Connecticut: Visiting New England’s Colonial History at Essex’s Griswold Inn

Situated on Main Street in the center of historic Essex Village along the banks of the Connecticut River is the Griswold Inn. Familiarly referred to as ‘The Gris,’ the inn is the oldest continually operating inn in the State of Connecticut. Built as an inn in 1776, today, ‘The Gris’ offers 33 rooms, each different and decorated with antiques, period reproductions and Leonard’s beds, adding historic character to each space. The inn’s popular Tap Room, a colonial-inspired, wood-built tavern adorned with maritime artifacts that harkens back to the area’s popularity during the bustling steamboat era of the mid-1800’s, offers a warming but lively atmosphere with live music nightly.

In keeping with the colonial theme, a popular activity in the area is to take the 2 and 1/2 hour steam train and river boat tour. Leaving from historic Essex Station, passengers board vintage train coaches pulled by diesel locomotives through the charming New England towns of Chester and Deep River. The train coaches are fitted with wooden passenger benches and have over-sized, open, panel windows. The wide-frame windows are ideal for viewing the scenery, but passengers closest to the opening can expect some soot from the engine to pass into the coaches. Following a 12 mile journey, passengers disembark at Deep River Landing to board the Becky Thatcher, a seventy-foot, 3 deck Mississippi-style river boat. The river cruise lasts for approximately an hour before passengers are returned to the steam train for the ride back to Essex Station. The train station in itself is something of a museum with various vintage trains and related equipment set-up along the property for visitors to view.

36 Main Street, Essex, CT