This quiet industrial town is located in the geographic center of Connecticut.
Berlin may not be a honeypot for tourists, but there are some magnificent natural landscapes and lots of fun activities for families, especially on the Berlin Turnpike.
Berlin is located on Metacomet Ridge, a 100-mile basalt fault.
Formed by lava flows 200 million years ago, the ridge’s peaks rise like rugged cliffs, while the surrounding landscape has weathered over the years.
Hiking is definitely on the agenda, as two Blue-Blazed walking routes cross the ridge in Berlin, the Metacomet Trail and the Mattabesett Trail.
1. Ragged Mountain Memorial Reserve
This basalt mountain at Metacomet Ridge is one of the most popular hiking and climbing spots in the Hartford area.
The ridges here are 150 meters high, but the steep climb from the east bank of the Quinnipiac River offers views of Berlin, Southington and parts of New Britain from the top of the cliffs.
The main hiking trail is the Metacomet trail (more on that below), but there is a whole system of shorter trails all intersecting a 5-mile main loop, so you can customize the walk to suit you with a little planning.
2. Trail of Comet Meta
We’ve already seen Metacomet Ridge pass through Berlin, and the unusual amount of ancient volcanic landforms surrounding it provides excellent conditions for hiking.
The 50-mile Metacomet Trail follows the ridgeline from Meriden, south of Berlin, to the Massachusetts state line.
Besides the ragged mountains, you can also embark on this route in some parts of Berlin for moderate and vigorous hikes.
Berlin’s Parks and Reds Department has released a detailed guide to perhaps the most spectacular but also the most demanding walk, leading you to Castle Craig, a castle-like viewing tower in Hubbard Park on the East Peak (1900).
From the parking lot on Edgewood Road, the elevation change is 260 meters on this 4.5-mile one-way hike.
3. New Britain Museum of American Art
One of the advantages of being so close to New Britain is that this remarkable museum is only ten minutes away.
When it opened in 1903, it was the first museum in the country dedicated to American art.
The collection covers everything from colonial-era portraits to newly acquired post-contemporary works centered on Graydon Parrish’s famous Cycle of Horror and Tragedy.
Numerous important artists on display at the museum include Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singer Sargent, John Singleton Copley, Marcus Jansen, Frederic Church, and movements such as the Hudson River School, American Impressionism, and the Ash Can School.
A well-known recurring name in the Impressionist series is Childe Hassam, with 11 paintings.
The museum’s Park Cafe overlooks adjacent Walnut Hill Park (1870), an early commission by the great Frederick Law Olmsted.
4. Hunt Golf
You have to admire the care of this 18-hole miniature golf course on a scenic hillside on the Berlin Turnpike.
The greens are set on terraces with large models of giraffes, elephants, gorillas and lions, as well as streams, waterfalls and neatly tended shrubs and perennials.
There are plenty of photo opportunities while playing, including a waterfall you can walk in the back.
Finally, treat yourself with popsicles or frozen cones.
In summer, the course is open until 22:00, and if you hit a hole-in-one on the 18th, you’ll win a free game.
5. Timberlin Golf Club
At the foot of the ragged mountain is a highly rated municipal golf course.
These 18 holes were first landscaped by Al Zikorus in the early 1970s, but just over a decade ago, they underwent a complete redesign, re-profiled all fairways and added extra bunkers.
The fairways can be tight here, and those bunkers are a real scourge, so your hardcore game needs to be in place.
A computer-controlled irrigation system helps keep the greens growing fast, even after heavy rains.
For the summer of 2019, green fees for 18 holes are $40.50 on weekdays and $43.50 on weekends.
6. Pistol Creek
The former 18-hole golf course was abandoned in the early 2000s and was bought back by the town for twice as much in 2008 to avoid the land being turned into an apartment complex.
Not only is Pistol Creek a great place to hike, bike or jog, but it’s amazing to see this water-rich man-made environment being reclaimed by nature.
One of the few lingering reminders of what used to be here is one of the few lingering reminders of what used to be here in wet weather, where you can walk around on the paved cart trail.
Depending on the season, you may see herons, kingfishers and the occasional beaver.
The former clubhouse is rented out for events.
7. Team and time
This escape room brand has two locations, one in Chicago and the other in Berlin.
Team vs Time has four rooms to solve, each with well-crafted backstories and high yields that will transport you into their historical or fantasy world whenever you need to leave.
Wonder what’s waiting for you, there’s “The Alchemist’s Cure,” “Saving the Queen,” “The Lost Spellbook,” and “The Gangster’s Gamble.” Each room has its own desired group size, stress factor and difficulty level, the only thing that remains constant is the one-hour time limit.
You’ll feel like you’re on a movie set as you hunt for clues through problem-solving and teamwork.
8. Still Mountain Brewery
There’s no shortage of craft breweries in Connecticut, and there’s a nice brewery nearby, tucked away behind the Rocky Mountain Light Industrial Park.
The Bar at Still Hill is open Thursday through Sunday and has 12 beers available for summer 2019.
Some of the choices are Still Hill American Pale Ale with citrus hops and a rich malt base, Still Hill Sluggy Buggy Stout with chocolate nibs, and a classic Czech-style pilsner.
The bar has a cool, rustic feel, with regular live music and stand-up comedy, and food trucks that rotate out front.
9. New Britain Stadium
You don’t have to travel to Berlin for some sports, as the home of the New Britain Bees is a few miles down Route 9. Founded in 2015, the Bees took over from the defunct Rock Cats and played professional baseball in the Atlantic League, not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
During the season, you can come to the 6,146-seat stadium to watch the Bees play against most of the eastern United States apparel.
In 2019, the Atlantic League struck a deal with Major League Baseball to test possible rule changes, so in addition to watching some former and future major league talent, you might get a glimpse of baseball’s highest-level game for the next few seasons Floor.
With tickets as low as $5, Alvarium Beer Co.’s local craft beers are now served on the rooftop terrace.
10. Lamentation Mountain
On Metacomet Ridge, there is also a steep mountain south of Berlin.
Lamentation Mountain reaches a height of 220 meters and is worth the climb for picturesque cliff-top views to the west of Hanging Mountain and above Silver Lake below.
Another Blue-Blazed walk crosses the ridge, the 51-mile Mattabesett Trail, which intersects the Metacomet Trail at the base of the mountain.
Hikes here have a controlled gradient and take you into dense deciduous woodland to dry basalt ledges.
The Mata Bassett Trail runs south to Mount Totoket at Metacomet Ridge in Guildford, then northeast across the metamorphic landscape to the Connecticut River in Middletown.
11. Berlin Photo Exhibition
Berlin has an offshoot of the nationwide Picture Show cinema line, and you can hardly find a more luxurious way to enjoy a movie.
Following a recent update, the cinema is equipped with electric luxury reclining chairs with footrests and built-in cup holders.
There are lounge-style seats on all screens, so beggars believe how cheap it is to watch a movie here.
As of 2019, adult tickets are most expensive at $10.75 (after 16:00 on weekends), but you can watch new Hollywood movies for as little as $8.50 on weekdays, or $5 if showings start before noon, Tuesdays are both $5 days.
12. Karabin Farm
The West Foot of Ragged Mountain is a quintessential New England fruit farm, growing 17 apple varieties and open for PYO season on Saturdays and Sundays from mid-August to late October.
Starting at Zestars and ending at Red Delicious and Cameo, Karabin Farms’ PYO experience includes a free carriage ride through the forest to idyllic orchards, with the chance to spot deer and wild turkeys along the way.
You can also call in to pick flowers during spring and summer, while pumpkin season arrives in fall, and starting in late November, you can choose from cut-your-own and pre-cut Christmas trees.
Farm stands sell more fruit and vegetables, as well as farm-raised meats, pickles, local honey and various grades of farm-grown maple syrup.
13. Berlin Batting Cage
Despite the name, this family fun attraction by the Berlin Turnpike is more than just a batting cage.
Of course, the cage is here and uses state-of-the-art technology to help you improve your batting average (12 pitches for $0.99 or $30 per hour). But Putting Paradise also has two miniature golf courses where you can choose between a tricky challenge course or a fun course with windmills, bucket wheels and a wishing well.
There’s also a new go-kart Grand Prix track, and a bumper boat track in a large clear pool, just the ticket for hot summer kids.
14. New Britain Youth Museum in Hungerford Park
If you have younger kids or toddlers in the area, this museum and nature center is enough to keep them interested for hours.
Inside are the colorful, less-educated exhibits at the New Britain Youth Museum, and the nature exhibits at the Hungerford Nature Centre.
This also has tanks of fish, snakes, turtles and lizards, all of which are orphaned or wounded.
The same goes for the eagles and owls in the aviary, and the camels, goats, sheep, ducks and cows in the barn outside.
After visiting the animals, you can wander along the park’s tagged nature trails.
15. Van Fleck Observatory
Wesleyan University’s observatory in Middletown, near Berlin, is open to the public every Wednesday evening.
On observation night, if the sky is clear, you can look through the observatory’s 16″ (410mm) and 20″ (510mm) telescopes.
Before that, a member of the university’s astronomy department will give a 30-minute presentation on a specific space news topic or detailing a new discovery.
Wednesday nights are aimed at high school ages and up, but there are also Kids Nights on the first and third Fridays of each month of the school year, as well as a monthly Saturday night observation session hosted by the Astronomical Society of Greater Hartford (ASGH) ).
Where to Stay: Best Inn Berlin, CT (CT)
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