You Are Invited to Autumn in My Little Town

Southern New England is just one hour by train from New York City

If you are one of the 14 million people living in the New York metropolitan area or even one of those who will visit the region this autumn, here’s a tip; Set aside a day, hop on the MetroNorth train to Connecticut and visit Old Greenwich, my little town.

For the entirely reasonable price of around $8, an electric train will carry you from the congested chaos of the city to the tranquil Nutmeg State and voila! there you are in New England. Didn’t think it could be so easy did you? You can thank me later.

The mantra in our home from the beginning of September until the last golden leaf has fluttered to the ground is “Thank God we live in Connecticut in the fall.” Which is why this little excursion is so perfectly timed for you to take advantage of. Right. Now. So get up and get moving.  No, wait. Let me provide you with an itinerary first.

When you see this station, get off the train!

Your destination is Old Greenwich, that’s Old but not Olde, and on this trip you won’t leave without seeing proof that the first settlement of greater Greenwich was established right here in 1641.

One never knows the treasures to be found at the Rummage Room

When you step off the train, fifty-five short minutes after boarding and getting to watch urban dissolve into suburban right before your very eyes – head to the main street in town, called Sound Beach Avenue.

Walk as far as you like. One mile will take you to the end of Sound Beach Avenue, past some beautiful, stately homes and to the right, you will see the rambling, straight-out-of-a-movie, Harbor House Inn at the edge of Long Island Sound.

If that seems too far, stick around town. The shops from the high end Linen Press to the artsy Images, to the funky resale shop Rummage Room will keep you busy until lunch.

Sound Beach Avenue is the main street in town.

Now choose between Applausi Osteria (Italian) or the Beach Cafe for a more formal meal or the Upper Crust Bagel Shop, (Yeah, I’ve had Zabars, these bagels are better.) or Sound Beach Pizza Grill and Deli for fantastic hand-tossed pizzas, calzones and other Italian luncheon fare. Don’t eat too much, you’ve got a walk ahead of you.

Graves date back 300 years at the Congregational Church cemetery.

Back toward the direction of the train and up the hill and you’ll see the original 17th century cemetery of the First Congregational Church. Headstones here go back 300 years and those names; Potter, Palmer, Binney, well they show up on street signs in town, too.

Binney, yep, that Binney, Park

Cross the street and stroll around Binney Park, bequeathed to Greenwich by the Crayola Crayon magnate, Edwin Binney and his wife. At the pond stop and imagine how nice it would be to ice skate here and duck into the gazebo for a hot chocolate. When it’s good and cold residents do just that – minus the hot chocolate unless we bring our own – but back when Olympic gold medal winner Dorothy Hamill used to practice on this very pond, I hear back then cocoa was served in the shelter by the fire.

The Perrot Library

Cross back over at the red brick Perrot Library a private/public lending library with a sunny airy second floor reading room that’s worth a visit. Okay, go ahead and use the computers to check your email if you like, we don’t mind, but don’t linger! You can do that anytime, but more of Old Greenwich remains to be seen.

From the library go away from Sound Beach Avenue on Harding Road towards the Helen Binney Kitchel Natural Park. Half way up the block you’ll see the trail leading in. When my kids were little, this is where we would go for our Thanksgiving morning hike and we would pose for our Christmas card photos here. Speaking of thanks, you’re likely to see some of the wild turkeys who live here. That ought to get you into the spirit of the season.

It is a small but lovely park. Watch for wild turkeys here.

You can return the way you came or make a big loop around the backside of town by the Old Greenwich Riverside Community Center which will give you a brief look at some of the homes and the Innis Arden Golf Club. Those big iron gates outside the club have a story. They used to stand in front of the 37 room mansion J. Kennedy Tod owned on the point of land that is now Greenwich’s largest waterfront recreation area. When the house came down the gates went to the golf club he designed and founded in 1899.

The gates at Innis Arden are impressive

Keep walking down past the golf course and in about half a mile, you will end up at Tomac Cove. This lovely, tiny park on the water is the site of the founding of Old Greenwich. Read the plaque for the full story, then enjoy the antics of the swans and ducks who live in the cove.

The cove is small – the view expansive.

The swans are begging for food.

Everybody is welcome at McKenzie’s

When you start to think about heading home, before you get on the train stop in at the shopping plaza beyond the  railroad tracks and get a little something for the road. What kind of “something” you ask? That’s up to you.

Longford‘s serves amazing homemade ice cream and I’m not using the word “amazing” loosely. For something more adult, MacKenzies is in the same plaza. It is our neighborhood pub where everyone; local or out-of-towner is made to feel welcome.

After all, how friendly must we be to invite all of you to come on over for the day?

Now you can thank me.

First Congregational Church cemetery

The public park at Tomac Cove

10 Comments

  1. Posted on October 11, 2012 at 9:10 am by Paul

    Lovely!

  2. Posted on October 11, 2012 at 10:19 am by Valeria

    How many memories!!! Thanks.

  3. Posted on October 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm by Sabah

    Wow, where is this town, ;) when can I visit? Will you show me around. :D .?

  4. Posted on October 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm by Hilary

    Hi. This piece has a very nice feel to it also enhanced by the photos; enjoyed it. You may want to make some corrections. Edwin Binney’s wife was Alice Stead Binney and Helen Binney Kitchel was one of his children (her names are also reversed in your piece). Although First Church cemetary does go back, there is an older cemetary on Tomac Avenue because that was the then-location of the church. Schoolmaster John Perrot is one of the notables buried at Tomac and of course, the library is named for him.

  5. Posted on October 14, 2012 at 7:41 am by Christine Negroni

    Thank you Hilary for these corrections to my blog post. Readers, you will find they have been fixed. Thanks also for the details of the Tomac Cemetery which is also worth a visit. Those taking the suggested walk down to Tomac Cove will pass right by this tiny, historic site. Check it out.

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  7. Posted on November 18, 2012 at 10:55 pm by Chris Iliff

    Old Greenwich is a delightful place. My wife and I came there in the summer of 2011. We stayed at the B&B and rode bikes into Greenwich point. Its proximity to NYC and the availability of the MetroNorth are wonders.

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