Nature, adventure, arts, and the best eats – you won’t believe all the fun things there are to do here in Litchfield, CT! Living in Connecticut most of my life and living in Litchfield for several years, I’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Litchfield so you can enjoy a fun day or weekend in town. 👏
From museums to nature walks, hikes, stone towers, a wildlife center, the best restaurants in the state, and the first law school in the county – there’s a lot to do on this best-of-Litchfield list!
Designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 1968, Litchfield is a super charming town in northwestern CT. It’s an example of a well-preserved late 18th-century New England village with some of the best restaurants, cafes, historic Litchfield County inns, and trails in the state of Connecticut.
And don’t just take my word it – below are the honorable mentions Litchfield’s received:
- It was named a top 20 getaway in New England by Travel + Leisure Magazine🏆
- Home to the oldest continuously operated movie theater in Connecticut 🎞
- Home to the oldest CT state park system (Mount Tom State Park) 🌲
- Home to two different historic towers with views at the top! 🥾
- Home to the ‘best restaurant in CT’ 🥇 as well as one of the ’17 best wellness retreats in the world’!
“A small town that more than carries its weight on the history, charm, and scenic beauty fronts. This picture-book spot in rural western Connecticut has an oak-shaded town green and hundreds of historic buildings.” Travel + Leisure Magazine
So whether you’re here for a day trip to Litchfield or visiting for a whole weekend, I am confident you’ll find plenty to do both inside and outside – as adventurous as you want to be! – in this best of Litchfield list. ⬇️
The Best Things to Do in Litchfield, CT (from a local!)
Part 1: Outdoor Activities in Litchfield, CT 🌞🌲🥾
A popular place to walk your dog in Litchfield, White Memorial is an Environmental Education Center and Nature Museum located in the heart of the 4,000-acre White Memorial Foundation.
There are over 40 miles of trails here and all provide a peaceful, non-technical walk in the woods. There’s a lot to see within the 4,000 acres of White Memorial and there are several different parking lots for each of the trails.
You can find all trails here but my favorites are the 3.1-mile Marsh and Boardwalk Trail and the 3.6-mile Beaver Pond Plunge Pool Loop. 🙂 Whatever trail you choose to hike here, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
2. Mount Tom Tower Hike, 1.3 miles, 340 ft elevation gain, Moderate
🌅Connecticut has 8 towers you can walk up to for a view and one is right here in Litchfield! Check out 360-degree views from the top of this 34-foot-tall stone tower making it ideal for sunrise or sunset!
📖History: Mount Tom State Park is a 230-acre state park and is the oldest in the CT state park system with the tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places! The tower was built in 1888 by Columbia Professor and Litchfield resident H.S. Monroe after seeking donations from around the area.
📝Note: It is a pretty rocky climb up so I suggest wearing hiking boots or sturdy shoes! Sneakers may not be comfortable on the hike up or down with all the rocks. I always wear my higher ankle boots even if it’s not a long hike to prevent rolling an ankle. 🙂
3. Visit Topsmead State Forest
Nestled in the Litchfield Hills, Topsmead State Forest remains a precious piece of a past era with fine craftsmanship and understated wealth evident throughout the former summer estate of Miss Edith Morton Chase. ctgov.com
There is not a CT state park that I love to visit more than Topsmead in Litchfield.
From the moment you drive onto Buell Road through the tunnel of tall pines and into the long driveway entrance to the park – you’ll feel transported to another country! 🌲🌲
Several trails and paths on the property so take your pick. This is a very popular spot in spring and summer for picnics on the lawn. It is also super popular for all kinds of photo shoots – bridal, yearbook, etc.
I like to come early in the morning or later in the day to experience the quiet as I walk the dogs and pretend that this is my home and property. 🙂
4. Prospect Mountain Hike, 2.3 miles, 430 ft elevation gain, Moderate
For just a 2.3-mile loop, there’s a lot to see on this hike! I love how this trail is on the outskirts of Litchfield in a quiet residential area. In the few times I’ve hiked it I’ve only seen one other person there!
With a bench at the top that faces west, this is a great one for sunset or golden hour before the sun goes down. 🙂 (Looking for more sunset spots in northwestern CT? Click here for my post on 6 different sunset hikes! 🌅)
Fun feature: Prospect Mountain was home to significant mining operations in the 19th century. You can find one of the mines just off the trail not far into this hike!
5. Apple Hill Observation Deck, 1 mile, 144 ft elevation, Easy
Part of the White Memorial Conservation Center but lesser known and on the outskirts 🤫 is this gem of a trail and little tower with a beautiful view!
Passing through a habitat restoration area for the New England Cottontail on your way, the view from Apple Hill tower overlooks Bantam Lake.
This easy trail along a wide path was one of the first places we brought baby Bruin to hike. 🙂 I love the photos we captured of him there. At just a mile round trip, this is a great hike for all ages!
6. Camp Columbia Tower, 0.6 miles, 36 ft elevation gain, Easy
🌅Take the super short walk up to Camp Columbia Tower which has 360-degree views at the top!
📖 History: There are almost 600 acres in Camp Columbia State Park. This park was used during the First World War where it served as a military combat training facility for Columbia students. According to Wikipedia, “During World War I, the property became the site of combat training for college students who sought officer commissions. Military exercises included simulated warfare with real gunfire and the digging of trenches. Remnants of the trenches dug during the training are still evident on the property.”
📝 Note: The stairs going up the tower are on the OUTSIDE and wind all the way around to the top. This makes for a somewhat scary walk up for those afraid of heights (even though it’s not very tall!). Keep pets and children close on the way up or down!
7. Visit Bantam Lake
Right in Litchfield, covering 947 acres, Bantam Lake is the largest natural lake in CT! Bantam Lake is home to two public beaches in Litchfield; Morris Town Beach and Sandy Beach in Litchfield.
From swimming, fishing, hiking, sailing, and even winter activities – there’s a lot to do in and around the lake. Check out this page with more info on all activities in and around Bantam Lake.
Linked above, there are a few easy trails you can choose to walk within Boyd Woods Audobon Sanctuary.
Because the Audobon Sanctuary doesn’t allow dogs, I, unfortunately, have not been on these trails yet but still wanted to include them in this best-of-Litchfield guide!
According to AllTrails; Boyd Woods features 106 acres of fields, meadows, mixed hardwood forest, two ponds, a vernal pool, and a bordering brook, whose trail is a popular favorite.
With the trails winding along Wigwam Brook, Boyd Woods is a perfect choice for a peaceful stroll in Litchfield.
9. Cornwall Covered Bridge
At just 20 minutes from the center of Litchfield, you can find one of the last covered bridges in CT – the historic West Cornwall Covered Bridge.
Located on RT 128, AKA the Sharon-Goshen Turnpike, this iconic CT landmark spans 172 feet long over the Housatonic River. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s still a bridge you can walk or drive through (one car at a time).
I suggest finding a spot to pull off and walk around the grassy area outside of the bridge for pictures and to admire the view. Try walking through the bridge, too, in between traffic, of course. 🙂
10. Ski or Hike at Mohawk Mountain in West Cornwall
At 16 minutes from the center of Litchfield, Mohawk Mountain offers a more adventurous hike or great place to ski in the winter.
Heck, you can even drive right to these views if you wanted to!
If you’d like to hike here check out this 4-mile hike with about 800 feet of elevation.
Otherwise, for skiing and snowboarding information at Mohawk Mountain click here! ⛷
11. Cathedral Pines Preserve
Witness the remains of what was once the largest stand of old-growth white pine and hemlock trees in New England. The Nature Conservancy 🌲🌲
Cathedral Pines Preserve, designated a National Natural Landmark in 1982, houses the remaining white pines are approximately 120 feet (37 m) to 140 feet.
You can park and walk for a short time within the preserve, looking up in awe at the pines. Or you can do this 5.4-mile hike here that takes you through the pines and up to the views at Mohawk Mountain!
12. Walk at Upper Bantam River Preserve, Litchfield
As if you didn’t have enough hiking and walking options in Litchfield! In comes Upper Bantam River Preserve within the Litchfield Land Trust.
A popular trail to explore here is the 1.6-mile Medicine Rock Trail Loop. A good portion of this trail hugs along the Bantam River, making it a treat for all senses! Take in the sights and let the water flowing get you in a relaxing state before lunch somewhere in Litchfield…
And one more trail within the land trust you can check out is the easy 1.9-mile Nancy Danaher Loop.
13. Visit Action Wildlife Foundation, 435 Torrington Rd, Goshen
9 minutes from downtown Litchfield is practically a whole zoo!
Feed animals, a petting zoo, a museum housing animals from 6 of the 7 continents, yard games throughout the property and more! The Action Wildlife Foundation 501(c)(3) is a large game animal farm offering an interactive farm experience for all ages.
Click here to check out tickets and prices. Currently $20 for adults and children.
14. Hike at Goshen Land Trust
Just 12 minutes from the center of Litchfield is a hidden gem of a trail. The Mountain View Trail (part of the Goshen Land Trust) is a 2-mile loop leading you to a western-facing view that’s perfect for a sunset or golden hour walk.
Go counterclockwise (go to the right at first along the trail) to walk along wide and easy trails until you reach the view 0.8 miles in on your left. Sometimes I turn around after this and head back this way since the other side of the loop can be a little rugged compared to the way in.
15. A self-guided tour of the historic district’s homes and businesses
Novelist Sinclair Lewis stated, “The only street in America more beautiful than North Street in Litchfield is South Street in Litchfield.” 🌳🌳
Take yourself on a walking tour of Litchfield’s historic homes. Download the map here or stop in to Litchfield Historical Society to pick one up for $2! 🙂
I was fortunate to live right off North Street for a few years and my favorite daily activity was walking my dog up and down the sidewalk streets, admiring the super old, beautiful, historic homes.
Laid out in the mid 1700s, these huge, immaculate homes seem unchanged yet clearly maintained to pristine condition! See if you can spot some of the hitching posts in front of houses. These carriage steps (or mounting blocks) that dot North and South Streets allowed passengers an easier way of climbing on board a carriage or stagecoach. 🙂 Cool!
If you’re lucky to be visiting Litchfield in late April through early June then be sure to stop by Northfield Daffodils.
It’s one of my favorite places to go every spring! Whether I catch the daffodils sparsely flowered or all in full bloom, it’s a beautiful and peaceful place to walk around.
Come at or shortly after sunrise for a quiet time with no one around.
Part 2: Indoor Activities in Litchfield, CT🛍🖼☕️
17. Stroll & Shop West Main Street & Downtown
Multiple antique shops, clothing, floral & garden, jewelry, home, gift shops, and toys – there is no shortage of cute shops in Litchfield.
Most you will find right along West Main Street but some are spread through town.
18. Litchfield History Museum
The Litchfield History Museum exhibits the evolution of the town of Litchfield, CT from its settlement in 1719 to today. Through changing exhibits, artifacts and archives, as well as hands-on areas, visitors can explore the diverse history of the town. litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org
The museum generously offers free admission to explore Litchfield’s history but they are closed from December through mid-April. Be sure to check the hours and openings here.
Visit the Nation’s first law school right here in Litchfield, CT! But like the museum above, the Tapping Reeve House closes from December to mid-April so click the link above in the title to check hours.
The Tapping Reeve House and Litchfield Law School takes visitors on a journey through the 19th century life of a real student who came to Litchfield for an education at the Litchfield Law School or the Litchfield Female Academy.
Through role-playing, hands-on areas, and interpretive exhibits, each visitor explores timeless issues of travel, communication, education, and community.
20. Arethusa al tavolo Restaurant (Best restaurant in CT!🏆)
Traveling to Litchfield and want to eat at one of the best restaurants in Connecticut?! Well you’re in luck!
Arethusa al tavolo won the inaugural CRAzy award as the state’s best restaurant, bestowed by the Connecticut Restaurant Association.
But you’ll need to make a reservation well in advance at this renowned farm-to-table award-winning restaurant. Getting several ingredients from their own Arethusa Farm, if you can’t make it to the restaurant be sure to check out their cafe or ice cream shop.
Arethusa also won Best of CT Restaurant awards for ‘Most Romantic’, ‘Best Appetizers’, ‘Best Desserts’, and ‘Best Wine Selection’. Wowee!
21. Winvian Farm (lodging, spa, dining)
Named of the 17 best wellness retreats in the world;
Set on 113 acres and bordering extensive woods and lakes, Winvian Farm was created to recharge and indulge. A place like this is difficult to describe for it lacks nothing.
Winvian Farm aspires to host you with no airs but graces, no extravagance or opulence, only warmth and treats. The 5-star cuisine, the wines, the Spa and the team are as unexpected as the experiences that one ultimately enjoys.
Of course, all of the above comes at a price, so this would be the option for someone looking to spoil themselves or someone else when visiting Litchfield.
We call ourselves Batchers in honor of the early farmers of Northwest Connecticut, a region that became known for its ample yield of wheat, corn and barley.
Today, we take the best our local farmers have to offer and distill fine craft spirits, one batch at a time. They do the growing. We do the batching. And you get a little share in this luscious little section of Connecticut called Litchfield County.
Taste The Spirit of Hard Work® as they like to say the Litchfield Distillery! Stop in to shop, taste, or even book a tour!
If you’re someone who loves and appreciates good chocolate then making the stop at Thorncrest is a must when visiting Litchfield. Doesn’t it seem like Litchfield has the best of everything?!
But I’m not exaggerating here! Thorncrest’s is a Best of Connecticut 2022 (and several other years) award winner for their farm-made chocolates! 🏆🍫🐄
Yup, that’s right, the chocolate is made with milk from their happy cows on the farm. And trust me, I interviewed the owner, Clint – these cows and their well-being is their priority!
“Our job is to make sure that today is the best day of these cows’ lives.” He explained how they can tell when a cow is stressed by the acidic flavor of their milk and how each chocolate is connected to a very specific cow.
“The whole barn is designed for flavor, and flavor comes from lack of stress,” says Clint. “Any kind of stress shows up right away in the milk… that’s my job, to keep the cows really stress-free.”
When I come up to Litchfield for a hike, this is one of my go-to stops and I’m sure it will be a favorite of yours, too. My favorite is anything dark chocolate here!
A non-profit film and arts center located minutes from downtown Litchfield, Bantam Cinema is the oldest continuously operated movie theater in Connecticut!
The mission of the Bantam Cinema & Arts Center, Inc. is to preserve and operate the historic Bantam Cinema and enhance the cultural vitality of the Litchfield Hills through offering a diverse program of film, theater, music and visual arts that seeks to inspire, educate, and engage its audience.
They even serve local wine, beer, and Litchfield Distillery cocktails!
“Our goal at Sunset Meadow Vineyards is to provide our patrons with high quality, estate grown wines that reflect the character and charm of the Litchfield Hills.
Stop by our vineyards in Goshen, Connecticut, to experience a great selection of award-winning wines in an inviting atmosphere that truly is the essence of Sunset Meadow Vineyards!”
Just outside of Litchfield is this picturesque winery. Every time I drive by and see people sitting on the hill, with a sunset view, I wish I was there, too!
One of my favorite things to do when in Litchfield is to visit here and see what fun and different items I can find for myself or as gifts for others.
Known as being a designer bargain-hunters heaven, brands range from Hermes to Coach, Patagonia to Lululemon, and everything in between. There’s even a small houseware items section, collectibles, and jewelry.
Stop in on your way through Litchfield and see what you can find! 💎
Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy is your chance to traverse the natural habitats of more than 80 species of rare and endangered birds, while experiencing the beauty of nature and urgency of waterfowl conservation.
One of the largest collections of waterfowl in North America, their goal is to “educate visitors of all ages on the importance of wildlife conservation through hands-on experiences with our waterfowl, their habitats, and our conservation programs.”
Providing a home to more than 80 species, totaling more than 400 birds from around the world, click here to book a tour or check out visiting hours!
If you’re visiting Litchfield in spring or summer and love flowers be sure to stop by here. More than just a garden center, White Flower Farm has gorgeous display gardens spread across the whole property for you to walk through and enjoy. 🌷🌷
A family-owned business with a gorgeous garden center and gardens on Route 63 just south of the Litchfield line in Morris, White Flower Farm offers ornamental plants, shrubs, bulbs, and gardening supplies.
29. Charym Yoga Studio – Take a class!
If you’re staying for the weekend or several days why not wind down and take a class at a studio that’s repeatedly voted Best Yoga Studio in Connecticut! 🏆
Pamper yourself with a manicure, hair cut and blow dry, a massage, or a unique piece of jewelry or candle from their giftshop (which I love!).
If spending some time in Litchfield, you’ll love any time spent in this relaxing spa! Aside from the array of gifts, I’ve gone in for hair services, a massage, and mani/pedicure and always leave feeling better somehow.
31. Cafes galore! ☕️🫖
Whenever I come to Litchfield to hike or if I’m just passing through, I always stop at one of the cafes. And it’s always so hard to choose which one!
Here are my favorites..which doesn’t help much since there are 4 of them!
- Toast & Co (dog-friendly 🐶) Best for breakfast sandwiches on the go or acai bowls or smoothies! They also open very early.
- Arethusa A Mano Best for pastries and special items. 🙂 🥐
- Espresso 59 Best for a latte and cookie or a filling, homemade lunch.
- Meraki Best for food to go and heat at home or if you’re in the mood for a breakfast burrito. :)🌯
I hope you enjoyed this compilation of all the best things to do in Litchfield, CT!
I sure love visiting here and doing any number of these so I’m confident if you pick a few you’ll have a beautiful day out, too.
Looking for more hikes and adventures in CT? ⬇️⬇️