Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Quintessential Small New England Town

Article and Photo by Eric H.
Essex, CT, has all the small town bells and whistles required to make it a special vacation destination: a tree-lined downtown with specialty shops and restaurants, big old historic homes up near the sidewalk,, and a pleasing park with gazebos and picnic benches leading to wonderful, relaxing views of the Connecticut River.

A former shipbuilding town dating back to the 1600s, Essex looks refined and perfectly manicured today, but that polish doesn't take anything away from its authentic small town look and feel. With the old, sprawling Griswold Inn (one of the oldest continuously operated inns in the country) as one of its "anchors," Essex has a timeless quality that hasn't pandered to modern chains and cookie-cutter architecture. What's more, there are 14 miles of sidewalks that allow you to stroll through this relaxing, picturesque community. Nearby, you'll find the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat Ride, combining train and boat riding through some truly scenic countryside along the Connecticut River. The Gillette Castle in East Haddam is another worthwhile attraction -- a stunning castle with 24 rooms, 47 unique doors, white oak woodwork and carvings, stone stairways, built-in couches, a movable table on tracks, and an inside porch fountain. The Gillette Castle is accessible by ferry or by automobile.

Author Norman Crampton named Essex as the best small town in America in his book, "Best Small Towns in America.. Mr Crampton is a very smart, perceptive and accurate person, indeed!

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