Take a hike to Kent, which offers art, nature
KENT — Downtown Kent is like something out of “Gilmore Girls.” Antique shops and galleries reside in old houses with wraparound porches. The local market is filled with shelves of locally made ice cream and honeys in glass jars. Shops are cluttered with flyers advertising things like the local production of “The Music Man” and an apartment for rent downtown. It’s fitting, considering the show was actually based on Washington Depot, which is less than a half hour away.
But as I sat in J.P. Gifford Market on North Main Street eating a breakfast sandwich, I noticed something unusual about Kent. Wandering down the sidewalks of North Main Street were hikers touting bulky, rectangular backpacks. With bandanas tied around their heads, they looked like a scene out of Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” walking the streets as though it were another dusty mountain trail.
The sight of hikers wandering off the Appalachian Trail are just one of the many things that make Kent stand out among the neighboring towns. Nestled in the green rolling hills of Litchfield County on the border of New York, the former farming community is home to just 2,962 residents, but draws hundreds of visitors every day between hikers, nature enthusiasts looking to admire Kent Falls or art buffs looking to take in the local gallery scene.
When strolling through downtown Kent, Kent Barns stick out. A cluster of slate gray barn buildings off the main drag, the barns are home to a variety of businesses, including The Village Herbalist and several small art galleries. The setup of the barns allows visitors to wander from business to business on the wide streets without worrying about cars.
At James Barron Art, part of Kent Barns’ dozen buildings, including five restored historic barns, visitors can view watercolors by Dawn Clements and colorful sculptures by Judy Pfaff. According to Hascy Cross, a director at the gallery, they attract many visitors from New York City and around Fairfield County.
For information about Kent, visit kentct.com
Kent Barns is accessible by foot or street from Main Street (Route 7) and Maple Street (Route 341). For information about Kent Barns, visit kentbarnsct.com/kent-barns
J.P. Gifford Market is at 12 N. Main St. in Kent. Its hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information, visit jpgifford.com or call 860-592-0200
Kent Falls is open during the summer from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Parking fees are charged on the weekends until 6 p.m. For information and regular hours, visit ct.gov/deep
“There’s a fun art scene here, which is great,” Cross said. “We have a good group of galleries and a lot of residents who are interested in the arts.”
For visitors more interested in exploring the greenery surrounding Kent, there’s Kent Falls, a quick 10-minute drive from downtown. There tourists can stroll down a dirt path under a covered bridge to take in the sights of the falls fueled by the Housatonic River.
A steep quarter-mile hike up the falls offers better views, though there are picnic tables for those content with simply watching the water.
An hour-and-a-half or so ride from Fairfield County, Kent offers a quaint charm for those looking to dive into nature or get a taste of rural Connecticut. Whether you’re a hiker passing through or an antique collector looking for your next piece, Kent is a hidden gem hidden in Northwestern Connecticut.
Adventures close to home | Trip 7