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A Tank Away | Guilford, Conn.

You might leave wanting to live there

Eat harborside, shop for fun, see into history

Guilford Green is laid out like — and as beautiful as — many a New England town green, long and with an attendant church. Guilford Green is laid out like — and as beautiful as — many a New England town green, long and with an attendant church. (Paul E. Kandarian for The Boston Globe)
By Paul E. Kandarian
Globe Correspondent / September 15, 2010

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Guilford’s sprawling green in the center of town is a lot like the one in Woodstock, Vt. — long, spacious, lined with lots of historic buildings, funky shops, and fun restaurants. But Guilford has something Woodstock does not: the ocean. The harbor here is quintessential New England, with boats bobbing away long into late summer. Cozy, coastal Guilford is said to have the third largest collection of historic homes in New England. In 2005, Money magazine named it one of the country’s top 100 places to live.

STAY
The B&B at Bartlett Farm (564 Great Hill Road, 203-457-1657, www.thebartlettfarm.com, from $125) is a handsome old home that has been in the Bartlett family since 1784. This working farm is home to fallow deer, a buffalo, donkey, pigs, ducks, cattle, and sheep. Sound Reach (50 Christmas Hill Road, 203-457-0415, www.bbhost.com/soundreach, $110-$115) is named for its hilltop location with views of Long Island Sound, and all around are perennial and herb gardens and wildflowers.

EAT
A popular picturesque spot is Stone House Restaurant (506 Whitfield St., 203-458-3700, www.stonehouserestaurant.com, entrees from $20) at the Guilford Marina, with terrific water views. A great option is the adjacent Little Stone House, with patio dining with views of the channel and a tower of nearby lobster pots waiting to be used, and where you’ll get an amazing warm lobster roll with salad for a reasonable $16. Back in town, try Whitfield’s on Guilford Green (25 Whitfield St., 203-458-1300, www.whitfieldsguilford.com, dinner entrees from $20), in a circa 1873 building with views of the green in front, while out back seasonal patio dining overlooks a metal sculpture garden on the grounds of the adjacent Greene Art Gallery. A unique place to eat is Cafe Grounded (20 Church St., 203-453-6400, www.cafegrounded.com, breakfast, lunch, dinner, from $3.50), housed in a refurbished Quonset hut that plays up its airplane hangar theme with clocks showing international times and an upstairs dining area with old airliner seats, complete with seat belts.

DURING THE DAY
For recreation, Guilford has a nice mix of two public beaches, three public marinas, a pair of private yacht clubs, the town-owned Guilford Lakes Golf Course, and hiking trails. At Christmas, there is a tree-lighting ceremony on and around Guilford Green.

A very big deal is the annual Guilford Fair (www.guilfordfair.org), started in 1859, making it one of the region’s oldest, and running this Friday through Sunday. Nature lovers should check out the Anne Conover Nature Education Trail (Meadowlands Road, 203-458-2582, www.audubon.org) with its 235 acres of tidal wetlands that form the heart of the Guilford Salt Meadows Sanctuary (330 Mulberry Point Road, 203-458-9981, www.audubon.org), notable for its bird-watching. A historic must is the Henry Whitfield State Museum (corner of Whitfield Street and Stone House Lane, 203-453-2457, www.cultureandtourism.org) in the state’s oldest home, built in 1639.

Cool shopping abounds at places like Page Hardware and Appliance (9 Boston St., 203-453-5267, www.pagehardware.com), a throwback retail spot in an 1857 building where you can find just about anything. Candy lovers flock to The Village Chocolatier (79 Whitfield St., 203-453-5226, www.thevillagechocolateir.com), with candy from less than a buck on up, including holiday-themed foil candy from Thompson Candy in Meriden. Ella — Where She Shops (90 Broad St., 203-453-4799, www.myellastore.com) has no Ella. Ella is “she’’ in Italian, and it offers a great line of women’s clothing. Farm shoppers should hit Bishop’s Orchards (1355 Boston Post Road, 203-453-2338, www.bishopsorchards.com) for farm-fresh produce, pies, and meats. Grab a tome to read on the green at Breakwater Books (81 Whitfield St., 203-453-4141, www.breakwaterbooks.net), an independent bookstore since 1972.

AFTER DARK
Set on the green, Ballou’s Wine Bar (51 Whitfield St., 203-453-0319, www.ballouswinebar.com) is a great place to listen to live music on Friday and Saturday nights, enjoy wines (from $6 a glass), many from Connecticut, with cheese plates, fondue, and pasta ($4-$14). Live bands play every Saturday night at Augur’s Irish Pub (29 Water St., 203-453-4936, www.augursirishpub.com), a place to eat a corned beef sandwich ($7.50) and non-Irish fare as well. A local favorite for watching sports on several TVs is KC’s Pub (725 Boston Post Road, 203-453-0771, www.kcspub.com), where you can get specials on game nights for the Patriots as well as the New York Jets and Giants.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at kandarian@globe.com.