10 Best Places to visit in Connecticut
Connecticut is a small New England state, but it compensates its size with beautiful beaches, a great variety of attractions, breathtaking nature, and abundance of museums. Visitors can go zip-lining, play golf, fish, swim, and treat themselves at a fancy restaurant or to a tasty cup of clam chowder on a beach all in one day. The state was first settled by Dutch. It is now known for its fragrant maples and old oaks, Yale University, Peabody Museum, Mystic aquarium, and dinosaur fossils.
Here is a list of 10 things to do to really experience Connecticut:
This place is often named as one of the best places to live in the U.S. It has been highly valued since its establishment in the 17th century and is located just 30 min train ride from the New York City. Greenwich is little, but sophisticated city on the beach of Long Island Sound. New Yorkers flock here for a romantic weekend getaway from the city life. And it's easy to see why. Relaxing streets are lined with beautiful Victorian B&Bs. Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a great place to visit with kids and meet turtles and otters.
Adults enjoy Bush-Holley house, where the first Connecticut art colony was established and where the center of American Impressionism once was. The Bruce Museum is another great place to stop by if you want to mix science and art. Finally, take a walk in Greenwich Point Park and enjoy fine sand and stunning views of the famous New York City skyline while taking one of many nature trails.
Hartford is the capital of Connecticut. The city is very old, one of the oldest cities in New England. There are many things here that are the oldest: the oldest American public art museum – the Wadsworth Athenaeum, the oldest public park in the country – Bushnell Park, and last, but not least, the oldest continuously published newspaper – the Hartford Courant.
The city is modern and full of life, but you will find history everywhere you go. Visitors can choose between about 40 great restaurants and visit many diverse neighborhoods.
Just north of downtown New England Dodge Music Center, Riverside Park, and Riverside Cricket Club are ready to entertain locals and visitors alike. Hartford Stage is another wonderful attraction – a modern theater, producing plays all year round. Hockey fans have XL Center, where they take in a Hartford Wolf Pack hockey game or two. Read more about Things to do in Hartford, Connecticut.
3. Old Saybrook
This little old town is located on the banks of Connecticut River, right where it joins with the Long Island Sound. The town has its beginnings in 1635 when it was just a Saybrook Plantation independent colony. It was incorporated in 1854 and is now considered the birthplace of Yale University. People from New York and Boston love coming here to rest, enjoy colorful marinas, play on the beaches, and do some socializing on the main Street's trendy shops and restaurants.
Kids will love mini-golf at Saybrook Point and exploring the historic Saybrook Breakwater Light. Adults can catch a performance at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Theater, take a bike ride along the river, and taste fudge in little sweets shops and bakeries.
4. Stonington, Connecticut
Stonington is a quaint historical port town. It has a colorful history and an even more colorful harbor, where visitors can observe ships of all sizes coming and going. You can take a stroll through beautiful downtown and enjoy Victorian style homes lining the tranquil streets.
Old Lighthouse museum is a great place to visit and learn about area's whaling industry, sailing, and farming past. After visiting the museum, stop by at the nearby Victorian mansion that once belonged to the famous Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer.
If you can, spend some time at lovely Dubois Beach and take in views of Stonington and Fishers Island Sound. You can also boat, kayak or canoe while here. Visit local vineyards, like Stonington and Saltwater Farm – it is such a big part of New England culture.
This is yet another small and cozy little town on the Long Island Sound shore. Guilford offers old fashioned village green, ancient oak lined streets with plenty of mansions to marvel at. Art lovers and shoppers have plenty of art galleries, museums, and boutiques to visit.
Points of interest: 1660 Hyland House, 1639 Henry Whitfield State Museum, 1803 Medad Stone Tavern, and 1840 Dudley Farm.
Guilford is definitely a family friendly destination. Kids always love the beach, so Jacobs Beach is definitely a place worth a visit. Bittner Park is great for strolls, and Bishop's Orchard invites to taste wine and pick some fruit. Faulkner Island Lighthouse is visible from Guilford Harbor, so you can take in the beautiful sights during a nice walk. See also 6 Weekend Getaways for the Entire Family in Mystic, Connecticut.
6. New Britain
New Britain is small town just nine miles from Hartford. It was established in 1687 and became known as a "Hardware City" due to large numbers of manufacturers at the beginning of the 20th century. Stanley Works, Corbin Locks, and North & Judd were all operating in and around New Britain. Stanley Black & Decker headquarters are still there today.
The scenery is very much like in England – rolling green hills, forests, framed by two bubbly brooks. A lot of people here have Polish heritage. Some popular items that we use today were invented here: wire coat hanger was invented in 1869, and basketball dribbling was developed in the local YMCA. Besides hardware and sports, New Britain is known for historic Repertory Theater and the New Britain Symphony Orchestra.
7. New Haven
One more quintessential New England town and harbor on the shore of Long Island Sound. New Haven is old, sophisticated, cultured, and full of nature. 1638 English Puritans established this town and it became known as the first American planned city. It was built around a green area in the center of development and also included the first tree planting program in the U.S. Today the city boasts a green canopy of mature trees. Elm trees are the most popular shade givers for this home of Yale University.
Yale University is the biggest attraction in New Haven and rightfully so – it houses Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, Yale Art Gallery, and the Yale Repertory Theater. Every corner of the city is historic, from homes to churches, a total of 59 buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
New Haven is also famous for festivals – no surprise again, because students want to have fun. There is a festival for virtually every month of the year, starting with the king of them all – the Jazz Festival.
Bristol is located close to Hartford, about 20 miles away. It is mainly known for ESPN and the oldest theme park in the United States – Lake Compounce. Bristol has a perfect climate and a perfect location for growing chrysanthemums. Bristol Mum Festival in the fall still attracts crowds from near and far.
There are a lot of museums in the city – American Clock & Watch Museum, The Bristol Historical Society Museum, a popular Children's Museum Imagine Nation, and a classic movie museum Witch's Den. The city is green, has many parks, and the 70-acre Harry Barnes Memorial Nature Center, covered in forests, green hills and fields, and hiking trails is the most popular.
Stamford is just 30 miles from Manhattan, but it's a whole different world. The town is upscale and attracts New Yorkers who spend summers there and build vacation homes. The green and tranquil town is located on the shore. While there are many summer homes, a lot of people now live here permanently and commute to New York. Some don't even have to do that – four Fortune 500 companies have moved to Stamford and some from Fortune 1000 list are doing the same.
The town is very spirited, has a great personality, and culture, so life is never boring here. Visitors can explore Stamford Museum and Nature Center, the Stamford Observatory, huge Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens, the Palace Theater, and Stamford Center for the Arts.
10. West River Memorial Park
The park is located on the West River, together with a few other parks. These 200 acres of undeveloped land is just left to its own devices and natural state. The park is home to forests and marshes. It is linked to West Rock State Park and Edgewood Park by walkways. Boats can be launched on the West Haven end of park.
On beautiful days park visitors can bird watch, hike, fish, and catch crabs. The park is big on environmental education and offers classes at Barnard Nature Center and Environmental Magnet School. Attendees can use classrooms and view animal exhibits. West River Memorial Park was established after the WWI to honor fallen local heroes.