Glorious Autumn in Washington, Connecticut

A peek into the fall foliage in Connecticut. Kaelie Piscatello photos.
A peek into the fall foliage in Connecticut. Kaelie Piscatello photos.

Connecticut in the Fall Seldom Disappoints

By Kaelie Piscitello

Though New England is known for its fall foliage, Connecticut is not always a top tourist destination. However, Gilmore Girls fans flock to Washington, Connecticut, each autumn, hoping for the quaint, small-town experience.

While the fans come to see the town the Gilmore Girls writers based their beloved television show on, they stay for the rolling hills, striking scenery, and wholesome activities.

The local farmer's market in Washington.
The local farmer’s market in Washington.

My college friends and I set out to explore Washington on a rainy Saturday morning.

Coming from Newport, Rhode Island, where the trees rarely change colors, we were excited to take in the bright reds, oranges, and yellows.

Connecticut did not disappoint. The drive into Washington offered exquisite views of colorful trees covering medium-sized hills.

First Impressions of Washington

Pulling into Washington, my friends and I felt delighted to find free public street parking in the town center. We exited the car and walked into a small farmer’s market.

The market had few stalls, but each offered exciting goods, including hot coffee, freshly baked bread, and artisan soaps.

Since I was traveling with my roommates, we bought a focaccia loaf for our apartment and enjoyed the soft treat over the next few days.

We wandered across the street from the farmers market to the Hickory Stick Bookshop. Hickory Stick offered a touch of small-town charm, and I could not resist buying two new books there.

For such a small shop, the store provided a surprisingly wide variety of genres, and I found myself leading towards one of my usual favorites: historical fiction.

Stores and Shops in Washington

In addition to the bookshop, we found a few other specialty stores in the area, including a home décor shop and an outdoor living center, The Washington Supply Co. The Washington Supply Co. was completely decked out for fall and boasted a child-sized red tractor and a blow-up ghoul parked out front.

Inside, scents of freshly cooked chili wafted through the store, and my friends and I oohed and aahed at the large variety of home decorations and supplies. My friends and I also wandered into a small gift shop where we found candles and cute signs to decorate our house with.

Entering The Hickory Stick Bookshop
Entering The Hickory Stick Bookshop

For lunch, my friends and I wandered into Marty’s, a bustling café with low prices and so many people that it was a local favorite. I tried a sweet Italian-style beef rib grinder, and it tasted delicious. However, I struggled with deciding on what to eat because there were so many options listed on the menu that I wanted to try. I also tasted a sweet chai latte and took it with me after finishing my meal.

Hiking through the Hidden Valley Preserve

The view from Hidden Valley Preserve
The view from Hidden Valley Preserve

Luckily for my friends and me, the weather had finally cleared up after lunch, and we decided to hike through the Hidden Valley Preserve. Our walk felt relatively easy; however, we still took in some stunning views.

The trail’s beginning featured a pretty suspension bridge engraved with quotes from writers about taking refuge in nature.

I even spotted Henry David Thoreau’s famous opening lines to Walden: “I went to the woods to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.”

On my hike, I also had the opportunity to explore a quartz mine that looked more like a large overhang and take in the sounds of rushing water from the Shepaug River.

Several footbridges dotted the river along the way, and we saw many canoers descending the stream.

The trail also offered several lookout spots, perfect for resting, taking pictures, and gazing out at the hills and beautiful fall foliage that seemed to span miles.

The whole time I walked through the preserve, leaves loftily fell to the ground, danced through the air, and gracefully landed on my shoes and jacket.

Though I already live in New England, I found my fill of autumn activities and the feel of a traditional New England autumn in Washington, Connecticut. However, the trip only felt complete with a stop at the closing day of Kingston, Rhode Island’s Lickety Splits Ice Cream Shop for a caramel apple sundae on the way home.

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