-0509, www.mainstreetcreamery.com).

Pamela Wright

The Wethersfield Museum at the Keeney Memorial Cultural Center has artifacts and exhibits on the town’s history.

DURING THE DAY

Stop by the Wethersfield Museum at the Keeney Memorial Cultural Center (200
Main St., 860-529-7656, www.wethhist.org, $5) to learn about the town’s history as a one-time bustling port and center for the New England seed industry. Even kids will enjoy some of the hands-on exhibits, like braiding a rope of onions and finding hidden objects (pick up the children’s guide to the museum when you enter). Consider purchasing the Stone and the Spirit booklet ($5) in the museum gift shop, an interesting guide to the Ancient Burying Ground, located behind the historic First Church of Christ Congregational, in the center of town. The oldest marker dates back to 1648. The Webb Deane Stevens Museum features three side-by-side historic houses (211 Main St., 860-529-0612, www.webb-deane-stevens.org, $10 adults, $5 ages 5-18). At the 1752 Joseph Webb House, you can see the bedroom where George Washington stayed for five days while he met with General Rochambeau to plan the Revolutionary War battle at Yorktown. The home also features an impressive collection of Wallace Nutting’s colorized photos and wall murals. The circa 1770 Silas Deane House and the recently restored Isaac Stevens House have period furnishings and Colonial artifacts. Pop into Comstock, Ferre & Co. (263 Main St., 860-571-6590, www.rareseeds.com), one of the oldest seed companies in the country. The big barn structure has a small collection of old farming and planting equipment, gardening gifts and supplies, and a huge selection of heirloom seeds for sale. Even in winter, the Broad Street Green is a wonderful place to stroll. The onetime livestock grazing area is now home to dozens of towering elms, oaks, and sycamores, and an eye-catching 1836 copper beech. There are a handful of local shops to check out. Neill Walsh Goldsmiths & Gallery (125 Main St., 860-721-9256, www.neillwalsh.com),
located in a historic 1790 house, has handcrafted gold and silver jewelry. Antiques on Main (165-167 Main St., 860-721-0663) has a mishmash of antiques and collectibles. Heart of the Country (169 Main St., 860-257-
0366, www.heartofthecountry
online.com) features a small collection of works by local artists, and small gift items, like Vera Bradley bags and Stonewall Kitchen products.

AFTER DARK

There’s not much happening in this quiet little section of town. Locals head to the Old Town Café (187 Main St., 860-529-4196) for late night beers, burgers, and a game of pool. For more action, get outside of the historic district to find franchise sports bars, like the raucous Tilted Kilt (1151 Silas Deane Highway, 860-257-8458; www.tilted
kilt.com), with big screen TVs and more than 30 draft and bottled beers.

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@gmail.com.
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