D & D Market: Shop Smart

If you’re looking for an exceptional Italian deli in Hartford, this place fits the bill. Vito D’Aprile opened D & D Market all the way back in 1932. Through three generations of family, the market has continued to accomplish that task to the present day.

The butcher shop here is one of the best in town, with skilled carvers using impeccable knife skills – no automatic machines. House-made sausages are a specialty here, robust and overflowing with flavor. Their selection of Italian cheeses is also out of this world. If you don’t feel like cooking, the deli makes delightful sandwiches. The sausage and peppers might be the best in Hartford, and the thinly-sliced prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil grinder is also well-regarded.

D & D Market
276 Franklin Avenue
Hartford, CT 06114
(860) 296-3261

Stop and Smell the Roses at Elizabeth Park in Hartford

Elizabeth Park is a historical West Hartford gem with over 100 impressive acres of stunning gardens, wide open green space, serene walking paths, and a variety of recreational facilities.

From tennis courts and softball fields, to basketball and lawn bowling, you’ll find everything you need for a great day outdoors. Take a stroll over the stone bridges over the Laurel Pond, or enjoy a picnic or a fabulous brunch outside at the famous Pond House café. Visit the beautiful Perennial or Tulip Garden, escape the heat in the shade garden, or take a walk through the Overlook, East Lawn, and the Horticultural Garden. Don’t miss the central Rose Garden, which has been the focal point of Elizabeth Park for over 100 years.

There are no admission fees, so Elizabeth Park is the perfect place for your next family outing or special date. Visit the website to learn more about all that Elizabeth Park has to offer the West Hartford community.

Elizabeth Park
1561 Asylum Ave
West Hartford, CT 06117
(860) 231-9443

Spiritus Wine Store: A Hartford Wine Shop

The world of wine is more diverse than ever before, with excellent vintages coming not just from Europe but California, South America and even Australia. If you want an exceptional guide to the best bottles in town, head down to Spiritus on Asylum Street. This awesome Hartford wine store has a serious selection of bottles sourced from all over, and they’re happy to educate new wine aficonados. There are some incredible values on offer here as well, so don’t feel like you have to drain your bank account to get a good bottle. If you’re looking for something specific that they don’t have in stock, they’ll be happy to order it for you. Their customer service is absolutely spectacular, with one of the most organized inventory systems ever seen in a wine store. They also carry a selection of hard ciders and other spirits.

Spiritus Wine Store
220 Asylum Street
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 247-5431

AvaGrace Gifts: Something Special for Everyone

You can go shopping at AvaGrace Gifts even if you can't actually make it into the store. Its online store has all of the same fun, colorful accessories and trinkets that you'll find at the brick and mortar location on Hopmeadow Street. Shop online, then have your item delivered right to your home or set aside so that you can pick it up in-store later.

The fun, funky inventory at AvaGrace Gifts offers a little something for everyone. Grab a cute monogrammed makeup bag for one of your friends, or snag a much pricier LETIZIA handbag for yourself. Browse the selection of on-trend infinity and blanket scarves, or peruse the collection of birch wood and twine art by Amanda O. Hobo bags, cuddly giraffe stuffed animals for babies, and even gag gifts like Poo-Pourri also line the shelves at AvaGrace Gifts, so you never know exactly what you'll find at this colorful boutique.

AvaGrace Gifts
1408 Hopmeadow Street
Simsbury, CT 06070

Jojo’s Coffee: Local Coffee Shop

Take a break from typical coffee chains and head over to Jojo's Coffee on Pratt St. for your caffeine fix. This is the perfect spot for a quick lunch and coffee. The coffee beverages are delicious. If you decide to eat in the shop your coffee comes in an oversized mug with a delightful leaf design drawn on the lattes. The teas are a hidden gem. The bags are filled at the counter to your specifications. When your hungry the menu has a great selection of lunch sandwiches and tasty treats like home made granola and scrumptious blueberry scones. There are a few tables available to sit and chat with friends or use the free WiFi. The staff is always friendly and is known to offer suggestions for regulars on their favorite drinks.

Jojo's Coffee
22 Pratt St
Hartford, CT 06117
Neighborhood: Downtown
(860) 524-1488


Step Back in Time with a Visit to the Phelps Tavern Museum & Homestead

The Phelps Tavern Museum in Simsbury showcases what local life and entertainment was like for residents in the town during the 18th and 19th centuries. The building was home to five generations of the Phelps family, and it also served as a local tavern and hotel.

The museum is small, so you don’t need to plan for much time spent exploring. The exhibits include information about the Phelps family history and what daily life was like as a tavern keeper. There’s even a display of what would’ve been served on the menu in the tavern for each meal.

The tavern’s grounds are popular in the summer time when the gardens are blooming. Be sure to take a walk over to the nearby cemetery for a bit more history from as far back as the 1600s!

Phelps Tavern Museum & Homestead
800 Hopmeadow Street
Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 658-2500

Hike to Heublein Tower at Talcott Mountain State Park

Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury is a beloved local attraction in Simsbury, particularly among local hikers seeking a moderate workout. Heublein Tower is a popular attraction, but you’ll have to hike just over a mile to get to it. The tower itself is a museum and historic home that visitors can tour most days, and there is an observation deck at the top.

When the weather is nice, lots of people will camp out at the nearby picnic tables, take advantage of the public grills, and enjoy the sun. The views of Simsbury and Avon from the top of the mountain are some you shouldn’t miss.

The park opens at 8 a.m and closes at sunset, but hours vary by season, so call ahead to confirm it will be open when you plan to arrive. And possibly the best part: entrance to the park is free!

Talcott Mountain State Park
Summit Ridge Drive
Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 242-1158

Modern Pastry: Hartford Treats

The mark of a truly great bakery is consistency, and Hartford locals have nothing but good things to say about Modern Pastry. This full-service baking shop puts their best into everything that comes out of the oven, from simple cookies to over-the-top wedding cakes. Everything is made from scratch to a rigorous standard of quality, and you might become a fan after just one visit.

The cannolis here have perfectly crisp pastry shells filled with creamy filling. The almond cookies are said to be well worth trying. Other popular choices include the cakes, which are dense, flavorful and truly tasty. Try the red velvet cake, which is a popular choice among regular visitors. Modern Pastry also serves a variety of frozen desserts, with locals raving about the chocolate ice.

Visit Modern Pastry's website to learn more about this Hartford bakery!

Modern Pastry
422 Franklin Avenue
Hartford, CT 06114
(860) 296-3647

Sip Local Wines at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards

Just a short drive from downtown Hartford, Rosedale Farms & Vineyards offers a refreshing country escape to residents of the surrounding area.

The four-acre vineyard has won awards for its wines. If you’d like to try before you buy, you can take part in a wine tasting on weekends, which includes five wine samples and a souvenir wine glass. By becoming a member of the farm, you’ll buy into their CSA program and get farm-fresh produce every week throughout the entire harvest season. Non-members can still get a piece of the fresh produce in the farm store. .

In the fall, there are lots of family-friendly activities, like hay rides, a corn maze, and farm tours. And in the summer season, Chef-to-Farm dinners featuring a wine tasting and fresh farm ingredients are a weekly occurrence.

Check the venue's website for a calendar of events that’s updated constantly with upcoming activities!

Rosedale Farms & Vineyards
25 E Weatogue Street
Simsbury Center, CT 06070
(860) 651-3926

Bushy Hill Orchard: Local Food and Family Fun

Whether you want to pick your own apples, bring home some fresh baked goods, or sit down for farm-to-table fare, you can do so at Bushy Hill Orchard near Simsbury. It might be hard to believe, given that the farm was basically falling apart in the mid-70s—that is, until Hal and Nora Law rescued it. They restored the dilapidated farm to its former glory and, in 2010, passed it on to Allen and Becky Clark. The Clark's have breathed new life into Bushy Hill Orchard, which is why locals love to visit.

In the autumn, people come to pick their own apples in the orchard. Afterwards, they can grab something sweet from the bakery or the ice cream shop. But if you really want to experience what this working farm can do, you should check out the Farm to Table Cafe. Any ingredients that don't come right from Bushy Hill Orchard hail from other local farms, and they're folded into brunch fare every weekend from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. So when you dig into a fluffy pile of scrambled eggs at the cafe, know that they were laid by local chickens.

Bushy Hill Orchard
33 Bushy Hill Road
Granby, CT 06035
(860) 653-4022

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