Admitted: January 9, 1788 (5th State)

State Bird: American Robin

State Tree: White Oak

State Gemstone: Garnet

State Flower: Mountain Laurel

State Capital: Hartford – See Our “Visiting Hartford” Travelogue! (Scroll To Bottom)

Made in Connecticut Gifts and Specialty Connecticut Products

Business Owners: Want To See Your Made In Connecticut Products On This Page? Click Here …

StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticut

Made In Connecticut: Candlewood Coffee

Candlewood Coffee: If you’ve ever visited western Connecticut, you’re no doubt familiar with beautiful Candlewood Lake. Situated at the junction of the Rocky River and Housatonic River, the lake has long been a popular resort and tourist destination. The largest lake in the state, Candlewood Lake is the inspiration for a local coffee company that’s generating quite a buzz both locally and throughout the country …

They’re Candlewood Coffee, located in Brookfield, CT, a small town along Candlewood Lake’s eastern shoreline just a few miles east of the Connecticut – New York border. Specializing in Signature Blend and Single Origin Freshly Roasted Coffee, Candlewood offers several varieties sure to appeal to those who appreciate an exceptional coffee experience …

Whether your tastes gravitate toward lighter roast, decaf, uniquely flavored, or darker roasts, Candlewood Coffee will exceed your expectations. Try “Smooth Sailing”, a medium roast that’s perfectly balanced with an exceptionally smooth finish, or “Pardon My French”, featuring the smooth, pleasing flavor of roasted vanilla …

If your tastes veer toward Single Origin Coffee, try Candlewood’s Fair Trade Organic Ethiopian or Columbian Ground Coffee. You’ll love the vibrant flavors and smooth, velvety finish that is only found in premium single origin coffee …

Visit the “Shop” page at the Candlewood site where you’ll find their entire coffee selection. Choose from ground or whole bean coffee, single serve cups, and bulk and green coffee. If you live in the area, Candlewood Coffee is pleased to arrange local service to your business in select Connecticut towns – check their site for complete details.

You don’t have to live in The Constitution State to enjoy these fabulous coffees – Candlewood will ship right to your door! Click through to their website to learn more and discover why their coffees have a legion of fans and a devoted following. And if you’re looking for a sure to please gift idea, Candlewood Coffee is the perfect solution for anyone on your list …

We’re proud to feature this vibrant local Connecticut business here at State Gifts USA!




StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticutCT River Candles: Haddam, CT is located in the south central part of the state, about a half hour from Hartford on the west bank of the beautiful Connecticut River. This river is the inspiration for the products of a thriving small Connecticut business we’re pleased to introduce to you … CT River Candles, creators of small batch 100% natural soy wax candles and related products.

We’ve long been fans of soy wax candles due to their many advantages over most candles on the market. Soy wax is a renewable, biodegradable resource and burns 50% longer than paraffin. CT River Candles offer a cleaner and cooler burn, emit little to no soot, and won’t discolor your walls like candles made with petroleum by products. Often referred to as “green living candles”, soy wax candles are non toxic and clean up quickly and easily with soap and water …

StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticut

Choose From Dozens of Scents

CT River Candles will fill any room in your home with fresh fragrances of the changing seasons. Over 75 different scents are available, including Autumn Spice, Cinnamon Sugar Donut, Clove, Snowy Pines, Juniper Breeze, and dozens more …

If you’re searching for a Connecticut Made special occasion or housewarming gift, you’ll discover ample choices by exploring the full selection at the CT River Candles website. You’ll find Mason Jar Candles, Soy Candle Favors, Gift Baskets, and more. They’re ideal as corporate gifts, bridal showers, anniversary parties, or any event calling for a personal, practical gift …

StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticut

CT River Candles

Room sprays, Soy Melts, and Candle Accessories are just a few of the many products you’ll find by clicking through to the CT River Candles website. You can even find Pet Odor Eliminator Soy Candles which rid and freshen any living space from “wet doggie” smell!

We’re proud to feature a small business whose products are inspired by the beauty of The Constitution State! Visit their website to order and don’t forget to use the free shipping code (FREESHIP55) on orders of $55 or more …

Proudly Made in Connecticut!




Hummel Bros. Hot Dogs StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticutHummel Brothers Hot Dogs: Whenever we travel, we seek out local food specialties. Pizza, honey, specialty sandwiches, and hot dogs are just a few items which are traditionally a part of our culinary journeys …

Being from Chicago, we know a thing or two about great hot dogs and in New Haven, the hot dogs we seek out are from Hummel Brothers, a local food manufacturer that has been around since 1933 …

They make skinless wieners and red hots, but the ones we like best are their natural casing franks. They’re fantastic lightly grilled and offer the distinctive snap that only comes from natural casing hot dogs …

Here’s a link to the Humel Bros. Facebook page which links to their site where you can order their products online …

Grill the hot dog, steam the bun, add some mustard and onions, and you’ve got yourself a delicacy!

Bridegewater Chocolate StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecitcut

The Bridgewater Collection – A Fine Gift!

Bridgewater Chocolate: For the past 20+ years, this small business has made a name for itself producing European influenced chocolates that are proudly made in Connecticut …

Based in Brookfield in the central southwest portion of the state near the New York border, Bridgewater Chocolate is the perfect choice if you’re seeking a corporate or special occasion gift. They create a wide selection of chocolate edible art, from toffee and peanut butter patties to truffles, pralines, and turtles …

All of their chocolates are handmade, and their caramel is prepared in house. Samplers and gift packages are available, and you can shop online if you’re not near The Constitution State. If you are, visit them at their Brookfield or West Hartford retail locations for a delicacy you’ll never forget!

Mystic Knotwork StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticutMystic Knotwork: Located in the charming seaport town of Mystic, CT this small business has carved out a niche for themselves. They create handmade nautical knots into wearables, home decor, ornaments, and numerous other creative applications …

Truly a local Connecticut gift idea, Mystic Knotwork is best known for their colorful “Sailor Bracelets”, a ladies fashion accessory available in many lively colors. Door mats, key chains, and dog rope toys are some of the other creative pieces they turn out …

In business since 1957, Mystic Knotwork is located in the historic downtown area along the Mystic River. Be sure to stop in whenever you’re in town as inventory is always showcasing new and interesting designs. If your travels aren’t bringing you to the area, feel free to browse and shop online!

Michele's Pies StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticutMichele’s Pies: This local gourmet pie shop boasts a national following. Owner and founder Michele Stuart’s bakery has been based in Norwalk since late 2007 and has captured the attention of pie lovers across America due to appearances on QVC and good old word of mouth …

Using fresh seasonal ingredients, Michele’s Pies offers over three dozen varieties in just about every category imaginable. Fruit pies, nut pies, cream pies, and more … they’re all here and best of all, you don’t need to live in the Norwalk area to enjoy them!

This innovative pie bakery ships many of their flavors to fans across the United States and even offers a unique Pie of the Month Club, which you can purchase in six or twelve month duration. Blueberry-Blackberry Crumb, Apple Raspberry, Chocolate Walnut, and Banana Cream are just a few of the flavors made fresh daily.

Michele’s talents have garnered her pies many National Pie Championship awards, and she’s even written a couple of cookbooks to share some of her secrets. They’re available at the Michele’s Pies website, where there’s also a link to purchase the pies online or sign up for the Pie of the Month Club.

A gift that’s guaranteed to please … because … who doesn’t like pie?!?

Connecticut Cookie Company StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticutConnecticut Cookie Company: This Southport, CT based business is owned and operated by Andrea Greene, who reignited her childhood passion for baking while pursuing her career in the fashion design industry.

Andrea founded the Connecticut Cookie Company with the philosophy of baking every cookie from scratch, just like the small hometown bakeries so prevalent years ago. Coconut Macaroons, decadent Chocolate Chip, and Toffee Crunch cookies are just a few of the specialties you can have delivered right to your door, as a personal gift, special occasion remembrance, corporate gift, or any event at all!

Be sure not to miss their Quick Fix Brittle, which was featured on “Good Morning America”. It’s made with dark chocolate, graham crackers, and sea salt. Try it as a frozen treat!

Click through to the website to learn more and see all your options …


Connecticut Wool Blanket StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticut

The Connecticut Wool Blanket Project

Connecticut Blanket: We love promoting and supporting projects designed to spotlight specialties from a particular state. Connecticut, as you may know, is a largely rural state as you move away from the coast. Farms of all sizes and focus dot the state’s landscape and many unique products are produced and marketed.

One effort we really like is coordinated by the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association. It’s called the Connecticut Blanket Project and it’s designed to highlight and promote the state’s wool and sheep industry. Each year, local farms raise sheep and shear their wool which is then milled and turned into handsome wool blankets like the one shown in the new “Nutmeg” pattern. The blankets are available from various farms across the state and the list is shown on the page linked above. Many of the farms offers a convenient PayPal option for ordering …

A wonderful Made in Connecticut gift idea that’ll be appreciated by anyone who likes to keep warm!

Mebs Kitchenwares StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticut

Meb’s Kitchenwares: Unique!

Meb’s Kitchenwares: This small family owned and operated business is perfect for those seeking a unique gift that truly says “Connecticut”. Based in Woodstock, a small rural town in the northeast corner of The Constitution State, the company crafts handsome, practical kitchenware from local New England hardwoods.

Most pieces are individually created with your choice of wood and shipped directly to your door in about ten days. Some of the woods used include Black Walnut, Birch, Maple, and Cherry, since these are durable hardwoods offering unique grain patterns and a spectacular range of colors …

Cutting boards, utensils, accessories, and bowls are just some of the items to choose from at the Meb’s Kitchenwares website, Click on the “Catalog” icon and you’ll see the different categories. From there you can choose your preferences and order via PayPal.

Great gift ideas direct from Connecicut!

Zuppardi's StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticutZuppardi’s APizza: Pizza is big business in the USA, and the various styles of this beloved meal each have their passionate devotees. Chicago deep dish, Detroit square pizza, New York style are all at the tip of pizza lover’s tongues. Another specialty style that’s beginning to branch out from its roots is New Haven style.

New Haven style pizza refers of course to New Haven, CT. Typically, this type of pizza is baked in a coal fired oven at very high temperature and sold whole (vs. by the slice). It’s slightly thicker and crispier than New York style, but nowhere near as thick as Chicago deep dish.

A “plain” pizza of this style means a dough crust with tomato sauce, oregano, and a little bit of grated romano cheese. Mozzarella cheese is only added if specifically requested. Chopped clams are a common ingredient – this type of pizza was invented in New Haven and is still a beloved local specialty.

In the old Italian-American neighborhood of New Haven, pizza is known as “apizza”, pronounced “ah-beets”. One of several legendary pizza joints in the city is Zuppardi’s, which has been around for over 80 years.

For those of us who don’t live in Connecticut but crave a New Haven style pizza, pickings are slim although there are a few places scattered across the country in bigger cities. Zuppardi’s, though, will ship authentic New Haven style pizzas (or should we say “apizza’s) to you via their website.

They make a wonderful Made in Connecticut gift – perfect for anyone who likes to mangia!

Red Rooster Gourmet Cookies StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticut

Red Rooster Gourmet Cookies – Yum!

Red Rooster Gourmet Cookies: This gourmet cookie bakery has recently received some national press, being touted as having the best cookies in The Constitution State. We’re on board with that assessment!

They’re located in Guilford, a town sandwiched between Interstate 95 and the Long Island Sound, east of New Haven. Red Rooster creates some spectacular flavors (44 in all), including one we tried, their Bailey’s Irish Cream Cookies. These gems have Bailey’s baked right in, and yes, they’re equally tantalizing for dessert OR happy hour!

Founder and owner Kimberly Welch turns out such specialties as Cinnamon Chocolate Chip, Eggnog Frosted, Chocolate Peppermint, Raspberry White Chocolate, Reese’s Peanut Butter Chunk, and many more. Gift packages and baskets are available directly at their website – everyone loves cookies! Their website is at RedRoosterBaking.com

Click through and check out all the varieties available – enjoy a taste of Connecticut!

Connecticut Cookbook StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticutConnecticut Farm Table Cookbook: We discovered this brand new cookbook (released summer 2015) written by Tracey Medeiros and Christy Colasurdo, who traveled The Constitution State collecting recipes from the state’s top chefs and local farmers. They put them all together in this handsome book which contains 150 of the very best from the coast to The Quiet Corner …

Beautifully photographed, the Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook takes the reader on a culinary journey across the state. Local ingredients are prominently featured, including fresh seafood and the output of Connecticut’s fertile farms and bustling sugar shacks.

Visit the website and you’ll also see a calendar of events where the authors tour the state to host a variety of foodie events. A specialty cookbook spotlighting a state’s cuisine is one of the best economical gifts you can give – it will be treasured by the recipient for years to come!

The Hickories StateGiftsUSA.com/made-in-connecticut

Fresh Salsa From Southwest Connecticut

The Hickories: We’re pleased to introduce you to this local ecologically responsible vegetable farm located in southwestern Connecticut. The Hickories is largely supported by CSA shares (community supported agriculture) which allows are residents to share in the farm’s harvest.

The farm produces organic fruit and vegetables, pastured meat, seedlings, flowers, and more. They also create table ready products from their harvest, like the salsa shown. Buying a CSA is a great way to support local farms and helps your local food supply chain thrive!

At their website, you can learn more about the vision of The Hickories and this unique farming model. You can also visit their online store where you can order their available products for yourself or as a gift.

Fresh from The Constitution State!

Goatboy Soap StateGiftsUSA.com

Goatboy Goat Milk Soap – New Milford, CT

Goatboy Soap: This family owned and operated New Milford, CT business was founded by Lisa Agee, who has proudly developed a product line using all natural ingredients. Did you know many goat milk soap makers use powdered milk, lard, and preservatives in their soap? Goatboy Soap features only ingredients good for your skin, like fresh goat milk, coconut oil, shea butter, and olive oil for moisture.

The family raises and maintains their own herd of dairy goats and create a wide variety of soap scents just perfect as a personal gift directly from The Constitution State. Blackberry Sage, Cool Water, Honey Oatmeal, Hydrangea, and Spearmint Eucalyptus are just a few of the bars you’ll find available at the Goatboy Soap website.

You’ll also find lotions, lip balms, and multi bar gifts sets at the online store. They sell the soap in logs too, a great economical option! Simply cut off a new bar from the log when you’re ready!

We love featuring small local businesses like Goatboy here on State Gifts USA – If you live in Connecticut or the surrounding area, be sure to check out the “Where To Find Us” page on the site. There’s a list of local farmers markets and retail locations where you can purchase the soap in addition to online …

Bevin Bells StateGiftsUSA.com

Bevin Bells – Made With Pride Since 1832

Bevin Bros. Manufacturing Company: Since 1832, this family owned and operated company has been making bells – any kind of bell you can think of, and probably a few you never imagined …

The first bicycle bell was made by Bevin Bells in 1865. The first mass produced bell toy was invented and patented here 11 years later. Remember those bells on the ice cream carts in your neighborhood? They were manufactured here …

And so it goes. Now, Bevin manufactures bells for every occasion, use, and purpose. Christmas tree bells, patio bells, yacht bells, cow bells, boxing ring bells, and literally dozens more …

Bevin also produces custom specification bells, so if you need something special, they’ll help you out. The company rebounded from a devastating fire in 2012 and is once again producing fine quality American made bells.

Click through to their website to view the company’s entire history and get one of these handsome bells for your home or as a gift for someone special …

Nod Hill Soap StateGiftsUSA.com

Nod Hill Soap: Connecticut Made

Nod Hill Soap: Based out of Wilton, CT, Nod Hill Soap is driven by the creative energy of Catherine Romer, who started her business in 2009. Motivated to create soap with beautiful scents and rich, luxurious lather, Catherine creates a line of soaps exceptionally gentle on your skin, along with body lotions, lip butters, facial toners, and a variety of scented sachets and room sprays for your home.

We love natural, hand made soap and haven’t used mass produced varieties in years. Your skin will notice the difference! Nod Hill Soap is made with wholesome ingredients like olive oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and distilled water …

They’re available online in many different scents like Honeysuckle Orange, White Tea & Ginger, Sweetheart Rose, and Lavender to name a few. Catherine also creates custom guest soaps, party favors, and gift baskets – a perfect idea for teacher gifts, wedding showers, or any number of special events.

Click through to the Nod Hill Soap website to see Catherine’s entire selection and to place your order …


Connecticut Magazine StateGiftsUSA.comConnecticut Magazine: If you’re looking for an affordable Connecticut themed gift that’s sure to be appreciated, consider a gift subscription to the state’s premier lifestyle publication. For over 30 years, Connecticut Magazine has provided the best in dining, entertainment, features, and spotlights on everything happening in The Constitution State.

Published monthly, each issue offers a glimpse into life in the state, including updates on the restaurant scene, business happenings, travel, entertainment, and much more. Filled with beautiful photographs from around the state, a subscription will surely be appreciated by anyone with a connection to the area …

Click through to their website where you can order a subscription online for yourself or anyone on your list. Connecticut Magazine is an excellent resource for visitors and locals alike – we found it extremely useful on our recent visit to Hartford and beyond!

First & Last Tavern StateGiftsUSA.com

First & Last Tavern Famous Pasta Sauces

First & Last Tavern: We had a blast visiting Hartford as you’ll see in our travelogue on Connecticut’s capital city (see page bottom). In our never ending quest to visit America’s historic hometown restaurants and taverns, we were fortunate to be pointed to Hartford’s famous First & Last Tavern which has been a mainstay at the edge of the city limits since 1936 …

So named because it’s literally the first tavern you’ll see upon entering Hartford and the last you’ll see when leaving the city, First & Last is renowned for their fantastic casual Italian menu, particularly their sauces. They’ve become so popular with patrons from across the country that the tavern sells them online in gift baskets at their website.

You can order quarts of their Traditional Puttanesca, and Marinara sauces via the link above. Hearty and flavorful, we thoroughly enjoyed tasting them during our meal there and you will too!

A real taste of historic Hartford … the First & Last Tavern!

Sweet Mavens Biscotti StateGiftsUSA.com

Sweet Mavens Biscotti – Glastonbury, CT

Sweet Mavens: This Glastonbury, CT small company is known for their delicious biscotti, but not the kind of biscotti you’re probably used to …

Most Italian style biscotti has a hard, crunchy cookie like texture. The recipe used in Sweet Mavens biscotti is modeled around what one would normally find in Milan – a softer textured cake like consistency. And all your favorite flavors are available – Almond Anise, Chocolate, Caramel with Chocolate, Toasted Almond Vanilla, and many more!

Sweet Mavens also makes a gluten free variety as well as their specialty baked nuts like Sweet Then Heat Cocktail Pecans, made with cinnamon and a touch of cayenne pepper. Click through to their site to see all they’re baking (hint: try the Meyer Lemon & White Chocolate Biscotti). Sure to be appreciated gifts direct from Connecticut!

Warren's Foods StateGiftsUSA.com

Webber’s Original Medium Hot Relish, from Warren’s Foods

Warren’s Foods: One of the really cool things about operating State Gifts USA is that our friends and neighbors are always bringing back great food products from other parts of the country and saying “Try This!”

One of our friends spends a fair amount of time in Connecticut for business, and recently he brought us back a jar of relish from a company called Warren’s Foods based in West Hartford. We don’t know a whole lot about the company other than they make salsa and relish, the kind you put on hot dogs and burgers or mix into omelettes …

The product we tried (and really enjoyed) is Webber’s Original Medium Relish, pictured. It’s got a bit of a bite from peppers (jalapeno?) and it’s very versatile – you can use it on just about anything. It also comes in mild and hot versions, all of which are available for purchase via a linked store on the Warren’s Foods site. The company was founded and is owned by a gentleman named Warren Webber, which is why it’s Warren’s Foods and Webber’s Relish.

Click through, order a jar or two, and give it a try! Direct from Connecticut …

Andree's Waffalloons StateGiftsUSA.com

Andree’s Waffalloons – Manchester, CT

Andree’s Waffalloons: We love small businesses focusing on one specialty product and doing it extraordinarily well. Such is the case with a Manchester, CT company called Andree’s Waffalloons who specialize in Belgian style waffles …

The business is run by the youngest daughter of Andree Henrion, who immigrated to America in 1946 to be with her new husband. She brought along a treasure trove of authentic Belgian recipes, including one native to the Belgium region she grew up in known as Wallonia. This recipe was for Belgian waffles, and it is carried on today and named as a nod to both the product (waffles) and the region of origin (Wallonia) …

Sweet and deeply satisfying on their own, waffaloons are also great served with a few spoon fulls of fresh fruit, as shown, or with the syrup of your choice. For dessert, top them with a scoop of ice cream for a special treat!

A really unique and tasty gift from The Constitution State, you can order waffalloons directly at the Andree’s Waffalloon website in packages of 12 or 24. They freeze beautifully too! A gluten free version is also available for those with a dietary restriction on wheat. Enjoy!

The Bites Company BiscottiThe Bites Company: If you’re a big fan of biscotti like we are, check out this small baking company specializing in the traditional Italian baked treat …

Biscotti is a crispy twice baked flavored cookie that is typically shaped into about six inch long pieces. Founder and owner Dina Upton gave biscotti a new twist by baking it into small round bit sized pieces. Hence the name of her company!

The Bites Company biscotti is available in three flavors – Almond, Lemon, and Cocoa. Almond and Cocoa varieties are available gluten free as well. You can enjoy these bits right out of the bag … with a cup of coffee or tea … or crumble them over a dish of ice cream like we do!

The Bites Company offers their products in select specialty stores in Connecticut and a few surrounding states. They’re also available for purchase directly from their website, and they’ll be delivered fresh to your door or a biscotti loving friend. See their site for ordering details …

Zurell's BBQ Sauce, Connecticut

G-Pa’s Blazin’ Bourbon Sauce

Zurell BBQ Company: Owner and founder Todd Zurell has been making his special barbecue sauce recipe for years, and with the encouragement of family and friends decided to bring it to market by forming the Zurell BBQ Company in 2013. Nicknamed “G-Pa” by his granddaughter, Todd’s signature product is his G-Pa’s Blazin’ Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, which garnered rave reviews from the folks at BBQSauceReviews.com …

Todd also makes a rub called Almost All Purpose Dry Rub which can be used on, well, almost anything! We love seeing small start up companies like this, and let’s face it, there’s always room for great barbecue sauces!

Todd and Zurell BBQ are located in Plantsville, a small central Connecticut community that’s part of the town of Southington. You can order Zurell’s barbecue sauce and Almost All Purpose Dry Rub online via PayPal at his website – a true locally made gift from the heart of The Constitution State!

Mystic Hickory SyrupMystic Hickory Syrups: You’ve heard about maple syrup, but what about hickory syrup?

At Turkeywoods Farm in Mystic, hickory syrups are produced from the bark of the shagbark hickory tree, which naturally begins to shed bark when the trees reach seven years of age. The bark is collected and boiled, aged, and mixed with sugars to create this unique Connecticut treat …

Hickory syrup is used just like maple syrup – on pancakes, waffles, and on baked goods. The syrup looks clear and bright in the bottle and offers a bold, complex taste without the addition of any high fructose corn syrups you’ll find in most store bought brands …

The farm is also the only producer of hickory nut syrup, which is gleaned from hickory nuts gathered in the fall and hand cracked. This delicacy offers a sweet, nutty flavor that contrasts with their flagship shagbark hickory variety. Recognized with awards from the Connecticut Specialty Foods Society, Mystic Hickory Syrups are beautifully packaged and make a great gift direct from The Constitution State.

Click through on their website to view all the different syrups offered and to place your order …

Copps Island OystersCopps Island Oysters: Directly off the southern coast of Connecticut, Long Island Sound yields some of the best seafood anywhere in America. These cold, clean waters are an ideal breeding ground for lobsters, clams, and oysters, the latter of which are well known as Bluepoint oysters …

The Long Island Sound is home to Norm Bloom and Son, who have farmed these waters for three generations. Their natural beds thrive off the islands just south of Norwalk and Westport, where fresh clams are harvested daily, along with briny, fresh oysters. Lobsters are harvested from the deeper waters of the Sound and are sold to the finest restaurants and fishmongers across the country …

Norm Bloom and Son LLC are one of the best and most reliable shippers of these fresh seafood items you’ll find from Connecticut or anywhere in New England. Each order is packed in ice and includes a shipping tag informing you of exactly when and where the oysters were caught. Little Neck and Top Neck Clams can be purchased in quantities up to 200, and Cherrystone Clams up to a 50 count.

Lobsters range from 1.25 to 1.5 pounds and are shipped on the same day they are caught in foam lined boxes with ice packs. You simply won’t find fresher Connecticut seafood!

Visit their website for point and click ordering!

Lamothe's Sugar HouseLamothe’s Sugar House: Lamothe’s Sugar House is located in Burlington, CT, almost due west of Hartford in the center of the state. One of several Connecticut sugar houses, Lamothe’s has been producing maple sugar and related products since 1971 …

A popular area attraction for spring visitors, Lamothe’s Sugar House offers maple sugaring activities along with a popular country store. Here you’ll find various styles of bottled maple syrup, maple candy, local honey, maple sugar, and the maple mustard shown …

Maple apple sauce and maple barbecue sauce are also on their list of products. Everything maple, made and produced right here in The Constitution State!

Learn more by visiting their site and you’ll be able to buy for yourself or as gifts from Lamothe’s online store …

Red Bee ApiaryRed Bee Apiary: Red Bee Apiary of Weston, CT was founded and is owned by former international designer Marina Marchese. She trained in Italy and became the founder of The American Honey Tasting Society, which led to co-authoring the definitive guide to American Honey, “The Honey Connoisseur” in 2013.

In addition to curating single source honeys for her gourmet Red Bee label, she teaches honey tasting courses and consults with beverage and food industry professionals on selecting and pairing honey. At the Red Bee Apiary location in Weston, Marina coordinates Honey Tasting Laboratory Workshops for interested groups of 20 or more …

The entire Red Bee philosophy is based on the assertion that honey is a gourmet food with its flavor profile dictated by the flowers visited by the honeybees and other geographical considerations. We at State Gifts USA have been long time honey aficionados, understanding the taste profile of a particular honey stems from its geographical origin – it is why we feature honey made in each state, if possible.

if you’re interested in learning more about honey, you should definitely visit the Red Bee Apiary website, where you’ll discover many compelling facts about honey as well as buy the honey created there and elsewhere. If you enjoy wine tasting or beer tasting, there are striking similarities in the methodology – not to mention a few jars of Red Bee Honey is a wonderful gift from Connecticut for yourself or the foodie in your life!

Lyman Orchards PieLyman Orchards: From humble beginnings in the mid 1700’s to today, almost 275 years later, Lyman Orchards has been a Connecticut mainstay. Located a half hour from both Hartford and New Haven, Lyman Orchards has grown from being solely an apple orchard to a full fledged destination …

On their expansive grounds, you’ll find the sprawling Apple Barrel Market, a prized golf club and course, and the apple orchards where New Englanders come year after year to pick their own fruit. The Apple Barrel Market sells farm fresh fruit, produce, specialty items, and Lyman Orchard’s famous pies …

These pies come in a variety of flavors, from the Hi-Top Apple Pie (shown) to strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, cherry, and apple caramel walnut. There’s even a specialty pie called Bumbleberry, which contains apples, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries all in one pie!

Lyman Orchards pies are famous coast to coast, and you can now order them online either for yourself or shipped to a very lucky recipient. Place your order at the Lyman Store where you can also see their many jams, specialty products, and many wonderful gift baskets to make gift giving a breeze!

The Purple Pear By Tina

Connecticut Gourmet Dessert Toppings

The Purple Pear By Tina: The Purple Pear By Tina is a small company based in Willington creating gourmet dessert toppings. We learned about the company from a friend who brought back a jar of their wonderful French Caramel Cream topping from a Connecticut business trip …

Owned and operated by Tina Fearnley, their online store offers six different varieties of dessert toppings. You can of course use them spooned over ice cream or frozen yogurt, but they can also be used in cheesecake recipes or as a gourmet topping for any of your favorite desserts …

Flavors include Hot Fudge Cream, Sweet Summer Berry, Peanut Butter Hot Fudge, Buttered Almond, and the aforementioned French Caramel Cream, with or without pecans …

Help support a small independent Connecticut business … place an order at Tina’s site and sweeten up your life!


Ned's island OystersNed’s Island Oysters: There actually is a Ned’s Island. It’s a very small uninhabited island off the southern Connecticut shore in Long Island Sound. The last reported inhabitant was a Native American, known locally only as Ned, who survived on the island primarily due to the plentiful supply of oysters …

Oysters from the Long Island Sound are commonly known as Blue Point oysters. Rather than simply harvesting the oysters from around the island’s shore, Ned’s farms them and encourages reproduction in their oyster farm beds. This ensures a continual supply and respect for this natural resource …

Ned’s Island Oysters farms these plump delicious Blue Points according to demand and ships them across the country in stay cool packaging. The oysters aren’t available every month of the year (check their site for details), but when in season, you can have them shipped right to your door.

The southern Connecticut shore is noted for having an abundant supply of Blue Point oysters due to favorable water conditions and other reasons. Great for a party or special gathering, Blue Points are a wonderful, traditional taste from The Constitution State …

Winding Drive JamsWinding Drive Artisan Jams and Jellies: If necessity is the mother of invention, then Artisan Jams and Jellies is a testament to the statement …

The owners of this small Woodbury company, Ron Pinto and Fran Adams, reached a crossroads when Ron’s job was eliminated in 2008. They registered for a local farmers market and sold some of their homemade jam, and in fact sold out in less than an hour! A business idea was born, and now years later, they are a full fledged operation with a commercial kitchen and retail distribution …

Winding Drive now creates over 30 flavors of specialty jellies and jams. Many of the flavors are quite unique like Wild Elderberry, Quince, Honey Apricot, and Crabapple. Several of their products have won awards from the Connecticut Specialty Foods organization …

You can buy any of their products singly or in a gift pack from their website. See what creative flavors they’re developing next at WindingDrive.com!

Woodbury Sugar ShedWoodbury Sugar Shed: Located in Woodbury and known for pure Connecticut maple syrup, the Woodbury Sugar Shed has been family owned and operated since 1986. Pumpkins, broccoli, sweet corn, and hay and straw products are just a few of the products grown and produced here …

The northeastern states are well known for their maple products, and the Constitution State is no exception. The Woodbury Sugar Shed produces 100% pure maple syrup with no additives like sugar or corn syrup. Most pure maple syrups for table use are Grade A and the darker the color, the more pronounced the maple flavor. Grade B syrups, which are typically late season syrups, are very dark and most often used for cooking and baking …

You can buy Grade A 100% Pure Connecticut Maple Syrup here, as well as maple candies, local honey, and other gourmet food products produced on site … a wonderful gift from Connecticut!

Be sure to check out their “Maple Uses” page for some interesting maple syrup recipes for both food and drinks! You’ll find their website and online store at WoodburySugarShed.com

Hoardable Hot SauceHoardable Hot Sauce: This company was founded in 2010 and is available in five “hoardable” flavors.

All of the produce used in the sauces are organically grown and sourced from Connecticut farms …

The range of flavors of these five hot sauces is really unique … the first is Plum flavored, recommended for Asian style dishes. This would be a good one for any type of stir fry you’re making …

Then there’s Lemon-Thyme for fish and chicken, Red Pepper Mix for tacos and eggs, and Green Pepper Mix to create salsa … The Pepper Mix sauces are ideal to spice up your chili recipe too, either while simmering or as an add on …

Finally, there’s the hottest of the bunch, called “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”. Oh yeah! It’s made with ghost peppers so you know it’s got a bite …

You can order these sauces online at the Hoardable Hot Sauce website …

Dragon's Blood ElixirDragon’s Blood Elixir: This unusually named small company based in Woodstock, CT is an artisan hot sauce and condiment company. The sauces come in unique, interesting flavors and are made with peppers, locally grown apples, and other local ingredients …

Their namesake sauce, Dragon’s Blood Elixir, is a wonderful apple cider based sauce with a peppery kick at the end. It’s one of their many tasty sauces you’ll enjoy using in stir fry dishes, stews, soups, or with pasta entrees. Try the Unique Destiny Roasted Garlic, a medium heat level habanero sauce that’s the perfect combination of heat and garlic …

There’s also a “Condiment From Hell” which is more approachable than it sounds … a blend of horseradish and spicy mustard that is definitely an eye opener but won’t over power your taste buds. Try it on sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs …

You can order any of these sauces and more at Dragon’s Blood Elixir and they’ll ship directly to your door or as a unique made in Connecticut gift …

Connecticut Trivia and Fun Facts

1). The Hartford Courant is the nation’s oldest continously published newspaper. The Courant’s first edition hit the streets in 1764 …

2). There are only eight counties in Connecticut …

3). Connecticut was one of only two states that did not ratify the 18th Amendment (Prohibition). The other state was Rhode Island …

4). Connecticut was the first state to pass an automobile law in 1901. The law set the speed limit for autos at 12 miles per hour. Connecticut was also the first state to issue permanent license plates for cars, which happened in 1937 …

5). America’s first steel mill opened in Connecticut in 1728 …

6). Olympic Gold Medalist Dorothy Hamill was born in Connecticut. She became famous during the 1976 Winter Olympics …

Mariah's Chow ChowMariah’s Chow Chow Relish: There’s a taste of the south coming from Connecticut in the form of Mariah’s Chow Chow Relish, a product from Southern Relishes, LLC from West Haven …

A product usually found in southern states, chow chow is a mix of finely chopped vegetables and spices mixed into a condiment. It has the consistency of pickle relish but the taste is richer and more adaptable to a variety of dishes …

Enjoy Mariah’s Chow Chow on hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, and your favorite recipes … it’ll add a sweet and spicy kick!

Four different varieties are available to suit everyone’s taste buds … there’s mild, sweet and mild, hot, and sweet and hot. You can order directly from their website for yourself or as a unique gift made in Connecticut. Go ahead and get your chow chow on!

Matthews 1812 HouseMatthews 1812 House: Located in Cornwall Bridge, CT Matthews 1812 House is a specialty baker creating many varieties of cakes, cookies, candy, brownies, and candied fruit …

They are best known for their hazelnut cookies and all their baked goods freeze beautifully … buy and use down the road if you wish!

Matthews 1812 House offers numerous items that make excellent gifts, namely their fruit and nut rounds. One in particular is their Cherry Berry Mix, shown in the picture. It’s a satisfying mix of tart cherries, cranberries, almonds, and golden raisins. Sure to be appreciated by anyone on your list …

Check out their website to decide which of their scrumptious items suits your taste buds best!

The Gracious GourmetThe Gracious Gourmet: This cool company based in Bridgewater, CT turns your cooking into an art form with their unique line of tapenades, spreads, chutneys, and pesto sauces …

You can use any of their products to create a wonderful meal with minimal time in the kitchen. Try the dried fruit chutney on a piece of tilapia or salmon, or use it as a glaze for pork roast. The lemon artichoke pesto is about the best thing you can do to a pork chop ever … it has just the right amount of garlic to complement the lemon flavor … without question the creamiest pesto we’ve ever tried!

For something a little unique, try the fig almond spread. We never were that big on figs but this stuff is fantastic … great on an english muffin in the morning or to spread on chicken breast for lunch or dinner. Best of all, you don’t have to come up with the ideas yourself … the Gracious Gourmet website has all kinds of mouth watering recipes to help elevate your culinary skills to extraordinary!

The entire line of products from The Gracious Gourmet is available at their website …

Palmieri Foods

Palmieri Foods Pasta Sauces

Palmieri Foods: Since 1920, Palmieri Foods has been a New Haven mainstay and is now one of the largest sauce and specialty food producers in the state …

With a motto like “Eat Better, Feel Better” you won’t go wrong with any of Palmieri’s Italian style sauces, like roasted garlic and roasted eggplant sauce, portabella mushroom sauce, and traditional pasta sauces.

They also make a popular wing sauce and do a lot of private label products for small producers in the state …

The Palmieri Foods website offers a number of old school recipes as well as the opportunity to buy their sauces online for shipment …

Waldingfield Farm Pasta SauceWaldingfield Farm Pasta Sauce: Did you know the Constitution State is known for their excellent tomato crop? The rich soil and climate moderated by ocean breezes creates the ideal environment for growing tomatoes across the state.

At the Waldingfield Farm in Litchfield County, you’ll find the fields lush with famous Waldingfield Tomatoes, which are shipped across New England and points beyond. The farm of roughly 25 acres is the largest organic farm in the state …

Waldingfield has a special pasta and basil sauce produced in accordance with the family recipe by Palmieri Foods of New Haven (above). The sauce, along with other farm items, is available at the Waldingfield Farm website. Use it as a traditional pasta sauce or as a complement to stews or a braised meat or lamb dish …

A great gift from the heart of Connecticut!

SuperSeedz

SuperSeedz Original

SuperSeedz: Known as “America’s Tastiest Healthy Snack”, SuperSeedz are created by Kathie’s Kitchen of North Haven, CT.

SuperSeedz are 100% dry roasted and shelled gourmet pumpkin seeds, available in several different flavors, from original to spicy …

Pumpkin seeds are tasty, crunchy, high in protein, low in carbs, and naturally vegan. Kids love them and they are one of the healthiest snacks you can serve!

SuperSeedz are spiced with curry (Original Flavor as shown), or unsalted, or dusted with cinnamon and sugar.

No matter if you like sweet or salty or spicy, SuperSeedz have got your taste buds covered!

You can order these delicious unique snacks online at the SuperSeedz website

StateGiftsUSA.com

Hartford Denim Co. Jeans

Hartford Denim Company: This spirited, fun company out of Hartford makes built to last denim jeans and other interesting items made from denim like backpacks, shop aprons, and tote bags. They are so confident about the durability of their products that they offer lifetime repair if something should go wrong.

Hartford Denim has an Etsy store (linked on their website) where you can buy many of their products …

Woodbury Pewter: One of the world’s most recognized pewter product manufacturers in the world is based in Connecticut … Woodbury Pewter. They’ve been around since 1952 and offer hundreds of pewter items, from formal decor to award and recognition items.

On their site, you can view a cool video of some of their pewter products being made …

StateGiftsUSA.com

State Seal Button Set – Woodbury Button

Waterbury Button: For over 200 years, Waterbury Button has been making just about every kind of button imaginable, for fashion items, uniforms, promotional, and just for fun! They proudly produce the buttons for all branches of the U.S. military and are often called on by Hollywood designers for actor and actress movie apparel …

The picture depicts the State Seal Set, available at their website … it’s a collection of 50 buttons, each with a different official state seal embossed. The date when the state achieved statehood is listed underneath. A fantastic keepsake for kids and historians!

Deep River SnacksDeep River Snacks Potato Chips: If you like a crisp, crunchy kettle cooked potato chip, you really should try Deep River Snacks Original Salted Kettle Cooked Chips (pictured).

They stand up to dips as well or better than any chip we’ve tried, and we’ve tried a few (call it a hobby of sorts!). But these chips don’t need a dip to taste good … right out of the bag is just fine!

Deep River Snacks is based in Old Lyme, Ct. They offer eleven different flavors of chips and several other types of snacks like tortilla chips, crisps, and popcorn … order some at Deep River Snacks.

Michaud Pasta Sauces: Michaud Foods makes several different kinds of pasta sauces which caught our attention because they are all natural with no water, paste, or added sugar. They’re generally available at large grocers across New England (check the Michaud Foods site for details), through Amazon, and via their own site. Our favorite is the roasted garlic pasta sauce … addicting! The company is located in Simsbury, CT …

RIPE Craft Bar Juice: This Connecticut company takes making cocktails to a new level with an array of fresh squeezed always cold cocktail mixes for creating all sort of interesting adult beverages … classic and cutting edge.

You can also cook with these juices. Some of the varieties include bloody mary , agave margarita, agave mojito, and Caribbean style punch … is it happy hour yet??

Woodstock Hill Preserves: Since 1979, Woodstock Hill Preserves has been making unique varieties of jams and preserves in the quiet northeast corner of Connecticut.

You can order all of their products online including preserves like apricot with amaretto, plum with aged port wine, blackberry with spiced ginger, and cayenne cherry (great for fish recipes!) …

Also, check out their honey, infused with exotic ingredients like cardamom and lemongrass …

StateGiftsUSA.com

Bear Pond Farm Pesto Sauces and Dips

Bear Pond Farm: This organic farm in Glastonbury, CT is known for their pesto dips and sauces, available in a variety of blends.

These pesto sauces are nut free and can be thawed and re-frozen for use when it’s more convenient …

Choose from several flavors like fresh lemon, tomato basil, and cilantro.

They ship all across America and you can buy from here

Bloody Bold Bloody Mary Mix: If you like a good slightly spicy (but not too spicy) bloody mary, I’m happy to introduce you to Bloody Bold bloody mary mix, made in North Branford, CT. You can find it at liquor stores in most eastern states, or just buy it online at their website. Bloody Bold is an all natural mix that won’t thin out when alcohol and ice are added … the net result is a thick, satisfying cocktail, perfect for tailgate parties or to start up a weekend party!

StateGiftsUSA.com

El’s Kitchen Gluten Free Snack Mixes

El’s Kitchen Gluten Free Snacks: If you’re looking for tasty and crunchy gluten free snacks, check out the product line at El’s Kitchen, based in Stratford. These zesty snacks have no artificial colors and contain none of the major allergens like eggs, milk, soy, peanuts, and nuts …

Their product line includes bagel chips and a wide variety of snack mix flavors (called Medleys) combining pretzels, corn nuts, potato chips, and corn chips. Click through to their site (linked above) to order online …

Foxon Park Beverages: Founded in 1922, Foxon Park Beverages is a Connecticut and New England institution. They make soda pop in 17 different flavors, including a white birch soda with a refreshing wintergreen flavor. All of their products are made with 100% real cane sugar and have won the top prize for several “Best Of” reader surveys …

You can order their sodas online, as well as apparel with the Foxon Park logo …

StateGiftsUSA.com

Sweet Sunshine Sauces

Sweet Sunshine Sweet and Hot Sauces: This small company based in Litchfield makes some really interesting sauces you can use in cooking or as a condiment. Our favorite is the Warm Sauce, so named because it’s infused with habanero and cayenne. Their most popular sauce is simply known as Sweet Sauce, which is great in just about any recipe you can imagine (try it in chili). It’s flavored with mild ancho peppers, so there’s no heat to speak of.

Of course, as you might imagine, they also carry spicier sauces, all the way up to Atomic Sauce, which is prefect if you’re a fan of, say, really spicy chicken wings. Check out their full line of products online and order direct at SweetSunshine.com

Holly’s Oatmeal: You do remember your mom telling you to eat your oatmeal, right?

Well, with good reason, because oatmeal is one of healthiest breakfasts you can eat. The only traditional problem with oatmeal is it doesn’t always taste good, unless you doctor it up with all kinds of added ingredients …

Fortunately, Holly’s Oatmeal of Torrington, CT solves the taste problem in a big way with eight different unique, satisfying flavor blends. Choose from oatmeal like Currantly Sunny Honey, Triple Fruit Berrylicious, Goji Berry, Apricot Maple Nut, and more. You can order online and then start eating your oatmeal!

StateGiftsUSA.com

Nodine’s Smokehouse Bershire Ham

Nodine’s Smokehouse: Also based in Torrington is Nodine’s Smokehouse, an old time feel smokehouse that carries hard to find smoked meats and fish …

Pictured is a Berkshire ham, which is often called the “Rolls Royce of pork products”. It’s also known as the Kurobuta Ham and is highly prized in Japan and other parts of the world …

Nodine’s ships anywhere in America. They carry all sorts of interesting smoked meat, cheese, fish, and game. Take a gander at the Nodine’s website and you’ll see sausages you rarely see, like Swedish potato sausage and traditional English banger sausage. They even sell dog treats!

Comment Below About Some Of Your Favorite Connecticut Products!


Visiting Hartford – Connecticut’s Capital City

Hartford Skyline At Night

Hartford Skyline & The Connecticut River

We’re so pleased to bring you our travelogue report on Hartford, Connecticut’s capital city. Situated in the center of the state, Hartford is an excellent starting point for a New England vacation. The city is a convenient drive to just about any area destination – we used it as a starting / finishing base to visit a handful of states and the capitals of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts …

Don’t overlook Hartford on its own, though. This mid size city of 125,000 is actually Connecticut’s 4th largest and the state’s largest city off the coast. Within 1/2 hour’s drive, you’re in the midst of beautiful Connecticut farm fields and rolling hills that capture the essence of the New England countryside.

It had been some time since we visited Hartford – almost 15 years in fact. While the city continues to face some economic challenges, we were pleased to see its progress – the downtown is a vibrant hub for arts and entertainment and the Connecticut River provides a scenic backdrop for the city …

Hartford Overview

On our trip, we decided to hop on an Amtrak train from Penn Station to Hartford and rent a car in Connecticut. About a three hour journey, it’s a good way to take in the scenery and avoid congestion getting out of The Big Apple by car. Hartford is fairly easy to navigate and parking around the city isn’t too difficult – we were able to find street or convenient garage parking anywhere we went.

Mid Autumn is a particularly fine time to visit this part of the country – the scenery is spectacular!

Once you arrive in Hartford, you’ll note the city is bisected by the Connecticut River, which divides Hartford with its conveniently named suburb, East Hartford. Most of the entertainment, museums, and points of interest are in or near the downtown area, so plan to spend most of your time here …

Connecticut State Capitol StateGiftsUSA.com

Connecticut State Capitol Bldg.

The Amtrak station is very near the State Capitol Building, so if you arrive by train, you can easily take in a visit. Pratt Street is one of the best known streets in the city – it’s a hub for restaurants, shops, and nightlife. In all, you can get a good feel for the city in a day – we arrived from New York well into the afternoon and spent the evening and the full next day in Hartford. You won’t see everything, but you can experience the highlights!

Hartford is known world wide as an insurance center – big companies like Travelers, Aetna, and of course Hartford Insurance are headquartered here. In large measure, these and other companies drive Hartford’s economy, which is beginning to hold its own. Population in the area around the city dwarfs that of the city itself – over 1,200,000 people live in the Hartford metro area …

What To See & Do

Since most of the city’s major attractions are in or near the downtown core, that’s where we focused out energies. After being on the train for a few hours, we wanted to stretch our legs and walk. So, the city’s premier downtown oasis, Bushnell Park, was our first destination. It’s one of the country’s oldest parks and houses an authentic historic carousel featuring 36 hand carved horses. Currently being refurbished, this 100 year old carousel will re-open for the 2015 season.

Hartford Bushnell Park StateGiftsUSA.com

Strolling In Hartford’s Historic Bushnell Park

The park features ample green space for a brisk (or not so brisk) walk – when you’re here you’re right at the foot of the impressive State Capitol Building. You’ll also see the historic Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, which offers free periodic tours May through October. The Arch was initially dedicated to Civil War veterans and is a cornerstone attraction in the park.

As mentioned, the gleaming State Capitol Building is very close by. We embarked on a free self guided tour toward the end of the day. If you prefer a guided tour, they’re offered Monday through Friday and you’ll see the Connecticut Hall of Fame, General Assembly, and learn the lengthy history of this National Historic Landmark. This gold leaf domed building was originally opened in 1878 and completely restored through most of the 1980’s. The interior floors of the building are inlaid with white marble and red slate quarried in Connecticut …

If you’re a literature fan, be sure to see the homes of famed authors Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain. They’re quite near each other, and both offer a glimpse of the author’s lives and times as well as an opportunity to experience the historic architecture of the era …

Should you really want to get to know the city in a short period of time, we highly recommend a 90 minute Hartford Walking Tour. Led by experienced and enthusiastic docents, the tour navigates through downtown and allows you to experience the sites and events that shaped the city’s history. We hooked into a tour with another group, but you can book a tour with as few as two people directly at their website. Enjoyable and very worthwhile!

Hartford Eats – Our Dining Recommendations

If you’ve read some of our other State Capital Travelogues, you know our local restaurant choices lean toward local and historic … we know you can find the chain places on your own!

With that in mind, we found several really enjoyable places in our day and a half in Hartford. Of course, there are many more to visit, but these will give you a flavor for the city …

Directly across from Bushnell Park, you can’t miss the inviting sidewalk patio of Vito’s By The Park. This attractive restaurant specializes in Italian, with a great bar menu and lively happy hour. We stopped here after touring the Capitol Building and immediately felt like a local …

Vaughan's Public House Hartford StateGiftsUSA.com

The Beer Taps At Vaughan’s Public House

Vito’s has a creative but not all that expensive bar menu and a raw bar turning out ultra fresh oysters and clams. The happy hour menu features Vito’s Meatball Sliders (highly recommended!) as well as steamed mussels, and a Pasta Al Forno dish that has been featured on The Food Network. Vito’s is also known for their pizzas and although we didn’t have one, we saw a few going by and sure were tempted!

Another place we fell in love with is Vaughan’s Public House on lively Pratt Street. This place plays as a bar, but the food here is really good and freshly made. Do you like Bailey’s Irish Cream? Stop here, because Vaughan’s makes their OWN Irish Cream – we told them they should bottle and sell it!

As you would expect from a joint with Public House in its name, Vaughan’s has plenty of great beer on tap. For food, they’ve got an excellent baked potato soup and their burgers and curried chicken salad are top notch!

For a casual lunch and an authentic historic Hartford experience, hit up LaRosa’s Marketplace on Brown Street. A combination deli/market/lunch spot, LaRosa’s has been around since 1930 and it’s no wonder – their grinders, panini’s, and lunch specials are fantastic!

LaRosa's Marketplace Hartford StateGiftsUSA.com

Lunch At LaRosa’s Marketplace, Since 1930

When we visited, we enjoyed an eggplant panini, Caprese salad, house made Italian sausage grinder, and a bowl of meatball escarole soup. A very casual place, LaRosa’s is an order at the counter and sit down until your number is called type of place. Everybody stops in for lunch – it’s bustling but your food comes fast and it’s fun to watch and mingle with the locals. A must try spot in Hartford!

Another terrific Hartford spot for casual Italian food in an historic atmosphere is the First & Last Tavern on Maple Avenue. It’s been around since 1936 and was named for its location near the border of Hartford’s city limits. It’s the first tavern you hit coming into town and the last tavern on the way out!

First & Last offers outstanding grinders, pasta dishes, and an appealing happy hour menu. In the nice weather, sit out on their patio and watch the Hartford world go by!

Finally, if you’re a fan of historic taverns like us, stop in at The Federal Cafe, located on the corner of Union and Church Streets since 1934. This isn’t a cafe (it’s a bar), and the locals call it “The Fed”.

Federal Cafe Hartford StateGiftsUSA.com

The Federal Cafe, more known as “The Fed”

A dive bar in the best sense of the phrase, The Fed is directly across from the train station. We stopped late afternoon and hung out for awhile. They’ve got drink specials every day of the week and we learned it livens up later at night with live music and DJ’s. Friendly staff adds the cherry atop the sundae! This’ll be one of the first places we stop next time in town … and you should too!

Summary & Learn More About Hartford

Hartford probably isn’t on many people’s “must visit” list, but it really is a cool town. It’s about as convenient as you’ll find if you want to explore New England, and it combines a dash of history along with a long list of great local food & drink options.

Connecticut Map StateGiftsUSA.comYou’ll want to spend at least a night here before heading on to other destinations. The city is pretty easy to get around and we encountered many warm, friendly locals. We also learned that a walking tour is a great way to learn about a city! It’s something we hadn’t pursued in years and now it’s near the top of our list.

We also like how the city is working hard to rebound from economic distress. Redevelopment (in a good way) is taking place and a new arts district near downtown is taking shape. Hartford, like many cities, has its problems to be sure, but we’re more inclined to look for the good things in a city and we hope we’ve offered up a few of them here!

Let us know what you think about Connecticut’s capital city and tell us about any highlights we may have missed. And if you want to learn more about everything Hartford has to offer, visit their helpful visitor site at Hartford.com

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