Nestled along the Connecticut coastline with the Long Island Sound as its backdrop, Milford effortlessly captures the quintessential New England charm with its tranquil beaches, picturesque downtown, and scenic parks.
So, buckle up, and let's explore the best things to do in Milford, Connecticut.
Go Birdwatching at Charles Island
Every morning, I start my day with the sight of Charles Island, a 14-acre tidal island off the coast of Milford, Connecticut.
If there's a place that can make you feel like you're in two different worlds at the same time, it's definitely this one.
The island is clothed in lush greenery, home to a bird sanctuary that houses herons and egrets.
It's an escape within an escape, a sanctuary within a sanctuary.
The island's history adds a unique flavor to its charm.
Local lore tells of Captain Kidd's missing treasure buried somewhere in the heart of the island – an exciting tale for the adventurers at heart.
Although treasure hunting is not allowed due to the island being a bird sanctuary, you can't help but imagine what it would be like to stumble upon a chest of gold doubloons while exploring the area.
The journey to the island is an adventure in itself.
A sandbar, known locally as "The Tombolo," connects the mainland to Charles Island.
But do take note - this path is not for the faint of heart.
Tide tables become your best friend if you plan on visiting, as the sandbar can flood quickly and without warning.
Being aware of the tide schedule is a must, as I've seen it catch quite a few off-guard.
But if you time it right, walking across the sandbar with the water lapping at your ankles is a memorable experience.
Once you set foot on the island, the nature preserve is a sight to behold.
The wildlife and the untouched beauty can make for a quiet, peaceful afternoon.
Collecting seashells has always been a favorite activity for me and my kids, each one a unique memento of our visits.
The sight of the island changes with the seasons, and it can feel like a whole new place each time you visit.
Fishing is another favorite pastime here – there's something so relaxing about casting a line into the serene waters off the island.
But remember to always respect this sanctuary.
It's a little piece of nature that we are lucky to have.
Pamper Yourself at Clarity Wellness Spa
I've been visiting Clarity Wellness Spa for years now, and it's always been my sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Clare, the incredibly skilled masseuse and facialist, has a gift for creating a soothing atmosphere that immediately puts you at ease.
I've had a variety of their services, such as massages, facials, and even light therapy, all delivered with impeccable professionalism and care.
Facials at Clarity Wellness Spa are a delightful experience too, especially with the addition of allergy/sinus treatment.
After one of these sessions, my neck felt more flexible than it had in years, and my skin was left glowing.
I felt rejuvenated, as though I'd been gifted the energy and vitality of my younger years.
One of the things I love most about this place is the sheer variety of massages and treatments it offers.
It's like an all-day spa retreat, with services ranging from foot, hand, and back massages to facials, aromatherapy, and reflexology.
On walking in, you're greeted with the soothing smell of essential oils, and only natural care products are used.
Plus, you're offered a complimentary drink with any service, which is a charming touch.
Bring Out Your Creativity at Kinship Glassworks
Let me tell you about this little gem I stumbled upon - Kinship Glassworks.
It was just an ordinary evening when my colleagues invited me to a work event there.
Excited, I decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be an experience I'd never forget.
We got to craft our own glass pieces with the generous help from the staff, making every moment enjoyable and fun-filled.
The owner, Chris, was a delight to be around - his expertise in glasswork shone through as he explained everything to us with professionalism and patience.
He was attentive to everyone, taking the time to ensure we understood the process.
His knowledge, coupled with his friendly nature, made him an exceptional teacher.
As we crafted beautiful glass ornaments, cocktail glasses, and decorative glass flowers, we found our group bursting into laughter at the jokes flying around.
This wasn't just a glassworks workshop - it was a bonding experience filled with camaraderie and laughter.
The open-air environment of Kinship Glassworks added to the charm.
It felt safe and comfortable, and above all, it was an inclusive space that allowed creativity to flow freely.
The instructor was always on his toes, ensuring our safety while providing help whenever needed.
It was such a great night that I'm already looking forward to returning.
Stroll through Milford's History at Milford Historical Society
Ever had one of those lazy summer afternoons where you didn't have anything specifically planned but crave for a little dose of history?
Well, those are the days when I often find myself walking down to the Milford Historical Society.
The Society is home to three historic houses, each boasting its unique architectural charm.
The seasonal tours they offer are a real joy to participate in.
Different times of the year bring out different aspects of these houses, making each visit feel fresh and exciting.
The Stephen Stowe House, one of my personal favorites, holds a special charm for me.
I've often heard visitors express their desire to see its interior - a sentiment I wholeheartedly share.
Maybe one day, they will create a digital walk-through video for those who can't make it on Fridays and Saturdays, their official open days.
What truly adds to the charm of the Milford Historical Society, though, are the beautiful grounds and the passionate team of volunteers.
It's like the town's history comes alive through their stories and the love they have for this place.
And to be honest, as someone who has grown up here, it makes me feel more connected to my town's history and more proud to be a part of it.
Their dedication to preserving the town's history is truly commendable.
Learn about Various Bird Species at the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center
As dawn breaks, I lace up my hiking boots and head towards my sanctuary, the haven of bird and wildlife lovers, the Coastal Center at Milford Point.
Here, you don't need an alarm clock; the chirping of different bird species is music to the ears and a wake-up call to start the day.
One of the perks of living here is the chance to witness the mesmerizing view of Charles E. Wheeler Wildlife Management Area on one side, and the breathtaking Long Island Sound on the other.
The untouched beauty of the salt marsh, dune, and barrier beach habitat is nothing short of divine!
But it's not just about the views.
The center offers a versatile range of activities for everyone.
For the explorers at heart, the coastal nature trails are a real treat.
And for the marine life enthusiasts, the observation deck over the beach is a must-visit.
Here, I have seen everything from turtles to crabs and various bird species, including the adorable piping plovers and dive-bombing terns.
The center itself, regrettably, isn't always open.
But the wonder of this place lies in the great outdoors anyway.
The beach, the garden trails, and the vast open areas are all part of the nature preserve that we locals respectfully call our backyard.
When it comes to wildlife, the Coastal Center at Milford Point is a paradise for bird watchers, an undisturbed sanctuary for numerous species.
The beach side of the reserve is home to terns, the piping plovers, and many other bird species.
On some lucky days, I've been able to capture stunning shots of these birds in their natural habitat - a true delight for a photography enthusiast like me!
A pro tip for future visitors: if you're planning a hike, keep an eye on the tide.
It can rise fairly quickly, so be prepared to take the road back to the parking lot.
Also, don't forget, the birds here are protective of their nests.
If a tern divebombs you, remember it's not an attack, they're simply protecting their homes.
Wearing a hat backwards might help!
Sample the Delights at Robert Treat Farm
Right at the crack of dawn, I often find myself strolling through the rows of fruits and vegetables at Robert Treat Farm.
The mere smell of ripe tomatoes and the sight of dew-kissed greens give me a surge of nostalgia.
But, recently, finding fresh tomatoes has become a task.
I recall just a week ago, on a bright Saturday, I went to the farm to fetch some.
The lady at the counter told me they had sold out just the day before.
It's a bit disheartening, wondering if they aren't growing their own produce anymore.
But amidst this, I can't help but remember the good old times.
I've been a regular at the Robert Treat Farm, you see, since the mid-50's.
Back then, my kindergarten was just next to the Treat family house.
That's where I met Virginia, or as we lovingly called her, Ginny Treat.
She was a sweet little lady who left an indelible impression in my heart.
Her father, a stoic man, would let me pick strawberries and beans in his farm - a memory I cherish even today.
Their strawberries, oh, they were always the best!
But the farm isn't just about the fruits and vegetables, it's much more.
The store at Robert Treat Farm is a haven for garden enthusiasts.
Their perennials are simply exquisite - I've bought several over the years that adorn my yard even today.
But what captivates my heart the most is the warm-hearted staff.
Even on a busy day at the farmer's market, they manage to show extra kindness to mothers struggling with their lively toddlers.
The farm, indeed, is a delight to visit.
Meet Local Artists at Milford Arts Council
What a night to remember!
I was at the Milford Arts Council last week, and I must tell you, it was an experience of a lifetime.
Isabella Savoca was performing, and the talent coming from that lady was just something out of this world.
Her voice echoed through the room and every note pulled at the heartstrings.
Not only her but other singers and musicians as well.
Each one of them brought a unique flavor to the table, creating a symphony that was both beautiful and mesmerizing.
The venue itself, Milford Arts Council, was vibrant and buzzing with energy.
The crowd was warm and receptive, creating a relaxed atmosphere that was perfect for unwinding after a long day.
I felt the sense of community and togetherness that only a local venue like this can provide.
Book a Tee Time at Great River Golf Club
There's an undeniable charm about the Great River Golf Club, which you'll find nestled in our town.
My journey with this place began when I decided to host my future daughter-in-law's bridal shower here in March 2023.
A decision I've been grateful for ever since.
The moment you step into their exquisite ballroom, you're in for a feast of the senses.
It's an embodiment of grandeur and elegance, a space that's nothing short of gorgeous.
What set the experience apart was not just the location and ambiance, but also the exceptional service offered.
In addition to the perfect setting and top-notch service, the food served at Great River Golf Club was simply divine.
Be it a bridal shower or a baby shower, their culinary offerings never disappoint. experiences.
Peruse the Shops in the Life at Milford Green
As the soft glow of the morning sun begins to peek through my window, I know it's going to be another beautiful day at Milford Green.
My favorite green space, located in the heart of downtown, is an oasis of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.
From my apartment, it's a few minutes walk to the Green.
I stroll through the charming shops, welcoming coffee places, and bustling banks, which are all conveniently located nearby.
But the delicious smell wafting from the local restaurants is what truly captivates me.
Their menus boasting some of the best servings of food you'll ever taste.
Every summer, the Green hosts the beloved Oyster Festival, a gem of a celebration that's been a tradition since the '70s.
Families, like mine, flock to the park to enjoy the parade of potential Oyster Kings and Queens.
As a child, I remember picking a spot under a bush in front of the local bank, across from the gazebo, to enjoy subway sandwiches before touring both patches of the Green.
These days, my passion for art has me attending all the craft fairs held by local churches and promoters on the Green.
Each fair is a fantastic display of creativity that never fails to inspire me.
No matter the season, stepping into Milford Green always feels like coming home.
It's especially magical during the Christmas season, when the entire park is artistically lit up.
The twinkling lights add a charming touch to the well-maintained Green, making it a perfect place to spend a winter evening.
Whether you're a visitor or have lived here all your life, like me, Milford Green is the heart of the downtown that will always make you feel welcome.
Go Flower Picking at Glendale Farms
There's no greater joy for me than strolling through the scenic corridors of Glendale Farms.
It feels like entering a painter's canvas filled with myriad hues and fragrances.
The flower selections are second to none, each flaunting an enviable health that only adds to their beauty.
Picking out our flowers from the diverse options becomes an exciting activity, brightening up our day.
The staff's warmth matches the gleam of the sunflowers.
They are not just friendly but also immensely helpful, turning each visit into a delightful experience.
The value they offer for such an extensive variety is simply unbeatable.
The farm also holds a special place in my children's hearts.
The horses prancing around, the reptiles basking in the sun, and the other animals create an enchanting world for them.
They form an integral part of our visits, making them cherish the farm even more.
One particularly sweet memory remains etched in our hearts.
My children were treated to Gatorades by a kind lady at the farm.
It was a new flavor they had never tasted before and needless to say, it is their favorite now.
It's these little gestures that make Glendale Farms not just a place to buy flowers but a community that we feel a part of.
Celebrate Special Events at Milford Yacht Club
A summer evening at the Milford Yacht Club is an experience you don't want to miss.
The club, nestled right at the mouth of the river, provides an unbeatable view of the harbour, turning every occasion into a special event.
From the moment I stepped foot in the club, the warm and friendly personnel made me feel welcomed and ensured a smooth and delightful experience.
The staff are professional, always on the ball, and their attention to detail is commendable.
They take pride in maintaining the club's structure, both inside and out, ensuring its pristine condition.
The club's culinary offerings are nothing short of exquisite.
I remember a birthday party I attended there with such fondness, not just for the jovial atmosphere but for the great food that left everyone's palates satisfied.
Whether it was a private dinner or a grand event, the meals served were exceptional, and the drinks complemented the food perfectly.
Parking is never a concern, with ample space available for guests.
But what sets Milford Yacht Club apart from the rest is its spotless, well-kept grounds that can make any event feel luxurious and exclusive.
I even had the chance to be part of a lovely 60th birthday celebration for a dear friend's mom, planned and organized at the club.
Soak Up the Sun at Woodmont Beach
My regular excursions to the Woodmont Beach are like my secret escapes to paradise.
The serenity of the beach, devoid of the usual touristy crowd, is almost therapeutic.
There's a beautiful walking path that extends in both directions, flanked by the beach on one side and the stunning houses of the neighborhood on the other.
I particularly enjoy the stretch that passes down a side street, it's like a brief detour into the heart of our community.
Despite its calm and serene ambiance, Woodmont Beach is also a great spot for some recreational activities.
There's a grassy area and a park with a basketball court, perfect for an impromptu match with friends.
The beach also features a volleyball net, which has seen many thrilling matches during the warm summer days.
One unique feature of Woodmont Beach is the fishing that takes place at the ends.
While I'm not sure about the rules surrounding this activity, it's always a delightful sight to see our fellow residents casting their lines into the sea, waiting patiently for a catch.
On special occasions, Woodmont Beach comes alive with community events and festivities.
My favorite one has to be when live bands come to perform, completely transforming the ambiance of the beach.
With food stalls and raffle draws adding to the excitement, these entertainment days are a wonderful opportunity to socialize and enjoy the scenic view of the beach.
Just a word of caution when you take a dip in the ocean - the beach is swim-at-your-own-risk due to its uneven bottom and underwater stones.
Be careful when you venture out into the water!
But with a little care, you can perfectly enjoy the beautiful scenery and tranquil atmosphere this beach has to offer.
Tee Off at Orchards Golf Course
I must confess, there's a certain charm that hangs in the air at the Orchards Golf Course.
With its beautifully sculpted landscapes and strategic hole placements, it's a sanctuary for both seasoned golfers and those just starting out.
Each swing of the club, each calculated risk, and each triumphant putt is a testament to the beauty of the game.
The course itself is quite compact, but don't let its size fool you.
The fairways are tightly packed, the par-4 holes are brilliantly angled, and technical play is rewarded here.
I've discovered that those big, sweeping shots aren't as effective as a series of short, precise strokes.
The changing green textures throughout the season do add a layer of complexity, but that's part of the allure.
And let's not forget the trees - they're everywhere, creating a lush, green backdrop that's simply breathtaking.
I'm drawn to the Orchards Golf Course time and time again.
It's not just the allure of the game but also the fantastic value it offers.
The fee is surprisingly reasonable, making it accessible for locals like me who appreciate a good game of golf without burning a hole in the pocket.
Have a Friendly Game at Milford Indoor Tennis
I found a delightful hidden gem in our town - the Milford Indoor Tennis.
I decided to give it a shot and now, I can't get enough of it!
The staff at the reception was equally impressive, always ready to answer calls and provide helpful and accurate information.
I felt like the court was my personal playground, due to the exceptional maintenance of the facilities.
The locker rooms were fastidiously clean and the overall environment was welcoming.
What I appreciated the most was their professional approach.
They were never pushy about spending more, always mindful of their clients' financial concerns.
Milford Indoor Tennis' team events were enjoyable - they managed to maintain a nurturing and fun, yet competitive atmosphere.
Stroll through Milford Harbor
Life in this harbor town can be so peaceful, especially during the golden hours of the day.
Walking the Milford Harbor pathway just before dusk is an experience worth savoring.
The sight of the setting sun casting its warm, golden hues across the tranquil waters is as enchanting as any painted masterpiece.
It's a spectacle that never gets old, even to someone like me who's lived here for years.
Ambling along the water's edge, you can often catch sight of the boats being hitched to trailers, ready to be hauled away after a day of sailing.
It's a bustling scene, but not chaotic - it's just part of the everyday rhythm of the harbor.
There's ample space here, even for larger trailers, so it's never really a hassle to find parking.
The harbor is also surrounded by a cluster of restaurants, offering an assortment of cuisines that caters to all palates.
The aroma of fresh seafood, grilled to perfection, often wafts in the air and it's hard to resist the temptation of stopping by for a bite.
Despite all this, the harbor never loses its serene ambiance.
The waves lapping against the shore, the gentle breeze, and the occasional squawk of a seagull overhead all combine to create a soothing environment that's hard to replicate elsewhere.
I invite you to visit and take a leisurely stroll by the harbor.
Practice Skating at Milford Ice Pavilion
Every so often, I treat my family to a day at the Milford Ice Pavilion.
The place may seem very basic and even a tad old, but it comes with its charm.
The low ceilings make the rink feel cozy and unique, almost like stepping into a vintage experience.
Now, the ice is not as hard as some may like.
It tends to be a bit soft, not as cold as expected.
But for a casual skater like me and my family, it's perfect.
It carries less risk for injuries due to falls, making it ideal for kids or beginners.
Speaking of kids, my daughter loves Milford Ice Pavilion.
They offer these fantastic tools that help her learn to skate.
In just one hour, we saw her confidence on the ice skyrocket.
The stands, though a bit worn and could use a good cleaning, give an old-school, nostalgic vibe to the place.
The lighting is dimmer than usual, but it offers a warm, inviting atmosphere rather than a cold, sterile one.
But what really captured my heart was the party room.
We booked it once for a birthday party, and it was a massive hit.
Nicely located away from the chaos of the rink, it provided a cozy place to relax and enjoy the party.
The staff was accommodating, and they even had someone teaching the kids to skate.
Check Out the Ruins at Solomon Woods
Sometimes, you just need a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and Solomon Woods is the perfect place for that.
Nestled within the city limits of Milford, this pristine hiking spot provides a breath of fresh air and a tranquil escape right on my doorstep.
No matter how many times I navigate these well-marked trails, each visit brings a renewed sense of peace and discovery.
The woods are a quintessential snapshot of New England, featuring mature trees and bubbling streams that make each hike an immersive nature experience.
Among the natural beauty, you'll also stumble upon the ruins of a brick storeroom – a relic from a bygone era that adds a touch of history to this little city sanctuary.
The trails can be a bit tricky to navigate at times, so I always make sure to bring a map.
Aside from its natural beauty, what I love about Solomon Woods is that it is never overly crowded.
It's a real treat to be able to walk these trails whenever I fancy, usually without encountering another soul.
This peaceful solitude provides an ample opportunity to disconnect and become one with nature right here in the city.
On a practical note, parking is easy, and the trails provide a good moderate workout.
Go Snorkeling at Silver Sands State Park
The beauty of Long Island Sound never fails to awe me, especially when I'm at the Silver Sands State Park.
It's my cherished spot for a quiet retreat anytime I need to reconnect with nature.
Just the thought of walking along the beach park brings a wave of tranquility over me.
Every time I visit, I'm greeted by a throng of wildlife, making the place all the more enchanting.
I love going there for a good snorkel.
The water is incredibly calm, and you can walk a good distance during low tide.
Trust me, the feeling of being surrounded by nothing but the vast aquatic life is truly surreal.
One of the things I absolutely adore about Silver Sands State Park is the boardwalk.
It's comfortable to walk on, and it leads you to another beach close by.
It's a pleasant walk, especially during the early morning hours when the world is still waking up.
When it comes to amenities, Silver Sands doesn't disappoint.
There are restrooms, ample parking spaces, and food options too.
The fries there are quite a hit, so do give them a try when you visit.
For out-of-state visitors, the cost is $22, but the experience is truly worth every cent.
What truly makes the park stand out is the island just off the beach.
The thrill of walking in the shallows to reach the island during certain times of the month is something you shouldn't miss.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Step Back in Time at Boothe Memorial Park
It was just another summer weekend when I decided to escape the heat and head to Boothe Memorial Park.
Nestled in the heart of Stratford, this park is more than just an oasis of greenery.
It's a complex of unique 19th-century buildings that takes you a step back in time with each visit.
As soon as I stepped foot in Boothe Memorial Park, the meticulously maintained gardens caught my eye.
I decided to take a leisurely stroll and immerse myself in their beauty.
The park isn't bustling with activities, but that is part of its charm.
Sometimes, all you need is a serene environment to appreciate life's simple pleasures.
Now, let's talk about the buildings.
You wouldn't expect to find a church with a clock tower and an amazing Lincoln log-like structure, all made of western redwood in a park, would you?
That's Boothe Memorial Park for you!
It's home to an extensive mineral collection, an Americana museum, and even a planetarium.
What I found most intriguing during my visit was the turn-of-the-century homestead.
It's as if time stood still within those walls.
The furnishings are exactly as the last surviving Boothe brothers left them.
The volunteer staff, always eager to share the history of the family and their whimsical taste, only add to the entire experience.
One barn houses a vast range of farm equipment and looms, spinning wheels, and occasionally, you might even find a weaver at work.
The park also has picnic areas where you can lay back and enjoy a meal amidst this historical backdrop.
Have a Picnic at Osbornedale State Park
Fishing ponds with shimmering water, hiking trails that challenge and exhilarate, picnic areas perfect for a family outing, and an environmental center that educates and inspires: welcome to Osbornedale State Park.
I make it a point to visit the park every day during my lunch break.
There's something uniquely calming about sitting by the pond, sandwich in hand, watching the water ripple as fish dart underneath the surface.
The stunning views of lush greenery, serene water bodies, and clear blue sky never fail to amaze me.
Osbornedale State Park offers large covered pavilions for rent.
I had the pleasure of hosting my daughter's 1st birthday party in one of them, and it was just perfect!
The pavilion was spacious and offered a stunning view of the park.
I'm already looking forward to the next event that I'll host at the park.
Unleash Your Curiosity at Connecticut Air & Space Center
Every time I step into the Connecticut Air & Space Center, it's like taking a trip back in time.
I might be partial, but there's just something special about this little air museum.
It is located in my hometown Stratford, and it's a place I often visit when I crave a dose of fascinating history and engineering marvels.
Connecticut Air & Space Center is a treasure trove of facts and stories about our local history, and the role Stratford and the Sikorsky Memorial Airport played in the aviation industry.
It's the place where you can learn about the amazing Sikorsky himself.
The Center packs a lot in its space.
It's deceptive, you know, you wouldn't expect such a small exterior to house an extensive collection of historic aircraft and exhibits–a testament to the rich aviation history of our state.
What's more, visiting the museum is a perfect outing that you can round off with a delicious meal at the Windsock Inn Restaurant and Bar right next door.
Step Back in Time at Osborne Homestead Museum
Ever since I stumbled upon the Osborne Homestead Museum, it's been a regular spot for me.
I remember one day when the house was closed, I decided to take a hike on the red trail and it was nothing short of therapeutic.
The trail took me through a variety of landscapes - from dense forests to wide open fields and rocky areas.
Every walk there is an exciting adventure for the senses.
You can find more details about the trail here.
This beautiful old house is a sight to behold, especially during Christmas, when it is decorated in the most charming manner.
The gardens are a symphony of colors, and the trees stand tall, narrating stories of the past.
Over time, I've developed a fondness for the tales of the old farmland and the history of its owner.
The history isn't just confined to the books, it resonates in every corner of the property.
It's truly a piece of the past worth exploring.
I remember a few years back, during the CT Open House event in June, we were given an exclusive tour inside the house.
Although we weren't allowed to take pictures, the memory of the richly furnished interiors of Osborne Homestead Museum is etched in my mind.
Catch the Sunset at Seabluff Beach
There's something magically serene about Seabluff Beach, almost as if time slows down the moment you step onto the powdery sand.
After a long day, I often find myself strolling towards the end of the boardwalk, where there's ample parking and enough space to unwind.
With a variety of activities to engage in and plenty of benches to just sit back and relax on, it has everything a beach lover could ask for.
As the sun starts to dip below the horizon, the beach takes on a picturesque charm.
The tide recedes, leaving behind a vast expanse of sand that seems to stretch on endlessly towards the water.
There's nothing quite like a leisurely sunset walk here, with the surprisingly warm waters gently lapping at your feet.
But Seabluff Beach is not just about the tranquil sea and the beautiful sand.
It's also a fantastic place to enjoy with kids.
With a delightful little park nearby and the frequent visits from the ice cream truck, it's a paradise for the little ones.
And that's not all.
The beach also connects to another two or three beaches, making it a mini seaside adventure.
One of the things I love most about living here is that it's never the same experience twice.
I can't help but express my deep love for Milford. Every day, I am amazed by the captivating charm of this town.
From the tranquil walks along the Milford Green, the vibrant history at Milford Historical Society, to challenging rounds at Great River Golf Club, there's always something to do.
The community, the charm, and the myriad of activities make it a truly special place to live and explore.