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Small-Town Getaway in Chester, Connecticut

Chester

Mention Chester—a 16-square-mile patch abutting the Connecticut River—and you'll get a puzzled look, even from a born-and-bred Yankee. This hidden treasure has kept its low profile for more than 200 years. Behind the Victorian storefronts on Main Street, you'll find tiny boutiques selling Scandinavian toys, Italian pottery, and contemporary art.

What to Do

Meander over to the 25-year-old Chester Gallery (76 Main St.; 860/526-9822), which shows works by regional artists such as printmaker Richard Ziemann. For all things Swedish and German, head to Chez Manon (21 Main St.; 860/526-2554), a cheery boutique with wooden music boxes and flower-patterned linens.

Where to Eat

At lunchtime, locals pack into the River Tavern (23 Main St.; 860/526-9417; lunch for two $60) for lobster-spinach bisque, and evening draws a smart cocktail crowd. The cozy Restaurant du Village (59 Main St.; 860/526-5301; dinner for two $110) serves an Alsatian choucroute and an ethereal passion-fruit gratin.

Where to Stay

Six miles away, the 13-room Copper Beech Inn (46 Main St., Ivorytown; 860/767-0330; copperbeechinn.com; doubles from $195) has an airy atrium overlooking an English country-style garden, where croissants and waffles are served every morning.

Insider Tip

"In the fall I like to pack a picnic and cross the river on the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry to Gillette Castle [67 River Rd., East Haddam; 860/526-2336], a 1919 hilltop mansion open to the public," Restaurant du Village chef and co-owner Cynthia Keller says.

—Xander Kaplan

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