The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

It’s that time of year to savor Connecticu­t

- JONATHAN L. WHARTON Jonathan L. Wharton is the School of Graduate and Profession­al Studies associate dean and teaches political science at Southern Connecticu­t State University in New Haven.

For the next few weeks, this is the high point of autumn in New England. Connecticu­t is especially fortunate that we’re beginning to hit peak leafing season and we can still enjoy a 60-plusdegree day. It’s this time of the year that we should savor the outdoors with cuisine and spirits.

For the last few weekends, I have been venturing to a different New Haven pizzeria (Modern, Pepe’s, Sally’s, Da Legna), and it’s like falling in love again. Elm City’s well-known restaurant­s are thriving right now.

Beyond the pies, this is especially the time of year for brewery and vineyard visits. Connecticu­t has plenty to frequent, but I find the ones along the shoreline the best for being outdoors. Fairfield County has notable breweries like Kent Falls and Two Roads. But east of New Haven are Stony Creek, Thimble Island and Stewards of the Land breweries, which have space for you to spread out and enjoy outside activities like lawn games and live music. Besides, it’s autumn, and pumpkin ales and Octoberfes­t beers are plentiful. (I have been savoring them this month.) There’s an online CT Beer Trail map that is especially helpful with keeping track of Connecticu­t’s breweries.

Of course, pumpkin patches and apple picking at so many local farms are popular this time of the year. I have to confess that I finally had my first seasonal slice of pumpkin pie this past week. Lyman Orchards and Bishop’s Orchards are just a few of the places that I frequent because their pies and baked goods this time of the year are outstandin­g. You also can’t overlook farmers markets, and so many shoreline towns have them near or on their town greens.

And this is truly the time of the year to enjoy the outdoors with leaves beginning to turn. We are so fortunate to have local and state parks that are great for hiking and mountain biking. In New Haven, West Rock and East Rock parks have terrific views and make for a great afternoon hike or bike trek. Kayaking is also ideal right now since the outside temperatur­e is nearly the same as the water temperatur­e and there are some great launches and rental spots. I also golf the most this time of the year since it’s not too hot and the leaves really do come through on so many golf courses. I highly recommend courses that are inland and near hills for some of the best views, such as Farmingbur­y Hills in Wolcott facing Mount Southingto­n or Tunxis Country Club in Farmington facing Avon Mountain. Finally, what would New England be without a good day trip or drive around Connecticu­t on the weekends? Bird watching and picnicking along the shoreline and Connecticu­t River Valley are ideal right now. We are fortunate to have some highways and roads with great views. Routes 7 and 8 are popular this time of the year. But many of us enjoy Litchfield County for its meandering hills and countless farms.

While I’ll get my fair share of enjoying areas around Connecticu­t, it’s best that we all try to get a piece of this season in the next few weeks. This is prime time for New England. As an early fall trip, for example, I ventured to Vermont this past weekend to visit friends and microbrewe­ries. Few American regions can rival New England at this time of year. And we have the unique opportunit­y to venture to nearby northern states with their peak foliage and get a glimmer of what’s to come. As someone who left Connecticu­t and returned years ago, I easily took this season for granted. But now is the time to savor our region.

As someone who left Connecticu­t and returned years ago, I easily took this season for granted.

 ?? Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? Colorful fall foliage in Sharon on a recent day.
Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticu­t Media Colorful fall foliage in Sharon on a recent day.
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