Newtown is a small town in southwestern Connecticut that is rich in history and surrounded by the beauty of nature. Founded in 1705 when English colonists purchased the land from the Pootatuck Nation, over the centuries Newtown has seen revolution, urban development, and tragedy.
Today, Newtown provides an excellent base for anyone wishing to escape the urban sprawl and explore a more peaceful world. Here’s a shortlist of 5 activities you can do while visiting Newtown today.
#1. Go hiking or snowshoeing
The countryside surrounding Newtown offers wonderful hiking opportunities. Al’s Trail is a 10.7-mile track that leads you through open space, town forests, and leads you into the upper block of the Paugusset State Forest.
There Al’s Trail merges into the Lillinonah Trail. This is a Blue-Blazed hiking trail through the lower Housatonic River Valley. This 5.9-mile loop trail includes the ascent to a 480-feet high point, takes you past the foundations of long-abandoned homes and a boat launch. The trail is named after the legendary heroine in a local romantic tragedy, a Native American lady who fell in love with an English colonist.
The Lillinonah Trail is a versatile resource mainly used for hiking and picnicking but transforming into an excellent snowshoeing trail during winter months. Parts of the trail are also used for hunting, horseback riding, fishing, and cross-country skiing. During hunting season, it’s advisable to wear bright orange clothes while hiking!
If you enjoy hiking, also check out the wonderful trails available around Sticks & Stones Farm in Newtown. But if it’s skiing and other snow-related activities you want, note that Thunder Ridge Ski Area is a mere 22 miles away, meaning that you can use Newton as a base should you wish to enjoy skiing or snowboarding while you’re on vacation.
#2. Enjoy birdwatching
Between Newtown and Southbury, in the vicinity of the Shepaug Hydroelectric Station, you can find the Shepaug Eagle Observation Area. Since the Shepaug Dam was built in 1955, it has become a popular feeding and nesting ground for hawks and eagles. Birds frequently spotted here include bald eagles, goshawks, red-tailed hawks, great blue herons and other species of waterfowl.
The observation area is run by a mixture of volunteers from the Connecticut Audubon society and utility company employees. The staff are on hand to assist and educate you as well as providing binoculars and spotting scopes on loan. This lookout is open between December and March on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings or by advance reservation.
#3. Give your kids a treat
In 2011, a group of local moms gathered together to establish the EverWonder Children’s Museum. However, the actual exhibits were designed and developed by major science museums, such as the Sciencenter in Ithaca and the Rochester Museum & Science Center. The knowledge and experience of the designers show in the quality of the many exhibits designed to entertain and educate your children through hands-on experimentation concerning big scientific concepts.
The exhibits include swinging pendulums, a Lego table, a flight lab, and a selection of live animals. Come say hello to Armstrong the goldfish, Cassini the ball python Venus and Jupiter the albino African clawed frogs, and Mrs. Newton and Mr. Einstein the bearded dragons.
#4. Blue Jay Orchards
The fall is a great time to be in Newton because that’s when the Blue Jay Orchards are open for you to come and choose your own pumpkin or pick your own apples. The orchard boasts 15 varieties of apple that each ripens at different times, from early August to mid-October. Go along and pick your own Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Ida Red, Jonagold, and Red Delicious.
The orchard also features a farm market, where you can find locally produced cider (of course!) honey, jams, jellies, and baked goods such as traditional American apple pies.
#5. Go to the theatre
When was the last time you went to the theatre? Newtown boasts an extremely popular community theatre based in The Little Theatre with a history that stretches back over 70 years. The Town Players perform an eclectic mix of plays with a new production each season.
At the time of writing, the upcoming show was Prescription: Murder — A Columbo Mystery, which is the play that inspired the popular TV show Columbo. This production will run from November 15th through December 7th, 2019.
Thursday evening and Sunday matinees are only $20 while Friday and Saturday are $25. There are also 20% discounts for students and seniors. Where else can you enjoy quality community theatre at such a low price? With wine, soft drinks, and snacks available, you’re guaranteed a wonderful time in the Little Theatre.
And there’s more
That’s just a shortlist of activities for you and your family in Newtown, Connecticut. One activity not listed that will go to the top of the list in the near future is a visit to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary.
This isn’t on the list because it has yet to be built, but it’s coming soon. You may decide you want to visit the site, which is already open to the public. This planned animal sanctuary is being built in memory of one of the 27 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy in 2012.
Six-year-old Catherine loved animals and dreamed of running an animal sanctuary when she grew up. Sadly, she will never get the chance. But others have worked tirelessly to ensure that her dream will soon become a reality. When it does, this sanctuary set on 34 acres will permanently house 300 abandoned animals and provide rehabilitation for many others.