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Did You Know…?

  • There are up to 150,000 boats on the waters off Connecticut’s coast.
  • The Hartford Courant is the oldest continuously published U.S. newspaper (1764).
  • Connecticut has 92 state parks and 30 state forests.
  • America’s first accident insurance policy, sold in Hartford (1864), cost 2 cents.
  • Connecticut passed the first state speed limit law for cars in 1901.

Split personality

You can accuse Connecticut of having a split personality. It’s a New England state but also a suburban outpost of New York City. It is urban and rural. It has a seashore teeming with boats but also thinly populated rolling hills where visitors may pursue outdoor sports. Connecticut’s small towns contrast with its industrial cities.  Visitors can pursue a range of interests from historical to theatrical or other cultural activities, from water sports to hiking and biking.

As in the rest of New England, travelers to Connecticut will come across charming villages and lovely suburban areas, both meticulously maintained. Many towns are built around a green, which is the public park, and that green may be surrounded by a small church, a tavern, a town meeting hall and a number of colonial-era homes.

Such places create the pleasant impression of small-town life well away from the stresses of big-city hustle and bustle. Some villages, with their historic buildings, are also reminders of the state’s long history (by American standards), given Connecticut was one of the first states in the union.

But the state’s proximity to the Big Apple affects its character; whether this is an advantage or not is arguable. But, it’s not such a bad thing to be able to sail on Long Island Sound one day and hop on the train for dinner and a show in Manhattan the next.

Connecticut has many sides. The Litchfield Hills area in the northwest offers spring whitewater canoeing and kayaking, summer swimming, hiking, biking and fishing, bright autumn colors and winter skiing, both downhill and cross-country.

And, there’s the wild side of the Connecticut River Valley, offering wilderness and fewer people. Camping is a popular option in Connecticut’s state parks and its forests.

Other options range from the casinos for gaming and entertainment to the Yale campus in New Haven. On the coast, there are several old towns like Mystic, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook, each offering the visitor a different experience.

Summer is high season for vacations in Connecticut, and the areas on the coast get crowded.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Climb Bear Mountain (2,316 feet). Or, hike on the piece of the Appalachian Trail that runs through Connecticut. The state has many marked hiking trails, with names like Iron History Trail and Under Mountain Trail.
  • Go to the auto races, then take one- or two-day classes from the Skip Barber Driving School. Your training will be at the Lime Rock Park racetrack.
  • Choose one of several trails for mountain biking. If you are good, enter the Connecticut Point Series, a mountain bike championship set of seven races.
  • Dine at Randall’s Ordinary in North Stonington, a colonial wayside inn and taproom that features authentic 17th century hearth cooking. Overnight there, as well.
  • Sign on for a Warbird Experience in Pawcatuck for flights in a classic World War II advanced trainer, the AT-6 Texan. Flights that can be scenic journeys or combat-type flying rides. Alternatively, you can go skydiving.
  • Explore the control room and handle working periscopes during a tour of the U.S.S. Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine and first to reach the North Pole. It is part of the Submarine Force Museum in Groton.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Participate in the annual Walking Weekend, held in October in the northeast part of the state. Dozens of guided walks, varying in difficulty, are offered over a three-day period.
  • Plan a sightseeing excursion by bicycle.
  • Ride 1920s train cars pulled by a steam locomotive, then board the riverboat Becky Thatcher to cruise on the Connecticut River. This is all part of the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat Ride attraction in Essex.
  • Attend the Litchfield JazzFest in August.
  • Enjoy trail rides on horseback, perhaps with Wild West cookouts (even if it is Connecticut) and overnight camping.
  • Plan a fall foliage driving tour. Or, build a driving trip around the lighthouses that dot Connecticut’s shoreline. Take a ferry to visit the Sheffield Island Lighthouse, and cruise around the New London Ledge Lighthouse, said to have its own ghost.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Visit the quaint seaside towns of Mystic for its seafaring heritage; Old Lyme for art, and Old Saybrook for antiques — and all of them for their charms.
  • Take in theater in Hartford, New Haven or Westport, among other places.
  • Ride in antique trolleys at the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor. Or, at the Allegra Farm and Horse-Drawn Carriage and Sleigh Museum in East Haddam, ride on a horse-drawn carriage.
  • Spend some quality time — and money — at the shopping outlets in Clinton and Westbrook.
  • Treat yourself to a weekend at one of several spas. You could go to Foxwoods Resort Casino (it’s huge) or Mohegan Sun and thus combine your spa weekend with a little gaming time.
  • Take a 40-minute wagon ride through the Bison Creamery Farm in Brooklyn (Connecticut, that is). As the name suggests, bison are the livestock.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Connecticut Office of Tourism at