When Arnold Palmer’s architectural firm set out to design the 18-hole course at Gillette Ridge Golf Club, it incorporated a long, wooded layout that would showcase the 19th-century politician and reformer Francis Gillette’s original homestead. Today, the course continues to showcase its beautifully crafted layout that has maintained the elegance of a bygone era while opting to share its charming characteristics with the public. Gillette Ridge welcomes all golfers to take on the blistering 7,191-yard tract that integrates groves of mature trees, placid water hazards, and white-sand bunkers that surround contoured greens.
Much of the course's difficulty comes from its length, as demonstrated on the par 5 seventh and 12th holes, which stretch 612 yards and 607 yards from the tips, respectively. Both holes make it nearly impossible to reach the green in two, though for different reasons: the seventh green prevents run-ups with a front side stream, whereas the 12th hole has an early dogleg right that demands more conservative tee shots and golf carts that are pro-environment. The course's premium on distance continues right through the finishing hole, a par 4, 478-yard straightaway that splits two fairway bunkers and forces players to carry the green's front side pond on their approach shot or hope that a friendly frog will lend a lily pad for safe passage. Three practice putting greens, two practice bunkers, and an all-grass driving range provide ample space for golfers to stretch their swings before rounds.
After rounds, players can unwind in Gillette Ridge’s 6,000-square-foot clubhouse, where the course restaurant serves up sandwiches such as the philly cheesesteak and chicken-salad sliders, and starters such as Maryland crab cakes and quesadillas—the late Mrs. Gillette’s specialty that has carried on since the 19th century.
Course at a Glance:
It’s considered normal for a restaurant to enter a float or banner in a town parade, but in general, these contributions are all made by humans. Corner Pug breaks this tradition each year during West Hartford’s Park Road Parade, gathering local pugs to march down the street with their owners, each pup dressed to the nines in an attempt to win an award for best costume or most flattering hemline.
This annual spectacle is in keeping with the whimsy that surrounds the pub all year long. Framed photos of pugs brought in by devoted owners line the walls to form a canine shrine, and these pups peer enviously at the endless line-up of thick burgers, organic strip steaks, and English pub classics that parade to tables. In between sips of 20-ounce draft beers, visitors should keep their eyes peeled for sightings of Corner Pug’s mascot—Mac, the pug—whose likeness graces everything from the menu to T-shirts, mugs, and bottles of housemade dressing.
Despite the pub’s jocular ambiance, the kitchen staff takes its job seriously—albeit with a wink and a nod, reportedly employing a macaroni technician to make sure each noodle is standing upright. But Corner Pug’s attention to detail (they even serve the fish ’n’ chips on London newspaper print) has paid off, earning the eatery a perennial spot on the Hartford Advocate’s Best-Of list.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
After finding that her yoga practice helped her overcome her own personal health issues and depression, studio founder, macrobiotic chef, and certified instructor Barbara Ruzansky maintains a passion for introducing “yoga and healthful eating to people, so they can continue to grow and reach their full potential.” Held within a warehouse-like studio with two technicolored practice spaces, Barbara's classes offer a dynamic combination of Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa flow, and Forrest yoga. She and her large team of equally passionate instructors also helm a selection of slower and gentler yoga styles that cater to three-toed sloths and students recovering from injuries.