Northeast Connecticut is known as the state’s “quiet corner”. The region’s Route 169 National Scenic Byway has gained popularity as a premier destination for a Fall foliage drive! its colonial dwellings, stonewall farmlands, and lovely inns greet the traveler with charming views along the winding roads. My quest for this past Saturday was to spend some time appreciating the beauty and history there, as well as discovering some vegan dining gems!
Heading south from Massachusetts, the first stop on my planned itinerary was the “Heirloom Food Company Restaurant”(Heirloom Food Company Restaurant)for some breakfast. A visit to this vegetarian/mostly vegan restaurant is just the right way to start the day! I selected the Organic Vegan Morning Scramble to start my day! It consisted of scrambled tofu with organic onions, mushrooms, red peppers and melted vegan cheese with a side of home fries. My breakfast meal was delicious!
The restaurant also serves up quite a nice selection of nutritious smoothies. I opted for the special of the day: a pumpkin smoothie with organic pumpkin, coconut milk, organic banana, vanilla, almond butter, spices, and agave. Wow! My beverage was incredibly satisfying and I could definitely taste the wonderful pumpkin flavor! ‘Tis the season for pumpkin after all, thus my choice was an easy one!
The restaurant also offers a display counter with several vegan baked goods such as cookies and muffins. A small gift shop within the restaurant space displays vegan cosmetics, skincare, and other personal care items for purchase.
Prior to doing some sightseeing, I had to make one additional stop. “Dee’s One Smart Cookie” (Dee’s One Smart Cookie) is a vegan-friendly bakery about an hour west of the region; located in the town of Glastonberry. I paid a visit for some vegan treats.
I met the kind and generous Dee who gave me a vegan red velvet cupcake and a chocolate sunseed cup free of charge. I really enjoyed these yummy treats! She explained how one day a week, the bakery offers vegan doughnuts and another day they offer vegan pizza.
It was time for me to head to the town of Brooklyn, the starting point of my touristy agenda. Then pronto I started on my late morning drive through the charming and scenic route 169 National Byway! Brooklyn was settled in the 17th century. It was home to Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam. He was the most significant resident. Rumor has it that he may very well be the person who yelled “Don’t fire til you see the whites of their eyes” at the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston, Massachusetts. A statue of General Putnam stands in the center of the Brooklyn Green. The Brooklyn Green Historic District occupies the center of town. It houses buildings from the 1750 to 1850 time period.
A colonial style white building with a pointed steeple is located closeby. This historic structure was originally the Unitarian Meetinghouse, constructed in the year 1771. Samuel May (uncle of author Louisa May Alcott) became the first Unitarian pastor at the church in 1882. He was a true reformer, preached temperance and an anti-slavery advocate.
Trinity Parish on the other side of the street, was built in the year 1866. It is the oldest, still in use Episcopalian church in Connecticut. The original building located 3 miles away, was built in 1771 with beautiful stained glass windows.
The Vanilla Bean Cafe(Vanilla Bean Cafe) is a very popular dining establishment in town. The inexpensive restaurant serves sandwiches and other light meals to hungry, leaf-peeping tourists. A sign above the counter mentions that they indeed offer a vegan sandwich. The venue also entertains diners with live music.
Woodstock was the next stop on my day’s itinerary. Tourists love to spend time at the local Scranton’s Antique shop. I entered the shop to browse among the collector’s items and classic pottery, home goods, statues, jewelry, furnishings, and other goods.
Further down the road, is the old McClellan House, now known as McClellan Arms. The historic building, built circa 1760, was the residence of Revolutionary War General Sam McClellan. He led a local regiment to the Battle of Bunker Hill. The home is now an antique shop.
Onward northbound to the town of Woodstock! The Inn At Woodstock Hill is an elegant and spacious inn set on sprawling grounds. Visitors can catch a gorgeous view of the local foliage from its back patio.
The annual Woodstock Art Fair takes places each October on the grounds of the Roseland Cottage. Art and crafts vendors showcase their wares for the discerning visitor to peruse and hopefully purchase.
Taking a break from the art fair, I signed up for an organized tour of the Roseland Cottage. This national landmark, built in 1846 is a unique Gothic Revival style home. It was the summer residence of wealthy businessman Henry Bowen. Several US presidents visited the estate. Fancy wall coverings, elegant stained glass, and the world’s oldest indoor bowling alley occupy its interior.
After my tour of the ornate and beautiful home, I strolled through the rows and rows of tented arts and crafts exhibits at the fair. Debbie’s Jams displayed jars of fruit jams, such as peach and pear. I sampled some of these tasty vegan-friendly snacks.
My next goal was to visit a local farm stand for some freshly picked veggies! Fortunately, Woodstock Farm was only a couple minutes down the road on rt 169. The Apple Barn farm store stood on its premises.
Fall decor abounds at New England farm stands! The Apple Barn’s outdoor display of pumpkins, colorful flowers, and tall cornstalks gave one a good sense of the the Autumn season in all its glory! Apple Barn sells apples fresh from local orchards, freshly picked corn, jars of fruit jams, and much more.
Woodstock is also home to a vegan-friendly bakery. Soleil and Suns Bakery(Soleil and Suns Bakery) is a wonderful find along route 169. I purchased a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and a ginger scone. The two sweets were delightful!
Vegans will enjoy dining at The Inn at Woodstock Hill’s restaurant(Inn at Woodstock Hill Rstaurant). The eclectic menu and stylish restaurant space are welcoming to visitors. One of the vegetarian options on their menu is actually vegan. The chef is happy to accommodate. The meal included a choice of salad. I opted for the green salad with balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil.
My plans for the remainder of the afternoon included driving along route 169 north, while admiring the foliage-filled views and historic 17th and 18th century homes along the way. When I arrived in the town of Putnam, I noticed the fanciful and decorated bicycles in the main commercial district.
A live theater performance of “Frankenstein” at the 113 year old former vaudeville theater; the “Bradley Playhouse” was next on my agenda. It was a contemporary version of Mary Shelley’s classic tale.
After the splendid performance, it was time for dinner! The spacious 85 Main Restaurant(85 Main Restaurant ) is a vegan-friendly treasure within the center of downtown. The menu offers several vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. My dinner selection was the “Vegetarian Experience”. The entree consisted of risotto with grilled zucchini, broccoli, red peppers, grilled asparagus, and green beans, served with a side of tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce. I really enjoyed my dinner!
My road trip to northeast Connecticut’s route 169 National Scenic Byway was complete. I enjoyed the glorious Fall foliage, the historic old homes, and the wonderful vegan dining options in the region! I recommend that vegan travelers visit this area of the state to appreciate all that this region has to offer for scenery and vegan foods!