15 Best Things to Do in Litchfield, CT

Litchfield, CT
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Visit Litchfield in Northwest Connecticut to experience the vibe of a classic 18th century New England town.

Originally named Bantam, Litchfield was incorporated in 1719 and subsequently became the seat of its namesake county.

There are many points of interest in Litchfield, as it also includes several unincorporated villages—Milton, East Litchfield, and Northfield—and the borough of Bantam.

In addition, Litchfield covers part of the 947-acre Bantam Lake, Connecticut’s largest natural lake.

Many historical places in this town figured prominently during the American Revolutionary War.

The Continental Army maintained two military store depots and a workshop in Litchfield from 1776 to 1780.

The leaden statue of George III, torn down in New York City in 1776, was brought to Litchfield and melted into bullets for the American revolutionary army.

Tracing more of such historical trivia alone can liven up a visit to Litchfield, as this list of 15 things to do in this town suggests.

Visit the Tapping Reeve House and Litchfield Law School

Exterior of Litchfield Law School
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This town landmark is maintained by the Litchfield Historical Society on South Street.

The Litchfield Law School is the first law school, and visiting it will reveal the evolution of law education and instruction.

It will not only tell how Litchfield became the forerunner to such an important institution but also provide interesting recollections about the town’s Litchfield Female Academy.

Name sign of Litchfield Law School
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The Tapping Reeve House and Litchfield Law School does this through interpretive exhibits, hands-on areas, and role-playing.

The visitors of the Tapping Reeve House can experience a law student’s life as they put on period clothes, decide on what supplies to buy, and vote on issues of the day.

Interior of Litchfield Law School
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Relax at the Tapping Reeve Meadow

The outdoor space surrounding the Tapping Reeve House is a popular community gathering place for events in Litchfield.

This site is perfect with its historic landscape developed with several charming elements.

Tapping Reeve Meadow flaunts an education pavilion, a children’s garden, a small orchard, a wet meadow, a chestnut grove, stone walls, and traditional fencing.

The community activities held here are typically kid-friendly, such as outdoor story-telling sessions by the town’s KidsPlay volunteers.

Scavenger hunts and bocce ball games, plus scarecrow displays during Halloween are also among the events usually held at the Tapping Reeve Meadow.

Brush Up on Natural History at the White Memorial Conservation Center

Wooden trail of White Memorial Conservation Center
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Located on Whitehall Road, this facility is a museum on natural history showing the impact of human settlement in the region over the centuries.

The timeline covered begins from the Peantam group of the Potatuck tribe to the growth and decline of European-American agriculture.

Exterior of White Memorial Conservation Center
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The legacy of prominent Connecticut couple Alain and May White to nature conservation is also extolled in this museum.

The conservation center is housed in the White couple’s former residence, Whitehall.

Interior of White Memorial Conservation Center
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The couple founded the White Memorial Foundation, which initiated the natural history museum and nature center.

Common animals found in some of the habitats on the White Memorial Foundation property are featured in the various displays of the museum.

Art exhibits inside White Memorial Conservation Center
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These exhibits also depict fields, old-growth forests, wetlands, lakes, hardwood forests, and backyard habitats.

American diorama designer and painter James Perry Wilson, also the designer of dioramas for the American Museum of Natural History's Hall of Mammals, rendered several displays in the White Memorial Conservation Center.

Bird-Watch at the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy

Birdwatching is easily accessible and enjoyable at the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy on Duck Pond Road.

Run by leading-edge and passionate aviculturists and educators, this conservancy holds one of the biggest bird collections in North America.

It is home to more than 80 avian species, totaling 400 birds from all over the world.

This stunning collection includes rare birds protected in the conservancy’s peaceful wetlands habitat.

The conservancy also has a breeding facility focused on preserving the genetic diversity of endangered and rare species.

The Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy maintains an education center and offers guided tours to the public.

Tour the Litchfield Historical Museum

Exterior of Litchfield Historical Museum
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Located on South Street, this museum exhibits artifacts highlighting Litchfield’s evolution starting from 1719 up to contemporary years.

The Litchfield Historical Museum tells the town’s rise as a vibrant commercial, educational, and political center following the Revolutionary War.

Its historical collections cover not only the center Litchfield village but also Bantam, Northfield, East Litchfield, Milton, and pre-1850s Morris.

The museum’s exhibits are on the first floor of the Noyes Memorial Building, which also hosts the Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library.

The library boasts a large collection of papers, publications, photographs, and other memorabilia about Litchfield’s over 300 years of growth and change.

The library also serves as the official records repository of many local institutions like the Litchfield Red Cross, the Garden Club, and the Junior Women’s Club.

Hike Up Mount Tom State Park

Mount Tom State Park's top tower
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This public recreation area, created between 1913 and 1914, is one of the oldest among Connecticut's state parks.

Mount Tom State Park is popular among hikers who enjoy negotiating its one-mile loop trail leading up to an old observation tower.

A tower at Mount Tom State Park
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This tower on the 1,325-foot high summit of Mount Tom is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Besides hiking, the state park is also a swimming, fishing, and canoeing destination on its 56-acre Mount Tom Pond.

Mount Tom State Park is on the southern edge of Litchfield and is accessible via Bantam Road.

Body of water at Mount Tom State Park
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View the Daffodils at the Laurel Ridge Farm

Visit Litchfield in late April or early May for a chance to see the amazing daffodils in full bloom at the Laurel Ridge Farm on Wigwam Road.

The Laurel Ridge Foundation opens this daffodil field to the public for viewing each spring.

The Morosani family of Litchfield started cultivation of daffodils in their farm Laurel Ridge in 1941 and has continued since then.

They even have daffodils planted on an island in the farm’s large pond, further enhancing the beautiful sight of the flowers in bloom.

Admission is free on this working farm, with cattle fenced off in nearby pastures adding to a refreshing rural atmosphere.

Enjoy the Waters of Bantam Lake

Scenic view of Bantam Lake
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Take a short drive on North Shore Road and head south to Litchfield Town Beach on the shore of Bantam Lake.

This small patch of beach features a rowing club facility and car parking.

Much of the land at Litchfield’s northern end of the lake, including the Marsh Point peninsula, is under the protection of the White Memorial Foundation and a habitat to a wide array of bird species.

Waters of Bantam Lake
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Campgrounds, kids’ camps, and various water sports facilities abound in the vicinity of Litchfield Town Beach.

Bantam lake also has two public beaches, Sandy Beach Morris and Town Beach, where water skiing and rowing are popular.

Bantam Lake can provide much fun for these activities, as it is the largest natural lake in Connecticut, covering 947 acres spanning the towns of Morris and Litchfield.

Commune with Nature at White Memorial Family Campground

This family campsite is a non-profit campground on the shore of Bantam Lake.

Accessible via North Shore Road, this campground is run by the White Memorial Foundation.

There are two distinct areas for family camping, both offering a quiet, unspoiled camping experience minus the modern conveniences of some traditional campgrounds.

One choice is the Point Folly Family Campground, with 47 sites on a peninsula in Bantam Lake.

The other is Windmill Hill Family Campground, with 18 sites nestled in the shelter and quiet of pine woods.

From both sites, campers can explore the varied habitats and facilities of the Foundation and Conservation Center.

Tour the Topsmead State Forest

Exterior of a house at Topsmead State Forest
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A former summer estate of the prominent Chase family of Connecticut, this property is open to free guided tours.

These tours are offered on the second and fourth weekends of each month, from June to October.

A tree standing in the middle of Topsmead State Forest
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Located on Buell Road, The Topsmead State Forest nestles on 16 acres at the Litchfield Hills.

Besides its lush woodlands, the attraction of this property is an English Tudor-style summer home built in 1925 and furnished with 17th and 18th-century English country antiques.

Colorful flowers at Topsmead State Forest
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Exquisite landscaping surrounds this home, including plantings of lilac, holly, and juniper.

Complementing the English Tudor architecture of the home, formal gardens adorn its edges, and apple trees line its driveway.

Visitors of the Topsmead State Forest can have informal picnics on the grounds, the lawns of the residence included.

Meadow at Topsmead State Forest
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Play at the Litchfield Country Club

This country club is located on Old South Road Warm, offering family-friendly facilities and activities.

Nestling within the White Memorial Nature Conservancy, the Litchfield Country Club offers a scenic 9-hole golf course overlooking Litchfield Hills.

This course plays at par 35 over 2,829 yards from its longest tees.

Litchfield Country Club also features swimming and wading pools, a platform tennis court, and four clay tennis courts.

During summer, the Litchfield Country Club offers ClubKids Sports, a popular children’s program among locals and visitors.

Explore Humaston Brook State Park

Small waterfall in Humaston Brook State Park
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This 141-acre park is accessible via White Road and is popular for hiking, fishing, and basic camping.

It is underdeveloped, though, and you won’t find in Humaston Brook State Park the typical city park amenities.

Rock cairns along the trail of Humaston Brook State Park
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This scenic park’s major feature is the Northfield Pond, which was formed by the damming of the Humaston Brook during the 19th century.

This pond in the Humaston Brook State Park is locally known as Knife Shop Pond because of the Northfield Knife Company that operated along the brook during the 19th century.

The one-acre site where the knife factory once stood, with only its foundation now remaining, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Knife shop dam marker at Humaston Brook State Park
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Sip Wine at Haight-Brown Vineyard

This winery spreads off the tree-lined Chestnut Hill Road and takes pride as Connecticut’s first farm winery.

Opened in 1975, Haight-Brown Vineyard has a unique “One and Done” policy.

It does not exactly replicate the wines its vineyard produces from a previous vintage.

This is because Haight-Brown Vineyard believes no two grape-growing seasons are exactly alike.

Each year, it evaluates how to best highlight the vineyard’s harvest, resulting in new wine creations from one year to the next.

Besides wine-tasting, visitors of the vineyard can also learn to mix wine and brandy cocktails or take some quick lessons on abstract painting.

Take the 9-Hole Challenge of Stonybrook

This 9-hole golf course, located on Milton Road, offers a challenging game over 2,986 yards with regulation play at par 35 for men and par 36 for the ladies.

This layout runs on hilly terrain with the picturesque Butternut Brook meandering throughout.

Golfers can expect to use every wood and iron in their bag, as Stonybrook presents players with uneven lies, elevation changes, and undulating putting greens.

Its multiple tee placements, coupled with varying pin locations available, make the Stonybrook course a challenging run for advanced golfers while providing an arena for improvement to golf novices.

After a game, golfers can enjoy meals and drinks at the Stonybrook clubhouse repurposed from a mid-19th century farmhouse, with gardens and terraces overlooking the serene Bantam River in the vicinity of Litchfield Hills.

Get Acquainted with the Spirits of Litchfield Distillery

This distillery is located on Bantam Road and has been offering free tours and tastings since its launching in 2014.

Its offerings include five premium, handcrafted spirits: Double-Barreled Bourbon Whiskey, Bourbon Whiskey Port Cask Finish, Bourbon Whiskey, Vodka, and Gin.

The secret to the award-winning products of Litchfield Distillery is the exceptionally high quality of the regionally harvested grains and fruits that it uses.

The distillery’s lineup not only features 16 distinctive spirits catering to all tastes.

It also tempts visitors with its ready-to-drink canned cocktails.

These you can enjoy straight out of the can, chilled, or poured in a glass with ice and garnished with fruit or freshly cut herbs.

Final Thoughts

Litchfield brims with destinations sure to bring delights to all types of visitors, given the richness of its history and the exuberance of its natural setting.

While it may lack the trappings of a metropolitan center, there are many creature comforts too in Litchfield as well as in its neighbors in northwestern Connecticut.