Obstacle mini golf at Berlin Battling Cages on the turnpike
The countdown to fall has begun, but before we say goodbye to abundant sunshine and daylight let’s take a look at ten day trips which are within driving distance of the area that combine fitness and fun. All of these activities are family friendly and offer something for all ages at a reasonable price or no cost at all.
Arethusa Dairy Farm: The Litchfield-based farm has been around since 1868 and produces some of the best dairy products in the world. The working farm offers tours on Saturdays, but the real treat is the wholesale location in the heart of Bantam at 828 Bantam Road. The brick and mortar location serves up butter, cheese, milk, yogurt, and their infamous ice cream, which never disappoints. It has a creamy, chewy texture and the natural flavors are out of this world. The folks at Arethusa serve up the usual frozen staples year round and always have seasonal flavors to enjoy. Peach (highly recommended), raspberry, and cherry are all in-season now.
Coventry Farmers Market: 2299 South Street in Coventry is home to one of the largest and most popular farmers markets in the Nutmeg State. Every Sunday from 11-2 through the end of October over 65 vendors pack the fairgrounds, featuring a handful of food trucks as well as booths serving farm fresh food and various novelty items created throughout Connecticut. The first Sunday in September is Dog Days, where all canine companions are welcome to join in the fun. The only drawback to the market is the hectic traffic, which becomes the heart of Times Square at high noon.
Sleeping Giant Driving Range: Sleeping Giant Golf Course, located at 3931 Whitney Avenue in Hamden, has one of the more scenic driving ranges in the state. Sleeping Giant Mountain is the backdrop for the driving range and the historic Farmington Canal is across the street, making this an ideal summer locale. Cap off your perfect day with a bite and drink on the patio at Aunt Chilada’s, which is a Mexican eatery that shares a parking lot with the driving range.
Castle Craig: Hiking is best when there’s a payoff at the top and a trek through the Hanging Hills in Meriden offers the ultimate prize. Castle Craig can we seen from miles below on I-691 and can be hiked or driven to via Hubbard Park in Meriden. The 32-foot tower has become a landmark in Connecticut, with an area to have a picnic or several trails to explore the surrounding woods. Bring a camera, because the views atop the tower are some of the best the state has to offer.
Berlin Batting Cages: 1801 Berlin Turnpike is home to a playground for all ages, offering battling cages, go-carts, two mini-golf courses, and bumper boats. Whether you aspire to be George Brett, Mario Andretti, Chi-Chi Rodriguez or Donald Aronow, the non-stop fun center is your one-stop shop. The facility is open seven days a week and is perfect for a birthday party or just a good time with friends and family outdoors.
Olde Mystic Village: Mystic is best known for their seaport and aquarium, but located next to the aquarium is a quaint outdoor village with plenty of shopping, grub, and entertainment. The facilities are open year round and host events for all seasons, with the 10th annual Garlic Festival coming up on Sept 16 and 17. On rainy days, the village even has its own movie theater showing the latest cinematic masterpieces. The drive to 27 Coogan Blvd in Mystic is also a scenic and the views of the water are breathtaking.
Avery’s Beverages: The old red barn in New Britain has been serving up scrumptious soda since the early 1900’s and now carries over 35 unique flavors. The historic beverage company is still at its original location at 520 Corbin Avenue, which is right up the road from Martha Hart Park, and offers “Make Your Own” and private labeling services Monday-Saturday. The only thing you won’t find at Avery’s is high fructose corn syrup, because all of their sodas are made with real sugar.
Lyman Orchard: The Middlefield orchard, located at 3 Lyman Road, is celebrating 275 years and offers a little of everything. From golfing to fruit picking to pie eater, Lyman’s has something for everyone and this Saturday, August 26, is the New England Clambake and the Classic Car Show. The annual Sunflower Maze is in full bloom and don’t’ forget to visit the Apple Barrel for some of the freshest produce and bakery items around.
Robb’s Farm: There are plenty of picturesque farms and orchards in South Glastonbury, but only Robb’s has the best homemade ice cream this side of the Mississippi. The working livestock facility has all the other amenities as the neighboring farms, including playful goats, but their ice cream is worth the trip over and over again. The fifth generation farm has a petting zoo during the fall and also has a seasonal pumpkin ice cream that is second to none.
Wickham Park: Connecticut has many beautiful parks, but Wickham Park in Manchester is about as gorgeous as they come. The massive park has 250 acres of gardens, open fields, woodlands, ponds, picnic areas, sports facilities, and other attractions. It’s a perfect location for the exercise enthusiast or for a family picnic and the first weekend in September the park hosts the 13th annual Greater Hartford Open Disc Golf Open, when 88 of the best disc golfers square off in a winner-take-all showdown.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin