15 Best Things to Do in Bloomfield (CT)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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This adorable little central Connecticut town is in rural landscapes that will take your breath away, all somehow within six miles of the state capital.

Ever-present on the western horizon is Talcott Mountain, belonging to the 100-mile Metacomet Ridge.

This peak is 13 miles long and its highest point is crowned by the Heublein Tower (1914). This building looks like it belongs in the Alps and can be climbed in summer and autumn. I’d challenge anyone to find a prettier place to admire the foliage in fall. 

In the valley, Bloomfield is mostly agricultural, and until not too long ago had a booming shade tobacco industry.

Among the rambling meadows and woods are two of Connecticut’s best public golf courses. Meanwhile if you’re a beer connoisseur two of the finest craft breweries in the state await you in Bloomfield.

1. Penwood State Park

Penwood State ParkSource: Finwe09 / shutterstock
Penwood State Park

The entirety of Bloomfield’s western boundary is straddled by two state parks on a 200-million-year-old basalt fault known as the Metacomet Ridge.

This striking landform, created by ancient lava flows, is 100 miles long and cuts north from Long Island Sound to the Massachusetts-Vermont border.

The northernmost of those two state parks on the ridge in Bloomfield is Penwood State Park, encompassing the northern portion of the 13-mile long Talcott Mountain.

The park is glorious in spring and autumn, when wildflowers like trillium, hepatica, bloodroot and Dutchman’s breeches are in bloom. I have to mention the foliage in fall, which is astonishingly pretty.

The main lookout in Penwood State Park is The Pinnacle. This grants views to the south over the ridgeline to Heublein Tower, which I’ll talk about below.

2. Thomas Hooker Brewery

Thomas Hooker BrewerySource: JeepersMedia / Flickr | CC BY
Thomas Hooker Brewery

A small-batch beer brand with a regional reputation, the Thomas Hooker Brewery. It’s named for the founder of Hartford and relocated to Bloomfield from the city in 2007. 

Just off Granby Street you can pay a visit to their main brewery and visitor center, open seven days a week.

Typically there are at least 20 beers on tap. You can also make the most of free Wi-Fi, a gift shop, and a spacious outdoor biergarten.

The beer selection is huge, and includes citrusy IPAs. Lagers, seltzers, and a choice of malty dark ales.

In fact, it can be hard to know where to begin. I’m happy to say you can always order a flight to sample a few at a time. 

The on-site kitchen is also excellent, making small plates and a choice of awesome pizzas. In particular, I loved the classic sausage & peppers.

3. Talcott Mountain State Park

Talcott Mountain State ParkSource: Jeff Holcombe / shutterstock
Talcott Mountain State Park

Separated from Penwood State Park by CT Route 185 Talcott Mountain continues south through its namesake state park.

This encompasses 575 acres along the Metacomet Ridge and has layers of dark west-facing cliffs from the ridge’s dark basalt.

Talcott Mountain is three miles wide at its widest point and has a number of peaks, the highest of which is at 950 feet. This point is crowned by Heublein Tower, which I’ll cover next.

One of many special things about Metacomet Ridge is its unusual ecology. The peculiar plant life on the ridges is caused by a variety of microclimates that don’t normally occur in New England.

The upper cliff-tops are hot and dry. This gives rise to an oak savanna habitat normally growing chestnut oak, while eastern red cedars cling to the cliff edges.

4. Heublein Tower

Heublein TowerSource: Andy_Leclerc / shutterstock
Heublein Tower

A 1.25-mile trail from the parking lot off CT Route 185 will bring you to the 165-foot tall Heublein Tower. This was erected in 1914 and modeled on a Bavarian schloss.

The man behind this remarkable building was Gilbert F. Heublein, the Hartford food and beverage magnate. 

His empire acquired Smirnoff vodka in 1938. He chose the highest point on Talcott Mountain for his distinctive summer home, atop a 950-foot promontory with incredible panoramas.

From the tower’s viewing platform I could see the Berkshires in the northwest, New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock 80 miles to the northeast. I could even make out a small slice of Long Island Sound far to the south.

The tower is open Memorial Day through October. Hours are Thursday to Monday up to October, and then Wednesday to Monday during the fall foliage season. Honestly, I can’t think of a better place to be at this time of year.

5. Back East Brewing Company

Back East Brewing CompanySource: Back East Brewing Company / Facebook
Back East Brewing Company

Craft breweries are a dime a dozen in Connecticut, but few have gained the loyal following and acclaim of Back East Brewing Company in Bloomfield.

The brewery has been in business since 2012, though his team has brewing experience going back much further

You can swing by the taproom from Thursday to Saturday for flights and pints, or to fill growlers and buy cans.

The selection will be different every time you come. When I dropped by there was a slew of IPAs on tap. Two of these have been named by Draft Magazine among the “50 Best IPAs in America” (Rakautra and Ice Cream Man). 

Among the other brews were a Porter, a Brown Ale, a Czech/German Pilsner, a Berliner Weisse, and a Dunkel lager.

The taproom’s event calendar is always hopping. You’ve got regular comedy nights, new beer launches, and a whole bevy of food trucks.

6. MDC Reservoir #6

MDC Reservoir #6Source: Jennifer Yakey-Ault / shutterstock
MDC Reservoir #6

The Metropolitan District Commission of Connecticut is responsible for this working reservoir in the southwestern corner of Bloomfield. You can visit to walk and cycle the 30 miles of trails on the peaceful land around it.

This is the northernmost of the six West Hartford Reservoirs and is walled to the west by the high Deer Cliff.

The Metacomet Trail, which I’ll cover below, passes close by on its way to Talcott Mountain. There’s also an interesting piece of history to seek out close to the southern shore of Reservoir #6. 

Here you’ll happen upon the Revolutionary War Campsite. This was the scene of an encampment by Continental Army soldiers in 1778 still marked by the remnants of stone-lined fireplaces.

7. Metacomet Trail

Metacomet TrailSource: Jeff Holcombe / shutterstock
Metacomet Trail

This 50-mile Blue-Blazed walking trail follows the spine of the Metacomet Ridge from Meriden in the south all the way up to the Connecticut-Massachusetts boundary.

Thanks to Talcott Mountain and the ledges north and south, some of the best panoramas on the entire trail can be enjoyed in Bloomfield’s backyard.

If you’re up for a day on the trail, you can pick up the route by the west shore of MDC Reservoir #6. From here I scrambled up the steep slope at the northern end to tackle Talcott Mountain.

In just 3/4 of a mile there’s an elevation gain of 500 feet here. After being dazzled by the views and Heublein Tower you’ll have to pick your way across CT Route 185.

After that you’ll soon be back in verdant woodland in Penwood State Forest climbing to another magnificent overlook at The Pinnacle.

8. Waypoint Spirits

Waypoint SpiritsSource: Waypoint Spirits / Facebook
Waypoint Spirits

This craft distillery rolled out its range of spirits in the summer of August 2015, and invites people for tours, tastings and regular visits, Wednesday through Sunday.

Waypoint makes special batch whiskey, gin, two vodkas and spiced rum. On my visit the distillers shared their love for their craft and walked me through every step, from mashing to aging.

After touring the gleaming facility, I got to sample Waypoint’s range of spirits and try a couple of complimentary mixed drinks.

There are board games at the bar, and you can order a food delivery if you need something to soak up all that liquor.

9. Wintonbury Hills Golf Club

GolfSource: Bohbeh / shutterstock

In 2018 Golfweek named Wintonbury Hills in Bloomfield the “Best public course you can play in Connecticut”. 

It’s the only one in the state to have been laid out by the eminent architect Pete Dye, known for designing some of golf’s most difficult tracks.

Surveying the course from the tees, what grabbed me was the unusual layout of the fairways. While these are nice and broad, they invariably demand an accurate tee shot.

As you’d hope from such an acclaimed course, the greens are pristine and scarily quick, so this is definitely a round for technicians.

Between shots you can soak up stirring vistas of the countryside just east of the Metacomet Ridge.

10. Chase Arena at Reich Family Pavilion

BasketballSource: Brocreative / shutterstock

Opened in 1990 and seating more than 3,500, home court for the University of Hartford’s men’s and women’s basketball teams is just a couple of miles from downtown Bloomfield.

Both teams play in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. Of the two, the women have the greater pedigree.

They had a strong run in the 2000s when they were crowned regular season champions four times and made six NCAA tournament appearances between 2002 and 2011. 

For the men, the most famous Hawk alum is Vin Baker. He went on to play in four consecutive All-Star Games while with the Bucks and Supersonics, and is now an assistant coach with the former.

In its time the area has staged all kinds of other events, like a concert by Bob Dylan and a speech by President Obama in 2013.

11. Gillette Ridge Golf Club

GolfSource: Kati Finell / shutterstock

This public course opened in 2004 on land once owned by the famed politician and reformer Francis Gillette (1807-1879). His house has been preserved on the site.

Gillette Ridge Golf Club has the only public course in the Northeast to have been designed by Arnold Palmer. It’s often praised as one of the best non-private places to play a round in Connecticut.

Tallying with the hilly natural scenery, the Gillette Ridge has sharp elevation changes, majestic carries, mature woodland lining its fairways and a raft of natural hazards. Every element was in fantastic shape when I played my round recently. 

This is matched with full practice facilities. There’s a full grass driving range, two putting greens, and a chipping area.

12. Auerfarm

Herb GardenSource: Daria Stock / shutterstock
Herb Garden

The Hartford-born educator and philanthropist Beatrice Fox Auerbach (1887-1968) once owned this land in Bloomfield. She donated 40 acres to the Connecticut state park system as a gift to the people of the state.

In 2015 this became the 110th state park in Connecticut and home to a 4-H Educational Center. Auerfield helps young people develop leadership, responsibility, basic life skills and citizenship via all kinds of programs.

These involve finding out about the farm’s cycles, making ice cream, making apple cider, and maple sugaring. You can also tend a herb garden, visit the farm’s hive, and construct a winter shelter for animals.

Aside from that there are more passive activities available for visitors to the farm. These run the gamut from hiking to picnicking, picking berries, meeting the farm animals, and choosing a Christmas tree from late November.

13. Northwest Park

Northwest ParkSource: Jennifer Yakey-Ault / shutterstock
Northwest Park

A little past Bloomfield’s northern boundary in Windsor is a municipal park a little under 500 acres. Northwest Park opened in the early 1970s on land that until then had been shade tobacco farms.

So I enjoyed the opportunity to investigate a trade that was once the backbone of the economy in this part of the Connecticut River Valley.

The CT Valley Tobacco Museum charts 2,500 years of local tobacco growing and presents personal accounts by farmers.

The park has much more going on, with a heritage breed farm, nature center, 12 miles of trails, and a great playground for youngsters. Also be sure to check out the series of concerts in the summer.

After snowfall in the winter you’ll be able to rent a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis to explore the trails.

14. Rosedale Farms & Vineyards

Corn MazeSource: MNStudio / shutterstock
Corn Maze

On the west flank of Talcott Mountain, by the Farmington River is a farm stand and winery that becomes a full-fledged day out in the summer and autumn.

In July and August there’s a corn maze and sunflower maze. Later, on Sundays in fall, Farm Fests bring hayrides, tastings and farm tours.

Rosedale Farms & Vineyards has grown high-quality produce for more than a century. You can drop by the farm stand every day from 9:00 AM for almost 50 different kinds of fruit and vegetable as they come into season.

Also here to tempt you are home baked pies made with this fresh produce. On my visit there were also cheeses, fresh breads, jellies, jams, and a lot more.

The vineyards grow Cayuga, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminette, Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc and more. These produce a lineup of well-received reds and whites.

During normal business hours you’re free to come to the patio for a wine tasting, paired with cheese and crackers, up to the end of October.

15. Oliver Filley House

Oliver Filley HouseSource: Jessicalarkin / Wikimedia | CC BY-SA 4.0
Oliver Filley House

On Mountain Avenue, a mile west of downtown Bloomfield you’ll catch sight of a stately stone house owned by the town.

The Oliver Filley House as you see it now was raised in 1834 in the Greek Revival style. The interesting stone walls were made from rubblestone and local basalt in different tones.

The land had been in the Filley family since just before the Revolutionary War and was later occupied by Captain Filley. He was a tinsmith who served as a captain in the Connecticut militia during the War of 1812. 

Filley built the current house for his son, Jay, and it has a curious footprint, with two intersecting wings. This was only the third stone-built house in Bloomfield at the time. 

There’s a track leading up to the house, and a restoration project is underway. When I wrote this list, the long-term plan was to convert the property into a  museum for Bloomfield and base for the Wintonbury Historical Society.

15 Best Things to Do in Bloomfield (CT):

  • Penwood State Park
  • Thomas Hooker Brewery
  • Talcott Mountain State Park
  • Heublein Tower
  • Back East Brewing Company
  • MDC Reservoir #6
  • Metacomet Trail
  • Waypoint Spirits
  • Wintonbury Hills Golf Club
  • Chase Arena at Reich Family Pavilion
  • Gillette Ridge Golf Club
  • Auerfarm
  • Northwest Park
  • Rosedale Farms & Vineyards
  • Oliver Filley House