If you’re looking for bright lights and 24/7 action, you’re not going to find them in Granby. A small, peaceful little town of just over 11000 people, it’s about as far from hip and happening as it’s possible to get. But if you prefer peace and tranquility over noise and crowds, parks and trails over shops and bars, and rolling hills and ancient forests over skyscrapers and malls, you’re going to have a ball. Whether you want to sample some wine at one of its award-winning wineries, check out the wildlife on one of its scenic trails, or pick your own apples at one of its many orchards, you’ll find plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy. Without further ado, here are the 20 best things to do in Granby, Connecticut.
20. Enjoy a picnic at Ahrens Park
Ahrens Park is a hugely popular recreational area for both locals and visors alike. With a baseball field, a lacrosse field, a soccer field, community gardens, a soccer pitch, plenty of picnicking spots, and a pavilion, it’s a great place to while away a few hours. If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to join in the fun at one of its regular seasonal events.
19. Climb Dewey Granby Oak
Named as one of Granby’s top attractions by eileenandersonrealtor.com, Dewey Granby Oak occupies a very special place in the town’s heart – so much so, in fact, it’s been used as a symbol in the Town Seal since 1975. It is, essentially, nothing more and nothing less than a tree. It’s also quite possibly the coolest and most photographed tree in Connecticut, so leave your misgivings to one side, grab your camera and head out to take some snaps at one of New England’s oldest and most treasured oaks.
18. Pick up some produce at the Garlic Farm
Granby’s not short on a farm or two, but the Garlic Farm ranks as one of its best. Located in a historic barn on the outskirts of town, it offers visitors the chance to shop from a huge range of fresh, organic products, including herbs, beets, carrots, chard, cucumbers, winter squash, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, and, of course, a ton of garlic. if your pantry is looking a little bare, this is the place to restock it.
17. Admire the gatehouse tower at Saville Dam
If you didn’t think a dam could make a worthwhile attraction, just wait until you visit Saville Dam. Located at the south end of the Barkhamsted Reservoir on the Farmington River, it’s an incredibly tranquil, peaceful spot with great views, a bunch of picnic spots (many of which date back to the dam’s construction in the 1930s), and an intriguing landmark in the shape of the Upper Gatehouse Tower, which comes complete with a soaring conical roof, medieval-inspired round-arched windows, and some very impressive buttresses.
16. Indulge your sweet tooth at Grassroots Ice Cream
If you’re in the mood for something sweet and refreshing, head for Grassroots Ice Cream. Named as one of the best places to eat in Granby by Tripadvisor, it offers a delicious selection of creamy ice cream (top flavors include sunflower seeds and honey, maple syrup and walnuts, strawberry oreo, and mint chocolate chip), pies, cakes, and sweet treats.
15. Pick your own apples at Clark Farms at Bushy Hill Orchard
If your kids refuse to eat anything that doesn’t come with a mile-long ingredient list, introduce them to nature’s candy at Clark Farms. One of the best u-pick farms in the state, it boasts over 15000 apple trees, together with orchards full of Asian pears, blueberries, nectarines, and peaches. Chemical pesticides are limited, and no apple tree is allowed to grow over 2 meters, with the result that even little kids can join in the fun. Once you’ve picked as much as you can, stop by the creamery to pick up some goodies to take home before hitting the bakery for some home-baked muffins turnovers or donuts. If you’re in the mood for something more substantial, the farm-to-table cafe offers an excellent breakfast and brunch menu.
14. Hike the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
If you like hiking, don’t miss the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. A mixed-use trail that winds through Granby on its 80-mile journey from Connecticut to Massachusetts, it passes through some remarkable scenery and numerous historical points of interest from its days as one of the primary transportation routes in the state. The trail is paved and easy to traverse, making it a great option for kids and seniors.
13. Explore the Tunxis State Forest
Stretched along the banks of the Barkhamsted Reservoir is the Tunxis State Forest, a wonderfully scenic area blessed with a ton of outdoor recreation opportunities for the whole family to enjoy. Some of the most popular pastimes include mountain biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, fishing, and letterboxing.
12. Admire the beauty of Enders Falls
On the hunt for some top-notch nature? If you are, make a beeline for Ender Falls. Set three-quarters of a mile down a scenic trail in Enders Forest, the falls are widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in the state. Consisting of five distinct sets of waterfalls separated by pools, there are enough cascades, horsetails, slides, and plunges to satisfy even the most hard-to-please waterfall fan. The swimming hole at the base of the waterfalls is regularly used by both anglers and bathers alike. The swimming is glorious, but apply common sense and don’t risk it if you’re alone – the slippery rocks and fast currents shouldn’t be taken lightly.
11. Shop till you drop at Old Mill Pond Village
If you’re looking for a very different shopping experience from the usual, head directly for Old Mill Pond Village. Set in a clutch of rustic barns and outbuildings clustered around a very photogenic old pond, it’s got everything you could ever need, from outdoor furniture and yard decorations to jewelry and kitchenware. Whether you want a baby’s bonnet or a candle, a pepper mill or a new closet, this is the place to find it.
10. Walk the Metacomet Trail
Located around 5 miles south of Granby is the access point for the Metacomet Trail, a 62.7-mile Blue-Blazed hiking trail that cuts along the 200-million-year-old Metacomet Ridge of central Connecticut. As Wikipedia notes, the trail is considered remarkably rugged and scenic, with numerous points of ecologic, historic, and geologic interest. Along the way, you’ll pass by swamps, lakes, dramatic cliff faces, cascading waterfalls, farmland, historic sites, and the summits of Talcott Mountain and the Hanging Hills. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could spend several days traversing its entire length. If you’re not, even a short stroll will leave you with plenty of lasting memories.
9. Sample the wine at Brignole Vineyards
If you like wine, you’re going to love Brignole Vineyards. An award-winning vineyard that focuses on California-grown varieties of grapes along with those tough enough to brave the Connecticut climate, it’s a lovely place to head for a relaxing afternoon among the vines. The tasting room is sensational, both in its design (think Greek Revival with contemporary flourishes) and its offerings, which include both blended and single-variety wines, sangria, and even wine slushies (yes, they’re a thing, and yes, you really need to try one). If you visit in summer, there’s even more fun in store, with trivia nights, live music events, food trucks, and more besides.
8. Tackle the slopes at Ski Sundown
If you’re visiting Granby during winter, be sure to pack your skis, your warmest clothes, and your sense of adventure. Regardless of whether you’re a novice or an experienced skier, you’ll find something to suit on Ski Sundown’s 16 ski runs. Nine of its runs are green circle, but the four black diamond runs will test the wits of even the most hard-core snow hound. If you want to brush up on your skills, the resort offers both private lessons and walk-in group lessons at a very reasonable price.
7. Enjoy a wine tasting at Lost Acres Vineyard
Just to the north of Granby is Lost Acres Vineyard, a rustic winery with some sensational views and some even more sensational wine. Wine tastings cost a very reasonable $7. For the price, you’ll get to sample your choice of five wines from the wineries selection of single variety and blended wines, and get a complimentary wine glass to take home as a memento. You’re free to take a picnic to enjoy on the grounds, but your best option is to leave the sandwiches at home and enjoy some of the superb plates of cheese, antipasto, and fresh, crusty bread in the farm kitchen. Depending on when you visit, you might even be treated to some live music, a comedy performance, or a farmer’s market.
6. Visit Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine
Copper was first discovered at the site of the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine in the early 1700s. After all the copper had been extracted, the mine was converted into an underground prison, eventually housing hundreds of Loyalists and British prisoners during the Revolutionary War. Once the war was over, it found a new lease of life as Connecticut’s first state confinement institution. Today, the prison’s external buildings have fallen into ruin, but it’s still a fascinating place to visit – the tour of the underground tunnels is particularly engrossing, although you’ll quickly come to realize why its former inhabitants used to refer to it as “hell.”
5. Blow off some steam at Salmon Brook Park
Travel just a little south of the center of Granby and you’ll find Salmon Brook Park. A huge recreation area parked with sports courts, playground, and hiking areas, it’s a great place to take the kids to blow off some steam. At its center is a huge, crystal clear pond with a sandy beach that’s perfect for relaxing, swimming, and splashing around.
4. Shop for souvenirs at Westside 40
Thingstodopost.org reckons a visit to Westside 40 is one of the best things to do in Granby. It’s not hard to see what’s caught their attention. An eclectic Maker’s Market, the site showcases the work of over 40 local and Colorado vendors. If you want to support local businesses and pick up some great gifts to take home with you, it’s a must-visit. With scores of candles, pottery pieces, artisanal furniture, floral arrangements, wine jelly, baby clothes, toys, handcrafted jewelry, organic soap, and artworks, you’ll have no problem finding some top-notch souvenirs.
3. Get back to nature at McLean Game Refuge
Named as one of the best things to do in Granby by The Crazy Tourist, McLean Game Refuge is a 4440-acre nature preserve that stretches from Granby to Canton. It was established by Senator George P. McLean in 1932 as a wildlife sanctuary. Following his death, he left the land to the McLean Fund and it’s remained open to the public ever since. With more than 20 miles of walking trails that pass through some of the most spectacular scenery in the state, it’s a must-visit for nature buffs and wildlife lovers. Keep your eyes peeled for hermit thrushes, pileated woodpeckers, Blackburnian warblers, and winter wrens in particular.
2. Step into the past at Salmon Brook Historical Society
The Salmon Brook Historical Society is the perfect place to spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon. Spread over four museum buildings, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past. The buildings are just as impressive as the exhibits they contain – two (the Rowe and Weed Houses) have even been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1. Explore Enders State Forest
Granby isn’t exactly the kind of big, noisy city you’ll ever feel desperate to escape from, but if you want to swab the urban for the rural completely, head for Enders State Forest. Established in 1970 as a gift from the children of banker John Enders and his wife Harriet to Connecticut, the huge, 1500 acre park is a treasure trove of wetlands, woodlands, waterfalls, and streams. It’s crisscrossed with dozens of scenic nature trails – some challenging, some easy, and all immensely rewarding. Just be aware that the ground can get very damp due to the leafy canopy formed by the trees, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear and watch your step.