Winter can be rough in Connecticut, but there are many ways to enjoy the colder months here in the Nutmeg state. Skiing and ice skating are traditional activities this time of year, but how about bald eagle watching or maple sugaring for something a little bit different? We’ve combined all of these activities to create the perfect weekend winter road trip with a few pit stops for some incredible food along the way. Let’s get started!
Here is your winter road trip route.
The trip we've planned takes two day with an overnight stay, but you can make it longer or shorter if you wish. You will experience some wonderful winter attractions and restaurants along the way. The starting point for this weekend trip is Farmington, but the map is totally customizable.
Day 1 - Farmington, Plantsville, Southbury
Starting at Winding Trails in Farmington, you can enjoy 350 acres of woodland with brooks, ponds and open fields. Some activities to be enjoyed here include tubing hills and ice skating on the eight acre Walton Pond. There is a quaint lodge available with a toasty fire and snack bar.
The main attraction at Winding Trails is the cross country skiing. With over 20 kilometers of groomed trails there is something for ever level of skier from beginner to expert. Don't have cross country skis? No worries, Winding Trails offers equipment for rental.
After spending some time at Winding Trails, you will be sure to have worked up an appetite and we've picked out the perfect brunch spot right down the road. Butchers & Bakers serves a hearty brunch on the weekends from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm. The restaurant has twin coal fired ovens that produce some soul-satisfying dishes. Alongside flavorful omelettes and mouth-watering biscuits and gravy, you will also find some pretty enticing pizzas.
Travel just 17 minutes south on route 84 and you will arrive at Mount Southington. This ski area opened in 1964 and was formerly a dairy farm. 53 years later it is still a great place to catch some downhill ski action on trails like Thunderbolt or Boomerang.
There are quite a few trails to choose from at Mount Southington from beginner to expert. Lessons are offered as well if this is your first time hitting the slopes. You can take a break in either the Mountain Room or Red Barn Cafeteria.
After all this exercise you are sure to be ready for a relaxing dinner. Just 5 minutes down the road, you will find Tavern 42, a spot that is known for its burgers, brew and bbq. There is an extensive selection of burgers and sandwiches at Tavern 42, but we love the cast iron skillet mac and cheese. They even have a daily changing mac and cheese special and you will not want to miss the opportunity to try this out.
Next jump back onto route 84 and just 31 minutes away is a spectacular bed and breakfast picked out for your overnight stay. The Evergreen Inn is located in picturesque Southbury and has all the comforts you will need after a busy day of skiing. Built in 1818, this inn has a charming history with all of the modern updates needed for a relaxing experience. The beds are luxurious and the fireplace always warm at The Evergreen Inn.
Day 2 - Southbury, Bridgeport, Stamford
To get your second day off to a remarkable start, let the inn keepers at The Evergreen Inn spoil you with a scrumptious breakfast. Using local sourced ingredients, their food is fresh and picture perfect on the plate and it will definitely fortify you for today's adventure.
Next you are in for a real delight on this winter road trip. Just 15 minutes down the road is the Shepaug Dam Bald Eagle Observation Area. You will be treated to views of this majestic bird that is a symbol of our country.
The bald eagle is an endangered species in Connecticut, but they migrate through the area and stay for just a few short months during the winter. You can see them soar through the sky above and will feel awe-struck at their natural beauty.
After you get your fill of bird watching, jump on the road and start heading south to grab a bite to eat. Walrus + Carpenter is a newer restaurant to Connecticut but it is home to some incredible smoked meats. Having been voted the best barbecue in Connecticut for four years running by the readers and experts at Connecticut Magazine, this place is truly deserving of a visit.
The menu is full of stellar offerings, but a few patron favorites worth mentioning are the house smoked pastrami sandwich, smoked pork tacos and southern fried chicken. A delicious lighter option is the sourdough grilled cheese with avocado or bacon or both - yum!
After a wonderful lunch at Walrus + Carpenter, head west down interstate 95 to the final destination on this winter road trip. The Stamford Museum and Nature Center has a lot to offer. There are over 80 acres of nature trails to explore and that is just the beginning!
There are plenty of animals residing at the nature center, The Heckscher Farm has dozens and dozens of animals in the ten acre area that you can wander around and visit. Stroll down to the Edith & Robert Graham Otter Pond and watch the otters frolicking around in the water. Step inside the nature center and introduce yourself to a collection of tarantulas, lizards and snakes.
If you time your winter road trip for late January - March, you can visit the little red sugar house on Heckscher Farm and the trees around it to learn about maple sugaring. Don't forget to buy a pint of syrup to take home as a memento of your visit!