As the northwesternmost town in Connecticut, Salisbury is where Litchfield County meets the Berkshires. It’s home to two prep schools, but also wild and mountainous: black bear habitat. Salisbury has a small-town feel, with full-time and part-time residents whose lives often take them into Manhattan, just a little over two hours by car and also reachable by rail from Wassaic, only fifteen minutes away. Who, upon seeing a little place with a “For Sale” sign on a well-kept lawn, wouldn’t feel a little tug?
Salisbury is a welcoming town, whether or not you own real estate there. It thrives on the mixture of people it attracts, from celebrities (Meryl Streep has lived there for years) to the shaggy hikers who come down a half a mile off the Appalachian Trail to pick up supplies at LaBonne’s Market, open daily 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Begin with a walk down Main Street and follow your nose to Sweet William’s Bakery, famous for pies, pastries, and cookies, and open in this Covid period Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for outdoor dining and takeout. Right across the street is the General Store, open every day but Sunday, which also doubles as the town’s pharmacy. Around the corner is browser-friendly Johnnycake Books, specializing in rare and collectible volumes, now open Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by chance or appointment the rest of the week. Go a little further and you’ll soon be on the Railroad Ramble, Salisbury’s scenic Rail Trail.
Outdoor activities draw many people to the area. If you can hike half a mile — uphill, that is (the hike is listed as ”moderate to strenuous”) — pluck up your courage and try the trail to Lion’s Head for spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. The trailhead is only a mile out of town on Bunker Hill Road (there’s a parking lot marked “Hiker Parking” where the road comes to an end); the road begins at the Salisbury Town Hall in the center of town.
There are six lakes, with names like Wononscopomuc, Washinee, Washining, and Wononpakook (brush up on your Algonquian before you visit). Deep, beautiful 348-acre Wononscopomuc (also known as Lakeville Lake, in very plain English) is the site of the well-run public beach, known as the Salisbury Town Grove. There’s a $10-per-head fee for non-residents. Boat launching (at an additional $10) and various watercraft rentals are also available. The fishing is excellent, and Connecticut licenses are available at the Grove.
A landmark in Salisbury, unfortunately closed now except for private parties with no spectators, is Lime Rock Park. The first spectator event of the 2020 Season will be the Historic Festival 38 on September 3-7, 2020, and will be open to the public. Lime Rock is one of Salisbury’s “hamlets,” but don’t look for thatched cottages. Since 1956 the 1.5-mile track at Lime Rock Park has been a mainstay on the American racing circuit, and it’s also where amateur drivers can drive and dream and (if they qualify) compete.
But perhaps you took the advice of the New York Times and travelled to Salisbury simply to dine at the White Hart Inn on dishes prepared by celebrated British chef Annie Wayte. The Inn houses Provisions, a stylish café and sandwich spot, the casual Tap Room, open for dinner and serving what the restaurant characterizes as “elevated British-inspired comfort food,” and the elegant Dining Room, with offerings that highlight seasonal ingredients sourced from nearby farms. The food is both exotic and local – a good reflection of the town itself. At this writing, in mid-August, the Tap Room and the Dining Room are closed, but dinners are being served on the porch Friday, Saturday and Sunday 5 to 8 p.m. Provisions is open every day for takeout and online ordering.