You’ll find plenty of things to do in Litchfield CT – the definition of a small, rural New England town. Known for its natural beauty and bucolic feel, it’s no doubt one of CT’s most beautiful and underrated locales.
Situated in Connecticut’s Northwest Hills right on the border of New York state, Litchfield is a quiet, sleepy hamlet best known for its stunning scenery. Home to less than 10,000 people, it’s a true hidden gem of the small state–especially for nature and history lovers.
The very best things to do in Litchfield CT are varied, and visitors will quickly find themselves enthralled by the countryside scenes and walkable downtown area. While tourists certainly do visit Litchfield, it’s still a bit off the beaten path as far as New England travel is concerned.
Downtown Litchfield is home to a variety of cute shops and eateries, and unlike many places in America, it’s incredibly friendly to both pedestrians and cyclists. But while the town itself is a great place to end your day, the very best of Litchfield is found in the numerous natural areas and interesting historical sites that are scattered about the hamlet.
To travel to Litchfield is to take a step back in time–even if you’ve lived in Connecticut your entire life, there’s nowhere else in the state quite like Litchfield. Originally called Bantam, the town was incorporated in 1719 and now resides in a county by the same name.
Only accessible via a trail of quiet country-esque roads, many points of interest in Litchfield are connected to its past, which has many ties to the Revolutionary War.
Top 10 Best Things to Do in Litchfield CT
Whether you’re a history buff looking to experience an 18th-century town or a hiker seeking out the best views in this tiny state, these are the 10 best things to do in Litchfield:
Go for a hike
At 1,080 feet above sea level, Litchfield is one of the highest towns in CT. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the best hikes in Connecticut are found in and around the area.
The best of the best is Mount Tom State Park, which is one of CT’s oldest state parks that’s filled with outdoor activities that the entire family will enjoy. The one-mile loop trail leads to an old observation tower, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Aside from Mount Tom, there are a number of other trails to choose from, with both Mohawk Mountain and Prospect Mountain Preserve being must-sees for hikers.
If you’re looking for epic things to do in Litchfield County in general, travel just a bit farther to the nearby town of Salisbury to hike to Bear Mountain, which is famed for being the highest summit in Connecticut.
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Spot wildlife at the White Memorial Conservation Center
Wildlife lovers can’t take a trip to Litchfield without stopping at the White Memorial Conservation Center. This 4,000-acre piece of land is one of the best Litchfield CT attractions that visitors of all ages will enjoy.
The brainchild of Alain C. White and his sister May W. White, the land was conveyed to the White Memorial Foundation in 1913 and the conservation center itself was established later on in 1964.
Wildlife spotting is the name of the game at White Memorial Conservation Center. Many turtles can be seen at Ongley Pond, whereas the more elusive beaver is most often found in the Plunge Pool.
In addition to 40 miles of stunning nature trails, the center also features a fantastic museum that provides detailed information about the Native Americans that originally called this area home.
You’ll also get to learn more about the natural diversity found all throughout the property through fun and creative exhibits. The grounds are open 24/7, while the museum is open from 9-5 PM Tuesday-Saturday and from 12-5 PM on Sundays.
Get out on Bantam Lake
If you’re looking for one of the most fun things to do in Litchfield–particularly in the summer–then don’t miss out on the massive Bantam Lake. At 947 acres, Bantam is Connecticut’s largest natural lake, making it ideal for all kinds of water sports.
This is also where you’ll find Litchfield Town Beach, along with plenty of boaters. Water skiing, kayaking, and virtually any other water activity you can think of are possible here with the right gear–rowing is a notable local favorite.
Meanwhile, the majority of the northern end of the lake is protected by the White Memorial Foundation, leading to a thriving variety of bird species.
Stroll through Litchfield’s historic district
This top Litchfield attraction isn’t just one location, but a collection of many: the 475 buildings that make up the Litchfield Historic District.
Yet another place in town that has earned itself a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, the entire borough is one of the most picturesque places in New England.
Meander about the clean and serene streets while taking in the old-time architecture–the Litchfield Town Green–which was inaugurated in 1720–is just one spot to stop at. Meanwhile, North Street, South Street, and East Streets are all filled with notable historical buildings and still-lived-in homes.
Visit a covered bridge
One of the best things to do near Litchfield CT is to check out a covered bridge. Though you can find several in this corner of Connecticut, I recommend heading to West Cornwall to check out yet another Litchfield County historical site.
Stretching 172 feet across the Housatonic River, this West Cornwall tourist spot is one of the last remaining covered bridges in the state and still carries motorized traffic to this very day.
Historians trace attempts to build the bridge back to 1762, though its current structure was believed to have been constructed around 1864 and features a lattice truss design in addition to its classic red color.
Tour the Tapping Reeve House & Litchfield Law School
History buff or not, you can’t say you’ve seen Litchfield without touring its most famous building: the Litchfield Law School. Maintained by the Litchfield Historical Society, the law school was founded by Tapping Reeve in 1784 and was the very first in the United States.
The judge began teaching out of his home a decade prior, before eventually constructing the building, which transformed the way law was taught in the country. Today, the property is filled with realistic-looking rooms and interactive exhibits, making it one of the very best things to do in Litchfield CT with kids.
After a bit of role-playing, spend some time strolling about the surrounding grounds, which feature a children’s garden, a wet meadow, an orchard, and old-school fencing to transport you back to the 18th century.
Check out the historic St. Michael’s Parish
St. Michael’s Parish first welcomed worshippers in 1749, several decades before the USA was even a country!
Deemed the first Connecticut church of worship, the current location on South Street was built in 1812, about a mile away from its original spot. In 1851, St. Michael’s parish was renovated for the third time, this time utilizing the distinct gothic style of architecture you can see today.
The stunning stone structure includes a community house, a parish house, and of course–the church itself. St. Michael’s owes its existence to an English man named John Davies, who settled in the town of Litchfield in 1735.
Delve into the past at the Litchfield History Museum
Perhaps the most historical thing to do in Litchfield is to spend an hour or two perusing its informative history museum.
Another attraction maintained by the town’s historical society, the museum features an array of hands-on activities and immersive exhibits that will take you back a few hundred years in time. The many artifacts and archives document the evolution of this village after the Revolutionary War.
You’ll find everything from historical clothing to old-time furniture here, and the best part is that entry is free!
When planning your Litchfield trip, keep in mind that the museum is located on the first floor of the Noyes Memorial Building, and like most other historical sites in town, it’s a seasonal attraction that’s only open from Mid April to late November.
Treat yourself to Peaches ‘n’ Cream
Don’t go thinking you’ll starve in the town of Litchfield CT–there are a few can’t-miss eateries that add to the hamlet’s charm. One of these establishments is a local ice cream shop called Peaches ‘n’ Cream, which has been serving up delicious homemade treats since 1982.
All of their desserts are made right on-site and only feature the best ingredients. The spot always seems to be busy and could be easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The Torrington Road business might seem unassuming at first glance, but once you get a taste of their ice cream, you’ll quickly understand why it’s still in business four decades later.
Peaches ‘n’ Cream is open year-round from 12 PM- 8:30 PM on weekdays and 12 – 9 PM on weekends. I highly recommend going for their Cranberry Walnut–it’s one of those rare flavors that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. (632 Torrington Road)
Go leaf peeping
Looking for fun fall things to do in CT? Well then you’re in for a treat – Connecticut’s fall foliage rarely gets better than this.
Every year come October, all of Litchfield becomes awash in shades of yellow, orange, and red–the rolling hills and idyllic scenery make for the perfect backdrop to enjoy nature’s final show.
While Litchfield’s leaves are best enjoyed on foot, the county is filled with winding country roads that will quickly transport you to an autumn wonderland.
About Samantha Shea
Samantha Shea is a freelance travel writer and blogger who was born and raised in Connecticut and is now based in Hunza Valley in Northern Pakistan. Aside from freelancing, she runs the travel blog Intentional Detours and is passionate about slow, off-the-beaten-path budget travel. Her work has been featured in BBC Travel, Fodors Travel, Matador Network, as well as others.