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
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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
www.simsburyhistory.org/buildings/tavern.html

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
www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?A=2716&Q=325272

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
www.rosedale1920.com

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
bushyhill.com
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Sew Inspired Quilt Shop: Come for a Crafting Class

Whether you want to learn to craft for the first time or you just have some DIY materials you need to pick up, you can do so at Sew Inspired Quilt Shop. The store is a crafter's dream, stocked with everything you need to build your own quilt at home. You can even shop online if you don't have time to make it to the store.

But you'll have to actually show up for the crafty classes at Sew Inspired. If you're brand new to DIY, check out a session like the I <3 You Pillow class. It's perfect for newbies, costs just $20, and requires the We Love to Sew Gifts book. Come to the class and leave with your own heart-shaped pillow. Other classes cater to more advanced crafters, teaching special quilting techniques and similar approaches.

Sew Inspired Quilt Shop
8 Wilcox Street
Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 651-8885
www.sewinspiredquilts.com
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Wisdom of the Ages: Much More than a Mere Gift Shop

Wisdom of the Ages isn't simply a gift shop or a book store. It's a place where you can find photos, poetry, and prints (to name just a few of the many items) that will feed your spirit. That's exactly what founder Jane Siegel wanted it to be when she opened Wisdom of the Ages in 1997.

Having grown up in a home where spirituality was encouraged, Siegel wanted to create a safe haven for similar spiritual expression in Simsbury. She and son Charlie operate Wisdom of the Ages with that though in mind, offering private sessions for people who need counseling, chakra-clearing, or anything else customers might be seeking. The store also hosts psychic readings, conducted by Charlie and other seasoned psychics. If you want to learn how to meditate or otherwise fuel your soul, attend one of the classes regularly held at Wisdom of the Ages for a glimpse inside of yourself.

Wisdom of the Ages
1408 Hopmeadow Street
Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 651-1172
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Take a Spin Class at the Farmington Valley YMCA

The Farmington Valley makes fitness and fun accessible to everyone via its many programs. They promote getting off the couch and doing something worthwhile, and there's something for everyone to do at the YMCA, whether you want to rock climb, go for a swim, or join one of the many wellness-oriented programs.

Looking for a way to jumpstart your new fitness regime? The Farmington Valley YMCA has a slew of options for you. Sign up for a few of the group exercise classes to find one you're truly passionate about, like the cardio weight training class and the HIIT (high-intensity interval training) class. You can even take a spin class (called group cycle) or come in for Zumba. The Y also hosts regular events, like holiday breakfasts with Santa and drives for local charities, so there's always something going on not far from home.

Farmington Valley YMCA
97 Salmon Brook Street
Granby, CT 06035
(860) 653-5524
www.ghymca.org/index.cfm
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Find Sweeping Views and One of the Area’s Best Hikes at Talcott Mountain State Park

At Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury you’ll not only find a great hiking destination, but also a miniature history lesson right in the middle of your hike. Choose the main trail and hike the steep hills to the Heublein Tower, a historic tower built in 1914 that visitors can tour for free during their hike. Once inside, you’ll discover sweeping views of the Simsbury area, the Hartford skyline and the beautiful, lush forests throughout the Farmington River Valley. There are also clearly marked signs that show you exactly that you’re looking at from each vantage point. Continue on your way through Talcott Mountain State Park and discover even more wooded forests, well-maintained trails and occasional inclines that lead to even more views. There are benches and restrooms throughout the park that make great rest stops, as well as wooden pavilions that you can rent out for picnics or parties on warm summer’s days.

Talcott Mountain State Park
Summit Ridge Drive
Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 242-1158
www.yelp.com/biz/talcott-mountain-state-park-simsbury

Plan a Day of Family Fun at Blue Fox Rock & Bowl

At Blue Fox Rock & Bowl in Simsbury, you’ll find hours of active fun for the whole family or your group of friends. This spacious bowling alley has an old-fashioned look that you won’t find at modern, state-of-the-art alleys, but it’s still very well maintained. There are a number of lanes with a well-stocked pro shop where customers can rent balls and shoes before bowling, and everything is available for very affordable prices that make for a great way to bowl on a budget.

In addition to bowling, Blue Fox Rock & Bowl also offers a complete laser tag facility that visitors young and old will love, as well as an outdoor miniature golf course that makes for some fun, friendly competition on a sunny day. End your visit with a visit to the snack bar or the soft serve ice cream stand to reward everyone with treats for trying their best.

Blue Fox Rock & Bowl
1603 Hopmeadow Street
Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 658-4479
www.bluefoxenterprise.com

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