A prominent prep school of the same name, a history as an iron-smelting center, and a continuing reputation as a gathering place of artists and writers define this town of fewer than 3,000. Noted 19th-century landscape painter George Inness helped establish that sentiment, and several galleries represent the works of his creative descendants (if not his equals). They are joined by a multiplicity of antiques shops and bookstores, most of them strung along Route 7. South of town on the same road is the hamlet of Bull's Bridge, named for one of the two remaining covered bridges in the state that can be crossed by cars.
Talk of the town is the recent federal recognition of the barely viable Schaghticoke (SKAT-a-cokes) Indian tribe. Ten members occupy a 400-acre reservation next to the prestigious Kent School. It is the fourth tribe in Connecticut to receive formal sovereignty, and controversy is rife locally over what it might do with that status. The prospect of yet another casino looms.
A supersweet local landmark is Belgique Pâtisserie & Chocolatier, 1 Bridge St. (tel. 860/927-3681), which started life as a restaurant. After the chef-owner tired of the workload, he focused on his calling as chocolatier and pastry chef. Stop in for a superb hot chocolate and examine glass cases full of delicate and creative tarts, cakes, mousses, chocolates, and other confections. There are freshly baked baguettes and croissants, too. Open Thursday through Saturday 9am to 6pm, Sunday 10am to 6pm.
Four miles northeast of Kent is Kent Falls State Park, on Route 7 (tel. 860/927-3238; www.ct.gov). Its centerpiece, a 250-foot cascade, is clearly visible from the road, and picnic tables are set about the grounds. A path mounts the hill beside the falls. Restrooms are available. A parking fee is charged on weekends and holidays between June and October, but admission is free.
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