Summer White House – Washington, The Litchfield Hill’s Lifestyle Capital
Where else but Washington might you encounter two secretaries of state and two former presidents? Yes, Washington, D.C., but also Washington, CT, named after G.W., who visited during the Revolution. Hillary Clinton weekends at The Mayflower Inn with husband Bill, and you might bump into the current Secretary of State in the Depot—not Mike Pompeo but Tia Leoni, star of “Madame Secretary” on CBS.
People watching with star power is fun, but second home owners and Litchfield Hills visitors are drawn by scenic beauty gilded with premier arts and culture, world-class dining, spas and shopping, and glorious nature preserves etched with trails.
“It’s less than two hours from New York and it’s completely in the country. People mostly just love being here and exploring,” says Regine Laverge-Schade, owner of Hidden Valley Bed & Breakfast in Washington, whose guests have included the likes of actor John Hamm and astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
Exploring yields authentic branded experiences. Woodbury is Connecticut’s Antiques Capital, Kent is a mecca for art lovers, New Preston provides sophisticated shopping, West Cornwall has a red covered bridge, Salisbury is home to racing at Lime Rock Park,
Litchfield wears its post-Colonial charm as an emblem of welcome, and Bantam is a bite-sized Brooklyn with art, home design, and the culinary dazzle of Arethusa Farm empire’s ice cream, pastries, and fine dining.
“The Litchfield Hills has stood the test of time as a place for visitors to unwind,” says Janet L. Serra, executive director of the Western CT Convention and Visitors Bureau, referring to the region’s status as an escape for New Yorkers and others since the 1800s. “Washington has Connecticut’s newest attraction, Wigwam Escape at the Institute for American Indian Studies. This immersive escape room teaches people how Native Americans lived in the area before the arrival of Europeans, a story that is often not told.”
A perfect home base for touring, Washington is enjoying an apogee moment.
The Litchfield Jazz Festival takes up residence July 26 to 28 at The Gunnery boarding school with concerts featuring internationally acclaimed talent such as trumpeter Randy Brecker. The opening night gala will be held at the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens, the site where the former Vinnie’s Texaco Station, long a vacant eyesore, was transformed into an art gallery and jewel of the vibrant Washington Depot scene.
The jazz festival coincides with The Five Senses Festival, organized by the world renowned, Washington-based dance troupe Pilobolus, featuring dance performances, concerts, art, local food, “creative conversation”, and more July 21, July 26–28, and August 2-4 this year. The festival is being held again at Spring Hill Vineyards in New Preston, a district whose village center, “perched atop one amazing waterfall” below Lake Waramaug, is another locus of shopping and dining in Washington, with a new addition called Stars Hollow Yarns. The creator of the TV series “The Gilmore Girls” modeled the fictional town Stars Hollow on Washington, and the show’s Independence Inn is based on the Mayflower Inn, which just recently became part of the Auberge Resorts Collection.
The Mayflower is luxe, Hidden Valley B&B exudes French country charm, but for larger groups and longer stays, head to Posh Pads CT —washingtonct.com—whose 15 luxury vacation rental homes in Washington and Roxbury serve vacationing families, future buyers and residents, boarding school families, and more.
Stephen R. Brighenti, owner of Post Pads CT and a hospitality world veteran whose long list of credentials includes partner in Classic Hotels of Connecticut and partner and co-founder of Gotham Hospitality Group shares, “We love living in Washington and Litchfield County because we have more than our fair share of exceptional restaurants, inns, natural beauty, wildlife, year-round recreational activities, and a vibrant cultural scene.”