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Connecticut Travel Guide

Connecticut Travel Guide

"There's black people in Connecticut?" I get this question SO much. From people in the States and abroad. Just to be clear: Yes. There are black people in Connecticut, my home state.

Connecticut may not be a top destination to visit in the States, but there are things to do here in my home state. Believe it or not my state has a bunch of hidden gems. Since, I had time to kill this summer I used it to explore my own backyard to show you why Connecticut should be on your list. I'm talking outdoor activities, family fun, supporting local black owned businesses and more.

One of my long-term goals is to visit every state because EVERY state has something to offer. Can we all agree to stop sleeping on the little states like Connecticut? Let me help you.

Things to do in Connecticut

Connecticut is a hidden treasure if you take the time to look. Here’s three things you can do while in my home state.

🍔 Eat at Louis’ Lunch

Louis’ Lunch is recognized by the Library of Congress as the Birthplace of the Hamburger Sandwich. It started with a burger and that legacy continues today. All burgers are cooked to order and there are very limited options for variation to maintain the tradition of the burgers. You will not be able to doctor your burger up with a bunch of condiments and added ingredients because there are none. It's the birthplace of the burger, not Burger King where you can have it your way. Louis's Lunch is a hole in the wall, but worth the trip. Go in and ask for a cheese works with a salad... They'll know what you mean 😉

Link to more information:

🚣🏾‍♀️ Go Paddle Boarding or Kayaking

I stan water activities and paddle boarding has been high on my list for a while now. When you’re visiting Connecticut, head over to Branford River Paddles and learn how to paddle board or kayak OR BOTH. Go on a weekday when it’s not as crowded and less boat traffic on the river. Weather is a factor so the best thing to do is call the morning of and schedule for later that same day. I called at 9am and by 11:30 I was in the water. The staff were super friendly and informative before and throughout the entire lesson. Not to brag or anything, but I didn’t fall in the water not one time 💁🏾‍♀️

Link to more information:

🧗🏾‍♀️ Hiking

Connecticut has a bunch of spots to hike, see waterfalls and take in that foliage. I’m by no means a hiking expert, but we’re breaking down those stereotypes. Hiking is not "White people shit" and if I can do it so can you. So, this summer I decided to give it a try and get out in them sticks.

My intro to hiking in Connecticut was at Lake Wintergreen. (Fun fact: I used to come to this lake to fish with my Nana back in the day 🎣) This hike was super chill and didn’t have me gasping for air at all. It’s suitable for adults and kids of all ages. If my 3 year old nephew can do it so can you. At first the lake seems huge and like you’ll be walking for days, but you finish before you even realize it. Keep your eyes peeled for mushrooms, flowers and berries (yes, you can eat the berries).

~ Parking and admission is free

Other places to hike in Connecticut:

🧗🏾‍♀️ East Rock (view of New Haven from the top)

🧗🏾‍♀️ Sleeping Giant

🧗🏾‍♀️ Wadsworth Falls State Park (waterfall at this location)

🧗🏾‍♀️ Westfield Falls (waterfall at this location)

🧗🏾‍♀️ Southford Falls State Park (waterfall at this location)

Black Owned Restaurants in Connecticut

One thing you can count on is me spending my black dollars at black businesses. Me you can take that to the bank.

I intentionally made a point to go to black owned restaurants in my state to showcase the black community in Connecticut and to get the good eats. There are some fan favorites and ones I discovered for the first time when I decided to be a tourist in my own backyard.

🍴 American Soul Kitchen Bar

They knew the assignment. This restaurant is in a cute little corner, but leaves a big impact. The drinks, the vibes, the GRITS. Everything was on point.

Link to more information:

🍴 Ricky D’s Rib Shack

A black owned restaurant owned by an HBCU grad? Oh, you know I had to go support. As soon as I walked in the door and saw a Tuskegee flag I knew I made the right decision. It was the culture for me.

The food was on point and the portion sizes were massive. I was eating ribs for the next few days and HAPPY about it, okay? The staff at Ricky D's was helpful and insightful as well. By the time we finished ordering we were cracking jokes with the hostess. There's just something about being with your people and supporting each other.

Link to more information:

🍴 Sandra's

A local favorite. Sandra's is known for their soul food and never disappoints. I've had the chicken, pork chops, ribs, pulled turkey and plan to continue working through the menu. They currently don't have sit-in dining due to Rona, but it's worth it even just for take-out.

Link to more information:

Other local favorites:

🍴 Guilty Kitchen & Lounge

🍴 Woody's Wings

🍴 Mama Mary's

Wineries to Visit in Connecticut

Let’s wine down and talk about Connecticut wineries. Did you get that pun? 😉

Imma be completely honest with y’all. Even I didn’t know Connecticut had so many wineries until I started intentionally finding things to do in my state. So, basically, I could’ve been getting lit at wineries right here at home. Let’s get into it.

🍷 Hawk Ridge Winery

This winery knew the assignment and delivered. The fields of grapes welcome to the property and the winery sits with a great view of the Connecticut foliage. Of course I went for the tasting and got to try 6 different wines (white, red and rose) for only $11.50. The wine tastings are from a set menu, but you get to keep the glass. The winery also serves food, but bringing your own food is not only welcomed, but encouraged. The main thing that attracted me to this winery was the wine slushies. Yes, wine slushies. Definitely do not leave Hawk Ridge without trying at least one. I recommend the peace. 10/10. Take pictures with the grapes, get you some wine and enjoy the view 🙌🏾

Link to more information:

🍷 Gouveia Vineyards

This place was super cute and in a peaceful location. The winery offered tastings that included 5 wines of your choice for $15, but only in a designated location which was a no for me. You can pick your wines, but not where you taste them 😂 I had my picnic food packed and didn't want to be at a community table for the tastings. Instead, we got a bottle, found a table with a good view and enjoyed the picnic.

Link to more information:

My love for wine was established when I was living in Italy because duh. I was drinking wine straight from the farm multiple times a day and enjoying every second of it. Just another perk of slow travel and living abroad 😉

Wineries, wine tours, wine with friends and family? YES TO IT ALL.

Have you ever been to a winery and where? Let me know in the comments so I can add it to my list 📝

Pizza in New Haven, Connecticut

New York & Chicago imma let y’all finish, but New Haven has the best pizza. Thank you for coming to my TedTalk.

Pizza in New Haven is part of the culture and we GO HARD for our pizza. People try to sleep on the pizza in my home state, but don't let that fool you. I may be biased, but New Haven has the best pizza in the country and you can take that to the bank. So, let me put you on.

These are my top three recommendations and at the bottom are some honorable mentions that had to be on the list too.

🍕 Pizza House

A local favorite and the place I grew up ordering from. Pizza House is a staple and will always have the best pizza in my book. This restaurant has been family owned since it opened in 1963 and everybody knew Pop was going to answer the phone and mumble your pickup number when you called 😂 RIP Pop.

Link for more information:

🍕 Modern Apizza

Modern is one of the OG pizza spots in New Haven and a local favorite. It was founded in 1934 and has been in the same location ever since. Here they serve New Haven style thin crust pizza cooked in a brick oven. Modern has a very inviting atmosphere and a great place to dine in. Grab a pizza, order a beer and taste history.

Link for more information:

🍕 Kimberly Pizza

A hole in the wall you need to make time for. Kimberly pizza is my personal favorite in New Haven. The pizza is just top tier and they got it in squares so I feel like I’m getting more 😂 They have dine in available, but it’s more of a grab and go type of vibe. Also, Kimberly Pizza is CASH ONLY.

Link for more information:

🍕 Yorkside Pizza

My favorite place to grab a slice. Yorkside Pizza is right on the outskirts of downtown New Haven. The staff is always friendly and the slices are a great size!

Link for more information:

Honorable mentions:

🍕 Frank Pepe's (the OG of all the OGs)

🍕 Sally's Apizza (an OG)

🍕 Pianca Pizza

🍕 Whalley Pizza

Being a traveler is being able to find the beauty and hidden gems of ANY location. The sad part is, sometimes it's our own backyards that get overlooked.

I finally stopped sleeping on Connecticut. Are you ready to do the same? #JoyridingWithJash

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