Fun Things to Do in CT
The state of Connecticut may be small, but it is bursting with interesting and fun things to do. Whether you are a couple or a family, you can get virtually anywhere in the state within 1 1/2 hours. Here are the top 11 activities for you to check out on your next visit.
Hammonassett State Park, Madison CT
This beach is the largest stretch of ocean in Connecticut. With over two miles of beach front, visitors can swim, fish, walk along the boardwalk, or camp in the local campground. There are four beaches- West Beach, Middle Beach, East Beach, and Meig's Point.
There are also pavilions available to rent for larger parties or weddings. Hammonasseett is a great place to bike, rollerblade, bird watch, or fly a kite. With long winding paths and paved roads, it is easy to navigate all over the park.
For kids who love wildlife, the Nature Center at Meig's Point is a fun place to explore lobsters, turtles, fish, snakes, and other creatures that live in Connecticut.
Other state parks in Connecticut are worth visiting as well. You can travel about 20 minutes down the road to Rocky Neck State beach, or head north and visit Chatfield Hollow State park, or Devil's Hopyard State park. All of them offer camping except Chatfield Hollow.
Where are these places located?
Fish Tale, Madison CT
When you are done with Hammonassett, take a quick trip down the road to a staple shoreline eatery called Lenny and Joe's Fish Tale. This place has amazing fried seafood, fresh corn on the cob, lobsters, and soft serve ice cream.
Kids and families love this place because there is ample opportunity to sit outside. You can bring your own wine and beer, and many families make it festive by bringing tablecloths and candles. The kids will love the quaint little carousel that can be ridden for $1.00 a ticket. All proceeds go to charity.
Peabody Museum, New Haven CT
This museum of natural history is a great trip for a morning or afternoon. Right in the heart of New Haven (and among the Yale campus), the Peabody has exhibits of dinosaur bones, ancient Egyptians, and animal dioramas that kids love to look through.
It is a smaller museum, but is perfect for those who aren't quite ready to spend a day at an enormous museum like New York's Museum of Natural History.
Connecticut Science Center, Hartford CT
This center is a great hands on learning experience for families. Exhibits like Forces in Motion, Health, the Sports Lab, River of Life, and Space Lab all give children a way to understand science using all five senses.
There is a kidspace area, especially designed for 2nd graders and under, so your little ones will enjoy this trip too. Once you are done inventing new inventions, operating on the body, or moving water through tunnels and gears, take a break at the 3D theater where there are always at least three different movies playing.
Connecticut Wine Trail, Various Places CT
The Connecticut wine trail consists of 24 of the state's best vineyards. It is broken up into two segments; the east and the west trail.
Every vineyard along the trail participates in the Connecticut Farm Wine Development Council Passport Program. You can pick up a passport and have it stamped at each location you visit. Then you can enter to win free trip giveaways; everything from an overnight in CT to a 2 week vacation in Europe!
Mohegan Sun, Montville CT
Mohegan Sun's tagline is, A world at play. This enormous casino offers state of the art shows, hotels, restaurants, a spa, and several casinos. Stay for an entire weekend and enjoy the events offered (comedy clubs, concerts, and special signing events with celebrities).
In order to experience the resort fully, you will have to plan on spending at least a couple days there. There are children's programs available for kids as well.
Connecticut River Valley, Essex, Haddam, and Chester CT
Tucked in the valley of Connecticut (and along the gorgeous CT river) are towns that offer great shopping and dining experiences. Essex has an adorable toy store called Toys Ahoy, complete with wide wooden board flooring, and an owner who brings his dog to work everyday. The place is stuffed with the best toys on the market.
Across the river, see a show at the Goodspeed Opera house. This theater harkens back to the days of red velvet seats and the traditional live show "feel". The opera house overlooks the river.
For history buffs, take a ferry across the river and explore the grounds of Gillette's castle, a historical landmark in CT. Have a picnic, hike, or take a tour inside the castle.
Lake Compounce, Bristol CT
If you want to cool off during the hot summer months, take a trip to Connecticut's family amusement park. It is divided into two areas- Hurricane Harbor (a great water park) and the rides. The park is small enough that families with small children will not feel overwhelmed when walking from end to end. Young teens will love being able to go off on their own and explore.
In Hurricane Harbor, there is a great lake with a sandy beach area to relax. There are also water slides, a lazy river, wave pool, and raft rides. Over the in the park, take a risk on BoulderDash, one of the longest and fastest roller coasters in the US!
Mystic Aquarium, Mystic CT
One of the most iconic Connecticut towns known for the famous home of Mystic Pizza, also hosts a magical and beautiful aquarium. With a beluga whale exhibit, sea lion show, and imax theater, families can easily spend a day enjoying the aquarium and the shops across the street. Eat a bowl of New England Clam Chowder, browse the gift shop, and stop by the penguin and shark exhibits.
Just a short drive away is Mystic Seaport, a harbor that houses gorgeous tall ships. In addition to touring the boats, you can wander through a recreated 19th century village, gardens, and a planetarium. And of course, you can walk down to Mystic Pizza when you're done!
Guilford Restaurants Worth Visiting
- Restaurants in Guilford CT- A Review of the Best
A Guilford native and resident foodie weighs in on the best places to get a bite to eat in this historic New England town.
Bishop's Orchard, Guilford CT
Home of the big red apple, Bishop's Orchard is a great place to visit. In the fall, they have a great pumpkin patch, complete with kettle corn, a hay maze, scarecrow making, and lots of pumpkins. Throughout the summer, visitors can pick their own strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, peaches, and pears.
They are also part of the Connecticut wine trail, as they make and sell their own wine.
If you happen to stop by when the market isn't having a special event, you can also visit the resident llamas that live right outside the store.
Mashantucket Pequot Museum, Mashantucket CT
This little known museum has one of the most incredible full-scale dioramas of any museum in the United States. They have recreated an entire Native American village, full of sights, sounds, and lush forestry. Tourists take an audio tour while walking through the village, listening to descriptions of each area that corresponds with a number.
You can go inside a wigwam, see how they handled hunting, cooking, and basket making. This is an experience you must do if you plan on visiting the eastern part of CT.
About the author
Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and local Connecticut resident. She has personally visited every location mentioned in this article, with her family. You can take her recommendations to the bank!
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