Thunder Crest Performance Horses instructor Kait takes a relaxed and positive approach to instruction. She's honed this technique over an equestrian career that started when she was just 8 years old, when she was riding and jumping on competitive circuits and most other kids were only climbing aboard horses as a way to pass roller coaster height requirements. Her work as an instructor, coupled with experience at a local thoroughbred breeding farm have taught her one of the most important skills any equestrian can have: the ability to foster a partnership with the horse. She tries to pass on this ability to her students, encouraging them to participate in all aspects of horsemanship during hands-on lessons, from tacking before the lesson to grooming, untacking, and watching game tape with the horse after the lesson ends.
Behind the exhibits at KidsPlay Children's Museum is a simple philosophy: children learn best through hands-on activities. There’s plenty of that at KidsPlay, from enclosing yourself in a giant bubble to designing glowing, 3-D shapes on a magnetic light table. Children can grace the museum’s stage in costumes and with props, imagine doing donuts in a racecar, or dash to pretend fires in a fire truck. Those are stored in the museum’s firehouse, part of a small-town play area complete with a grocery.
Since opening in 1975, Haight-Brown Vineyard has churned out 2,000 cases of grape-based libations each year from its nearly 10-acre vineyard and welcomed visitors into its rustic, cottage-like wine house. Emphasizing vinifera and French hybrid grapes, the state’s first-established winery creates a selection of wines that include the Big Red, a bold syrah; the Morning Harvest, a rich malbec; and Honey Nut Apple, a traditional apple wine that incorporates local honey and cinnamon. Vintners share their time-tested expertise during regular classes that teach aspiring oenophiles about a variety of vintages and techniques for cheese and chocolate pairing. Amid the tasting room’s wood accents and crackling stone fireplace, customers sample vintages and attempt to describe taste sensations with adjectives such as “silky” or “very different from milk.”
Within the stately Litchfield Inn, Bantam Bistro's executive chef Jonathan Gyles lends Italian flair to gourmet American dishes crafted from local and organic ingredients, such as mushrooms from Mountaintop Mushrooms and cheese from Cato Corner Farm. The expansive menu includes dazzling charcuterie platters, fillets of Atlantic salmon and tails of Maine lobster, and pastas such as bucatini and agnolotti. Barkeeps pour sips of more than 118 wines and muddle peaches into Bantam's signature take on the classic old fashioned, whose amber tones glow in the flickering light of tabletop candles in leaf-etched votives. The dining room’s brick-lined fireplace gives chefs a cozy place to store canapés shaped like Christmas stockings, and sparkling chandeliers twinkle above Sunday brunch dishes nestled inside pristine silver chafing dishes.