Connecticut's Fairfield County is filled with autumn color and unexpected discoveries—if you know where to look. New virtual tours on the region's web site make sure that visitors know exactly where to go and how to find the best routes. To make it even easier, three scenic routes with exact directions to each tour stop now can be e-mailed or down-loaded directly from the web site to computers or to an I-phone, I-pod or Blackberry, ready to take along on the road.
The recommended routes cover something for every interest--history, scenery, drives, and hikes, gardens and shopping. They can fill a full day or be divided into shorter segments. A sampling of the pleasures in store include:
Route One: Audubon, Architecture and ArtThe towns and leafy residential back roads of Greenwich and Stamford are the destinations. In Greenwich, stops vary from browsing the shops on Greenwich Avenue, known as Connecticut's Rodeo Drive, to strolling the 285 wooded acres of the Audubon Greenwich. The art and natural history exhibits at the Bruce Museum vie with the history of 17th century Putnam Cottage and the Bush Holley House, circa 1728. Stamford offers the chance for cruises on Long Island Sound, prize antiquing, the modernistic architecture and stained glass of the famous "Fish Church," the Stamford Museum and Nature Center with its picture-perfect Hecksher Farm and 80 acres of wooded nature trails, and the adjoining Bartlett Arboretum with another 91 acres to explore. More scenery waits in a final back roads drive from Stamford to New Canaan and its nature center.
Route Two: Beaches, Birds And BeautyWestport, Fairfield and Easton have many attractive stops. Westport travels include a drive beside the Saugatuck River and stops at beaches on Long Island Sound, along with the Westport Arts Center, Historical Society and the formal and herb gardens at Gilbertie's Herb Gardens. Among the sights in historic Fairfield are the town green and its beautiful Colonials, the town museum and history center, the 18th century Ogden House, Walsh Art Gallery at Fairfield University, and the Connecticut Audubon and Birdcraft Museum, with a six- acre bird sanctuary. Rural Easton leads to more historic homes, a school dating back to 1795 and drives along Route 59, a designated scenic road passing the sparkling Aspetuck Reservoir. A portion of the Aspetuck Trail in Easton is open for hiking.
Route Three: Lighthouses, Oysters And LandscapesNautical Norwalk and Rowayton and wooded Weston and Wilton make up this tour. Norwalk, once known for its oysters, has newer lures such as the Stepping Stones Museum for Children, the Maritime Aquarium, cruises to Sheffield Island with its historic lighthouse for picnics and walks, the shops of SoNo (South Norwalk) and the buildings of the Mill Hill Historic District. The riverside village of Rowayton with the look of a typical New England coastal town offers atmosphere, historic houses and an art center. Devil's Den in Weston is Fairfield County's largest nature preserve providing 21 miles of hiking trails through diverse habitats and the Great Ledge with spectacular views. Weir Farm in Wilton, the summer home of the late impressionist painter J.Alden Weir is the only US National Park devoted to American painting, with a setting worthy of a painting.
For detailed routes and further information about the many attractions of Fairfield County, see www.visitwesternct.com. For a free brochure contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506.