In sparsely populated Windham County, the town of Plainfield consists of four villages: Plainfield, Moosup, Wauregan and Central Village.
It’s safe to say that activities in this quiet part of Connecticut are country and outdoor, like woodland hikes in rare swampy habitats, visits to farms with corn mazes, and fishing in the many ponds.
These bodies of water spread across the land and were used to turn the mill’s waterwheels in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Today, only faint traces of the back-to-nature landscape survive.
Your first priority in Plainfield must be the nearby Prudence Crandall Museum, which established an icon of tolerance and race relations in the 1830s.
1. Prudence Crandall Museum
Abolitionist and educator Prudence Crandall (1803-1890) was a Connecticut heroine best known for establishing the first black girls’ school in the United States.
This college is a beautiful Greek Revival home built in 1805, just 5 minutes from Plainfield village in Green, Canterbury.
Crandall opened the school in 1832, initially with an all-white student body.
Around this time, a single black woman named Sarah Harris was admitted, making it the first comprehensive school in the country.
When white students dropped out due to protests, the academy reopened exclusively for black girls, with a maximum of 24 students.
This eventually led to mob violence, and Crandall even spent one night in prison in August 1833. The school closed in 1834. The home and grounds are a National Historic Landmark and National Archaeological Preserve.
Before strolling through the landscaped grounds, you can learn about the site’s story and wider significance in the Antique Room and Exhibition Hall (upstairs).
2. Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm
Near Sterling is a family-run poultry farm with about 3,000 pasture-raised turkeys, the largest of its kind in Connecticut.
As a humane enterprise with happy, healthy livestock, the farm welcomes the public from spring to fall.
The Brown Cow Café here offers a variety of turkey sandwiches, including a Thanksgiving sandwich with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mayo.
This cream shop has more than 30 ice cream flavors, including creative concoctions like cake batter or cucumber, and tried-and-true options from strawberries to peanut butter cups.
You can choose from cups, waffle cones, milkshakes, sundaes, and even cider doughnuts topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel, whipped cream, and cherries.
Then, in September and October, families can get lost in the corn maze, take hay rides and visit the barn with animals like goats, chickens, and turkeys.
3. Old Furnace State Park
Like much of the countryside in Windham County, Old Furnace State Park’s industrial origins are home to an iron furnace that was in operation before the Revolutionary War.
During the war, horseshoes were built here for the Continental Army.
The raw materials for this iron are found locally, ore is mined from swamps and swamps, and charcoal is produced from ancient woodlands that have been flattened over decades.
By the 20th century, except for a pair of ponds, the industry had disappeared, and the land was sold first to the town of Killingly and then to Connecticut.
Inside the park is one of the best short walks in the state, winding through the pond to a rock ledge 60 meters above the valley, with panoramic views east of Killingly and across the state line into Rhode Island.
4. Hopeville Pond State Park
Mills are also crowded around this pond in Griswold, which was first dammed by Europeans in the early 18th century and took its current form in 1828. Even before that, the Mohegans built weirs on this stretch of the Passaug River to fish.
The mills and small settlements on the banks of the pond burned down at the turn of the 20th century, and lost the mill that stood here from 1711 to 1908. The pond and woodland along the shore became a national park in 1938 and you can come for swimming, camping, hiking and fishing.
Species recorded in these waters include chain crucian carp, catfish, largemouth bass, yellow perch and northern pike.
Hopeville Pond Campground has 80 campsites in peaceful wooded surroundings.
5. Logee’s Greenhouse
Logee’s has been in the plant business since 1892, and their commercial greenhouse in Danielson excites amateur botanists and horticulturalists alike.
Fern House, the oldest of the six greenhouses, is as long as the business itself.
The large house houses camellias, geraniums, cacti, and a 150-year-old orange tree with 10 different grafts.
Another historic tree awaits you in the orchids of the Lemon Tree House, the Ponderosa Lemon Tree, dating back to 1900, has lemons the size of grapefruits.
Herb House is home to medicinal and culinary plants, while Potting House is a small world of bonsai, spice plants and passionflowers.
6. Sycamore Farm
Family-run since 1975, this Griswold dairy is known for two things: sunflowers and indulgent ice cream.
Each season, the farm grows 14 acres of sunflowers and harvests approximately 300,000 flowers.
If you donate $10 to Make-A-Wish Connecticut, you can get a bouquet of five sunflowers.
From March to late October, you can request a scoop or three of Buttonwood Farm’s delicious ice cream, which is made here on the farm in small batches.
Even the waffle cones are made fresh that day, and the whipped cream is the real deal.
There are more than 50 flavours to choose from, as well as a range of limited editions.
For Fall 2019, Elephant Trunk is vanilla flavored with peanut butter swirls, chocolate shortbread, and chocolate peanuts.
In the fall, little ones can have a lot of fun at Buttonwood Farm, in the 7-acre corn maze, on the hay wagon, meeting farm animals or climbing Straw Bale Mountain.
7. Patchogue National Forest
The largest forest in the Connecticut Forest System, covering more than 27,000 acres on the east side of New London County, on various parcels near the Rhode Island border.
These cover six towns and are divided into two roughly parallel large blocks known as the Chapman District (to the west) and the Green Falls District (to the east). In Plainfield, the Chapman District is literally right in your backyard, and you can venture out on no less than three long Blue-Blazed Trails: Pachaug Trail, Nehantic Trail and Quinnebaug Trail.
You can catch the latter just east of Stirling, following the 8.1-mile south route through rare Atlantic white cedar swamps.
What’s exciting about this landscape is that it used to be a lot of farmland, and every now and then you come across stone foundations and cellar holes from long-lost farmhouses.
8. Tikanen’s Berry Farm
Perhaps the most rewarding way to spend a sunny day in rural Connecticut is picking your own produce on an idyllic farm.
You can do this at Tikkanen’s Berry Farm just off the Rhode Island border in Sterling.
The farm is open Thursday through Monday, approximately between early July and early September.
The season starts with currants, blackcurrants, and blueberries, with late-ripening blueberries ready throughout July.
Then around the end of August, you’ll have beach plums that, if you’re lucky, will be delicious the day you pick them.
Tikkanen’s Berry Farm is a truly rural business, so it might be a good idea to call ahead to make sure it’s open.
9. Blackpool Beer
In Connecticut, you don’t need to travel far to get to a craft brewery, and the closest brewery is just above the town line north of Danielson.
Open Thursday through Monday, the bar at Black Pond Brews is a lively place with lots of outdoor space, trivia on select Mondays, songwriter sessions, comedy nights and video games on the third Saturday of every month championship.
As for the beers, these rotate every two weeks, but always there is the flagship IPA D-Burg, which was joined in September 2019 by Israel’s Putnam Brown Ale, Bare Branches Oktoberfest and local maple syrup, Sun Gate Porter With Peruvian coffee and Machu Picchu, chipotle sauce.
10. Glen Falls Bridge
Continue along Brunswick Avenue, off N Street in Mussup, and shortly after, you will come to a sudden stop at the closed Glen Falls Bridge.
Across the Musup River, this historic building was built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company in 1886 and is one of the few survivors of hundreds of lenticular truss bridges built in the late 19th century.
Long closed to road traffic, the Glen Falls Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, and is near a 19th-century mill complex on the north bank of the river.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Plainfield, CT (CT)
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