In 1938, "The Long Island Expressway"—a vicious hurricane—plowed through John Hoenig's property in Thompson, Connecticut. His farm was destroyed, but when he decided to rebuild, he didn't rebuild the farm. Instead, he began clearing his land for the area's first 5/8-mile, high-banked racetrack. As soon as it opened, it was heralded as "the Indianapolis of the East." It was a destination for racecar drivers across the country.
In the more than 70 years since then, the track has blossomed into Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Today, it's one of the country's oldest tracks, besides that one high-banked crop circle from 1910. It plays host to three iconic racing events, including the World Series of Speedway Racing, and its modernized 5/8-mile oval now shares its space with a 1.7-mile road course. Even more exciting, neither track is just for pros. Civilians can try out the speedster lifestyle during driving school, or as part of the Driver's Club, which offers 30 days of members-only access to the track each year.
Situated inside Mohegan Bowl, All Star Pub invites patrons to kick up their feet after a few rounds of bowling to indulge in appetizers, burgers, and beer. Draft and bottled brews wet whistles in time for hand-tossed taco pizzas to appear draped in pico de gallo and housemade tortilla chips. Shareable appetizers such as spicy jalapeño bottle caps preheat maws before diners chow down on half-pound burgers, stacked pastrami grinders, and salads tossed with grilled chicken. Before venturing back to the lanes or to the arcade, patrons can dig into chocolate-fudge brownies or a Candle-Pin Strike—fried balls of dough served with ice cream and drizzled with raspberry sauce.
It seems like there's always something happening at Copperfield's Burger & Beer House. On Tuesdays, there's trivia; on Wednesdays, karaoke; on Thursdays, comedy; not to mention frequent "Drink and Dabble" nights where groups pair painting with their sips. Of course, amid all this fun, a few staples are available every night: burgers and beers. Copperfield's premium beef burgers are the most famous offering in the joint and can be paired with any number of craft brews. The contemporary gastropub menu also includes creative spins on typical American bar food, from sweet thai chili wings to deep-fried lobster mac-n-cheese wedges.
Cafe 55 cultivates a relaxing atmosphere by cushioning guests in plush white booths and turning the lights low. Towering hookahs filled with fragrant tobacco invite patrons to take a puff of rich flavors such as mango and vanilla before expelling smoke into the air to make swirling patterns or 3D Rorschach tests. Appetizers and drinks, including beer, sangria, and nonalcoholic smoothies, pair with the hookah action.
The Connecticut Repertory Theatre, the producing appendage of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Dramatic Arts, casts visiting professional actors and talented university students in its plays, musicals, and contemporary performances. This summer’s marquee boasts three musicals: Guys and Dolls, Seussical the Musical, a musical journey through the works of Dr. Seuss, and My Fair Lady. A cast of veteran performers, including Broadway entertainers Terrence Mann, Eileen Fulton, and Charlotte d’Amboise and comedian Steve Hayes, breathe life into the shows in the same way a stack of old books can breathe life into a fire. Performed 12 times over the course of independent 10-day runs, each musical offers up a surfeit of opportunities for reveling in drama and singing along inside your head as loudly as possible.