No town in Connecticut has a grander, more imposing main street. Ridgefield's is 132 feet wide, lined with ancient elms, maples, and oaks, and bordered by massive 19th-century houses, most of them in Classical Revival and late Victorian styles. Impressive at any time of the year, it is in its glory during the brief blaze of the October foliage season. Only a little over an hour from New York City (61 miles northeast), the town (pop. 24,000) is nonetheless a true evocation of the New England character. The bustling shopping district has few franchise outlets.

Dining -- Fans of classy low-brow eats will want to make a special stop at Chez Lenard (no phone), an open-air hot-dog stand on the sidewalk toward the north end of the shopping district, opposite Ballard Park. There are no tables, but these foot-longs come with such trappings as peppers and onions ("Le Hot Dog Excelsior") and cheese fondue ("Logano Suisse"). And the boss gallantly keeps it open right through winter.

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