With the summer winding down, we decided to explore the natural side of Connecticut. We took a week’s vacation to Delaware and discovered that we missed Connecticut’s nature most of all. To satisfy our longing, we hiked Talcott Mountain in Simsbury on Saturday and stumbled into Apollo’s Pizza and Pasta on our way home. Then it hit us-hiking and lunch is an ideal outing for friends, family and dates! If you choose a mountain with a great view and eat great local food nearby, you might make a tradition out of it! We knew Talcott mountain had a great view, but we had no idea about its historical significance. Here is how our afternoon panned out-
Overall Grade: A-
Location: Talcott Mountain State Park, 560 Simsbury Road, Bloomfield, CT
Parking fee: 10/10-There is no parking fee!. Your trip to Talcott Mountain is actually free fun! Please note that you must park on the grass on the side of the road that lies before the trail. Parking fills quickly. If you want to find a decent parking spot, your best bet is to go before noon. Talcott Mountain State Park closes at 5:00 P.M.
Atmosphere of Mountain: 4/5-Talcott Mountain is located just 6 miles west of the city of Hartford, bordering Farmington, West Hartford, Bloomfield, Simsbury and Avon. It is comprised of many notable cliffs, including the 950 ft high point on which the historic Heublein tower stands. We enjoyed the variety of hikers, animals and vegetation. The mountain is suitable for all ages . We saw kids as young as three and adults well into their eighties walk to the top. If you’re looking for a longer hike, you might want to start at Penwood State Park, which located a short distance away from Talcott Mountain State Park.
Atmosphere of Tower: 5/5-The historic Heublein Tower has a lot of history. The setup is like a mini museum inside. Every room is a mini exhibit that tells a great deal about the tower’s history. We don’t want to spoil the rich history for you, so we’ve selected five interesting facts to share about the tower-
1. It served as Gilbert Heublein’s home and retreat from the 1914 until his death in the 1930s. He founded Heublein Inc, an American producer of beverages and food. He was most notably a manufacturer of Smirnoff Vodka and A1 steak sauce.
2, While hiking with his wife on Talcott Mountain, Gilbert promised her he would one day build her a tower.
3. Ronald Reagan, Prescott Bush and Dwight D. Eisenhower were guests at the tower during the 1950s. The staff threw an election party for Eisenhower during the 1950s.
4. The Hartford Times used the tower to operate its FM station from 1948 to 1950.
5. The State of Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection now manages the tower.
Trail: 8/10-The trail is short, considering Talcott Mountain spans only three miles at its widest point. The trail, however, offers a nice view of the Greater Hartford area a short distance from the top.
View from Tower and Mountain 9/10-From the top of the tower, you’ll get a great view of Farmington, West Hartford, Bloomfield, Simsbury and the Farmington River. The tower offers a panoramic view of the Hartford skyline, the Farmington River, the Farmington valley, Mt. Tom and four New England states. We were more than delighted to receive these incredible views for free. The view from the top of the tower was a perfect way to top off our hike.
In a nutshell: 36/40-We thoroughly enjoyed our hike and we recommend you visit for….
-The free parking
-The scenic trail
-The historic Heublein Tower
-The Snapple machine inside the tower. (This machine offers Snapple in a can. A rarity at most venues).
-The view from the top of the tower and the top of the mountain.
Apollo’s Pizza and Pasta
Overall Grade: B+
Location: 775 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT
Atmosphere: 9/10-Our hike inspired us to venture into Simsbury for lunch. We stumbled upon Apollo’s Pizza and Pasta on Hopmeadow street, a five minute drive from the mountain. When we entered the restaurant, we we noticed the small, classy interior. You’ll notice that the staff advertises Avery’s Soda at the front counter. Avery’s Soda is old fashioned soda that comes in a glass bottle. Avery’s boasts a variety of flavors from Black Cherry to odder flavors such as Bug Barf soda. No, we’re not kidding. The old fashioned sodas sparked us with a sense of wonder about the menu items.
Service: 9/10-We appreciated our service. We received our food in under 15 minutes and constant refills from our waitress.
Price/selection of lunch: 4.5/5-The lunch menu is noticeably cheaper than the dinner menu. Entrees average around $10 to $14. You’ll receive a considerable amount of food for the price you pay.
Price/selection of dinner: 3.5/5-Entrees ranges from $11.5o to $19.50. A large, traditional pizza costs only $11.25! This is considerably cheaper than the price for most large pizzas. If you want a large, gourmet pizza you will pay around $18. Apollo’s entrees are still considerably cheaper than many restaurants in Simsbury.
Taste: 8.5/10-We enjoyed our entrees but expected slightly more because of the flavorful composition of the dish. The portion size definitely matches the price. You won’t leave the restaurant hungry.
In a nutshell: 34.5/40-Apollo’s scores a solid B+ for its good food, good service and great lunch prices. We recommend you visit, especially if you’re looking for a nice hole in the wall restaurant after you hike Talcott Mountain. Check out our top four picks for the most creative items!
1. The Simsbury Burger (this may not be the name). Apollo’s does not have a lunch a menu online so we cannot double check.
2. Scallops Ala Vodka
3. Florentine Pizza
4. Eggplant Rollatini
Below you’ll find additional pics from our Simsbury adventure!
The top of the tower
View of Mt. Tom
View of dining room