Nestled in the picturesque hills of northwest Connecticut, Torrington has a vibrant central business district dotted with some striking architecture, and the town’s population is just over 35,000. The countryside around Torrington, especially west of Litchfield Hills, is nothing short of idyllic, even better from the terrace of a winery in the area.
For that matter, Torrington is the perfect starting point for an indulgent adventure, visiting vineyards, wineries and artisan chocolate shops on a quaint dairy farm.
Back in town, the gorgeous Warner Theatre, built in 1931, is a great place to catch a show.
1. Warner Theatre
Since 1931, Torrington’s elegant Main Street has been the hallmark and hallmark of the Art Deco marvel. Warner Bros. opened the Movie Palace as an offshoot of its nationwide chain of theaters, designed by a distinguished virtuoso decorator, Thomas W. Lamb.
The Warner Theater closed as a movie theater in the early 1980s, after the local grassroots movement was rescued from demolition and reopened as a performing arts venue.
The auditorium is stunning with its intricately stenciled ceilings, huge silver and gold star lamps, and French-made gold brocade curtains on the curtains, walls and lobby platform.
Check out Warner Stage Company’s season of Broadway musicals and plays, as well as live music, dance, film screenings and simulcasts from the Metropolitan Opera.
2. Burr Pond State Park
As you hang out on the 85-acre Burr Pond Beach, you might be interested to know that the entire scene in front of you is man-made.
Formed in the mid-19th century by damming a series of streams, this body of water powers three sawmills, a tannery and, most importantly, the world’s first condensed milk factory.
Gail Borden (1801-1874), who discovered the process, founded the factory in 1857, and over the next decade, condensed milk was in high demand by the Union Army during the Civil War.
The factory burned down in 1877, but you can learn all its stories at the state park.
The pond has steep, rocky shores and is set in 438 acres of woodland, and in the summer you can grab a bite from the snack bar and rent a boat with lifeguards watching.
The Blue-Blazed John Muir Trail departs south from the state park and passes through a series of protected natural spaces in Torrington.
3. Sunset Meadows Vineyards
Draped on a romantic hillside, it is listed by Daily Meal as one of America’s 101 top wineries.
Sunset Meadow cares for 40 acres of sun-drenched vines that face southwest to capture the last rays of the sun in the early evening.
There is an elegant tasting room, open Thursday through Monday, where you can sample the winery’s wide range of delicacies, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon blends, as well as Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay White grape varieties such as Lily and Cayuga Blanc.
For something different, there are experimental wines, aged in rum barrels or infused with coffee (Root 63). Keep an eye out for events on the calendar such as wine and chocolate pairing sessions, pop-up markets, live music and food trucks.
4. Children’s Play Museum
Parents in Torrington with young children will find a fun, nurturing and educational environment at the KidsPlay Museum.
The hands-on, multi-sensory exhibits here aim to broaden children’s understanding of science, art and everyday life.
In a nutshell, kids under 10 can try out magnetic structures on the “Magneato Table”, settle down on the “Literacy Tree”, build 3D towers on the “Light Table”, perform in the stage area, and come up with quirky ” Lite-Brite” design, broadcast daily deals in replica grocery stores and restaurants, and see the world from inside the soap bubbles on “Bubble”. The museum also features a stimulating soft play area for children under the age of two, and there are ongoing special classes and activities on national holidays.
5. Torrington Historical Museum
The Torrington Historical Society sits on a row of striking buildings on Main Street, along with Francis Church in Assisi, Town Hall and Torrington Savings Bank.
Among the Society’s complex are the Torrington Historical Museum, the Hotchkiss-Ferrer House Museum (next), and the John H. Thompson Research Library.
The museum is worth your time documenting the region’s story from prehistory to the 21st century.
The permanent exhibit, “No Place Like Home,” uses a rich inventory of historical objects to detail industrialization, immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, the role of the Naugatuck River in the town, and community life over the years.
Also notable is “The Pursuit of Precision: Hendey Machine Company 1870-1954,” which covers the backbone of the town’s economy and the high-quality precision machine tools the company makes.
The best part here is a machine shop with a working lathe, sharpener and milling machine driven by a pulley and belt system.
6. Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum
On the same site at 192 Main Street is a lavish castle-like house built in 1898 with gables, skylights and a round turret with a tapered roof. The property was designed by renowned architect William H.
Allen represents Orsamus Fyler, a Republican politician and businessman who served in the Civil War 30 years ago.
There is a carriage house on the grounds, and the building that now contains the Torrington Historical Museum also belongs to the family and is rented out.
Hotchkiss-Fyler House remained in the family until its last occupant, Gertrude Fyler Hotchkiss, died in 1956, bequeathing the estate to the Torrington Historical Society.
The house has remained as it was when Gertrude lived here, with parquet floors, fine wood paneling, frescoes, stucco ceilings, gas and electric chandeliers, and an Art Deco catalogue that belonged to the family.
The interior exudes Christmas charm when the lower floors are decorated with Christmas trees and lights.
7. Connecticut Valley Winery
In idyllic Litchfield Hills, the pocket-sized Connecticut Valley winery is run by husband-and-wife team Ferraros, which has won numerous awards over the past decade.
Contemplate the picturesque landscape in a sea of vines by the fireplace on the winery deck.
Connecticut Valley wineries are open weekends from February to December to taste some of their award-winning wines.
Chardonel is a Chardonnay-Seyval Blanc hybrid, while Spumonte Muscato is a fruity sparkling wine from Muscat grapes, while Black Tie Cabernet Franc and Chianti are the red wine standouts.
8. Topsmead State Forest
In the late 1920s, this exquisite Tudor Revival summer house was commissioned for Edith Morton Chase, whose father Henry was the first president of the Chase Copper Company .
The two-storey, half-timbered building is located near the top of a highland in Litchfield Hills and is set in a partially walled garden scattered with juniper, lilac and holly.
Edith Morton Chase bequeathed the house and its sprawling woodlands to Connecticut in 1972. Take a guided tour on the second and fourth weekends from June to October to admire the extraordinary craftsmanship of the house.
Afterwards, relax with a picnic on the grounds, then set off on foot to visit more of the 600 acres.
9. Litchfield Distillery
There’s a distillery run by three brothers that makes a variety of spirits just a stone’s throw from Torrington.
Litchfield Distillery sources corn, wheat and barley locally and produces the Batchers range of bourbons, gins and vodkas in small batches.
Eight different whiskies include coffee, cinnamon, vanilla, and maple-infused versions, as well as cask strength, port cask finish, and double-cask bourbon for aficionados.
The special thing is if you call ahead and book a free tour any day of the week from 11:00 to 17:00. From fields to still lifes to barrels, you’ll walk through every step of the way, then head to the cozy tasting room to see how all that hard work pays off.
10. Thorncrest Farm & Milk House Chocolate
A good companion for a visit to the Litchfield Distillery is this dairy farm and chocolate shop near Goshen.
Thorncrest Farm prides itself on its facilities and the welfare of its cows, and you can visit the stables for free from Thursday to Sunday (10:00-15:00).
Book a private group tour in advance for these days, during which you’ll see a milking demonstration and sample some of the farm’s rich chocolates.
This is made from 100% fair trade cocoa nibs.
In the boutique-style store, there is a tempting assortment of gourmet chocolate boxes, truffles, caramels, chocolate bars and chocolate-covered fruit.
You’ll be happy to know that where possible, ingredients are sourced from farms, such as mint grown in the garden.
Thorncrest Farm is also a dairy, producing non-homogeneous milk and yogurt.
Be sure to grab a bottle of Madagascar vanilla-infused milk.
11. Mohawk Mountain Ski Area
Founded in 1947, Mohawk Mountain Ski Resort is one of the oldest ski areas in the state, but is also considered one of the best in New England.
From downtown Torrington you can get there in just 20 minutes and you’ll find it all on the northwest slopes of the 359-meter Mohawk Mountains.
There are 25 neat runways, the longest of which is the 1.25-mile Deer Run, with 14 lifts serving the slopes.
Snowboarders are well looked after, and 12 of the trails offer night skiing, which is as good as Connecticut.
Mohawk was also one of the first places to attempt snowmaking and now covers 95 percent of the entire skiable area.
You also don’t have to leave the mountain to dine, as Main Lodge offers cafeteria-style dining, while Pine Lodge offers a full-service restaurant.
12. Action Wildlife Foundation
This wildlife sanctuary is a relatively small business offering drive-through safari, walk-through enclosures and a petting zoo.
On the safari, you should see sika, fawn and white-tailed deer, as well as emus, but you may need to keep your eyes open as the paddock is so large.
Other species in the park include Russian wild boar, Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, Watusi cattle, Asian buffalo, llama and bison.
The petting zoo will spend a kid’s day with friendly goats and a donkey to feed.
There’s also a small zoological museum with life-size animal models from around the world, and interactive displays including animals shedding antlers in the reserve.
13. Wright Barn and Flea Market
On a side road to Gothen, there is a multi-dealer antiques centre in an idyllic old dairy farm.
Before becoming a flea market, the magnificent timber-framed building spent ten years as a dance club for Litchfield County teenagers from 1965 to 1975. The barn has 20 dealers selling a variety of interesting odds and ends such as furniture, jewelry, glassware, collectibles, musical instruments, paintings, ceramics, books, vintage appliances, tools, lighting and replicas.
Now with a cafe, Wright’s barn has the advantage of being cozy and warm in winter and refreshingly cool in summer.
14. Sunnybrook State Park
Located on 464 acres southwest of Burr Pond State Park, it is a peaceful spot for walking and fishing trips on the eastern tributary of the Naugatuck River.
The park is the southwest entrance to the Blue-Blazed John Muir Trail, which winds for two miles from Burr Pond State Park through Paugnut State Forest.
Sunnybrook’s trails weave with boulder-strewn rivers and a small pond, while narrow boardwalks cut through a sensitive wetland.
15. Follow the clues
You’ll need to book in advance and you won’t be able to show up on the day, but in “Pursue the Clues” you’ll come across a witty and creative take on the escape room concept.
There are three rooms to choose from, each with a 60-minute time limit, perfect for groups of four to six.
Each experience features a unique and original story where you will go undercover, save lives and solve crimes.
You need critical thinking and deductive reasoning, but above all you have to work as a team, because different perspectives, not wisdom, are the key to leaving in time.