The 10 most popular tourist attractions in Connecticut
Connecticut is the southernmost of the six New England states and one of the original thirteen colonies. The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle near present-day Hartford, soon followed by the English from Plymouth, Massachusetts colony, eager to establish a trading position for lucrative beaver hides. New Haven’s four-mile harbor soon made it one of the most active ports in the Northeast, providing access to markets that helped its growing manufacturing industry. New Haven became an early center for education with the founding of Yale University. The sights of today’s tourists recall these early influences as well as the contributions of Native Americans, whose culture is still active in Connecticut. From the recreated 16th-century native village of Pequot and the last surviving whaling ship to the working model of Eli Whitney’s cotton gin and the main aquarium, you’ll find plenty to do in Connecticut.
1 Mystic Seaport.
Mystic Seaport ReefTECK / photo modified
Mystic Seaport recreates the historic seaport village as part of one of the most famous maritime museums in the United States. Much of the museum is an outstanding collection of floating ships, including the last remaining wooden whaling ship in the world, the Charles W. Morgan (1841). Other historic ships included the Joseph Conrad, the schooner L. A. Danton, and various steam vessels. The buildings on the 19-acre base are not only the homes and stores of the small village, but also the sailboats, shipbuilders and others who supplied the ships. Several museums feature iconic ship figures, maritime art, the history of shipping and model ships.
Address: 75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, Connecticut
Official website: www.mysticseaport.org
Accommodations: Where to stay near Mystic Seaport
2 Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History StrangeInterlude / photo modified
The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History is one of the highlights for visitors to Yale University. Its extensive collections include a range of topics, from New England dinosaurs and birds to Greek and Roman antiquities and aboriginal art. The exhibits of Native American cultures are exceptional, featuring everyday objects and art from Blackfoot, Apache, Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow, Navaho, Zuni, Pima, Hopi and other traditions as well as an outstanding collection of Aboriginal paintings. Kids won’t want to miss an Egyptian mummy in their atmosphere.
Address: 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut
Official website: http://peabody.yale.edu/
Accommodations: Where to stay in New Haven
- Read more:
- The 10 most popular attractions in New Haven
3 Mystic Aquarium & Institution For Exploration
Mystic Aquarium & Institution For Exploration bunnygoth / photo modified
At the Mystic Aquarium you can meet ocean animals and experience the interactive Birds of the Outback exhibit. Get to the beam, walk to the bow of the penguin, and stand next to beluga whales and other popular animals such as sea lions, sea lions, African penguins, and blue pagans. Other attractions include XD Motion Theater Deep Sea 3D and exhibits based on Dr. Robert Ballard’s expeditions.
Address: 55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, Connecticut
Official website: www.mysticaquarium.org
4 Gillette Castle State Park
Gillette Castle State Park
The unique Gillette Castle, located on a 184-acre estate in East Haddam, is the 1919 home of William Hooker Gillette, known as the actor who played the original Sherlock Holmes. The house has the appearance of a medieval fortress from the outside, and the interior has hand-carved wood and unique features designed by Gillett himself, including wooden door locks and light switches. The hiking trails he designed on the estate are as unusual as the wooden trestles and arched bridges.
In spring, summer and fall you can cross the Connecticut River from Chester on the Hadlyme Ferry, with beautiful views as you approach the castle.
Address: 67 River Road, East Haddam, Connecticut
Official website: http://www.ctrivervalley.com/4-Connecticut-CT-in-of/Major-attractions-in-CT/gillette_castle_state_park/
Accommodations: Where to stay near Gillette Castle State Park
5 Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center
Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center is a tribal complex featuring Native American and Southern New England natural history exhibits. The indoor exhibits have dioramas, text panels, interactive computer programs and a film series highlighting the evolution of Mashantucket Pequot life. Visitors will encounter the 16th-century coastal village of Pequot, a glacial crevasse 18,000 years ago, and life with reservations from 1675 to the 1970s.
Address: 110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Official website: http://www.pequotmuseum.org/default.aspx
Accommodations: Where to stay in Mashantucket
6 Lake Compounce: A Family Theme Park
Lake Compounce: Jeff.Kelly Family Theme Park / photo modified
Lake Compounce Theme Park in Bristol is considered the oldest active amusement park in the United States and is home to the 1927 wooden slide and 1911 carousel. This popular summer family outing includes all kinds of rides and games.The largest water park in Connecticut, Crocodile Cove, has wave pools, water slides and sections specifically designed for younger children. There’s also food for kids, including a mini coaster, for those who aren’t big enough for thrill rides.
Address: 186 Enterprise Drive, Bristol, Conn.
Official website: https://www.lakecompounce.com/
Accommodations: Where to stay in Bristol
7 New England Air Museum
New England Air Museum cliff1066 (TM) / photo modified
The New England Air Museum at Windsor Locks spreads across two large hangars with more than 70 aircraft. On display are helicopters, amphibious planes, airplanes, World War II aircraft, and others. Not all there is to look at, though. Interactive exhibits include scientific demonstrations and a flight simulator.
Address: 36 Perimeter Road, Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Connecticut
Official website: http://www.neam.org/
Accommodations: Where to stay in Hartford
- Read more:
- 11 of the most popular tourist attractions in Hartford
8 Weir Farm National Historical Museum
Weir Farm CarbonNYC National Historic Site / photo modified
This beautiful country retreat in Wilton was the summer home of artist J. Alden Weir for 40 years. The site includes his studio, house and other buildings, as well as a visitor center. Visitors can see some of his original work and travel the scenic trail to observe the landscapes that were the inspiration for many of his paintings. Also unique are the painted bison scattered throughout the grounds, depicting scenes from Weir Farm.
Address: 735 Nod Hill Road, Wilton, Connecticut
Official website: http://www.nps.gov/wefa/index.htm
Accommodations: Where to stay near Wilton
9 Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art
Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art Mike_Shake / photo modified
The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art features changing exhibits of thoughtful contemporary art thinking and does not collect art or keep a permanent collection. It displays work based on changing themes and is dedicated to promoting the work of innovative artists who encourage viewers to think creatively. Also on site is a garden sculpture garden with two acres.
Address: 258 Main Street, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Official website: http://aldrichart.org/
Accommodations: Where to stay in Ridgefield
10 Roseland Cottage.
Located in Woodstock, this 1800’s Gothic style summer home is referred to as the Henry C. Bowen House, Roseland Cottage or Rose House. It is a National Historic Landmark. Inside, the exterior remains the same as it was in the 19th century, when it was often used to entertain guests, including U.S. presidents. The grounds include gardens, an ice house, a barn with an indoor bowling alley, and a garden house.
Connecticut Vacation Features
The state of Connecticut is located in the northeastern part of the United States. Its capital city is Hartford, and its largest towns are Bridgeport and Stamford. You can vacation in Connecticut in 2022 in a variety of ways: visiting historical and cultural sites or admiring the beauty of nature. Connecticut is best suited for lovers of colonial architecture and ancient monuments. There are some great open-air museums in many towns and cities throughout the state. Here you’ll find colonial-era homes with white-washed churches. Some of them may even resemble small castles, and there are also later buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Attractions and towns
One of Connecticut’s main natural attractions is its own natural beauty.
Come here just to enjoy leisurely walks, the surrounding nature and the ocean, or to go on interesting hikes.
The western part of the state is mostly chosen for hiking. In most towns you can find special hiking trails that pass through the most interesting places. But be aware that some of the trails can be quite long. So prepare well for your upcoming trip.
“The Appalachian Trail.
The Taconic Mountain Range stretches along the border of the state. It is part of the great mountain chain of the Appalachian Mountains. The highest point is Bear Mountain, which is 700 meters high. U.S. hiking enthusiasts can take the “Appalachian Trail”, or locals call it the “Appalachian Trail. It is one of the most famous hiking trails in Connecticut. It runs through several states and is a great place to relax and improve your health. The beginning of the trail is in Georgia, where most hikers start from. After passing through seven states and huge mountain ranges, hikers reach Connecticut, the end of the Appalachian Trail.
Another popular mountain trail lies through the Metacomet Range. It passes through the beautiful Connecticut River Valley. The peak is 300 meters above sea level.
Long Island Bay
If you are not a fan of such active travel, it is better to visit the southern part of the state. Long Island Bay has wonderful sandy beaches. Its coastline stretches for almost 350 kilometers. It’s a great place for a family vacation or to spend time with a good group.
National Helicopter Museum in Stratford
Here you can see the whole history of helicopter building from ancient times to the present day. Most of the exposition is devoted to the life and work of Igor Sikorsky, one of the pioneers of helicopter engineering. There is even a computer simulator of helicopter flight. There is absolutely no charge to visit the museum, but if you would like to make a donation, they will definitely accept it.
Attractions in Hartford
Mark Twain did not live in Hartford, Connecticut for very long, but it was the most prolific period of his creative life. Hartford, on the other hand, is the state capital and quite a large city. Here Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and many other famous works. The museum itself is housed in a remarkable large three-story house. It is in the traditional colonial style.
After the writer’s death, the house was used as a school and later as a library. Around the sixties, a museum was established here, and the building itself gained the status of a significant historical monument. Regardless of the season or weather, the house is always visited by many tourists and travelers. In 2012, this museum was among the best museums in the world. It is open all week and the ticket price is $19 per person.
You can also visit the Connecticut Capitol. Now the city administration is located here. The building is built of granite and marble. And the facing is made of gold. The Capitol became a historical monument in 1972. And next to it is a large public park called Bushwell Park. It’s a great place for leisurely walks and outdoor recreation with children. It also often hosts various theatrical productions and concerts. And in the park itself there is a small gallery of contemporary art.
Also in the capital there is the so-called sweat village – Mystic. Both adults and children will be delighted by this recreated historical monument. There are special aquariums with inhabitants of the oceans and seas. Among them are huge whales, amazing seals and penguins. Fans of historical sites will appreciate the difficulty with which the seaport was rebuilt. Staff tried to give it a unique atmosphere of the XIX century. There are even several sailing ships from that era moored in the port.
Another interesting town in Connecticut. It is home to the First Church of Christ. It was built in the mid-18th century. At first it was used as a meeting house. As you climb the steep steps to the high bell tower, you can look out over the sprawling Farmington skyline. Since the twentieth century, the church is considered one of the most important places of interest in the United States.
City of New Haven
This Connecticut town is home to the world-famous Yale University and the Art Gallery. It houses more than 200,000 different objects of both historical and artistic value. Admission to the gallery is free and the exhibits are constantly updated.
And the university is one of the most prestigious in the United States. After all, its alumni include Nobel laureates and U.S. presidents. It is also notable for being the birthplace of George H.W. Bush, one of America’s presidents.
Peabody Museum of Natural History
Tickets cost $13 for an adult, $9 for seniors, and $6 for children. The museum at Yale University features a variety of exhibits on the history of the world and its inhabitants, and there is also a diorama on the nature of North America.
Connecticut is one of the few states that allow gambling. Connecticut’s casinos offer not only gambling but also a variety of concerts, sporting duels, and other events.
How to get there
The easiest way to get to Connecticut is by air. Flights are taken by the state’s Bradley and New Haven Air Harbors. The second airport has much less air traffic, but is also popular. Alternatively, you can fly to New York or Washington, D.C. And from there it’s easy to get to the state capital, Hartford. Both routes are quite costly and will take you about a day’s travel.
To get from New York, you can take one of the trains to New Haven and from there change to a bus or other train to Hartford. Such a trip might cost $200. You can also take buses numbered 2008, 2002, or 2022. These routes are operated by Greyhound. Tickets cost at least $45.
If you rent a car. It will cost about $380 to get fuel to Bridgeport. And renting a car can cost about $100 per day.
If you want to get to Connecticut from Washington, DC. The cheapest option is again a trip by car or by Greyhound buses number 2562, 2554 (from $95).
Connecticut on a map:
Connecticut has a continental climate throughout most of its territory. Only near the coast is it subtropical. This is caused by the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean and the warm Gulf Stream. Local winters are quite cool, the temperature often drops below -5 C. Snowfall is also not uncommon in Connecticut. It is especially cold in the northwestern part of the state. However, summers can be very hot. The average temperature is +30 to +33 degrees Celsius. And this is not uncommon. Once a year there can be a tornado and about 30 thunderstorms. Such climatic troubles often occur during the hurricane season.
The cost of hotels in Connecticut
There are a large number of hotels in Connecticut, the cost of living in some hotels may range from $40 depending on the number of stars and location. The average price in a good hotel is between $70 and $150. Typically, this price includes a light breakfast, use of a hair dryer, wi-fi, sometimes a gym. During the season the price can go up to $300-400 per room. We have compiled for you a small list of the most popular hotels:
- Crowne Plaza Stamford;
- Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center;
- Holiday Inn Express Stamford;
- Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa;
- The Historic Mansion;
- Days Inn Hartford.
If you’ve chosen Connecticut for your vacation in 2022, you’ve probably thought about possible shopping. Large supermarkets and malls located in large cities across the state will do the trick. The greatest choice is of course in the capital Hartford and the cities of Bridgeport and Stamford. Here’s a small list of interesting souvenir shops and malls from different towns in Connecticut:
- RJ Julia Booksellers – Madison;
- The Book Barn – Niantic;
- Tanger Outlets Foxwoods – Mashantucket;
- Sunset Meadow Vineyards – Goshen;
- The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk – South Windsor;
- Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets – Clinton;
- Stonington Vineyards – Stonington;
- Fromage Fine Foods & Coffees Old – Old Saybrook;
- Antiques Marketplace – Putnam;
- Danbury Fair Mall – Danbury;
- Stratford Antique Center – Stratford.
What to Bring.
The Connecticut capital is home to the headquarters of the Sikorski Company. It makes toy helicopters in a variety of models and sizes. Delight your children with original replica helicopters the size of matchboxes or large radio-controlled toys.
The next famous Connecticut company is Colt. It is a company with a centuries-old history and a reputation for producing great guns. But other than that, Colt makes beautiful replicas of antique guns. Taking one of these masterpieces, you will not have problems with the law.
Restaurants and Cafes
Connecticut towns have many cafeterias and restaurants. The most upscale and prestigious ones are in the larger cities. We have made a small top 5 of the best cafeterias in three of the most famous cities in the state. Be sure to make an effort to visit them and try their menus. New Haven:
- Modern Apizza is a gourmet Italian café;
- Caseus is a great restaurant;
- Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, one of America’s most famous pizzerias;
- Union League Cafe, an excellent restaurant;
- Claire’s Corner Copia, the best vegetarian cafe.
- Brasitas, an excellent Latin American restaurant;
- Columbus Park Trattoria – Italian food;
- The Capital Grille – one of the best steakhouses;
- Colony Grill – huge pizza for every taste;
- Teff Stamford – interesting Ethiopian food.
- Max Downtown;
- Bear’s Smokehouse;
- Agave Grill;
- City Steam Brewery.
Connecticut is famous for its original dish invented back in the 1920s. It is a clam pizza invented by Italian immigrants.
We also recommend you to try the clam pie. It’s a unique treat with lots of garlic and little tomato. You can find these interesting dishes in the port city of New Haven.
Connecticut vacation video:
You can plan your vacation in Connecticut 2022, whose prices and attractions can amaze even the most sophisticated tourist. In Connecticut, you can also spend time enjoying the great outdoors and visiting the Atlantic coast.