A Hidden Gem: Exploring The Best Things To Do In Killingworth CT

Not many people outside – and even within – Connecticut have ever heard of Killingworth, Connecticut. In a wedge of land equidistant from Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River, this rural town is about as “hidden gem” as it gets.

Several years ago, there wasn’t much here but farmland and the woodsy swimming hole of Chatfield Hollow State Park. But now, you’ll find a hip and tranquil 5-bedroom Inn, a lavender farm that’s become one of the most visited attractions in Connecticut, a ca n’t-miss wetlands boardwalk, several good restaurants, and country stores galore. Get the most out of a getaway with our list of the best things to do in Killingworth CT.

Looking for more weekend getaway ideas? Check out our list of 57 Surprisingly Romantic Getaways in New England.

Where Is Killingworth CT?

Killingworth is a tranquil, rural town located in the heart of Middlesex County, Connecticut. Nestled halfway between Boston and New York, Killingworth is characterized by its rolling hills, vast woodlands, and picturesque open spaces. The town is part of the state’s scenic shoreline area, offering a peaceful retreat with a small-town feel, while still providing easy access to major urban centers.

Its rich history, dating back to its establishment in the 17th century, and its commitment to preserving natural beauty make Killingworth a charming and inviting destination for those looking to explore the quieter side of Connecticut.

Boardwalk Chatfield Hollow SP Killingworth CT
Boardwalk Chatfield Hollow State Park

Things To Do In Killingworth CT

WANDER/HIKE/WALK: Boardwalk at Chatfield Hollow State Park

If you do nothing else in this wildlife-rich 400-acre Chatfield Hollow State Park, traipse across an inland swamp on the 825-foot-long Paul F. Wildermann Boardwalk. In late fall, Mother Nature displays her preparation for the holidays. Red berries and green leaves of the Winterberry Holly create a stunning juxtaposition with white Birch trees.

Winterberry Holly Chatfield Hollow SP Killingworth CT

The park itself is a diverse topography of rock ledges and outcroppings, waterfalls, forests, swamps, and ponds (the largest popular swimming area). Come here for some soul-healing hours of “Forest Bathing” if nothing else.

Lavender Pond Farm Killingworth CT

VISIT: Lavender Pond Farm Killingworth CT

You’ll find Lavender Pond Farm just two miles from Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets and Chamard Vineyards in Madison CT. It’s so ironic that this peaceful, plant-based place is located on a country lane named Roast Meat Hill Rd.

Tourists seemed to have discovered this very tucked away 25 acres of serenity. Lavender Pond Farm was named “Number 1 Attraction in Connecticut” in a recent USA Today Top 10 Reader’s Poll.

Lavender has been used as a sleep aid and bug repellent for eons, and lately, as a natural way to calm mild anxiety and restlessness. So it makes sense that travelers are seeking this pretty little purple plant out at its source.  Over 20,000 people visit New England’s largest lavender farm in season.

Lavender Pond Farm owners, Chris and Denise Salafia, opened the property to the public in 2014. Denise, a dance teacher, and Chris, a “software guy” who “rode a desk for 25 years” and now get’s to ride a tractor, tend to 10,000 lavender plants.

Their gift shop features plant-based products made from lavender blooms and oil. All kinds of lavender paraphernalia is for sale,  including essential oil, teas, sachets, jewelry, candles, soaps, lotions, gels, and jellies.

A Smart Flower ™ solar system – solar panels in the shape of a flower – generates 97% of the farm’s energy needs. The Lavender Pond is also available as a wedding venue. The lucky wedding party gets a lift to the altar in a restored red Ford Truck. But you don’t have to get married or buy anything to visit Lavender Pond Farm. “Most people come here just to hang out, it’s so beautiful.”

The Cooking Company Killingworth CT
The Cooking Company

Restaurants In Killingworth CT

Killingworth CT has several restaurants very close to each other on Route 81. Each has its distinct personality. And its champions.

EAT: Cooking Company

This upscale artisanal food market shares a driveway with a pharmacy, bake shop, and Feed Store. It gets bustling-busy mid-day, with its offerings of custom sandwiches (mine: Maple Smoked Turkey on Baguette), salads, soups, and other choices from heaping ready-made platters in a glass case – to take out or eat in on a few tables.

EAT: La Foresta

Locals out for a fancy Italian dinner, or who just want a glass of wine and small bite at the large wrap-around bar, go to La Foresta, just down the road a few hundred yards from the Cooking Co.

EAT: Copper Skillet Family Restaurant

This is that “Cheers” kind of local un-fancy spot where everyone knows your kid’s names. (In the multi-purpose Killingworth Village, a shopping center that encompasses a package store, bank, the New Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, Pizzeria Davinci, and June’s Outback Pub.

The Country Clover Leaf Store – a general store attached to the gas station around the central rotary – sells deli sandwiches. As such, it’s a great on-the-go alternative.

Hotels In Killingworth CT

Chatfield Hollow Inn Killingworth CT

STAY: Chatfield Hollow Inn

Set beside a small pond on a farm known for its culinary mushrooms, the Chatfield Hollow Inn experience begins with a warm greeting right outside the front door. And then, into a fragrant, candlelit two-story living room straight out of Dwell Magazine.

The quirky-modern-country Chatfield Hollow Inn is the antithesis of the typical doll & doily chintz B&B. Its aesthetic has been best described as “Mid-Century Modern meets Daniel Boone.”

Chatfield Hollow Inn Interior

Manhattan couple, Ken Metz and Forrest King sought a weekend country place where their young kids, could just chill. They purchased the property, just a couple of hours from New York City.

In late 2013, Metz and King expanded the original 1974 cabin, creating five guest rooms. They opened Chatfield Hollow as a retreat for weary city-folk and hired Tema and his partner, Mitch to run the inn and farm.

In short order, Chatfield Hollow Inn has attracted New Yorkers – some Bold Face Names, even – looking for a hideaway. But they’ve also enticed locals in need of a place to sneak away, and countless girlfriend groups for shopping (at nearby Clinton Crossing) and wine-infused weekends.

First Impressions of Chatfield Hollow Inn

Hungry Heron outside Chatfield Hollow Inn Killingworth CT
Hungry Heron Chatfield Hollow Inn Killingworth CT

Pull into the drive of Chatfield Hollow Farm and you’ll pass the Metz/King mid-century-modern home, fruit trees, penned foul, and, farmer-types in flannel shirts and wellies.

Continue to the end of the driveway, near the triple garage, and park. If you’re lucky, you may see a sly Blue Heron who has taken to pilfering fish from ponds and fountains on the property.

Enter the design forward living room; leather sling chairs, petrified wood accent tables on faux animal pelt rug, large brick fireplace, sculptural wire animal heads, funky table knick-knacks – an eye catching and surprisingly cozy montage.

Kitchen Chatfield Hollow Inn Killingworth CT
Kitchen Chatfield Hollow Inn Killingworth CT

The small kitchen is always open for guests. There’s a coffee and tea machine, and a fridge for wine or leftovers.

Sunroom Chatfield Hollow Inn Killingworth CT
Sunroom Chatfield Hollow Inn

The breakfast sunroom, with unobstructed pond and back-patio views, is a favorite gathering spot at all hours, with its dramatic barn wood-topped I-beam table. The steel beams, interestingly enough, come from road and exit signs discarded during a recent upgrade of the nearby Interstate.

Chatfield Hollow Inn Outbuildings, Critters, and Grounds

Fitness Cabin Chatfield Hollow Inn Killingworth CT
Fitness Cabin Chatfield Hollow Inn

The nicely equipped fitness center, in its own on property building, might be small but “it has everything” – including a view into the woods. Those woods, it should be mentioned, border Chatfield Hollow State Park (see above).

Tema and Mitch will be happy to point you in the direction of the dirt roads and trails that lead from the property, past waterfalls, and ponds, on a terrific hike into the Park. On cool nights, sit by the fire pit.

Over the years, Metz and King have added creatures, crops, and gardens to their land. You’re encouraged to walk around.

Give the bee hives – used to pollinate flowers, not for honey – a wide berth. There are vegetable, fruit and flower gardens, and newly planted fruit trees, which provide fresh produce. Resident chickens lay fresh eggs for breakfast.

Check out the buildings that house 1,000 logs sprouting shitake mushrooms. Mitch and other farmhands learned to grow both those and Oyster Mushrooms from experts at Cornell University. They sell these fungi at local farmer’s markets,

Budha at Chatfield Hollow Inn
Budha at Chatfield Hollow Inn

One small pond is overrun with lotus plants, and apparently, over 7,000 goldfish – the descendants of several pet goldfish dumped in the water years ago that proliferated like bunnies. A sitting Buddha looks out over the pond in a small meditation nook.

Fifteen or so peacocks in the Peacock Aviary are a constant source of fascination for guests. And so several chairs have been placed right by the enclosure so you can sip wine and observe them at your leisure.

Two Black Swans had to be sequestered from the other foul due to nasty behavior. Find those bad boys near the vegetable garden.

Rooms at Chatfield Hollow Inn

Madison Suite Chatfield Hollow Inn Killingworth CT
Madison Suite Chatfield Hollow Inn

Knotty pine walls have never looked so chic. It’s country gone Brooklyn here.  Find a bold teal accent wall, dark wood floors, contemporary quilt – in Dijon, grey, and white hues – on a comfy bed, oversized flokati pillow, upcycled multi-colored chest of many drawers, modern lighting, and art on walls in the much requested Madison Suite. Simple, pleasing to the eye, and not overly “done.”

Bathrooms are spa-quality. They sport stone tiled walls and floor, frosted glass shower, and lots of storage room for toiletries. Stone tiles continue into a double-sized shower, providing the semblance of an outdoor experience – with Kiehl products.

Breakfast at Chatfield Hollow

At 8:30 or 9:30, a “Continental Breakfast” – plates of crisp croissants, tiny banana pancakes, Yogurt-fresh-fruit-granola bowl, sliced cantaloupe, and other morning delights –  are set out in the sunroom. Tema is known for his cheesy eggs made and served in a mini cast iron crock-pot. So, unless you’re allergic, don’t leave before eating this most delectable morning treat.


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine, Shape.com, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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