Litchfield County, filled with 18th-century houses and antiques shops in the towns of Litchfield, Kent, and Woodbury, is in the northwest corner of Connecticut, about two hours northeast of New York.
The county's main thoroughfare is Route 202, but the most beautiful drive is Route 63, around the town of Litchfield, with its broad lawns and 18th-century houses.
LILAC HEDGES This two-apartment complex—Library Suite downstairs, Chestnut Suite above—is housed in a 200-year-old former dairy barn and attached to the home of owners John and Diantha Bowling. The refrigerator is stocked with cheeses, fruit, breads, eggs, and anything else you need. Take the larger-size Chestnut Suite for its 1,500-square-foot duplex layout with original chestnut beams, skylights, and windows facing a pasture. Chestnut Suite, $175; Library Suite, $150. $ 40 East Litchfield Road, Litchfield; 860-567-8839.
THE MAYFLOWER INN This gray-shingled 19th-century complex, formerly a school that had fallen into disrepair, is the ultimate grand country estate. The 25 rooms are decked out with fourposters and just enough chintz without going over the line; some have terraces facing the Shakespeare Garden and the rest of the 28 acres. There's a quintessential wood-paneled library with leather armchairs, plus scattered antiques and 18th- and 19th-century paintings in gilded frames. The chef deftly prepares straightforward dishes with perfect ingredients, from crab cakes with a roasted-red-pepper vinaigrette to ahi niçoise. The small spa has excellent treatments and personal trainers. $400-$1,300. 118 Woodbury Road (Route 47), Washington; 860-868-9466.
CAROLE PECK'S GOOD NEWS CAFE Peck's menu is all over the map—pecan-crusted oysters with cherry, jicama, tomatillo salsa; Prince Edward Island mussels in a Thai coconut-lime broth; flash-fired spiced beef with a salad of pea shoots, mango, and avocado; jicama and sugar-snap peas with a mint vinaigrette; quail with white beans, artichokes, spinach, and tomatoes. It may look schizophrenic, but it's exciting food. Don't miss the bittersweet chocolate cupcake and the fruit tart of the day. $65. 694 Main Street South, Woodbury; 860-266-4663.
OLIVA Chef Riad Aamar was born in Jerusalem and has lived in Italy, and those influences turn up on his lively Mediterranean menu. His dishes reflect bright flavor combinations, such as a salad of grilled corn, cucumber, red onion, tomato, and mint, or roasted Moroccan chicken with rosemary, mixed spices, and pomegranate sauce. $70. $ Route 45 and East Shore Road, New Preston; 860-868-1787.
WEST STREET GRILL An early proponent of international cooking and local purveyors, this sophisticated restaurant consistently delivers perfectly prepared dishes that are just creative enough: grilled marinated calamari with roasted tomato and flageolet beans, wood-grilled lemon-and-thyme-infused veal chop in a citrus beurre blanc. A warm welcome is offered by owner James O'Shea and chef James O'Dell. $90. West Street on the Green, Litchfield; 860-567-3885.
DREAM HOUSE "It's a big adult playground," explains Teresa Graham, who with husband John Sullivan owns this furniture, art, clothing, and home furnishings gallery. Every object is handmade, including a copy of a child's 18th-century French armchair (made, however, in Indonesia); a 19th-century Indian donkey cart turned into a coffee table; a Philippine mahogany dining table; and Graham's lean, draped gowns in velvets and silks. 931 Bantam Road (Route 202), Bantam; 860-567-8784.
PAULINE'S PLACE Exquisite estate jewelry. 79 North Main Street, Kent; 860-927-4475.
WHITE FLOWER FARM The ultimate resource for gardeners, this nursery has row after row of perennials, herbs, vines, and the various pots, planters, and decorative items to surround them. Closed Dec. 31-Feb. 10. Route 63 south of Litchfield; 860-567-8789.
COUNTRY LOFT ANTIQUES French pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries. 557 Main Street South, Woodbury; 203-266-4500.
ELEISH VAN BREEMS ANTIQUES Scandinavian antiques, painted furniture, embroidered linens. 487 Main Street South, Woodbury; 203-263-7030; www.evbantiques.com.
HAMRAH'S Oriental, Persian, and European carpets. 115 Main Street North, Woodbury; 203-266-4343.
MILL HOUSE ANTIQUES English and French country and formal furniture, Welsh dressers, yew wood and mahogany dining-room tables. $ 1068 Main Street North, Woodbury; 203-263-3446.
WAYNE PRATT ANTIQUES For 18th- and 19th-century American pieces. 346 Main Street South, Woodbury; 203-263-5676.
About This Guide
Prices In U.S. dollars.
Hotel Prices For high-season, double occupancy, from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.
Restaurant Prices For a three-course dinner for two, without wine or service.
Telephone Numbers The area code for the Berkshires (Massachusetts) is 413; Bucks County (Pennsylvania), 215; Hunterdon County (New Jersey), 609; Dutchess County (New York), 845; the Hamptons (New York), 631; Litchfield County (Connecticut), 860.
Platinum Card Travel Service (PTS) or Centurion Travel Service (CTS) For travel assistance, call 800-443-7672 (PTS) or 877-877-0987 (CTS).
$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.
Disclaimer: The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication in October 2001, but we suggest you confirm all details with the service establishments before making travel plans.