Top 7 to visit in Southern England

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

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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.

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Address: 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut

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Accommodations: Where to stay in New Haven

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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 the XD Motion Theater Deep Sea 3D and exhibits based on Dr. Robert Ballard’s expeditions.

Address: 55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, Connecticut

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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

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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.

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Address: 110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, Connecticut

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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.

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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

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Accommodations: Where to stay in Hartford

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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

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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

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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.

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