25 Best Places to Visit in Connecticut
Connecticut is a small state in New England Beaches which is densely packed with unique attractions, breathtaking natural beauty, wedding venues, flea markets, and diverse museums. You can go zip-lining, golfing, sailing, fishing, dine in an elegant restaurant or feast on great clam chowder in a waterfront shack, all in one day. Settled by Dutch, and covered by fragrant maples and ancient oaks, Connecticut is the home of Yale University, Peabody Museum, Mystic Aquarium and Lake Compounce. Here are some of the best Connecticut destinations. Photo: M-jayyuan/Fotolia
There is a good reason why Greenwich, CT is considered one of the best places to live in the States. Established in 17th century, only half hour train ride from New York City, Greenwich is a charming, sophisticated town on the coast of Long Island Sound. It is a great place for a romantic weekend in one of the quaint Victorian B&Bs, or for a short trip with the kids to see sea turtles or otters at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
Art lovers will enjoy visiting the Bush-Holley house, the home of the first Connecticut art colony and once the center of American Impressionism. The Bruce Museum is a curious mix of art and science exhibits. Greenwich Point Park is a delight, with miles of hiking trails, a fine sand beach and spectacular view of New York City'sfamous skyline. Find more Connecticut attractions.
» Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of Connecticut and one of the oldest cities in New England. It is home to the oldest American public art museum - the Wadsworth Athenaeum, and Bushnell Park - the oldest public park in the country, and the Hartford Courant, the oldest nation's continually published newspaper. It is a modern city seeped in history, with more than 40 great restaurants and wonderfully diverse neighborhoods.
The North Meadows, just north of downtown, is the home of the New England Dodge Music Center, the popular Riverside Park and Riverside Cricket Club. Hartford is also home to the Hartford Stage, a renowned modern theatre, and the XL Center, where you can catch a Hartford Wolf Pack hockey game.
»Places to Go in CT: Old Saybrook
A lovely old town snuggled on the banks of the Connecticut River where it merges with the Long Island Sound, Old Saybrook dates all the way to 1635, when it was just a Saybrook Plantation independent colony. Incorporated in 1854, Old Saybrook is the place where Yale University was founded as the Collegiate School and the place where people from Boston and New York come during the weekend to enjoy the colorful marinas, great beaches and lovely Main Street with its eclectic shops and restaurants.
If you are traveling with kids, they will love the mini-golf at Saybrook Point and the historic Saybrook Breakwater Light. Try to catch a performance at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Theater, take a bike ride along the river or try several kinds of fudge on the Main Street.
Stonington is a charming, historic port town with turbulent history and a lovely historic downtown full of lavish Victorian mansions and beautiful views of ships of all sizes in its colorful harbor. The best place to learn about Stonington sealing, whaling and farming history is Old Lighthouse Museum. Just next to the lighthouse is a magnificent Victorian mansion that belonged to the famous Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer.
Enjoy the views of Stonington Harbor and Fishers Island Sound from small but lovely Dubois Beach. Let New England Science and Sailing take you boating, kayaking or canoeing. Exploring Stonington vineyards, such as Stonington and Saltwater Farm, will give you a different perspective of the city.
A small, rustic Long Island Sound shoreline town, Guilford is charming and inviting, with a lovely old-fashioned village green surrounded by elegant tree-lined streets, historic mansions, modern galleries, quaint boutiques and some great museums.
Check out the 1660 Hyland House, the Henry Whitfield State Museum built in 1639, the 1803 Medad Stone Tavern and the Dudley Farm constructed in 1840. Enjoy the lovely sandy Jacobs Beach with the whole family, take a stroll through the Bittner Park or visit Bishop's Orchard to try their wines or pick fresh fruit. Stroll through the Guilford Harbor and enjoy the view of the historic Faulkner Island Lighthouse.
»Places to Go in CT: New Britain
Only nine miles from Hartford, New Britain is an interesting small town settled in 1687 and known at the beginning of 20th century as "Hardware City” because of concentration of large manufacturers such as The Stanley Works, Corbin Locks and North & Judd. The headquarters of Stanley Black & Decker is in New Britain.
Surrounded by rolling hills and covered by young forests, New Britain is dissected by two natural brooks, populated by a large number of people of Polish origin, and famous for several inventions: wire coat hanger, invented in 1869, and dribbling, developed at the local YMCA, which forever changed how basketball is played. There is a softer side to New Britain - it is home to the historic Repertory Theatre and the New Britain Symphony Orchestra.
» New Haven
Located in a deep harbor on the shore of Long Island Sound, New Haven is a quintessential New England town - historic, elegant, cultured and green. Established by English Puritans in 1638, New Haven is centered around the typical town green and is considered the first American planned city. It also started the first American public tree planting program, which resulted in a large canopy of mature trees, especially elm trees, shading the city. New Haven is world known as the home of Yale University.
Most of the city art scene is linked to the university, such as the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments, the Yale Art Gallery and the Yale Repertory Theatre. There is history on every corner in New Haven - there are 59 properties on the National Register of Historic Places. The city is famous for its festivals - there is a festival for every month of the year starting with the renowned Jazz Festival.
About 20 miles from Hartford, Bristol is best known as the home of ESPN and the site of the oldest theme park in the United States - Lake Compounce. Bristol was for a long time a major producer of chrysanthemums and still hosts the popular annual Bristol Mum Festival.
The city has a large number of significant museums, such as the American Clock & Watch Museum, the Bristol Historical Society Museum, the popular interactive Children's Museum Imagine Nation and the Witch's Dungeon - Classic Movie Museum. Besides many other beautifully tended green spaces in the city, the70-acre Harry Barnes Memorial Nature Center is worth a visit with its dense forests, rolling hills and fields, nature trails and an interpretive center.
Located just30 miles from Manhattan, Stamford has been, since 19th century, a quiet, green, upscale space where New Yorkers built summer homes on the shore. Some New Yorkers still doing that today, but other people live in Stamford and commute to New York City, or are work in one of four Fortune 500 Companies or nine Fortune 1000 Companies that moved to Stamford.
The city has its own personality and rich cultural life, with the popular Stamford Museum and Nature Center, the Stamford Observatory, the beautiful 91-acre Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens, the Stamford Symphony Orchestra which performs at the Palace Theatre and the Stamford Center for the Arts, which presents annual shows at the Palace Theatre.
Photo: Ritu Jethani /Fotolia
»Connecticut Attractions: West River Memorial Park
West River Memorial Park is one of three parks around the West River as it runs through New Haven, Bethany and Woodbridge. It is mostly undeveloped and left in its natural state, with 200 acres of park land and marsh. The park is linked to West Rock State Park and Edgewood Park by several pedestrian easements. There is a boat launch on the West Haven end of the park.
When the weather permits, the park is full of bird-watchers, hikers, fishermen and crabbers. Barnard Nature Center and the Barnard Environmental Magnet School are also part of the park and they offer classrooms and animal exhibits for environmental education. The park was created by the city of New Haven after World War I to honor the New Haven's dead warriors.
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»Silver Sands State Park, Milford
Everyone's favorite pastime in Silver Sands State Park on Charles Island is looking for the Captain Kidd's buried treasure. As the story goes, the naughty captain hid his treasure under the sand in 1699 and never came to reclaim it. In high tide, the narrow sand bar that connects the island to the mainland becomes submerged.
Once inhabited, the island was abandoned after hurricane Diane destroyed most of the homes in 1955. All that is left today are the ruins of a Catholic retreat that closed in the 1930s. The park has a beautiful long boardwalk and is popular spot for swimming and fishing. From May 1st to the end of August the island is left to the birds as it is a favorite nesting ground for egrets and herons.
Contact: 1 Silver Sands Park Way, Milford, CT 06460, United States, Phone: 203-783-3280
Photo: Ritu Jethani/Fotolia
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»Places to Go in CT: Wadsworth Falls State Park
Wadsworth Falls State Park is a popular 285 acre park that stretches across Middletown and Middlefield in Connecticut. This park is home to wonderful hiking and mountain biking trails along the scenic banks of the Coginchaug River surrounded by dense stands of hemlocks and oaks. The river offers great fishing.
One of the trails crosses a small bridge and ends at the 30-feet high Wadsworth Falls, with an additional 52 feet of water that trickles over the sandstone that borders the trail, cooling the air and making the hike very pleasant. The park also has a picnic area with a swimming pool.
Contact: 701-727 Wadsworth St, Middletown, CT 06457, United States,Phone: 860-344-2950
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»Gillette Castle Park
Gillette Castle is a whimsical 24-room mansion perched high up on one of the Seventh Sisters Hills, a product of the wild imagination of the renowned famous actor, playwright and director William Hooker Gillette. What Gillette built in 1919 as his early retirement home looks like something King Arthur might call home.
Made of white and gray local fieldstone, it is supported by a hidden steel frame. Its interior is equally eccentric, with built-in couches, huge stone fireplaces, dungeon-looking rooms, secret passages and 47 doors, all different. The castle is surrounded by Gillette's estate which has been expanded since the state acquired it and made it into a park.
Contact: 67 River Rd, East Haddam, CT 06423, Phone: 860-526-2336
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»Iwo Jima Memorial
The US National Iwo Jima Memorial was created by the Iwo Jima Survivors Association, Inc. and is in Newington, Connecticut. The memorial was dedicated on the 50th anniversary of raising the American flag on Iwo Jima, on February 23, 1995, and it honors the memory of the 6,821 American servicemen who lost their lives at Iwo Jima securing the last strategic location before the coming invasion of Japan.
The memorial, similar to the one in the Washington D.C. has been inspired by the photograph of the second flag-rising on Iwo Jima. The names written at the base of the monument are the names of the 100 Connecticut soldiers who died in the battle for Iwo Jima.
Contact: Ella Grasso Blvd., Exit 29 off of Route 9, Newington, CT 06111, Phone: 860-291-9666
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»Connecticut Attractions: Saville Dam
Saville Dam, formerly known as Bill's Brook dam, is a 135 ft. tall and 1,950 ft. long embankment dam built on the Farmington River in Barkhamsted, Connecticut. The result of the dam is the Barkhamsted Reservoir with a volume of 36.8 billion US gallons.
The reservoir is the main source of water for Hartford, Connecticut. The construction of the dam was finished in May 1940 but it took eight more years for the Barkhamsted Reservoir to be filled to capacity. There is a scenic parking area on Route318 which provides great views of the spillway and reservoir and some great hiking trails.
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»Enders Falls State Park
Enders Falls is series of five distinct waterfalls in the 2000 acres Enders State Forest near Granby and Barkhamsted in Connecticut. Diverse falls appear as cascades, slides, plunges and horsetails and are all located within half-mile. There is only a 150-feet difference in elevation between the trailhead and the lowest fall. The tallest waterfall is about 30 feet high.
The effect of water falling in all directions is spellbinding. The hike through the forest to the falls is fairly easy, and the main trail is well-maintained. The main trail starts right from the parking lot on Route 219.When weather is nice, it gets crowded with hikers and photographers.
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»Kent Falls State Park
About 4.5 miles from the village of Kent, in the beautiful Litchfield Hills, the easy but steep Kent Falls Trail will take you across a quaint covered bridge, and after about quarter mile you will start feeling the cool mist of the falling water. The clear water of a mountain stream falls 250 feet into a dark pool in a series of falls before it spills into Housatonic River.
Even before you reach the falls, you will find three observation decks that offer spectacular views. Kent Falls park is great trout fishing spot and has several pleasant picnic areas. The best times to visit the falls is spring when the melting snow dramatically increases the amount of falling water, and in the fall, when the trees turn on their spectacularly colorful show.
Contact: 462 Kent Cornwall Rd, Kent, CT 06757, Phone: 860-927-3029
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»Campbell Falls State Park, Connecticut
Campbell Falls State Park was developed in 1923 in cooperation between Massachusetts and Connecticut in order to protect the magnificent fall and the surrounding forest. Before entering Connecticut, the Whitney River drops almost 100 feet within the park. The river winds through a narrow gorge changing the direction of the flow twice, zigzagging to the left first and then to the right.
This rugged form of waterfall is not common in New England. It is magnificent any time of the year, but more so in the early spring, when the snow is melting. The view is awe-inspiring, and it takes visitors by surprise as the surrounding forest grows on the gentle terrain. The park is left in its natural state and there are no facilities for visitors.
462 Kent Cornwall Rd, Kent, CT 06757, United States, Tel. 860-927-3029
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» Places to Visit in Connecticut: Mystic Seaport
Located in the quaint village of Mystic, where Mystic River spills into Long Island Sound, Mystic Seaport is a unique maritime museum that tells the story of America's early maritime history and the times when Mystic was an important seaport. The museum was founded in 1929 on 19 acres on the Mystic River. It consists of a carefully recreated coastal 19th-century village, a shipyard that is still working, exhibit halls and artifact storage.
What really excites the visitors are 500 historic ships of all kinds and sizes they can climb, explore and admire. The best known is the 1841 whale ship Charles W. Morgan, the oldest commercial ship in America. The Museum's Collections Research Center has over two million artifacts and the G.W. Blunt White Library contains 75,000 documents related to America's maritime history.
Contact: 75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-572-0711
Photo: Enrico Della Pietra/Fotolia
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» Lake Compounce, Bristol
Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut, is the oldest amusement park in North America. It first opened its doors in 1846 and the fun never stopped. The park occupies 332 acres of land and includes a beach on the lake and a water park. A wooden roller coaster called the Wildcat, built in 1927, is still running. The park contains more than 50 rides and attractions.
Some of the most popular are Crocodile Cove, the largest water park in Connecticut, and Boulder Dash, which is considered to be the top wooden roller coaster in the world, and Bayou Bay with thousands of gallons of water where you can splash or bounce on the waves. Kids love the Dino Expedition with a fossil dig and pathways through the Jurassic forest. One of the newest attractions, Phobia, is New England's first set of triple coasters which features inversions and twists 600 feet in the air. Read more
Contact: 186 Enterprise Dr, Bristol, CT 06010, Phone: 860-583-3300
Photo: Lake Compounce
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»Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison
Hammonasset Beach State Park is Connecticut's largest and the most popular shoreline park. The park was opened in 1920 and the stone breakwater at the Meigs Point was built in 1955. There are more than two miles of fine sandy beach and 3/4 miles of beautiful boardwalk. Hammonasset has more than 550 grassy campsites that fill quickly during the summer.
The most popular activities are swimming, camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, scuba diving and boating. The Park's boat launch is on east side of Meigs Point jetty. The park can get crowded on summer weekends, with families picnicking and kids running around, so if you are looking for solitude this is not the park for you.
Contact: 1288 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443, Phone: 203-245-2785
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»Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum, Connecticut
In 1966, during the excavation for a new building in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, workers accidentally discovered interesting animal tracks that scientists identified as being created by dilophosaurus, a kind of dinosaur, 200 million years ago. About 500 of these tracks are protected today by a fascinating geodesic dome, and the rest are left buried for preservation. The park officially opened in 1968and includes the tracks made during the early Jurassic era.
There are two miles of beautiful trails around the Exhibit Center through the Dinosaur State Park Arboretum, with over 250 species of conifers, many katsuras, magnolias, ginkgoes and other plant families whose ancestors lived during the Age of Dinosaurs. The Museum showcases a bird's-eye view of the well-preserved floodplain from the Mesozoic Era with animal tracks, dioramas of Jurassic and Triassic environments, a significant collections of fossils, and several interactive exhibits.
Contact: 400 West St, Rocky Hill, CT 06067, Phone: 860-529-8423
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»Weir Farm National Historic Site
In 1882 American impressionist painter J. Alden Weirboughta 153-acre farm on the hilly area near Ridgefield as his rural retreat, where he, his family and visiting artists would stay and paint landscapes of Ridgefield and surrounding countryside. Today, the farm covers 60 acres and includes 16 buildings, with a lovely hiking trail that winds through the property.
Tours of the farm are offered by National Park Service rangers. Some of the artists that spent time and created on Weir Farm are Childe Hassam, Albert Pinkham Ryder, John Singer Sargent, and John Twachtman. Weir Farm hosts an ongoing artist-in-residence program run by the Weir Farm Art Center. More than 150 artists have spent a month at the site, creating and relaxing in the tranquil environment.
Contact: 735 Nod Hill Rd, Wilton, CT 06897, Phone: 203-834-1896
Photo: Weir Farm National Historic Site
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Snuggled among the roses and surrounded by lush boxwood hedges right across from the town common in Woodstock, Connecticut, Roseland Cottage was built in 1846 as the summer home of Henry Bowen, his wife Lucy and their children. As the fashion of the time dictated, it was designed in the Gothic Revival style, with steep gables, fancy barge boards, and decorative chimney pots.
No money was spared on the lavish interior decor - the home features rich wall coverings, extensively patterned carpet sand stained glass windows. Most of it survived the times and can still be enjoyed by visitors as a display of the typical overindulgence of the Victorian era. The Bowens used the cottage to entertain friends and influential political connections. Among the guests were four United States presidents.
Contact: 556 CT-169, Woodstock, CT 06281, Phone: 860-928-4074
Photo: Roseland Cottage
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Opened to the public in 1897, Elizabeth Park is a 101-acre horticultural park spread across both West Hartford and Hartford, Connecticut. It is called the “Flower of New England Parks” with Victorian formal gardens, verdant green spaces, walking trails, recreational spaces, the charming Pond House Cafe and, at the heart of the park - the magnificent rose garden.
The rose garden was open in 1904 as the first American public rose garden. The park was designed by Swiss-born landscape architect Theodore Wirth, who used his experiences in Paris and London to create a botanical garden with a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers.
Contact: 1561 Asylum Ave, West Hartford, CT 06117, Phone: 860-231-9443
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25 Best Places to Visit in Connecticut
- Greenwich, Photo: Courtesy of closertoinfinity - Fotolia.com
- Hartford, Connecticut, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
- Places to Go in CT: Old Saybrook, Photo: Courtesy of alwoodphoto - Fotolia.com
- Stonington, Connecticut, Photo: Courtesy of lspi138 - Fotolia.com
- Guilford, Photo: Courtesy of lspi138 - Fotolia.com
- Places to Go in CT: New Britain, Photo: Courtesy of ArenaCreative - Fotolia.com
- New Haven, Photo: Courtesy of jayyuan - Fotolia.com
- Bristol, Photo: Bristol
- Stamford, Connecticut, Photo: Courtesy of Ritu Jethani - Fotolia.com
- Connecticut Attractions: West River Memorial Park, Photo: Courtesy of closertoinfinity - Fotolia.com
- Silver Sands State Park, Milford, Photo: Courtesy of Ritu Jethani - Fotolia.com
- Places to Go in CT: Wadsworth Falls State Park, Photo: Courtesy of enfig - Fotolia.com
- Gillette Castle Park, Photo: Courtesy of jgorzynik - Fotolia.com
- Iwo Jima Memorial, Photo: Courtesy of ArenaCreative - Fotolia.com
- Connecticut Attractions: Saville Dam, Photo: Courtesy of duke2015 - Fotolia.com
- Enders Falls State Park, Photo: Courtesy of pmstephens - Fotolia.com
- Kent Falls State Park, Photo: Courtesy of duke2015 - Fotolia.com
- Campbell Falls State Park, Connecticut, Photo: Courtesy of duke2015 - Fotolia.com
- Places to Visit in Connecticut: Mystic Seaport, Photo: Courtesy of Enrico Della Pietra - Fotolia.com
- Lake Compounce, Bristol, Photo: Lake Compounce
- Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison, Photo: Courtesy of duke2015 - Fotolia.com
- Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum, Connecticut, Photo: Courtesy of Jeremy - Fotolia.com
- Weir Farm National Historic Site, Photo: Weir Farm National Historic Site
- Roseland Cottage, Photo: Roseland Cottage
- Elizabeth Park, Photo: Courtesy of littlestocker - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of M-jayyuan - Fotolia.com
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