A gateway to the Litchfield Hills, New Milford was founded in 1703 and functions as a commercial center for the smaller villages that surround it -- Roxbury, Bridgewater, Washington, and Brookfield. It is also at the high end of a long stretch of overdeveloped Route 7, which is clogged with strip malls.

New Milford is a welcome stop on the drive north, if only for lunch and a short stroll. Turn right on Route 202 where it splits from Route 7 and crosses the Housatonic River and a railroad track. Up on the left is one end of the long town green. A 1902 fire destroyed many of the buildings around the green, so this isn't one of those picture-book New England settings. Rather, it is a mix of late Victoriana, early Greek Revival, and Eisenhower-era architecture, not to ignore the requisite Congregational church.

Otherwise, there are no obligatory sights, so a walk down Bank Street, west of the green and along Railroad Street, with its crafts shops, a bookstore, and an Art Moderne movie house, won't take long.

Getting Outside -- Candlewood Lake (tel. 860/354-6928; www.candlewoodlake.net) is the third-largest man-made lake in the eastern United States. It has a finger that pokes into New Milford, but the area with the most recreational facilities is a few miles to the west. From New Milford, drive north on Route 7 about 2 1/2 miles, turn west on Route 37 toward and through Sherman, then south on Route 39 to Squantz Pond State Park (tel. 203/797-4165; www.ct.gov). With over 170 acres along the lakeshore, it offers swimming, fishing, hiking and cycling trails, picnic grounds, rental canoes, and a boat launch. In the winter, there's ice-skating.

Where to Dine -- There are many dining choices along Bank and Railroad streets and out on nearby Route 7.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.