Great Things To Do in Connecticut includes off-the-beaten-track fun

Connecticut is packed with great things to on a getaway for families, kids, or just adults, like scenic shoreline and country drives, antique shopping, world-class museums, historic sites, pretty walks, and plenty of activities for your vacation adventure. Phone ahead or check the attraction's website before visiting, especially for outdoor activities.

A.W. Stanley Park - 2233 Stanley Street New Britain, CT, 06053 Phone: Toll-Free: 800-971-8271

Go Ape on a zip line tour in New Britain

Grab some treetop thrills with a Go Ape Treetop Adventure at A.W. Stanley Park in New Britain, CT.  Our outdoor adventure course offers two to three hours of exercise and excitement with zip line, Tarzan swings, and obstacles in the trees. Fun for adults and children as young as 10! We start by equipping participants with harnesses and pulleys. Then, after a 30-minute safety briefing and training program, you're free to explore the forest canopy and enjoy your natural surroundings from a different vantage point. Our instructors are always on hand, patrolling the forest to offer tips and pointers. By signing up for one of our Treetop Adventures, you'll be supporting public parks, too. A portion of the ticket price goes to parks and programs in local communities.

One Railroad Avenue Essex, CT, 06426 Phone: 860-767-0103 Toll-Free: 800-377-3987

A Connecticut River adventure by train and boat

Gather family and friends for a sightseeing adventure aboard the only steam train and riverboat connection in the United States! This 2½-hour narrated journey explores the nature and beauty of the Connecticut River Valley, designated as one of “the last great places on Earth” by The Nature Conservancy. View historic sites such as Gillette Castle and the Goodspeed Opera House. Excursions begin and end at the historic 1892 Essex station. Rain or shine.

Grape things to do and savor

In one of the fastest growing wine regions in the country, Connecticut’s winemakers work microclimates in this scenic little corner of the state to grow grapes and make the finest wines. Spend an afternoon, day or several visiting the vineyards and wineries here and all along the Connecticut Wine Trail and its 25 diverse destinations. You can explore the farms and fields as well as the historic homes, churches and shops around them while sampling reds, whites, fruit wines and others among an almost limitless range of varietals statewide. Set in the area’s scenic towns and rural havens you can travel the trail and learn about the distinct differences of each locale. Look for the Wine Trail’s blue signs. The wineries also remind you to please drink and drive responsibly.

600 Main Street Hartford, CT, 06103 Phone: 860-278-2670

Founded in 1842, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is the oldest continually-operating public art museum in the United States. The museum’s nearly 50,000 works of art span 5,000 years, from Greek and Roman antiquities to the first museum collection of American contemporary art. Year-round programs for adults include lectures, gallery talks, group tours, art activities and concerts. First Thursdays provide an evening of music, refreshments, arts activities and films. Free Second Saturdays offer hands-on art making, tours for families, performances of music, dance, theater, and demonstrations. Docent-led tours are offered daily, and the audio tour and Family Guide allow for exploring the collections during regular museum hours. Open Wednesday – Sunday. Visit our website for details and hours.

351 Farmington Avenue Hartford, CT Phone: 860-247-0998

Come and explore the beautiful home of America’s favorite author which was featured in 1000 Places To See Before You Die. Take guided tours through Mark Twain’s historical home, visit his personal library, the children’s rooms, the servants’ wing and his famous Billiard Room where he wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Enjoy informative exhibitions and documentaries held in the Museum Center, visit the museum store to discover one of a kind treasures, or grab a relaxed lunch in our Nook Farm Nook cafe. House tours run daily beginning at 9:30 A.M. with the last tour leaving at 4:30 P.M., while the Museum Center is open for self-guided visitation during regular hours.

1650 Hartford-New London Tpke. (Rt. 85) Oakdale, CT, 06370 Phone: 860-443-4367

Meet the residents - large and in charge

A dinosaur encounter is one of the all time great things to do. And you can do that nearby and safely and have more fun than you can possibly imagine. Indoor/outdoor activities here will bring you up close and personal to not only dinosaurs, but to wildlife, nature trials, a water park, a titanic playground and science activity center that will teach you a thing or two. There’s 50 acres of pristine woodland, 40+ life-sized dinosaurs, a man-made lake, and a monster playground with a swinging, vibrating three–dimensional double tower to shake you silly. There a maze to get lost in, a Splashpad to cool down in and lots of tasty food, picnic areas and shady spots. But be listening for footsteps. Big ones.

199 Elm Street New Canaan, CT, 06840 Phone: 203-594-9884

A Different Kind of Home

The Glass House in New Canaan, Conn., is unlike any other house you've ever seen because it's really not a house at all. Architect Philip Johnson deconstructed the notion of what a house should be by building 14 structures on 49 rustic acres, with each structure having a different function. The Glass House itself, with no walls dividing the interior into rooms, is a pavilion for parties and for viewing the surrounding landscape. The Brick House was Johnson's bedroom, where he read and slept. The stucco Studio is a workplace and library. Today the entire property is a National Trust Historic Site, and serves as a museum to Johnson's work and the International Style of architecture. We're open for tours from May 1 to November 30.

77 Forest Street Hartford, CT, 06105 Phone: 860-522-9258

Don’t Miss the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford’s Nook Farm

Nineteenth century Hartford was an intellectual mecca for writers, publishers and social thought leaders. Harriet Beecher Stowe came to Connecticut’s capitol city as the most famous American women in the world. Her landmark novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852, set the world on fire and helped to escalate an international groundswell of opposition to the enslavement of people in the United States. Stowe’s Hartford home was her residence for 23 years. The Stowe Center uses the story of Stowe’s life to inspire social justice and positive change, with a 21st century tour experience using the historic collections to “paint a picture” of the significance of Stowe’s impact and to engage visitors in connecting Stowe’s history to today’s headlines. Open year round, check website for tours, programs and events (Park once and visit both Stowe and Twain with a combination ticket).

103 Main Street Ivoryton, CT, 06442 Phone: 860-767-7318

A full roster for great theater for 2015

The Ivoryton Playhouse is a unique theatre with a rich cultural history. Built in 1911, the Ivoryton Playhouse is the oldest, continuously running, self-supporting summer theater in the nation. Some of the great names of from the stage and screen have appeared at Ivoryton Playhouse including Katharine Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Groucho Marx and Tallulah Bankhead. Today, the Ivoryton Playhouse produces a year-round, professional season of award winning musicals, comedies and dramas as well as summer children’s theatre and many special events. The Ivoryton Playhouse roster of productions for the 2015 Season includes Stand by Your Man, The Last Romance, Calendar Girls, South Pacific, Memphis, Little Shop of Horrors and Liberace!

55 Coogan Boulevard Mystic, CT, 06355 Phone: 860-572-5955

New England’s Interactive Aquarium

Sea more at Mystic Aquarium! Roll up your sleeves, open your mind, dive into excitement. Touch sharks and reptiles or even feed a stingray. Visit over 300 species of animals including beluga whales, African penguins, spiderman lizards and more. Watch California sea lions exhibit their behaviors in a complimentary show. Explore ecosystems from around the globe at Exploration: WILD! Indulge your senses in the 4-D Theater and expand your mind at the National Geographic Theater. Learn more about ocean stewardship through educational and scientific programming. Join us Oct. 22–24 and 29–30 during Sea Scare to hear chilling tails of the deep, go on a kooky 4-D roller coaster ride, trick-or-treat through Exploration: WILD! and more! Visit MysticAquarium.org to explore more.

History, Art, and Natural Beauty Indoors and Out

Enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors on 118 woodland acres at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center on Newfield Avenue in Stamford. The property includes a New England working farm, hiking trails, picnic area, Nature's playground, boardwalk, galleries for interactive exhibitions with hands-on area for children, two stores, special events, planetarium. Lots of special events, including Spring Family Festival, wine tastings, antique car shows.Phone:203-322-1646

Covered Bridge Is the Hidden Jewel in This Serene Forest

Comstock Covered Bridge in East Hampton, one of Connecticut’s last remaining covered bridges, crosses the Salmon River and is limited to pedestrian traffic. The bridge is located within the Salmon River State Forest , which covers over 6,000 acres in Hebron, Colchester, East Hampton, and Marlborough. The forest includes the Airline Trail, which follows an old railroad bed and features the 137-foot-high Lyman Viaduct, providing a wonderful view of the Dickenson Creek valley; a handicap accessible fly-fishing area; and a letterbox hike. The hike is less than a quarter of a mile on easy terrain. There is a solitary grave on this forest – a memorial to a soldier. The gravestone is weathering away, but you can still see the soldier’s name, the date, cause of death, and his age. Phone: 295-9523

Drive New Haven’s Charmed Shoreline

Set aside a day to drive part of the shoreline of Greater New Haven. This strip of land along Route 1 contains historic homes, stylish restaurants, nature preserves -- all within a few miles of the Long Island Sound. Start on Route 1 in Branford's elegant downtown. Walk around the Green or veer off onto the many hiking or bird watching trails. The scenic Route 146 takes you into Stony Creek, a tiny former fishing village. The Thimble Islands are visible from Stony Creek's harbor. Next up, Guilford has a truly grand town Green, a lengthy, well-shaded block that's lined with charming storefronts. Madison's quiet, walkable downtown includes the much-loved R.J. Julia Booksellers and many other small shops. Outside of town is Hammonasset Beach State Park, Connecticut's largest shoreline park.

Old State House is Showplace of Connecticut Achievements

From the earliest days of the Hartford settlement, the site of the Old State House at 800 Main Street in Hartford has served as the magnetic center of the region we know today as Connecticut. The earliest colonists were drawn here, nurturing ideas of freedom and self-government. A beautifully-restored architectural marvel, the Old State House welcomes visitors for guided and self-guided tours. Days of operation vary seasonally; check website. Phone: 860-522-6766.

Antique Shopping Is Artful & Abundant in Stamford

Stamford, just a hop and a jump from the New York border, is a beehive of antiques stores, and a place where antiques lovers could get lost and put a grave dent in the checkbook. Among the places that are named in the upper strata of Stamford antiques shops are Harbor View Center For Antiques on Jefferson Street; Mid Century Antiques on Pacific Street; Hamptons Antique Galleries on Canal Street; Hiden Galleries on John Street; the Antique and Artisan Gallery on Jefferson Street; and Our Place Antiques in nearby Fairfield.

Funky, Fashionable, Fascinating…

After only a year in operation, The Past Antiques Market at 1650 Hartford-New London Turnpike in Oakdale was chosen in 2014 as Best Antique Stop in New England by Yankee Magazine. The magazine's Travel Guide to New England stated: "The Past Antique Market has two floors of carefully arranged funky, fashionable, and fascinating antiques." An antique shopper's delight and a collector's showcase, The PAST Antiques Market features historic American and other fine collectibles by a variety of artisans. The market is part of Nature’s Art Village a shopping area and dinosaur nature theme park founded originally in 1991. Adults who love unusual, nature-inspired gifts can browse the shops while kids enjoy visiting the world of the dinosaurs. Phone: 860-437-3615.

Luxury Shopping in Central CT

The Westfarms shopping center at 1500 New Britain Avenue on the border of West Hartford and Farmington is an upscale shopping place with style and kick. The enclosed center is anchored by New England’s first Nordstrom along with Lord & Taylor, J.C. Penney, and two Macy’s locations. Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton, two of the great luxury brands, came to the center in 2008. Westfarms has two signature dining restaurants, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Brio Tuscan Grille, both a pleasure for dinner or lunch during a festive shopping day. Come, browse, and enjoy. Phone: 860-561-3024.

100 Years and Full of Vigor

The Shubert Theater in New Haven opened in 1914 with all the magnificent frills that made a night at the theater such a grand gesture in that era. Except for a 7-year dark period, the Schubert has been going strong for a century. The theater’s archives and living memoirists can name dozens of national-caliber performers, e.g., Carol Channing, Katherine Hepburn, Al Jolson, the Marx Brothers, who performed there in the pre-1940s period when the New Haven was a regular stop on national tryout tours before shows opened on Broadway. In just the 2014-2015 season, some of the shows include “A Jew Grows In Brooklyn,” Three Mo Tenors, “Singin' In The Rain,” Jim Brickman in concert, “Peter and the Star Catcher,” the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Matilda the Musical.” The New Haven Symphony Orchestra also performs there. People who love live theater should not miss this dynamic legend.

Theater is Great at Goodspeed

This historic Victorian theater overlooking the Connecticut River is a beauty, and that is just the start. Home to the original productions of “Man of La Mancha,” “Shenandoah,” and “Annie,” and recipient of two special Tony Awards for outstanding achievement in the musical theater, the Goodspeed Opera House at 6 Main Street in East Haddam is world renowned as the home of the American musical. The work is professional, quick, and wonderfully entertaining, and the theater brings some of Connecticut’s most popular events. In 2015, patrons can look forward to "Guys and Dolls," "La Cage Aux Folles," "The Honeymooners,” and morre.Phone: 860-873-8668.

Animals of the Forest, Explained by Experts

The White Memorial Conservation Center at 80 Whitehall Road in Litchfield is a place to enjoy the great outdoors and also to learn more about it. The 4,000-acre preserve includes a Nature Museum. Plan a visit here with the amateur biologist of the family. The museum takes has dioramas and fine works of illustration to help tell the story of this wild place. Huge photo murals and animal mounts illustrate the marshes, fields, and forests on this preserve. A special exhibit on the Art of Taxidermy tells the secrets of this craft. A children's room has a live snake home, a beaver dam, a fluorescent rock cave, a bird sculpture garden, and other awesome stuff of the great outdoors. Open year-round, daily. Phone: 860-567-0857

Grande Dame of Art Deco Theaters Is Alive & Dynamic

The Warner Theatre at 68 Main Street in Torrington -- opened in 1931 and revived in 2002 -- is an Art Deco gem: eye-popping designs, murals, rich mahogany, and vintage etched glass chandeliers. Since its revival in the 21st century, the theater continues to grow and improve. Some highlights of the 2015 season include “The Addams Family,” “The Lightning Thief,” “Hello, Dolly!,” "Charlotte’s Web," and more. The theater hosts the MetOpera Live in HD, bringing high-brow classics on film. Keep an eye on the theater’s schedule; you’ll be glad you did. Phone: 860-489-7180. Phone: 860-489-7180.

Check Out the Sound at Connecticut’s Doorstep

Come have some fun with water creatures while you learn about life of Long Island Sound at The Maritime Aquarium at 10 North Water Street in Norwalk. Situated in an old factory building at the mouth of the Norwalk River, the aquarium has plenty to see, with 34 exhibits of hundreds of marine animals. A guided journey of the Sound begins along a freshwater river and proceeds to salt marsh, then to deeper habitats in the ocean. Visit sharks, seals, river otters, sea turtles -- including some in touch tanks. The aquarium has an IMAX theater with a screen six stories tall for a close, close experience with nature on film. Hours: daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., (closing is 6 p.m. in July and August.) Phone: 203-852-0700.

Dazzling Display of Worldwide Art at Wadsworth

The art treasure house known as Wadsworth Atheneum at 600 Main Street in Hartford is the oldest public art museum in the United States. Setting aside for a moment a discussion of its collections, the place itself is a joy to visit. The museum is composed of five connected buildings. Their styles are the original (1844) Gothic Revival, followed by Tudor Revival, Renaissance Revival, and modern International Style. The museum’s nearly 50,000 works of art span 5,000 years, from Greek and Roman antiquities to American contemporary art. The Wadsworth has refurbished sculpture garden and many fine paintings of the Hudson River School of art. Its calendar has brilliant family programs, lectures, and films. Open Wednesdays to Sundays. Phone: 860-278-2670.

Old Press Still Churns Out Fine Cider

Devon Point Farm at 54 Joy Road in Woodstock introduced friends and customers in October 2015 to its 117-year-old fully refurbished antique apple cider press. The refurbished press was built In 1898 in Syracuse, New York, at the Boomer & Boschert factory. Dozens of men hand-cut and hand-cast machined iron parts to construct the massive apple cider press, measuring thirteen by nineteen feet. It operated at a farm in the Midwest for more than a century before a sequence of moves that brought it to the Nutmeg State. The farm sells unsprayed, “beyond organic” apples, unpasteurized cider. Apple cider donuts, pick-your-own pumpkins and hayrides also are awaiting at Devon Farm to complete the fall experience. Open daily late September ot late December. Live apple cider pressing demonstrations and hayrides on weekends. Phone: 860-974-9004.

Antiques Along the Shore

It’s no secret that the town of Clinton has become a hot spot for browsing and buying fine antiques. Susan Alon, proprietor of the MiRIAMGREEN Antiquarian Bookshop & Gallery in Clinton, has written “… a constellation of new shops dealing strictly with ... antiques & specialty goods ... has opened in previously unoccupied and in many cases historic real estate, bringing a new look to the Clinton downtown and a new audience, the upscale antiquers.” The Clinton Antique Center, a 70-dealer shop at 78 East Main Street, is a huge influence. However, Alon noted, “…clustered closely along Main Street within the space of four or so miles, you have the opportunity of viewing the merchandise of dozens of dealers, and benefit from their experience, taste, and connoisseurship.”

Dig Into Science at This Riveting Museum

Fly to Mars. Forecast a blizzard. Play with solar energy. Turn yourself into art. Manage brainwaves -- maybe your own! Build a wind machine. Diagnose injuries. See what it’s like to live in a 4-dimensional world. This is a list of experiments you can learn and try at the Connecticut Science Center on Columbus Boulevard in Hartford. This dynamic place is a whirl of learning in action. Consider the titles of some of the exhibits: Sight and Sound, River of Life, Exploring Space, Invention Dimension. Wow. Come and enjoy. Phone: 860-SCIENCE.

Hip Happens in SoNo

SoNo -- South Norwalk -- is a piece of the town's downtown business district centered on Washington Street has been converted to a sizzling attraction that mixes upscale restaurants, shops, nightclubs, museums, and galleries in this waterfront town on Long Island Sound. The anchor of this trove of great things to do is the Norwalk Maritime Center, including exhibits, events, cruises, and a boat building shop. Nearby, is Oyster Shell Park. Clubs and eateries in SoNo include Naked Greens, Gingerman, Brewhouse, Chocopologie, Barcelona, SONO Baking Company & Cafe, Black Bear Saloon, Strada 18, Match, and Bradfords Grill and Tavern.

Pewter Says “New England”

Few art objects say “New England” more than fine pewter items, and one place to find these is Woodbury Pewter Factory Outlet on Main Street in Woodbury. Woodbury Pewter pieces are available in both traditional and contemporary designs. If you are looking for a gift or a remembrance of your day in western Connecticut, this company creates decorative accessories; tabletop, baby, and holiday items; lamps; mugs; tankards; tableware; candlesticks, tea and coffee services, and hundreds of other items. Woodbury Pewter is all hand-crafted in Connecticut and made from the highest quality, lead-free pewter. The company offers a pewter making demonstration and also sells factory second pieces at reduced prices. Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Phone: 800-648-2014.

A Bookstore With a Serious Love of Reading

R.J. Julia Booksellers at 768 Boston Post Road in Madison opened two decades ago as an independent bookstore whose mission was, and is, to be a place where words matter and where writers meet readers. The store hosts more than 200 events a year. Authors from all over the country visit the store to inspire, educate, and entertain. A knowledgeable staff, opinionated book selections with shelf-talker tags help book lovers find books that are just right for them. Open daily, Phone: 203-245-3959.

Connecticut Art Trail Reveals Fascinating Works

Here is a project that can keep you busy year-round: explore the 15 world-class museums and historic sites that comprise the Connecticut Art Trail. The trail meanders among attractions such as historic sites, bucolic farms, art studios and artists' houses to grand and modern art museums in vibrant downtowns. The trail includes a feature called Trail Getaways that presents recommended itineraries along with helpful suggestions for things to do in nearby places such as where to visit and dine. In the Litchfield region, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield and Mattatuck Museum Arts and History Center in Waterbury.

Located in Northwest Connecticut, Salisbury General Store and Pharmacy at 20 Main Street in Salisbury is one of those purely delightful stores with merchandise far beyond what the name might imply. Located in bucolic Litchfield, the town is a gateway to the Berkshire Mountains region. In addition to local folk looking for prescriptions and Band-aids, the store welcomes visitors, tourists, hikers, and shoppers looking for gifts. The store stocks specialty soaps and spa products, unique gifts, toys, crafts, cards and party goods, wooden kitchenware like cutting boards, and textile arts. The store features the work of local artisans; one recent month it was promoting scrapbook note cards by a local woman. Hiking supplies too! 860-435-9388.

Awesome Setting; Cool Tunes

Built in 1883 in picturesque Norfolk in northwest Connecticut, Infinity Hall, on Route 44 in the center of town, is an intimate music, dining and entertainment destination. Newly renovated, the hall hosts more than 200 music and entertainment shows by quality national and regional artists annually. Infinity Bistro, the music-themed restaurant and bar, serves gourmet delights and spirits. In addition to popular music shows of many genres, both the music hall and bistro offer other forms of entertainment including comedy, magic, poetry slams, and shows for youngsters. Phone: 860-542-5531.

You Bring Lunch; Gouveia Supplies the Wine

For the folks at Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford, producing first-rate wines is clearly a labor of love. Joe and Lucy Gouveia planted their first vines ten years ago and to today visitors can sample wines made from the eight different types of grapes that thrive there. Set on top of a hill overlooking the vineyard, the Winery Building boasts a large stone fireplace, panoramic views, woodlands and sunsets, making this the perfect romantic getaway for couples looking for things to do. Guests are invited to bring their own picnic lunch to enjoy as they sip on Gouveia’s award-winning Stone House Red, Whirlwind Rose, or Oaked Chardonnay. Open Friday to Sundays. Live music events Saturday evenings. Phone: 203-265-5526.

Copernican Observatory Brings Stars to Your Eyes

Stargazers, pay attention. The Copernican Observatory & Planetarium on Paul Manafort Drive Stanley Street is on the grounds of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain is home to one of the largest public telescopes in the United States. The observatory and planetarium hold monthly star gazing throughout year and the public is welcome to these free shows. For planetarium shows, seating is first come, first served. The planetarium is located in Copernicus Hall and there is convenient parking in the Copernicus garage. See campus map. Phone: 860-832-3399

For Motivation, Try the Sundae Drive

Connecticut’s Sundae Drive trail with an accompanying brochure and map sends you off on a tasteful adventure along some of the prettiest roads and vistas of the Mystic region of this lovely state. The drive’s “Tasty Ten” hot spots of creamy flavor includes dairies and ice cream shops in Storrs, Pomfret, Mystic, Plainfield, Old Lyme, New London, Griswold, Salem, and Sterling. A winner for both adults and kids! Brochure and map.

Come and Stomp to the Music

The town of Putnam is in Connecticut’s northeastern “Quiet Corner,” but if you are itching to hear or make some sound on a trip there, visit the Stomping Ground, at 132 Main Street in Putnam, a young restaurant-bar with live music five nights a week. It was opened by an artist and a musician who decided to more their frequent living room-based musical evenings into a business establishment. Crafts beers, good food, made from scratch in a tiny kitchen, loads of music. Phone: 860-928-7900

Come to Clinton for Antiques

It’s no secret that the town of Clinton has become a hot spot attraction for browsing and buying fine antiques. Susan Alon, proprietor of the MiRIAMGREEN Antiquarian Bookshop & Gallery in Clinton, has written “… a constellation of new shops dealing strictly with ... antiques & specialty goods ... has opened in previously unoccupied and in many cases historic real estate, bringing a new look to the Clinton downtown and a new audience, the upscale antiquers.” The Clinton Antique Center, a 70-dealer shop at 78 East Main Street, is a huge influence. However, Alon noted, “…clustered closely along Main Street within the space of four or so miles, you have the opportunity of viewing the merchandise of dozens of dealers, and benefit from their experience, taste, and connoisseurship.”

Art Museum Trail Focuses on Yale

Here is an activity that can keep you busy year-round: explore the 15 world-class museums and historic sites that comprise the Connecticut Art Trail. The trail meanders among historic sites, bucolic farms, art studios and artists' houses to grand and modern art museums in vibrant downtowns. Discover diverse, quality collections rich in history and heritage, including European masterpieces, American Impressionism, ancient art and contemporary culture. The trail includes a feature called Trail Getaways that presents recommended itineraries along with helpful suggestions for nearby places to visit and dine. In the Greater New Haven region the trail includes the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven.

Cabaret and Off-Broadway at the Fairfield Theatre

Fairfield Theatre Company is a place to watch for an astounding variety of live stage events and entertainment. Since the company's Stage One location opened at 70 Sanford Street in Fairfield, Fairfield Theatre Company has presented over 200 performances of eight theatrical plays directly from their original Off Broadway runs. It's sister venue is the Klein Auditorium in Bridgeport. Among the performers slated to appear in Among the performers slated to appear in 2015 are Streets of Laredo, Early Elton, Samantha Fish, The Subdudes, Goodnight, Texas & Bhi Bhiman, Dar Williams, Los Lobos, Shawn Colvin & Marc Cohn, Devon Allman Band, Lyle Lovett and his Large Band, Marcia Ball, Charlie Musselwhite, and John Hiatt & The Combo And The Taj Mahal Trio. Phone: 203-259-1036.

History of the Planet at Peabody

Dinosaurs, ancient Egyptians, birds, minerals! The Peabody Museum of Natural History at 170 Whitney Avenue in New Haven is packed with exhibits and programs for science guys and gals from age 7 to 97. One of the most popular stops is the Discovery Room, filled with touchable specimens and hands-on activities, the Discovery Room also displays interesting live animals from the hissing cockroaches of Madagascar to harmless snakes of New England. The museum hosts annual festivals and the museum store is a gold mine for nature nuts. Open year-round, daily. Phone: 203-432-5050

Cool, Classic Home Styling

Stylish, classic, and comfortable. L.C.R. Retail is a design firm that, in addition to construction and consultation, operates a retail shop 981B Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. The shop has a tasteful collection of furniture and accessories by Anna Weatherley, Kosta Boda, Michael Wainwright, Tamara Childs, Mottahedeh, and J. Fleet Designs. Cool resource for your own home or for gift shopping. Open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and weekends by appointment, Phone: 860-231-7742

Ambler Hosts Farm Fun Year-Round

Ambler Farm, at 257 Hurlbutt Street in Wilton is a 200-year-old farm now managed as a working farm, educational resource, and open space for the public. People are welcome to drop in any time to walk, visit the animals, stop by the farm stand, spread a picnic. Adults and kids can watch the sheep-shearing; learn to knit and do other traditional crafts; enjoy the maple syrup harvest; and much more. Annual special events include Ambler Farm Day, Valentine’s Tea, and the Summertime Barbecue. New events are in the works. Open every day of the year from dawn to dusk. Phone: 203-834-1143.

The Flower of Connecticut Parks

Known widely for its magnificent large rose garden, comprising about 15,000 bushes, Elizabeth Park at the corner of Prospect and Asylum avenues in Hartford encompasses 102 acres and boasts many garden areas, pathways, greenhouses, lawns, a picnic grove, a pond and recreation areas. Because of its gardens, it has been called the, “Flower of New England Parks.” The rose garden is the heart and soul of the park . Keep an eye on the park’s website for special events like the annual Rose Show, garden tours, and live music.

Connecticut Art Trail: Meet the Bruce Museum

For a project to keep your mind and senses active, set yourself a goal of visiting the 15 world-class museums and historic sites and attractions that comprise the Connecticut Art Trail. One of the most appealing museums in the Fairfield region is the Bruce Museum at 1 Museum Drive in Greenwich. Build as a private home in 1853, The Bruce is a world-class repository to enjoy art, science and natural history in more than a dozen changing exhibitions annually. For an idea of the museum's breadth of interest, look at a recent selection of exhibits: Northern Baroque Splendor, Roz Chast, Beyond the New Yorker, and Extreme Habitats. The museum offers tours and hosts seasonal festivals.

Taste of New Haven

Gather with friends to soak in the tastes, sights, and sounds of New Haven. On Taste of New Haven’s themed food and drink tours, guides lead guests through the buzzing city and into its finest eateries, with fun stops at cultural spots along the way. Try the Pizza and Pints Bike Tour, a bicycle tour with pizza and pub pit stops, or the New Haven Symphony Tour, which offers an evening of multicultural cuisine and a complimentary ticket to hear some sweet sounds. This year’s Trick or Eat Spooky Tour is a ghost tour with a frightful amount of food and drink tastings. Tours run year-round for 1.5-4 hours in rain or shine, and your departure point is revealed when you register. Phone: 203-710-3710

For Your Reading Pleasure

During a visit to this relaxed and postcard-pretty Litchfield county town, people who love books should visit Johnnycake Books, 12 Salisbury Street in Salisbury, offering 8,000 titles and soft seating to browse them. The shop is housed in a 19th-century farm cottage and surrounded by perennial gardens. A place to soothe the spirit and feed the mind. Open Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. , Sunday, noon-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday by chance or appointment. Phone: 860-435-6677

Connecticut's Chocolate Trails

In the chillier months of the year, why not stop for a tasty treat on your scenic drive? Chocolate is an internationally adored food, and Connecticut's chocolatiers will show you why -- if you're not a chocaholic already! Connecticut's Chocolate Trails include lots of delectable treasures all over the state. The Chocolate Rain Shop in Norwalk offers customizable gifts. Travelers say that Thorncrest Farm in Goshen is worthy of making this list, too. From handmade holiday chocolates, to freshly-made exotic deliciousness, this list of chocolatiers is a must-taste New England tradition.

Art Trail Is Rich with Stops in Mystic Region

Here is one of the state’s activities that can keep you busy year-round: explore the 15 world-class museums and historic sites that comprise the Connecticut Art Trail. The trail meanders among historic sites, bucolic farms, art studios and artists' houses to grand and modern art museums in vibrant downtowns. The trail includes a feature called Trail Getaways that presents recommended itineraries along with helpful suggestions for nearby places to visit and dine. In the Mystic region, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, the Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, the William Benton Museum of Art in Mansfield/Storrs, the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, and the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain.

Arboretum Is a Portal to Nature

Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens at 151 Brookdale Road in Stamford offers a retreat for quiet outdoor walks every day of the year. The 90-acre property has champion trees, gardens, wildflower meadows, red maple wetlands and boardwalks, and woodland walking trails. The arboretum’s Silver Center hosts art displays and summer concerts. Warm weather includes guided tours of gardens and wetlands and meadows. Even -- maybe especially -- in winter, this is a refuge for a deep breath in the wild. Open daily. Phone: 203-322-6971

Reach for Adventure at Prime Climb

Stretch your muscles, winter and summer. Climbing is always on the schedule at Prime Climb and Mountain Fun at 340 Quinnipiac Street in Wallingford. The two sister businesses include Prime Climb, for beginner, intermediate, and advanced climbers, and Mountain Fun, which focuses on kids, birthday parties, and beginning climbers. The company provides all the gear for your first try a climb. No appointment or reservations required. More advance climbers can sign up for a climb that includes all gear and a staff belayer to assist you. Why not try it? Facility is open daily; check website for hours and fees. Phone: 203-265-4006

Walk Though Mark Twain’s Happiest Home

You know and love him through his distinct voice in America literature. You can travel to the capital city of Hartford to visit the home where Samuel Clemens (or, the great write Mark Twain) spent some of the most happy and productive years of his stormy life. The Mark Twain House & Museum at 351 Farmington Avenue in Hartford consists of his meticulously restored house -- a particular gem of Victorian distinctiveness with a wealth of odd architectural flourishes-- alongside a museum describing his life and works. Phone: 860-247-0998.

Come Visit Connecticut’s Beautiful Barns

Barns have been called the biggest tool on the farm. These icons of a place’s farming life have caught the attention of Connecticut historians, who have undertaken a large survey of the state’s barns. The barns project also created a Connecticut Barn Trail, which people can explore at their own pace. The trail has seven routes that highlight the presence of barns at farms and farm stands, orchards, wineries, and historic sites. The routes travel along beautiful roads with barns scattered in the landscape. Trail guides are through the barn project website. Phone: 203-562-6312.

Cider Milled by the Sixth Generation

A visit to B. F. Clyde's Cider Mill at 1129 North Stonington Road in Mystic is like stepping back in time. This cider mill, built in 1881, is now being operated by the sixth generation of the Clyde family. It calls itself the only steam-powered cider mill in the United States. The season starts in September with hard ciders and apple wines, jams, jellies, local honey, maple syrup, and fudge. Also available in the fall are apples, apple pies, pumpkin bread, gourds, Indian corn, pumpkins, candy apples, kettle corn and apple cider donuts. Cider-making demonstrations are held weekends, 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Open daily, September through late December. Phone: 860-536-3354.

All Sports; All the Time

Modeled after the very successful Chelsea Piers athletic complex on the West Side of Manhattan, New York, Chelsea Piers at 1 Blachley Road in Stamford is an indoor play area that offers sporting fun for people from babies to great-grandparents. The 400,000-square-foot facility offers swimming and splashing, ice skating and hockey, net games of all kinds, batting cages, gymnastic, and many more activities. Come to learn or just play. Program directors and instructors love to encourage activity and learning by people of all abilities. Amenities like mezzanines allow parents to watch kids play in comfort. Open year-round. Phone: 203-989-1000.

Food, Brews, History, and HA!

City Steam Brewery Café at 942 Main Street in Hartford has so many enticing qualities it is hard to know where to begin. It is in a glorious Romanesque style building built in 1877 to house the state’s biggest department store; now it serves an upscale casual menu throughout a cool, multi-level floor plan, where guests are embraced by the cast iron railings and millwork salvaged from the store. The 23-barrel brewery is powered by the Hartford Steam Company -- you can see the steam when the staff blows its antique steam-whistles. Maybe best is is the in-house Brew HaHa Comedy Club , a 200-seat room that showcases professional and innovative comedy acts. The Brewery is just steps from the Hartford Stage and The Bushnell, great for pre- or post-theater libations. Phone: 860- 525 - 1600

Grove Street Cemetery Historical Tours

Come for the historic interest or come for the beautiful, peaceful walk and the stone carvers’ art. Grove Street Cemetery at 227 Grove Street in New Haven offers guided tours of the ancient cemetery Saturdays (11 a.m.) and Sundays (noon) through August 31. The Grove Street Cemetery is the first chartered burial ground in the United States. The first burial, of Martha Townsend, took place on November 9, 1797. The stone art is fascinating. Phone: 203-389-5403.

Exploration: Wild! at Mystic Aquarium

Spring 2015 brings a new exhibit to Mystic Aquarium on Coogan Blvd. in Mystic. Guests may explore Earth’s most fascination habitats -- rain forest, arctic, wetlands, desert and open oceans -- through the exhibit “Exploration: Wild.” What makes it so wild? Uh.. live alligators, to start with. Take some wild selfies with a polar bear or driving a dog sled or a jungle jeep. Enjoy daily films in the National Geographic Theater. Phone: 860-572-5955. 

Coffee and Tea, and the Music Is Free

Bean & Leaf, at 13 Washington Street in the historic waterfront district of New London opened its doors as a bright, relaxing and welcoming place to enjoy exquisite coffees and teas. It has evolved into a roost in this beautiful old downtown for people who enjoy those beverages, along with conversation, light-and-healthy food, and excellent, free music events. Comfortable seating, including some couches, is just right to enjoy live music almost nightly, including a jazz combo on Mondays and finger-picking acoustic guitar on Fridays. No cover to enjoy the music! Menu includes juices, salads and soups, bean dishes, toasted sandwiches, pitazzas, chips and dips. It is just what a classic coffee house should be. Open daily until 10 p.m.; Sundays until 8 p.m. New London's Historic Waterfront District is a hub of art, music, and design venues, unusual boutiques, and 30 eateries in a 26-block National Register Historic District. Phone: 860-701-0000.

Asteroids Are Just the Opening Act at Leitner Observatory

Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium at Yale University opened in early 2009 to the delight of star lovers and planet chasers in New England. Located at 355 Prospect Street, the observatory and planetarium is open to the general public on Tuesday nights (October-March at 6 p.m.; April-September at 8 p.m.). The shows will include a live presentation highlighting planets and constellations visible in the night sky, as projected onto the planetarium's 30-foot dome, followed by Passport to the Universe, a digitally projected tour through the solar system, galaxy and beyond. Shows will last approximately 35-40 minutes and, weather permitting; telescopes will be set up for observing afterwards. Phone: 203-285-8840.

Barns, Books, and Time for Browsing

Old books, old maps, old postcards. People who can browse for hours among this type of treasure should beat a path to Whitlock's Book Barn on Sperry Road in Bethany. The business is, in fact, a barn and a former turkey house stuffed with many thousands of used books, maps, and prints. Much of the material comes from estate sales and people reducing their libraries. The business has been operating since 1948, receiving a steady stream of buyers and sellers of books, maps, and ephemera. Fans of maps will savor the selection of maps from the 1800s, including hundreds of maps by town and by county from 21 states. The collection includes maps by Mitchell, Colton, Tilden & Baker, and the Beers family. There also is a selection of international maps. The barns are open Tuesdays through Sundays. Phone: 203-393-1240.