Norwalk, Connecticut

Photo: GrayBarns on the Silvermine River

Over the last few years, Connecticut has become your favorite quick escape. The state changes through four distinct seasons, so every trip feels like a new adventure. It’s home to adorable towns, which could only be in New England. Plus it’s easy to reach from New York City. So this weekend, you’re going to check out a revitalized property in Norwalk.

Norwalk is in southwestern Connecticut along the north shore of the Long Island Sound. Oyster Town, as it’s affectionally called, is only one hour from Grand Central Terminal. You’ve driven through the city on your way to Providence, Boston, and Cape Cod. You’ve stopped to go shopping on Washington Street and eat seafood along the water. You’ve even visited the nearby Glass House, Grace Farms, and Silvermine Arts Center. Now there’s finally a reason to stay here.

The Silvermine River is a tributary of the Norwalk River, which in turn flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It was named after the silver mines that drew people to the area. Since no silver was ever discovered, the riverfront turned into a stagecoach stop, an artist refuge, and a mill instead. A small textile factory was established at the beginning of the 19th century. Its building became a speakeasy during Prohibition and eventually a country inn. That inn was recently turned into GrayBarns on the Silvermine River.

Photo: GrayBarns on the Silvermine River

GrayBarns on the Silvermine River has everything you need for a weekend escape. The inside of the white inn features wide oak-board floors, white walls, and lots of reclaimed wood. Fireplaces, velvet couches, and cashmere throws add to the cozy vibe. The floor plan was redesigned. There are only six rooms now. But each one is spacious and modern with amenities like Nest thermostats, Bose speakers, and Nespresso coffee machines. The Hutchens room, on the second floor overlooking the river, has a heated bathroom floor, a soaking tub, and a private porch, as well.

Beyond the main building, Adirondack chairs and little wooden tables are sprinkled around the lawn near the water. Events are held in a real gray barn. A fleet of bikes sits beside it. Mercantile, a former antique store, will soon reopen as a country market. While the Tavern at GrayBarns serves elevated comfort food—some sourced right from the kitchen’s garden—in front of a large stone fireplace.

So, when you arrive on Friday night, a Clover Club cocktail—made with gin and house-made raspberry syrup—will be waiting for you in the tavern. You’ll forget your no-bread policy when warm sourdough, whose dough comes from a nearby artisan baker, is set on the table. You’ll choose roasted oysters with uni butter over the silky celery root soup, since you’re in Oyster Town. You’ll debate between the short-rib pasta and the duck before finally ordering what you really want: the double burger with sea salt-dusted fries.

Then you’ll replace dessert with a hot toddy for two. Bourbon mixed with chamomile-lavender tea will help you drift into a sound sleep when you finally retreat back to your cozy room. It will feel like you were gone longer than just a weekend when you return from this quick escape.

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