Connecticut resident Daryl Salem offers these comments about various Connecticut highways. Rather than sprinkle them among the individual route pages, I thought it would be more cohesive and readable to collect them all here.
Daryl writes: "I am an admitted road geek that takes as many day trips as possible. I very much enjoy your site about Connecticut roads. Since I have long since been to every town in Connecticut, now my trips consist of driving all the state routes beginning to end, including those that go out of state. Recently I decided to write "synopses" for each of the routes I've done... they contain information about what you'll see on a route and if it's worth checking out."
There isn't anything particularly interesting about Route 2, although it does take you through scenic downtown Norwich and passes by the largest casino in the world. The limited-access highway section (between Hartford and Norwich) is for the most part extremely boring -- probably the most boring LAH section in the state. The area near the casino (through Preston, Ledyard, and North Stonington) is extremely busy 24 hours per day due to the casino traffic; drive with caution, and try not to place yourself in a position where you would need to make a left turn. The Founders Bridge over the Connecticut River is pretty nice. The southern terminus of Route 2 in Stonington is pretty dangerous and, in my opinion, needs a traffic light.
Route 3 takes the driver through suburbs such as Wethersfield and Rocky Hill. Because it crosses the Connecticut River, it's actually a good way to get from the Glastonbury area down to Middletown, or to cross over to Waterbury. However, even though it includes the Putnam Bridge, there is nothing of note along Route 3 -- it's mostly just ordinary suburbs -- and I wouldn't suggest going out of your way to drive it.
Route 4 runs between congested West Hartford and quiet little Sharon. Even in the suburban areas of Hartford County, Route 4 is a beautiful route, but the area in Litchfield County is what really makes it worth driving along. You'll pass by some of Connecticut's most picturesque countryside there, and also through Torrington, which is probably the state's nicest city. Route 4 is also a good way to get between eastern Connecticut and Dutchess County, New York. The cool thing about Route 4 is that it passes through most of the centers of the towns it takes you through. If you can, drive it after a fresh snowfall in the winter, when the hills of Litchfield County are most likely to be covered by a soft white blanket.
Route 8 is one of the most beautiful Connecticut state routes, in Connecticut as well as in Massachusetts and Vermont. In Massachusetts you will drive through the famous Berkshires, passing through beautiful towns like Sandisfield, Dalton, and Clarksburg. Stamford, Vermont, is also a beautiful town. Personally, I believe the best time to see Route 8 is during the summer when the hills and mountains of New England are at their greenest. You won't even be bored driving the LAH section through the Naugatuck Valley, and from Route 8, Waterbury actually looks like a nice city. Sadly, the day I chose to drive Route 8 was September 11, 2001, the day of the unspeakable terrorist acts against our country. I will never forget standing in the parking lot of the Texaco station at the corner of Route 20 and Route 8 in Winchester, learning about the attack over a cell phone and having the radio on for the rest of the trip. It was a terrible lesson about the evil of mankind among the natural beauty of our world.
Route 11, nicknamed the "highway to nowhere", is an incomplete section of highway between Salem and Colchester, the construction of which was halted in 1972 when local towns disagreed on the path it would take. Except for a stretch through split rock in Salem, this is not a route really worth exploring, unless you're interested in Connecticut's transportation structure. Because it is incomplete, this highway sees very little traffic, most of the time. This road was originally planned to connect Route 2 and Interstate 95, providing an alternative to the dangerous Route 85. People in the area -- especially residents of Salem -- have been trying since the 1970s to get this road finished, but the EPA has been blocking efforts. It seems as though it will soon be decided once and for all whether or not Route 11 will be completed. Salem residents especially want to see the road finished because they believe that it will help badly-needed commercial development come to their small town. For more information, go to www.route11ct.org. In my opinion, the road needs to be finished and it needs to be finished now.
Route 32 is one of Connecticut's longer routes, the northern terminus being in Keene, New Hampshire. Route 32's most scenic sections are not in Connecticut but in northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. In Connecticut, the southern end passes along the Thames River and through Norwich; the northern end of the drive is somewhat bland until you get to Stafford. In Massachusetts, Royalston and Petersham provide beautiful scenery. There's a big mushroom farm along Route 32 in Franklin, and in Mansfield the road is located near the main campus of the University of Connecticut. Route 32 makes a good leaf-peeping trip.
This takes you through Ridgefield, Wilton, and Westport, some of the richest towns in the state. You'll see plenty of money along the way, too -- slightly-bigger-than-modest houses and expensive cars. The intersection with U.S. 1 in Westport is actually very scenic, and there is a cozy spot in Wilton near a church that just begs to be photographed. The Wilton section is designated by the State of Connecticut as a scenic route. Route 33 is a nice family trip if you happen to be in the area.
Route 34, in my opinion, should be labeled "most useful shortcut in the state". From the Connecticut shoreline east of New Haven, Route 34 is the quickest way to Danbury, Waterbury, and pretty much all points in Litchfield County -- just take Exit 47 off Interstate 95 and hop onto Route 8. It's also a nice drive. You'll get to see downtown Derby, Orange's rural section, and, beyond the Route 8 intersection, an historic dam spanning the Housatonic River between Oxford and Monroe. (You'll recognize Oxford as being in the national news because of the death of a 94-year-old resident from anthrax.) Route 34's northern terminus is in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown, which is very beautiful. One warning -- if you're travelling the route westbound, the traffic light at one of the intersections with Route 10 is one long wait!
Route 85 was once the main road from southeastern Connecticut to Hartford, and still is a major artery through the region. The drive is somewhat interesting along the southern half, but north of Colchester there isn't anything interesting. In Waterford there's the Crystal Mall, which is okay but considered not to be as good a shopping experience as the other big malls in the state. From Salem northward you will see old-fashioned New England countryside. For food stops, Bolton Pizza in Bolton serves some of the best pizza I've ever had, and there are a couple of good Chinese restaurants in Colchester. However, keep in mind that the section from Salem down to the southern terminus is labeled one of the most dangerous roads in the state. Route 11 was proposed as an alternative, but currently ends in Salem. There has been much talk about completing the road, and most area residents want to see it finished, but there are still some people, mostly environmentalists, who oppose it. For more information visit www.route11ct.org. (For the record, I strongly support completing Route 11.)
Route 148 is mostly a slow, meandering road through the forests of Killingworth, but it has one very special feature -- it consists of the Hadlyme Ferry, which runs over the Connecticut River between Chester and Lyme. The Lyme section is an historic district and is very pretty. The ferry is cheap and runs for a great deal of the year, and I recommend taking it if you've never had before. During the dates the ferry is running, this road is actually a good shortcut across the river, provided you don't have to wait for it. The Killingworth segment is also quite scenic. Route 148 is definitely worth checking out.
Route 152 is a must-see who think that Orange is nothing more than shopping centers. Existing only in Orange, this route is a connector between U.S. 1 and Route 34. It passes through the scenic town green of Orange, which is a sharp contrast to what people think of as Orange -- the strip malls along U.S. 1. It shows the town for what it really is -- a beautiful place to live if you work anywhere nearby, and a nice, tree-lined road through quiet neighborhoods.
This is nothing more than a minor connector road between U.S. 1 and Route 153. It is only a few miles long and too short to really be worth mentioning. However, residents of the Old Saybrook area will recognize Route 166 for one reason -- a branch of the DMV is nearby.
Route 275 is a very nice road through what I generally consider to be a relatively unattractive area of Connecticut. It runs between downtown Coventry and bordering Mansfield. The eastern terminus is very close by the University of Connecticut, and there is a bridge over a river, from which a small but very picturesque waterfall is visible. This road, in my opinion, is best toured in the summer.