Friday, June 20, 2014

CT Open House Day 2014 - In Guilford & New Haven

Promotional Invite

Connecticut Open House Day turned TEN YEARS OLD!.

That's right! The big One-O! And for the past decade, the state of Connecticut has been rolling out the red carpet for both residents and tourists to enjoy all the fun things to do in our great little nutmeg state!

Once a year, many of the businesses, museums, and travel destinations, fling open their doors, at free or reduced prices!  And now it's become an annual event called Connecticut Open House Day (#CTOpenHouse) sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Tourism.

This year they partnered with some of CT's wonderful network of social media mavens to help get the word out. Wendy of Weights Over and Cheryl from traveled to one portion of the state with their families to visit the Dinosaur State Park, New England Air Museum, and the Southington Drive In.

In another part of the state, Michelle, a freelance travel writer, and publisher of She Is Going Places, Kelsey from FleishmanHillard representing CT Tourism, and I went on a walking tour of historic Guilford CT.

And later in this post you'll see we met up with Wendy and Greg of CT Lifestyles Magazine for lunch at the hip and healthy Claire's Corner Copia, in neighboring New Haven CT, home to Yale University, and one of the greatest small cities in American (GSCIA!)

Speaking of great little cities and towns - the Connecticut Tourism Bureau is ALSO running a Connecticut still revolutionary Fan-Favorite Town Contest for a fan favorite town. Vote now for your chance to win a getaway to Niantic! The ZIP and ZEN prize package includes a four-night stay at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina, $100 gift card to Grace Boutique and a free all-day pass to Niantic Bay Bicycles.

VOTE HERE ===> Fan-Favorite-Town

Back to CT Open House Day!

The cowboy and I started off earlier than our 9:45 meet up at the Guilford Town Hall, and decided to head in to Guilford ahead of schedule to have some breakfast on our own. While we were driving down one of the streets near the Guilford Town Green, we spotted a little Quonset Hut that houses a little restaurant called Perk on Church and some other retail establishments! It looked so cute so we stopped and started with a great breakfast before we set off on our historic walking tour.

It was a fun little place to stop and there is a patio for dining al fresco! The cowboy had three eggs over easy and I had a Southwestern Crepe. So good! So spicy! (wipes sweat from brow, gulps water, YUM)

After breakfast we met up with Michelle and Kelsey, our companions for the walk, and Dennis who runs the Guilford Historical Tours, and Elya and Virginia, our two guides for the walking tour. Elya and Virginia are both college students who grew up in Guilford, and have an affinity and love for their hometown, and the history of Guilford's founding. Virginia earned her Girl Scouts' Gold Award for her research on Guilford and the Guilford Green.

It was a beautiful day in CT - and we set out to learn all about Guilford, who, by the way, is getting ready to celebrate their 375th Anniversary!

Our tour guides explained the rigorous process that homeowners go through to have their homes join the prestigious historic registry in town. The historic society will go through town records dating back hundreds of years to find the original owners of the home. After the society authenticates the home, a placard is made that gives the year the house was built and the original owners family name.

Our guides Elya and Virginia explained each house's style: saltbox, Victorian, cape, colonial, or cottage, and pointed out the different architectural details of each.

And there were more than just private homes on the tour! There were churches, town halls, and schools.

Above is the pride of Church Street - a beautiful Queen Anne!

We learned the history of the churches we visited and all about the town's founders. And a truly inspiring moment was viewing the covenant of the original settlers, inscribed with the names of the founding families of Guilford CT!

The Guilford Covenant

We saw many beautiful homes and buildings and at the conclusion of our tour we crossed the town green, where tour guide Virginia pointed out the plaques that described historic information on the town green. Did you know that Guilford Green is the largest continuous Green in New England? And Virginia had a hand in raising the monies and donations for the plaques as part of her civic project.

Before I move on to the second half of our CT Open House Day, I have to say that the Guilford Walking Tour is a MUST for anyone vising the Shoreline area. Guilford has such a rich and storied history, and the tour guides bring each story to life. From learning the green stripes on the poles markthe New England Trail, to a retail establishment that was once the town's Methodist Church; and from the historic Whitfield House and Museum to the eerie Doll House, each area on the tour has an interesting element to it.

What's more, these young adults are marking their own pages in Guilford's history books. They are knowledgeable about the town, engaged in civic events, and on several occasions stopped to introduce us to present day residents and merchants explaining each individual's personal connection to the town.

Make no mistake about it. History is being made, AND preserved, in beautiful Guilford CT!

For more pictures from the Guilford Historic Walking Tour click HERE.

By now it was past noon and we were FAMISHED! So we moved on to Claire's Corner Copia in New Haven, a short 15-20 drive from Guilford.

Claire's is a New Haven staple, serving organic, sustainable, kosher, vegan, and gluten free dishes. And New Haven was just named the Top Foodie City in 2014 by Although Claire's has been in business since 1975, their first location was in my hometown of Branford! And, I'm ashamed to admit that this visit during CT Open House Day was the first time I've been back to Claire's since they moved to New Haven many moons ago.

As soon as we arrived and got in line to order we were were tempted by the delicious desserts on display in their cases! Just look at them!

We had loads of fun with the staff at Claire's! While I sipped on my Cucumber Lemon Freeze we got to browse through one of Claire's cookbooks.

On to our delicious lunch!

 I originally ordered the Cobb Salad and the Cowboy ordered the Pizza Caprese, but when he took a look at my salad, I knew he was going to claim it as his own. What can I looked that good! And I love Pizza Caprese so it was a win-win for both of us!

And here are my tablemates' lunches! More flat bread pizzas, grilled vegetables, a quesidilla, and quiche!

And for dessert, none of us held back! So many offerings that are gluten free, flourless, and just plain good!

What a great day!  For more pictures from our visit to Claire's click HERE

There is so much to do in CT and this was a great example of two fun filled adventures that are 15 minutes from my hometown!

That's what CT Open House is all about - Get out and see what's in your own backyard! From historic towns and tours to trendy eateries - Connecticut has it all! I guess that's why we're Still Revolutionary!

Big thanks to the CT Tourism Bureau for an amazing time, the Guilford Historic Walking Tour for an educational and fun experience, and Claire's Corner Copia for a delicious lunch.

And DON'T FORGET to vote for your Fan-Favorite Town! Vote ==> HERE

For more info on fun events in CT, click the CT Tourism Board ==> HERE

For more info on the Guilford Historic Walking Tour click ==> HERE

For more info on Claire's Corner Copia in New Haven CT click ==> HERE

Explore Connecticut! It's still revolutionary!

What's YOUR favorite thing to do in CT?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Disclaimer: I was invited by the CT Tourism Bureau's Marketing Team to participate in this event as their guest. However, the views, experiences, and opinions are my own. 

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