Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is critically important for public health. But implementing expert recommended public health precautions doesn’t need to mean you can’t have any fun.
In March, Comly and I left our home base NYC and came to my family’s in central Connecticut. We quarantined by ourselves for 2 weeks to ensure we were virus free before adding members of my family to our bubble.
Since, the virus has been brought under control by countless incredible healthcare heroes in both states, and CT and NYC are starting to reopen. Despite this, we are still opting for more socially distance adventures. Here are a few of our favorites. Don’t forget, wear a mask!!
1. Go hiking
I grew up in CT and I had NO IDEA how many amazing trails there are. My biggest tip: download All Trails! In every region of the state there are incredible trails: waterfalls, views, long trails, leisurely walks, you name it!
We love Fireman’s Recreation Area, there are trails along the Salmon River and plenty of people post up for picnics along the way or fly fish. Also close to the Comstock Covered Bridge, which is neat.
Other favorite hikes include Devil’s Hopyard (waterfalls) Hurd State Park (river). We’ll keep you posted on more as we do more!
2. Support local outdoor establishments
A ton of seasonal restaurants already cater to outdoor and carry out business in the warmer months in New England, add hand sany and masks and they’re perfectly suited for a bite to eat this summer.
If you find yourself near Route 66, we love Jessica’s Garden! They have delicious lobster rolls (hot and cold) at an affordable price – $15.99! Not to mention they have lovely grounds and you can pick up some plants too! They also have other goodies like ice cream and grilled cheese, check out the menu or stop by for a stroll and a tasty delight.
Our all time favorite restaurant in CT, Grano Arso, has also added incredible outdoor seating. They are taking all COVID precautions very seriously. Grano is on the pricey side but the food cannot be beat, everything from the homemade bread and butter to the entrees, drinks, and dessert is exquisite. Prepare to have your mind blown.
If you’re looking for more of a classic CT greasy spoon though, try “Harry’s” in Colchester, or “Bill’s Seafood” on the shore.
Fine dining is also always easy to find in West Hartford center. Blue Elephant is the best Thai food around, Harvest is always delicious, as well as any Max restaurant.
3. Go Skydiving!
What a thrill!! This incredible experience was a “bucket list” item for Comly but we never expected a pandemic to impact how we checked this item off our list.
It just so happens that I booked our skydiving adventure for Comly’s birthday, well before any COVID cases were in the US. As we went into lockdown, I thought for sure that our June 6th jump would be cancelled. Turns out CT was starting to re-open by then and it was the first day Skydive Danielson was open!
The team at Skydive Danielson took COVID-19 precautions very seriously and we were so appreciative! Upon arrival they take everyone’s temperature. The grounds allow for social distancing among spectators and masks are required. Importantly, though, you physically cannot maintain distance while jumping. This is a risk that some may not be willing to take, if you are concerned, wait to book your jump post COVID. That said, during the jump everyone wears buffs or face masks and hands must be washed before interacting with the tandem jumpers or any gear. They also stopped allowing rental jumpsuits and enable you to purchase your own goggles and buff for $10 to jump with if you don’t bring your own. We also saw them cleaning throughout our visit.
As I neared the edge of the plane to jump out at 14,000 feet I have to admit I was utterly terrified. Every cell in my body was screaming “DON’T JUMP OUT OF AN AIRPLANE!” and as I toppled out of the door a sting of profanities escaped my mouth that I’m not exactly proud of. But, despite the sheer terror, it was absolutely magnificent.
After about a minute of thrilling free fall, my tandem partner pulled the parachute, I finally caught my breath and took in the most breathtaking views for about 6 minutes. It was incredible and the smile on Comly’s face as he landed just seconds after me was totally priceless!
Yes, skydiving is pricey, but if this something you’ve always wanted to do then I would recommend Skydive Danielson as the place to do it.
TIP: We are usually super budget conscious and this is already a big expense ($240/ person, but check for discounts) so spending an extra $99 for a video (per person) felt like highway robbery. It literally pained me to hand over my credit card for this extra expense, but I was advised by friends and it was worth it!! Comly and I both opted for the cheapest option, a hand cam go pro strapped to our tandem instructor, and we are so glad we did. The whole thing goes by very quickly and we have loved re-living the experience with our loved ones via the video.
FOOD: You can bring food to snack on while you wait to jump, but if you’re looking for a good meal nearby after, check out Jessica Tuesday’s in Putnam CT (weird coincidence to mention two “Jessica” named restaurants in one post). This gem of a restaurant has delicious food and is in a cute town center. I’ve heard a number of spots in “downtown” Putnam are pretty tasty, but this is the only one I can recommend first hand.
4. Support #BlackLivesMatter
Local organizers across CT have been planning marches, vigils and protests to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
From what we’ve seen, most protesters are wearing masks and maintaining social distance when possible. Thus far, protests have not been tied to increases in COVID-19 cases, likely due to mass mask wearing, this goes without saying WEAR A MASK!
TIPS: When protesting, listen to Black organizers and do what they tell you. You are there to protect Black protesters and ensure their voices are heard. Be sure to bring water and snacks, wear sunscreen, and wear comfortable shoes. More important tips available here.
Of course, if you or a loved one are immunocompromised or have pre-existing conditions, you may not feel comfortable in crowds. That’s okay, and there are other ways to support BLM. Take time to learn about racism and practice antiracism and intersectional allyship (check out this reading list or if you prefer historical fiction I just finished @laylafsaad, @rachel.cargle, @gurlstalk, @mspackyetti, @ibramxk to name a few) and other influencers sharing important messages (like @thefakepan).
Donate to the cause, a few great organizations to check out:
5. Collect sea glass at the shore
CT has a range of beaches, great for sunbathing, swimming, and walking the sandbars. A family past time of ours is looking for sea glass. The blue is our most prized! We have jars and jars filled but it feels meditative to stroll the beaches and search for more.
Rocky Neck and Hammonasset are two CT state parks on the shore but there are a ton of beaches to choose from depending on what you’re looking for.
6. Rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards
Spend some time on a lake or the sound in Connecticut. The less extreme of the water sports are a great balance of active and serene.
You can rent paddle boards, kayaks and more at Happiest Paddler on Lake Pocotopaug (near Rt 66 – grab lunch at Sweet Jeans and ice cream at Chatham Creamery, or both at Jessica’s Garden. If you’re in the mood for pizza Three Fellas is the best around).
7. Bike on Airline Trail
These incredible walking and biking trails spread over 40 miles (in about 20 mile segments). This used to be a railroad from NY to Boston, stemming by to the 1870’s but now the trails welcome pedestrians through the forest, over rivers, and next to waterfalls. It’s incredible but remember, it’s linear so don’t wait until you’re exhausted to turn around! I’d recommend packing a nice picnic lunch or stopping at Dexter’s Tunes, Tale’s and Ale’s after for a beer or wine in their garden!
8. Eat a lot of ice cream!
This goes without saying! We eat a LOT of ice cream, because why not?
Our all time favorite ice cream (in CT) is Robb’s Farm in Glastonbury. I highly recommend stopping in. Purple Calf is the best!! Black raspberry w cookie dough – yumm!
Mortensen Dairy Ice Cream Shops is also a CT staple. Delectable ice cream with a ton of flavors, they have something for everyone and have been around more than 100 years!!
Technically it isn’t ice cream but Vecchitto’s Italian Ice (locations in Old Lyme and Middletown) is the PERFECT summer treat! Watermelon and lemon are staple flavors. If you’re on the shore in CT keep your eye out for their vintage truck which makes it’s way to different beaches.
In addition to Chatham Creamery and Jessica’s Garden mentioned above, I’d recommend Moodus Ice Cream – very small town vibe but the ice cream speaks for itself and the sundaes are next level.
Arthesua Farm just opened a location in West Hartford center and my goodness is their ice cream creamy and delicious. For those of you that like a lot of toppings mixed in this may not be your number one pick but the quality is certainly high.
Guida’s is on our way back to NYC and their cones are a commendable size. They’re better known for their hot dogs, but if you’re in a bind before the drive home, get the ice cream a try too.