A trip to Greenwich, icing on the cake for your New York weekend

A stately hotel in midtown, a Broadway show, and dinner at some of the best-known restaurants in the country will leave you aching to return, but alas, your long weekend is drawing to a close and you haven’t even begun to enjoy the wonders of this majestic city. It’s tempting – and rewarding – to just stay in Midtown Manhattan for your entire trip, but there are plenty of wonders just a 40-minute train ride away.

Greenwich, Connecticut isn’t just a suburb of the City, it’s a prime destination unto itself. After you’ve enjoyed that Broadway show, it’s worth spending a day or two in this beautiful city. And if you think shopping on Fifth Avenue is heaven, wait until you get to “The Avenue.” Greenwich Avenue, the heart of the local shopping and food scene, belies its small-town setting with plenty of upscale shops and boutiques and restaurants that put the best of Manhattan to shame. Visiting the Avenue, one of the best places to shop is Richards of Greenwich, a great department store with all the best designers in women’s and men’s apparel. Greenwich-themed gifts can be found at Splurge, over on Lewis Street, and any New England fashionista will do well with a visit to Pinky of Greenwich with its fabulous personalized service, and if you’re in the mood for something really unique, drop by Out of the Box.

Think you have to go to Fifth Avenue to visit Saks? Nope – The Saks Shops at Greenwich is located right on Greenwich Avenue, making it a natural stop right in the middle of the best retail action in New England.

When you’ve shopped and you’re ready to drop, you’ll need a break, and right behind Saks is the best-kept secret in New England, called Something Natural. Anyone who has ever visited Nantucket Island will know this landmark, which has been on-island for 50 years, and has only just recently opened its Greenwich location. Stop in and enjoy one of their huge, delicious sandwiches on fresh house-baked Portuguese bread. You’ll never want to leave.

The owners of the Nantucket shop had received numerous offers to take Something Natural off-island, and until entrepreneur Seth Hirschel came along, they turned every one of those offers down. For Seth, the key factor in bringing Something Natural off island is that for him, it’s not just a restaurant project, it’s a passion.

The most important thing for Seth in bringing the brand off-island was to bring the spirit of Nantucket to the Greenwich community with easy access from surrounding towns.  “Part of the spirit of Something Natural on Nantucket is that it’s off the beaten path. So I found this building which was off the main drag in Greenwich, but still walking distance. It had a similar historic feel to the Nantucket shop.” Once he saw the building, he knew right away that it would become the second home for Something Natural.

Greenwich Avenue is a wonderful destination in itself, but don’t hesitate to get off the beaten path a little a pay a visit to the Busch-Holley House, built in 1730, a fascinating historical museum located in the famous Cos Cob section of Greenwich. The house was passed down through many generations of the Bush and Holley families and served as a gathering place for artists, writers, editors, and students for nearly a century. Less than two miles from the Stanton House Inn, the building is now a National Historic Landmark and offers guided tours throughout the year.

Manhattanites who want the best health club and spa available are well acquainted with CLAY Health Club + Spa in the heart of downtown Manhattan. But now you can also have a wonderful spa day as part of your Greenwich trip by visiting the Greenwich branch. And if you’re a golfer – you’ve found your new home. CLAY has one of only a few GEARS systems in the country – a full-swing club and body tracking system used by PGA professionals. According to CLAY Director of Golf Michael Manavian, It’s extremely accurate. Every angle is measured to a hundredth of a millimeter, and every joint is measured to a hundredth of a degree,” said Manavian. “Its motion capture software is no different than what they use in Hollywood to make movies like Avatar and War of the Worlds.”

If you’re in Greenwich in September, you can’t miss the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival, taking place directly on the shores of Long Island Sound. The multi-day event features a Master Chef Dinner on Friday evening, and all-day Saturday festival featuring tastings, demonstrations by celebrity and local talent, celebrity chef book signings, Burger Battle, Top Bartender’s Showdown and a live musical performance.  The event benefits local and national charitable organizations, with past beneficiaries including Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, James Beard Foundation, Greenwich Breast Cancer Alliance and more. 

Previous celebrity wine and culinary talent involved includes Adam Richman, Alex Guarnaschelli, Scott Conant, Geoffrey Zakarian and Kathie Lee Gifford, and the festival has hosted musical performances by Train, Little Big Town, The Bacon Brothers, Alabama, Big Head Todd and the Monsters and more.

Greenwich favorites that are off the tourist map include the wonderful Greenwich Point Park, with miles of walking trails, and a long sandy beach with a view of the New York City skyline.

The hotels around Greenwich are anything but run-of-the-mill, and there are plenty of quaint bed and breakfasts like the Stanton House Inn, a landmark historic mansion with an ideal location near all the local places you’ll want to visit.

There’s still plenty to visit between Manhattan and Greenwich, and about fifty miles away from Greenwich you’ll find the city of New Haven. If you’ve ever wondered where the hamburger originated, this is the place! Louis’ Lunch is recognized by the Library of Congress as the birthplace of the hamburger, which they have been serving since 1895. Made with a proprietary blend of five cuts of meat, ground fresh and hand-rolled daily, the classic burger is cooked on original cast-iron grills dating back to 1898.  Simply served on white toast with the only available garnishes being cheese, onion, and tomato allows guests to experience the fresh patty’s true flavor, according to original proprietor Louis Lassen. 

Twenty miles away is the historic Long Island Sound town of Westport, with a charming downtown that rivals Greenwich and is definitely worth the short drive. The town is home to Sherwood Island State park, 234 acres of waterfront preserved for beachcombing, biking, swimming, lazing in the shade, boating and kite flying.  Westport also boasts two highly regarded performing arts centers: The Westport Country Playhouse, whose former artistic director is Joanne Woodward.  She, and actors James Earl Jones, Christopher Plummer and Jake Robards serve on the Board of Trustees.  They offer a robust season April – November.  Also a short hop away from Greenwich is the city of Norwalk, in southern Fairfield County, a great stopping-off point for visiting Long Island Sound. You’ll also find the Hotel Zero Degrees Norwalk, a beautiful art-nouveau boutique hotel and recipient of the HotelsCombined Recognition of Excellence Award.

Also just a short hop away in Purchase, New York, ten miles away. Launching on March 31 you’ll find Boundless Adventures, an aerial park with nine eco-friendly treetop obstacle courses and plenty of outdoor fun, including zip lines, bridges, and rope challenges. According to co-owner Lorrie Funtleyder, Boundless Adventures is an environmentally friendly park. “The methods used to attach to trees have been developed with longevity and growth in mind,” says Funtleyder. “Our system minimizes impact to the trees and allows for years of unrestricted tree growth.”  Funtleyder notes that the park is built and inspected to the standards set by the Association for Challenge Course Technology.

When you’re tired of Manhattan – if such a thing is possible – head to Greenwich, and you’ll never want to leave.

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