22 Best Places to Visit in Connecticut Right Now

Places to Visit in Connecticut Right Now

Connecticut, the southernmost state in New England, is a charming destination with a rich history, picturesque landscapes, and a vibrant cultural scene. From historic landmarks and art museums to breathtaking state parks and delicious cuisine, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the Nutmeg State.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a foodie, Connecticut offers a diverse range of attractions that are worth exploring. In this blog, we’ll take you on a virtual tour of the 22 best places to visit in Connecticut right now, from the city of Hartford to the coastal town of Stonington.

So, let’s dive in and discover the hidden gems and must-visit destinations that make Connecticut a top choice for travelers.

1. Refine Your mind in Hartford

Refine Your mind in Hartford

When it comes to cultural attractions, the city of Hartford is a true gem. Start your exploration of the state capital at the Mark Twain House & Museum, the former residence of the renowned writer. Step into the world of one of America’s greatest literary figures and learn about Mark Twain’s life, works, and the inspiration behind his famous characters.

Continue your cultural journey at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, one of the oldest and most significant art museums in the country. Marvel at the extensive collection of European masterpieces, American art, and contemporary works, showcasing the richness of artistic expression throughout the centuries.

Hartford is also blessed with the beautiful Connecticut River, which winds its way through the city. Take a stroll along the riverfront and enjoy the scenic views, or hop aboard a riverboat cruise to explore the waterways of the city. The river provides a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, perfect for a moment of relaxation and reflection.

2. Mashantucket Pequot Museum

Mashantucket Pequot Museum

For a truly immersive cultural experience, visit the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, located in Mashantucket. This museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history, culture, and traditions of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, one of the oldest Native American communities in North America.

Explore the museum’s exhibits, which feature artifacts, interactive displays, and dioramas that bring the tribe’s past to life. Learn about their traditions, customs, and the challenges they have faced throughout history. The museum also offers educational programs and events, including guided tours that provide a deeper understanding of the tribe’s rich heritage.

While you’re in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the nearby Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Reservation, where you can enjoy a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of the tribe through the food, art, and activities available on the reservation.

3. Gillette Castle State Park

Gillette Castle State Park

Step into a fairytale-like setting at Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam. This enchanting park is home to a medieval-inspired castle, built by William Gillette, a famous stage actor known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Explore the castle’s unique architecture, which features whimsical details and hidden passageways, as you feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

Guided tours of the castle offer fascinating insights into the life and eccentricities of William Gillette. From the castle’s tower, marvel at the panoramic views of the scenic Connecticut River, adding to the castle’s mystique and allure.

Beyond the castle, the state park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, and fishing spots. Meander through the serene woodland, breathe in the fresh air, and soak in the natural beauty that surrounds you. Gillette Castle State Park is a true hidden gem, perfect for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a touch of enchantment.

4. Hammonasset Beach State Park

Hammonasset Beach State Park
Hammonasset Beach State Park

For a classic beach experience, head to Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, which boasts the largest public beach in Connecticut. With over two miles of shoreline, this state park offers ample opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. Relax on the sandy shores, listen to the sound of the waves, and take a refreshing dip in the cool waters of Long Island Sound.

In addition to beach activities, the park features nature trails that wind through salt marshes and meadows, providing a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers. The Meigs Point Nature Center, located within the park, offers educational exhibits and programs that highlight the unique ecosystems of the area.

Hammonasset Beach State Park also provides facilities for camping, picnicking, and fishing, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Whether you’re looking to bask in the sun, explore nature, or have a fun-filled day with the family, Hammonasset Beach State Park has it all.

5. New England Air Museum

New England Air Museum
New England Air Museum

Aviation enthusiasts, history buffs, and families alike will find something of interest at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks. This museum is one of the largest aviation museums in the United States, housing over 100 aircraft, exhibits, and interactive displays that celebrate the rich history of aviation.

Step back in time as you explore vintage planes, helicopters, and artifacts that showcase the evolution of flight. The museum’s exhibits span the entire spectrum of aviation, from the early days of aviation pioneers to the modern era of space travel.

Visitors can also experience the thrill of flight through the museum’s flight simulators, which allow you to pilot a virtual aircraft. Participate in interactive exhibits that demonstrate the science behind flight, and witness the importance of aviation in shaping the world we live in today.

The New England Air Museum offers educational programs, special events, and guided tours that provide deeper insights into the world of aviation. Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for an engaging and educational experience, the museum is a must-visit destination in Connecticut.

6. Eat your way around New Haven

Eat your way around New Haven

No visit to Connecticut would be complete without exploring the culinary delights of New Haven, the state’s cultural hub. Known as the birthplace of the famous New Haven-style pizza, the city boasts a vibrant food scene that will satisfy even the most discerning foodie.

Start your culinary adventure at the historic Wooster Square Farmers’ Market, where you can sample fresh produce, artisanal goods, and locally made treats. From farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to homemade baked goods, the market offers a wide variety of delicious offerings.

When it comes to pizza, New Haven is legendary. Visit the iconic pizzerias such as Pepe’s Pizza, Modern Apizza, and Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, where you can savor the mouthwatering thin-crust pies that put New Haven on the culinary map. Sink your teeth into a heavenly combination of perfectly charred crust, savory sauce, and mouthwatering toppings, and taste the legacy of New Haven’s pizza tradition.

Beyond pizza, New Haven has a diverse array of dining options to suit every palate. From upscale restaurants to casual cafes, you’ll find a wide range of cuisines, including Italian, Mediterranean, Asian, and more. Indulge in the culinary delights of the city, and discover why New Haven is a haven for food lovers.

7. Hill-Stead Museum

Hill-Stead Museum
Hill-Stead Museum

Nestled in the scenic town of Farmington, the Hill-Stead Museum is a true treasure that combines art, history, and natural beauty. This historic house museum offers a glimpse into the lives of the original owners, Alfred and Ada Pope, and their extensive art collection.

Explore the meticulously preserved rooms of the museum, which showcase a stunning collection of European and American art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Marvel at works by masters such as Monet, Degas, and Cassatt, as you immerse yourself in the beauty and craftsmanship of each piece.

The museum’s picturesque grounds also deserve exploration, with manicured gardens, meadows, and walking trails that offer tranquility and breathtaking views. Take a stroll along the estate’s pathways, or find a quiet spot to relax and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings.

Throughout the year, the Hill-Stead Museum hosts a variety of events, including outdoor concerts, art exhibits, and lectures, providing visitors with the opportunity to engage with the arts in a unique setting. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, nature lover, or history buff, the Hill-Stead Museum promises a memorable experience for all.

8. Hartford

Hartford
Hartford

In addition to the attractions mentioned earlier, Hartford, the capital city of Connecticut, offers a wealth of cultural and historical landmarks. Visit the historic Mark Twain House & Museum, where the renowned author penned some of his most famous works. Immerse yourself in the life and times of Mark Twain, and explore the beautifully preserved Victorian mansion.

Discover the wonders of science at the Connecticut Science Center, where interactive exhibits and hands-on activities bring science to life. From exploring the human body to uncovering outer space, the center offers a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Take a step back in time at the Old State House, the oldest state house in the nation still in legislative use. Explore the historic building and learn about its significance in the history of Connecticut and the United States.

Hartford’s rich cultural heritage and vibrant arts scene make it a destination worth exploring. From world-class museums to historic landmarks, the city has something to offer every visitor.

9. New London

New London
New London

Situated on the banks of the Thames River, New London is a charming coastal town that should not be missed. Discover the city’s rich maritime history at the historic Custom House Maritime Museum, or admire the art collections at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum.

Visitors can also explore the United States Coast Guard Academy, an esteemed institution that trains future leaders of the Coast Guard. Take a stroll through the picturesque downtown area, which features art galleries, shops, and restaurants, or enjoy the scenic beauty of the waterfront. New London is the perfect destination for those seeking a blend of history, art, and natural splendor.

10. Stonington

Stonington

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the charm of Stonington, a small seaside town brimming with historic architecture and scenic beauty. Explore the cobblestone streets of the village center, which are lined with shops, boutiques, and art galleries.

Don’t miss a visit to Olde Mistick Village, a recreated 18th-century village featuring quaint shops, eateries, and specialty stores. Experience the town’s rich maritime heritage at the Old Lighthouse Museum, which chronicles the area’s seafaring past. Stonington is the epitome of New England charm, offering visitors a glimpse into small-town life and captivating coastal vistas.

11. Stamford

Stamford
Stamford

Located just outside of New York City, Stamford is Connecticut’s largest city and a vibrant destination in its own right. Explore the downtown area, which features a lively mix of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Visit the Stamford Museum, known for its diverse art and natural history exhibits, or take a stroll along the upscale Greenwich Avenue, where you’ll find high-end boutiques and designer shops.

Enjoy the city’s green spaces, such as the picturesque Cove Island Park and the scenic Cummings Park, perfect for outdoor activities and relaxation. Stamford offers the best of both worlds – the energy of a city and the tranquility of nature.

12. Norwalk

Norwalk
Norwalk

Home to the popular Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk is a coastal city that offers a perfect blend of marine life, history, and outdoor beauty. Explore the aquarium’s exhibits, which showcase a diverse range of marine species, including sharks, sea turtles, and jellyfish. Immerse yourself in the wonders of the deep sea, and learn about the importance of marine conservation.

Stroll through the charming South Norwalk (SoNo) area, known for its art galleries, trendy eateries, and lively nightlife. Discover the historic Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, a stunning example of Gilded Age architecture, or visit the unique Sheffield Island Lighthouse, which offers panoramic views of the coast.

Norwalk’s Cranbury Park provides the perfect escape into nature, with scenic trails, picnic areas, and beautiful gardens to explore. Norwalk has something for everyone, whether you’re an animal lover, history enthusiast, or outdoor adventurer.

13. Ski at Mohawk Mountain

Ski at Mohawk Mountain
Ski at Mohawk Mountain

During the winter months, Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall becomes a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and winter sports enthusiasts. This popular ski area offers diverse terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, from gentle slopes for beginners to challenging runs for advanced riders.

With its well-groomed trails, state-of-the-art snowmaking, and dedicated snowboarding park, Mohawk Mountain provides the perfect setting for outdoor excitement and adrenaline-pumping adventures. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time skier, the friendly instructors and staff at the ski school are ready to help you hone your skills and enjoy the slopes to the fullest.

Aside from skiing, the mountain also offers tubing, an exhilarating activity that is fun for the whole family. Hop onto a tube, slide down the specially designed lanes, and experience the thrill of speeding down the snow-covered hills.

After a day on the slopes, warm up and relax at the lodge, where you can enjoy delicious snacks, hot beverages, and stunning views of the surrounding winter wonderland. Mohawk Mountain is the ultimate destination for winter sports enthusiasts, providing an unforgettable outdoor experience in the heart of Connecticut.

14. Putnam Memorial State Park

Putnam Memorial State Park
Putnam Memorial State Park

Step back in time and immerse yourself in Revolutionary War history at Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding, Connecticut. This historic park is named after Major General Israel Putnam, a prominent figure in the American Revolution, and features well-preserved remnants of the encampment used by Continental Army troops.

Explore the park’s informative exhibits, which recount the park’s significant role in the American Revolution and the challenges faced by troops during that pivotal period in history. Take a stroll along the park’s nature trails, passing by the remains of old camp structures and picturesque Revolutionary War-era landscapes.

In addition to its historical significance, Putnam Memorial State Park offers a tranquil retreat for nature lovers. Pack a picnic and relax in the park’s serene surroundings, or embark on a hike to discover the area’s diverse flora and fauna.

Throughout the year, the park hosts events and reenactments that bring the Revolutionary War era to life. From musket firings to historical demonstrations, these events offer a unique opportunity to step into the past and gain a deeper understanding of the struggles and triumphs of the American Revolution.

Putnam Memorial State Park is a must-visit destination for history buffs and nature enthusiasts alike, offering a captivating blend of history, natural beauty, and outdoor recreation.

15. The Glass House

The Glass House
The Glass House

Discover the architectural masterpiece of The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. Designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, this iconic structure is considered one of the most important examples of modernist architecture in the United States.

Explore the innovative design and transparency of the Glass House as you walk through its interconnected rooms, which seamlessly blend art, architecture, and nature. The house is surrounded by a 49-acre landscape, carefully curated to complement the structure’s clean lines and minimalistic aesthetic.

Visitors can experience the intersection of art, architecture, and nature through guided tours of the property, gaining insights into Johnson’s vision and the avant-garde movement of the mid-20th century. From the underground painting gallery to the sculpture garden, each area of the Glass House showcases the harmonious relationship between the built environment and the natural world.

The Glass House hosts special events, exhibits, and educational programs throughout the year, creating a vibrant and ever-evolving cultural destination. Immerse yourself in the beauty and thought-provoking nature of this architectural gem, and discover why the Glass House continues to captivate art and design enthusiasts from around the world.

16. Sea Lampreys, Long Reviled, Are Finally Getting Some Respect

The Connecticut River
Connecticut River

The Connecticut River, which flows through the state, is home to a variety of fascinating marine life, including the sea lamprey. Although these creatures have long been reviled for their parasitic behavior, they play a vital role in the ecosystem of the river.

Sea lampreys are ancient, eel-like fish that migrate from the ocean to freshwater rivers, including the Connecticut River, to spawn and reproduce. While their appearance may be intimidating, they are an important part of the river’s food chain, serving as a food source for larger fish and birds.

Efforts are being made to increase awareness and understanding of these misunderstood creatures and to promote their conservation. Research and management programs aim to control sea lamprey populations and minimize their impact on native fish species.

Museums, nature centers, and educational institutions, such as the Connecticut Audubon Society, provide opportunities to learn more about sea lampreys and the vital role they play in the Connecticut River ecosystem. By embracing and appreciating these unique creatures, we can gain a greater understanding of the delicate balance of nature and the importance of preserving the river’s diverse marine life.

17. One Family’s Hidden Museum of Retro-Future Artifacts

One Family's Hidden Museum of Retro-Future Artifacts
Museum of Retro-Future Artifacts

Tucked away in the state of Connecticut is a hidden gem that offers a glimpse into the world of retro-future artifacts. This museum, privately owned by one family, showcases a fascinating collection of items from the 1950s to the 1980s, capturing the spirit of an era obsessed with the promise of the future.

Step through the doors of the museum and find yourself surrounded by vintage space toys, futuristic home appliances, and robots that once ignited the imaginations of generations. The carefully curated exhibits take visitors on a journey through time, offering a nostalgic and often whimsical look at the technological innovations, fashion trends, and design aesthetics of the past.

Every item in the museum is part of a private collection, carefully preserved and displayed to evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity. Visitors can explore the exhibits at their own pace, marveling at the creativity and ingenuity of the artists, designers, and inventors who brought these visions of the future to life.

While the museum is not open to the public, occasional special events and exhibitions offer the opportunity to experience the retro-future artifacts firsthand. The museum’s gift shop also allows visitors to take home a piece of the retro-future, with a selection of unique, era-inspired items available for purchase. This hidden museum is a testament to the power of nostalgia and the enduring appeal of the future as imagined in the past.

18. The Struggle of Keeping a Roadside Attraction Alive

Roadside Attraction Alive

Roadside attractions have long been a part of America’s cultural fabric, providing unique experiences and a glimpse into the history and culture of a place. While these attractions continue to captivate travelers, many are facing the challenges of declining tourism and the need to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

Connecticut, like many states, has its fair share of roadside attractions, from quirky museums to larger-than-life sculptures. These attractions often rely on the curiosity of passersby, but with the rise of modern technology and changing travel habits, they face an uphill battle to stay open and relevant.

Roadside attractions receive minimal funding, and the costs of maintenance, restoration, and promotion can be overwhelming for the small businesses and communities that operate them. Yet, these attractions remain an important part of the local economy, bringing in tourism dollars and creating jobs.

The struggle to keep a roadside attraction alive requires the support of visitors, whether through visits, donations, or advocacy. By actively seeking out these hidden gems, promoting their uniqueness, and appreciating the efforts put into preserving them, we can help ensure that the charm of roadside attractions continues to thrive for future generations.

19. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, Bridgeport

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, Bridgeport
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, Bridgeport

For a fun and educational day out, visit Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport. This family-friendly destination offers a unique opportunity to explore the natural world and learn about the importance of wildlife conservation.

The zoo is home to a diverse collection of animal exhibits, providing visitors with the chance to observe and connect with a wide range of species. From majestic big cats and playful primates to colorful birds and inquisitive reptiles, the zoo showcases the rich biodiversity of the animal kingdom.

In addition to the animal exhibits, the zoo offers educational programs, interactive displays, and engaging presentations that promote environmental awareness and the need for conservation. Visitors of all ages can participate in hands-on activities, guided tours, and animal feedings, gaining a deeper understanding of the natural world and the importance of preserving it.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is committed to the highest standards of animal care and welfare, ensuring the well-being of its residents while providing an enjoyable experience for visitors. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, animal lover, or simply looking for a fun-filled day with the family, the zoo offers a wonderful place to connect with nature and learn about the wonders of the animal kingdom.

20. Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Mashantucket

Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Mashantucket
Research Center, Mashantucket

Delve into the rich history, culture, and traditions of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center in Mashantucket, Connecticut. This immersive museum offers a comprehensive look into the life of the Pequot people, one of the oldest Native American communities in North America.

Explore the museum’s exhibits, which feature relics, artifacts, and interactive displays that depict the tribe’s past and present. Gain insights into the fascinating history of the Pequot people, their customs, and the challenges they have faced throughout the centuries. Through the exhibits, visitors can learn about the tribe’s cultural heritage, artistry, and contributions to the region.

The museum also offers educational programs, guided tours, and special events that provide deeper insights into the traditions and customs of the Pequot people. From traditional storytelling to craft demonstrations, these activities offer an immersive and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

As you visit the museum, take the time to appreciate the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Reservation, located nearby. This destination features a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options that further showcase the tribe’s heritage and culture.

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center is a must-visit destination for those interested in Native American history, cultural preservation, and the diverse tapestry of Connecticut’s past.

21. The Glass House, New Canaan

Glass House, New Canaan
Glass House, New Canaan

Experience the architectural brilliance of The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. Designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, this iconic structure is considered one of the most important examples of modernist architecture in the United States.

Explore the unique design and transparency of the Glass House as you walk through its interconnected rooms, which seamlessly blend art, architecture, and nature. The house sits within a 49-acre landscape, carefully curated to complement the structure’s clean lines and minimalistic aesthetic.

Visitors can witness the fusion of simplicity, transparency, and spatial harmony within the Glass House, gaining a deeper appreciation of Johnson’s visionary approach to design. Guided tours of the property offer insights into the architect’s philosophies, the history of the house, and the avant-garde movement of the mid-20th century.

The Glass House hosts special events, exhibitions, and educational programs throughout the year, creating a vibrant cultural destination that continues to inspire. Immerse yourself in the artistic vision of Philip Johnson, and marvel at the timeless beauty of the Glass House and its surroundings.

22. Roseland Cottage, Woodstock

Roseland Cottage, Woodstock
Roseland Cottage, Woodstock

Step back in time and admire the Victorian architecture of Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut. This historic house museum offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the past, showcasing the intricate details and craftsmanship of the Victorian era.

Explore the rooms of the cottage, which are exquisitely furnished with period antiques, art, and household items, and gain insights into the life of the original owners, the Bowen family. Marvel at the vibrant colors, decorative motifs, and ornate furnishings that reflect the architectural style of the mid-19th century.

The cottage’s picturesque gardens and carriage house further enhance the allure of the property, providing a serene escape into natural beauty. Take a leisurely walk through the manicured landscapes, breathe in the fragrance of the blooming flowers, and imagine what life was like during the Victorian age.

Throughout the year, Roseland Cottage hosts seasonal events, including garden tours, antique fairs, and cultural programs, that celebrate the history and charm of the era. With its well-preserved interiors, beautiful gardens, and rich history, the cottage stands as a testament to the elegance and grandeur of Victorian architecture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some must-visit destinations in Connecticut for outdoor enthusiasts?

Hammonasset Beach State Park: Explore the largest beach in Connecticut and enjoy swimming, picnicking, and camping.

Meigs Point Nature Center: Discover the unique ecosystems of the park and participate in educational programs.

Bluff Point State Park: Go hiking, bird-watching, or kayaking in this scenic coastal park.

Silver Sands State Park: Take a stroll along the sandy beach and observe the saltwater marshes and wildlife.

Sherwood Island State Park: Enjoy nature trails, fishing, and beachcombing along the shores of Long Island Sound.

What are some historical landmarks in Connecticut that are worth visiting?

Explore Connecticut’s rich history by visiting its fascinating historical landmarks. Discover the Mystic Seaport Museum, Mark Twain House & Museum, and Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Don’t miss the Gillette Castle State Park and Weir Farm National Historic Site. Immerse yourself in Connecticut’s past and cultural significance.

Are there any hidden gems or off-the-beaten-path places to visit in Connecticut?

The best places to visit in Connecticut, there are several hidden gems and lesser-known destinations to explore in Connecticut. From the historic Gillette Castle State Park and Weir Farm National Historic Site to the architectural marvel of the Glass House, there is something for everyone. Don’t miss out on popular attractions like the Mark Twain House & Museum and Mystic Seaport Museum. And be sure to indulge in the local cuisine and unique shops for an authentic Connecticut experience.

What are some family-friendly destinations in Connecticut?

Looking for family-friendly destinations in Connecticut? The best places to visit in Connecticut are Mystic Aquarium, a great spot for interactive marine exhibits. Another popular attraction is the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, where you can explore various aquatic habitats. For thrilling rides and attractions, visit Lake Compounce Amusement Park. Don’t miss the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, offering educational and entertaining exhibits.

Conclusion

The best places to visit in Connecticut offer a myriad of exciting destinations for travelers. From the rich history of Hartford to the beautiful beaches of Hammonasset Beach State Park, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, or looking for off-the-beaten-path adventures, Connecticut has it all.

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore hidden gems like the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center or the Roseland Cottage in Woodstock. For family-friendly fun, head to Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo or the New England Air Museum.

We hope this list inspires you to visit these incredible places in Connecticut. If you have any other recommendations or experiences to share, please comment below. Happy travels!

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