12 Washington Gems to Explore on the 12 Days of Christmas

Photo credit: @itsyaboy_nate

This holiday season is unlike any other and there are so many picturesque spots to share happy memories in Washington. Take a tour of 12 Washington Gems for the 12 Days of Christmas (or any season!) for the best spots around town to explore this holiday season. These spots are unique to Washington, so bundle up and bring your family along on this holiday treasure hunt!

Shepaug Riverwalk. Photo credit: @litchfieldmagazine

1. Shepaug Riverwalk

The Shepaug River gets its name from the Mohegan word for “rocky water.” As the main source of fresh water for the area, the Shepaug River has played a major role in the history and development of Washington. Today, residents and visitors can enjoy the river’s tranquility while walking along the Riverwalk trail that runs parallel to its banks right in the heart of Washington Depot.

Photo credit: @astroandangus

2. Macricostas Preserve

Explore one of the most peaceful spots in town, the Macricostas Preserve. Grab your hiking boots and your four-legged friend and make your way to the top to get an incredible panoramic view of Lake Waramaug and the surrounding countryside from Waramaug’s Rock.

Photo credit: @washingtonartassociation

3. The Gallery at WAA

The Washington Art Association is a hub for the artistic community in Washington. In addition to showcasing nationally and internationally known artists, the gallery also seeks to feature talented emerging artists and the art made by the gifted members and faculty of the Washington Art Association. See what’s new at the exhibit at their gallery in Washington Depot or online at washingtonartassociation.org.

Photo credit: @jseitzco

4. New Preston Falls

While New Preston Village is known for its charming shops and local eateries, don’t forget that it is also the perfect spot to stop and take in the view of New Preston Falls. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate at the picnic tables along the river and find sanctuary in the rushing East Aspetuck River. A hidden gem to behold after strolling through the village.

Photo credit: @patrickdonegan

5. Explore the Lights

Winter lights coat the town during the holiday season, so take advantage of the various displays on a night time drive. Washington Depot is a great spot to grab a warm cuppa and enjoy the lights around the shops. Also head to New Preston village to see their incredible holiday-themed window displays! This year, you can also enjoy Holiday in the Depot to view all the light displays along with festive activities, an appearance from Santa, and more.

Photo credit: @itsyaboy_nate

6. Henry David Thoreau Bridge

If you are wanting to explore the wonderful outdoors, Hidden Valley Preserve’s Henry David Thoreau Bridge is a must see during the winter and only a short walk from the parking lot. See if you can visit during snowfall for an unmatched view, and make sure to snap a photo! This is one of the favorite backdrops on Instagram, so be sure to tag us at #explorewashingtonct.

"Washington, Connecticut - An American Story"

7. “Washington, Connecticut – An American Story” Exhibit

Take a deep dive into Washington’s history at the “Washington, Connecticut – An American Story” exhibit at Gunn Historical Museum. This interactive and award-winning exhibit is the most comprehensive history of Washington’s history to date. Visit the Gunn Historical Museum Thursday through Saturday from 10am – 4pm to get all the insider knowledge about Washington’s past and present. Docent tours are also available by appointment.

Photo credit: @iaismuseum

8. The Wigwam Escape

The Institute for American Indian Study’s Wigwam Escape is an award winning escape room designed to challenge the ordinary museum experience, providing an opportunity to foster dialogue in a game that’s dynamic, challenging and entertaining. You can book your escape room at wigwamescape.org.

Mowbray Mural at Gunn Memorial Library

9. The Mowbray Mural

The Mowbray Mural at the Gunn Memorial Library was donated by the muralist and painter H. Siddons Mowbray in 1914. The mural on the vaulted ceiling is divided into four panels that depict the Greek myth of Proserpine being abducted by Pluto. Mowbray’s work can also be found at key landmarks in New York City. Visit the library to take a look at this intricate piece for yourself!

10. New Preston Hill Historic District

Love to experience history? Enjoy an outdoor walk on a beautiful day around the New Preston Hill Historic District. This part of town was officially settled in the 18th century with the construction of the Old Stone Church and a triangular common green. Enjoy a snapshot of daily life back in colonial Connecticut.

Rossiter Architecture

11. Rossiter Architecture

As you drive through Washington, see if you can spot the architecture of Ehrick Rossiter. Rossiter was a famous American architect who designed 25 estate homes or “summer cottages” in Washington primarily in the Queen Anne (“shingle style”) and Colonial Revival, including his own spectacular country home called “The Rocks”. His other buildings include The Gunn Memorial Library, Kirby Corners, Glen Holme, Saint John’s Episcopal Church, and more. See if you can find them all with this book as your guide: “Rossiter: Country Houses of Washington, Connecticut” available through the Gunn Memorial Library shop.

Photo credit: @thejudyblackpark

12. “Currents” Sculpture

This dramatic, 46 foot granite sculpture by Mark Mennin was commissioned for Judy Black Memorial Park & Gardens. It is the beloved centerpiece of the park, enjoyed by all to sit and watch the world go by, or lie back and experience its undulating contours.

Show your Washington love! Let us know which of these spots you’ve visited. Tag us @explorewashingtonct.

Have a happy and healthy holiday season!