It's on the town seal and all over town: Windsor is Connecticut's first town. That distinction has instilled a sense of pride in residents, but has not hindered the town's aspirations.
There are few places across the state with history that has been preserved and thrives alongside modern industry – but Windsor is one of those places.
Conveniently located on the Farmington River, Windsor was the first English settlement in the nascent colony where Europeans made their home, using this riverside community as a destination for trading and commerce. But long before Europeans made their home here, Native Americans had already made their imprint, leaving behind names like Poquonock, Matianuck and Tunxis that can be spotted throughout town.
Since the 18th century, Windsor has become well known for the shade tobacco farming industry, now much smaller, but still in existence. Tobacco fields are scattered across the northern and western edges of town, some sitting across from the handful of corporations headquartered in the corporate district.
The corporations are a hint towards Windsor's plans for a prosperous future, while the fields, which have been in operation for hundreds of years, are a nod to the town's history and continued relevance in a world in which a good cigar will always be appreciated.
Countless long, rectangular tobacco drying barns dot the Windsor landscape, maintaining it's agricultural feel. The Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum, located on the grounds of Windsor's , which is open to the public four days a week, is a great place to learn about the crop and its place in Connecticut's development.
If you're into nature and you have curious kids in your family, Northwest Park has plenty to offer. The nearly-500 acre habitat preserve is a gem in the valley.
With a handful of farm animals, a carefully maintained landscape, a science center open daily for children, a playscape and plenty of hiking and walking trails, this park should be on every Nutmegger's destination list. It's also the site of a brand-new geothermal heating and cooling system, which puts Northwest Park on the map as far as sustainable energy consumption.
The park offers summer camps, winter family activities and educational opportunities for young and old. In addition, there are plans to construct a waterfall for the pond, creating an even healthier living environment for the abundant natural life found on the site.
Coming to Windsor wouldn't be complete without a stop at one of the town's staple restaurants. A visitor would be remiss in failing to grab a seat on a bench along the Farmington River at to enjoy one of their famous hot dogs. Their classic American fare is spruced up with menu items like a "slaw dog," and has a cheeseburger that can't be beat. The fact that you can toss a fishing line into the water or load your boat into the river only meters away begs to ask, "Why one wouldn't spend the entire day alongside Bart's?"
Those looking for something a little different need only drive a little further up Broad Street to snag a table outside Nat Hayden's Real Pit Barbecue.
Nat Hayden's, a recent and popular addition to Windsor Center specializes in comfort foods, large portions and plenty of napkins that will be needed with your meal covered in Nat's homemade sauce.
Dom's Broad St. Eatery and the Union Street Tavern, built within a vintage firehouse and home to a bar from the 20's, are also great spots to bring the family or kick back and relax for a meal and fun.
As one will find at the Tavern or at Dom's, which regularly donates proceeds from dinners to local causes, Windsor is a small, family town. It's a place where many residents grew up here, graduated from Windsor High, left for college, returned to raise their kids here, and are now fully engaged in the community.
It's a small town in population and hospitality and city-like in its ethnic diversity. Both can be seen during one of the many community events held in Windsor Center.
The Farmer's Market, set up right on Broad Street in the heart of town, is home to a number of Windsor's independent farms and attracts vendors and patrons from throughout the region each Thursday during the summer as they search for the best amongst an ever-increasing variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods and homemade crafts.
Free concerts on the Town Green, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, are held each Thursday night during the summer months and regularly draw hundreds.
For more general information on Windsor go to:
Windsor Historical Society www.windsorhistoricalsociety.org
The Town of Windsor www.townofwindsorct.com
Windsor Chamber of Commerce www.windsorcc.org