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Fun Things to Do in CT

Updated on September 11, 2012

Connecticut tourism

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.

Our family visits Hammonassett regularly.
Our family visits Hammonassett regularly. | Source

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.

On the carousel at Fish Tale.
On the carousel at Fish Tale. | Source

Where are these places located?

show route and directions
A markerMystic Aquarium, Mystic CT -
Mystic Aquarium, 55 Coogan Blvd, Stonington, CT 06355, USA
get directions

B markerLake Compounce, Bristol CT -
Lake Compounce Amusement Park, 822 Lake Ave, Bristol, CT 06489, USA
get directions

C markerFish Tale, Madison CT -
Madison, CT, USA
get directions

D markerMohegan Sun, Montville CT -
Mohegan Sun Blvd, Montville, CT 06382, USA
get directions

E markerConnecticut Science Center, Hartford CT -
Connecticut Science Center, 250 Columbus Blvd, Hartford, CT 06103, USA
get directions

F markerMashantucket Pequot Museum, CT -
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, 110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, CT 06338, USA
get directions

G markerPeabody Museum, New Haven CT -
Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
get directions

H markerBishops Orchard Guilford CT -
Boston Post Rd and Bishop Orchard, Guilford, CT 06437, USA
get directions

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.

The CT river valley
The CT river valley | Source
The Goodspeed Opera House
The Goodspeed Opera House | Source

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!

Enjoying the old fashioned carousel in the park.
Enjoying the old fashioned carousel in the park. | Source
Checking out a starfish exhibit at the aquarium.
Checking out a starfish exhibit at the aquarium. | Source

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!

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.

Picture time at the orchard.
Picture time at the orchard. | Source

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.

The entrance to the Pequot Museum.
The entrance to the Pequot Museum. | Source
Source

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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    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 5 years ago from India

      Interesting, I would love to see it someday. Thanks for sharing this writings and pictures. Voted.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing these fun tips and the pics.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      What a great overview! I'll be all set the next time I'm visiting Connecticut. :)

    • sarahcherbert profile image

      Sarah Crandall Herbert 5 years ago from Grass Valley, California

      I have always wanted to visit CT. Now, I really want to visit CT! Thanks for the tips.

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Julie! I am from CT. too and these are all wonderful places you have suggested. And the pictures really make each place stand out. Very nice job, and your kids are so cute! Voted up and interesting!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 5 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Nicely done Julie Deneen. Your hub is very informative, yet personal. I love museums and aquariums (aquaria if you prefer :). I am going to start a new job soon as a traveling laboratory technician. I will make it a point to get an assignment in Connecticut. Thanks.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Julie, you truly did a great job compiling this list of fun things to do in CT. I live in NY and as a child, we vacationed in Mystic a few times and can never go wrong there. This past summer, we actually went away with Kevin's family for a few days (his cousin rented a beach house) to Niatic Beach in the Rocky Neck State Beach area. It was beautiful and quite a fun trip, we even took a day trip to the Aquarium in Mystic one of the days there. Have voted up of course and shared all over too!!