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 and attractions
for your vacation adventure.
Phone ahead or check the attraction's website before visiting, especially for outdoor activities.
77 Forest Street
Hartford, CT, 06105
Visit and tour the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center – and leave inspired
If you are looking for an interactive and educational experience that will inspire you to consider what you can do to make the world better, get yourself to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, where guides not only show you how the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” lived in the 19th century but will encourage conversation about the issues of her day and of the modern day. So, you will look at the restored rooms of the Victorian Gothic cottage as well as talk about slavery, the role of women and other issues. The collections in the center, a National Historic Landmark, include letters, photos, memorabilia, paintings, drawings and the dining room table where the abolitionist and activist wrote the most famous of her 30 books.
One Railroad Avenue
Essex, CT, 06426
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.
67 Main Street, Steamboat Dock
Essex, CT, 06426
Lots to see, but even more to do, at this river museum on Essex Harbor
Learn about the Connecticut River – or sail on it! – when you visit the Connecticut River Museum, on park-like grounds overlooking scenic and historic Essex Harbor. There’s plenty to see, from models of yachts, nautical paintings and history exhibits to the tools used in early fishing, hunting and trapping to a vertical, three-floor river mural that goes up a staircase. And there’s the model of the Turtle, the Revolutionary War submarine. But there’s also so much to do: rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard and paddle the river’s coves right outside the museum’s doorsteps, go on a a winter wildlife eagle cruise to see bald eagles, or cruise aboard the Onrust, a replica of a 1614 Dutch sailing ship.
Sailing from the Niantic Bay Marina
Niantic, CT, 06357
Spend a special day or evening on the water
Board a great party boat with an experienced skipper and fish for striped bass, bluefish, porgies, sea bass, blackfish and other delicious food from the sea. Serious fisherman sail on the "Captain's Choice," trips scheduled for the best fishing time and circumstances. Enjoy a night bass trip with no crowds or tangles or a special seal watch, sunset, fireworks and/or nature cruise with science field trips also on the menu. Plan a private day charter of 15 or more and night charters of 12 for your next party or celebration. You can bring your own gear or rent rod and reel. New to fishing? The experienced crew will ensure you have a great day on the water. But do bring your lunch. Then catch your dinner. Reservations are not required and the parking is free.
12 Steamboat Wharf
Mystic, CT, 06355
Explore New England's coast aboard a romantic sailing ship
Return to the romantic Age of Sail aboard the 81-foot schooner Argia. She is a US Coast Guard-inspected vessel and one of the last sailing ships in New England. We're docked in Mystic, Conn., and sail in Fishers Island Sound, a calm, protected body of water, from May 1st to mid-October. Bask in the sun on our spacious wooden deck while we explore the seafaring village of Mystic, the surrounding islands, and historic lighthouses. Pass through the Mystic River Drawbridge, which opens for the Argia with every cruise. We offer complimentary snacks and lemonade, but feel free to bring your own picnic and beverages as well. Wine and beer are permitted. Enjoy a half-day cruise, or experience the romance of the sea at twilight with a sunset cruise.
40 Sargent Drive
New Haven, CT, 06511
World’s largest indoor ropes course now in New Haven
Explore over 100 rope elements on the 4 level It ropes courses that stand 5 stories high. Choose your own path and go at your own pace through each level on both courses. Then soar down each of the Zip It zip lines for a self-guided zip experience over 48-feet in the air! The zip lines stretch 180-feet long between the It ropes courses for your extra daring challenge. To exit the course, go on the Jump It for the ultimate free‑fall sensation as you are comfortably lowered to the ground from 48’ in the air. Kids under 48” tall can experience a ropes course just like the larger It attraction at a more comfortable height on the little it attraction. Participants can also continue the adventure on 4 climbing activities that challenge participants to climb over 29’ high on wobbly beams and twisted structures.
1225 Ocean Avenue
New London, CT, 06320
Oh, the fun things you can do at this seaside park
Some things you can do at Ocean Beach Park: Enjoy a pristine sugar-sand beach. Take the kids to an old-fashioned amusement park on the boardwalk with a carousel and tiny trains (and the Scrambler for older “kids”). Play mini-golf. Swim in an Olympic-size pool. Work out in a health club. Go down a triple waterslide. Grab ice cream, a burger, clam fritters – or a cocktail. Play Skee-Ball in the arcade. Watch a free beach-blanket movie, catch a band or a magic show. Go on a nature walk. You can even have a wedding ceremony and reception overlooking Long Island Sound, in a gourmet banquet facility – or right on the beach.
Parking fees (includes park admission): Weekends $23, Weekdays $17, Weeknights after 6pm $8, Fireworks Evenings $10. Seasonal parking passes available. Walk-in Admission $6.
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.
607 West Thames Street
Norwich, CT, 06360
Pampering as high art
Get away for the day, overnight or to celebrate something festive. This shrine to relaxation is set in a historic Inn in bucolic surroundings. 42 country acres hold perennial gardens, spring-fed ponds, century-old oak trees, a reflecting pool and an oversized deck welcome you to the spa and inspires a sigh. Thirty-seven treatment rooms offer sauna, steam, hot tub, salon, plus signature services from facials and massage to hand and foot therapies, and even tarot card readings. There’s a fitness center and indoor pool and activities to enhance your health and stimulate the senses. Enjoy special packages including Day Spa and Overnight Spa to Rejuvenation and Personal Escape Packages available on Sunday nights of holiday weekends at a small upcharge.
63 South Main Street
Essex, CT, 06426
Royal pampering washes aches away
You will be treated like royalty at the Spa at Essex, where experts perform seemingly magical therapies and treatments on sore muscles, tired skin and drooping spirits. When you enter the property, you are greeted with warmth and bundled into comfortable robes and overstuffed chairs (including chairs for two) while you wait for treatments like massage, facials, manicures and pedicures, makeup and more. Innovation treatments bright aging or troubled skin. Couples, mothers-to-be, and gentlemen can enjoy refreshing and energizing treatments for their particular needs. Customers exclaim over the cleanliness of the indoor and outdoor spaces, which include a sunny patio with a fountain. Specials like the flower facial and the South Seas body treatment with tan will bring you back over and over.
Mathews Park - 303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT, 06850
Stepping Stones Museum makes the whole world look fresh
At Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, Conn., we create an environment that inspires lifelong learning. Our museum offers engaging and educational exhibits with indoor AND outdoor experiences that give children, families and educators twice the space to discover, learn, and grow. Our Energy Lab includes hands-on exhibits that teach how the sun, the wind, the force of water, and the burning of fossil fuels produce energy. Tot Town is an imaginative world shrunk down to toddler level. Our Build It! exhibit lets children explore architectural design and construction. We've got tools they can use to pretend to finish walls, paint with brushes and rollers, apply carpeting, and more. After a visit, youngsters will see their world in a whole different way.
199 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT, 06840
Architect Philip Johnson’s eclectic country home
One man’s extraordinary skills and whimsy led to the construction of this most unique house that’s not a house. The Glass House is a space divided into 14 structures instead of walls dividing a single interior into rooms. Built over 37 years on 49 acres in New Canaan, architect Philip Johnson gave each structure a different function. The Pavilion in the Pond is for gatherings and views of the rustic landscape. The Brick House was where Johnson read and slept. The stucco studio served as workplace and library. Grainger, a warm weather retreat had both air conditioning and a television. Certified as a National Trust Historic Site, it serves as a museum to Johnson's work and architectural style. Open May 1 to November 30.
103 Main Street
Ivoryton, CT, 06442
A full roster for great theater for 2018
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.
1650 Hartford-New London Tpke. (Rt. 85)
Oakdale, CT, 06370
Big fun at The Dinosaur Place!
The Dinosaur Place at Nature's Art Village offers a 60 acre outdoor adventure park with over 40 life-sized dinosaurs spread among a mile and a half of pristine nature trails. Children will love getting lost in the a”MAZE”asaurus and playing on Monty’s playground featuring the SpaceNet, a 15 foot tall three-dimensional swinging, vibrating, climbing web. During the summer, cool off in New England’s largest SplashPad. Indoor adventures await in Discovery Depot at Nature’s Art Village where guests can dig for gems, pan for “gold” and unearth dinosaur bones. Bring a picnic or enjoy great food at the Cobalt Café and other locations. Plan an indoor or outdoor birthday party, scout, school or recreational group outing. Check out the new Cooper Creek Mini Golf Course open Summer 2017 for ages 8+!
1080 Chapel Street
New Haven, CT, 06510
The best of British art in a celebrated edifice
The Center houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom, which reflects the development of British art and culture from the Elizabethan period onward. It offers exhibitions and programs, including lectures, concerts, films, symposia, tours, and family events, as well as a Reference Library and Study Room for research. The building, opened in 1977, is the last to be designed by acclaimed American architect Louis I. Kahn and it is near many of New Haven’s best restaurants, shops, and cultural destinations. Museum hours: Tues–Sat, 10 am–5 pm; Sun, noon–5 pm. Museum Shop hours: Mon–Sat, 10 am–5 pm; Sun, noon–5 pm. Free and open to the public.
Image credit: Long Gallery, fourth floor, Yale Center for British Art, photograph by Richard Caspole
55 Coogan Boulevard
Mystic, CT, 06355
Discover the area’s top tourist destination
From hands-on interaction with the likes of sharks, stingrays and reptiles to interactive exhibits that make learning about the ocean planet so much fun and even exclusive opportunities to meet animals up-close, it’s no wonder Mystic Aquarium is amongst the most popular destinations in New England. Explore indoor and outdoor exhibits where thousands of animals including whales, penguins, frogs, fish and more act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. Learn how you can help protect our ocean planet at one of the daily trainer talks and be sure to experience a complimentary sea lion show. Plus, encounter animatronic dinosaurs that practically come to life in ‘Jurassic Giants’! Enjoy special events, activities and more throughout the year that make Mystic Aquarium a destination worth revisiting often. SEA more at MysticAquarium.org.
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT, 06830
Eclectic collections to be found in the rooms of this Greenwich museum
The Bruce Museum, sitting high on a hill overlooking Greenwich Harbor, is both elegant and accessible. Its impressive collections of paintings (including fine representatives of Cos Cob impressionism), sculpture, drawings, prints and photos, French art glass and pottery and decorative arts would wow any art-lover. History exhibits include one on American World War I posters. But then there is the science side, featuring exhibits on the natural world and environmental history, which means you might wander from a display of astonishingly colorful minerals to display cases with bird specimens. At the museum’s Seaside Center, there’s a marine touch tank for curious youngsters and a host of family activities. A dozen new exhibits a year insure there’s always something new to see.
Absolute Bliss: A Day Along the Wine Trail
Connecticut’s mild climate makes the state a fruitful place for growing grapes, and the state’s wine-making industry has bloomed in the past three decades. A delightful way to sample Connecticut vintages is to take a drive along the Connecticut Wine Trail
, a route that bypasses 15 vineyards (and some beautiful countryside). The trail consists of two sections, in the eastern and the western parts of the state. Blue highway signs mark the trail and the state produces a colorful brochure. Connecticut's wineries produce a wide variety of wines, ciders, and fruit wines. All the wineries have tasting rooms and all offer at least one tour daily. Many host festive special events. Call ahead for tour schedules. 860-267-1399.
Connecticut's Chocolate Trails
Every scenic drive in Connecticut is just a little bit better when you travel with some tasty bites of fine chocolate.? 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. From handmade holiday chocolates, to freshly-made exotic deliciousness, this list of chocolatiers is a must-taste New England tradition. Just follow the map!
Heaven for Record Hounds
Records never totally went away, and for some music fans who claim the vinyl sound is pristine, record purchases are resurging. They are doing it with the help of stores that never lost the faith. Most are small, tucked-away oases for create-diggers who know their music. Connecticut is well-endowed, as follows:
Willimantic Records at 744 Main Street in Willimantic;
Integrity ‘N Music at 506 Silas Deane Hwy. in Wethersfield;
The Telegraph at 19 Golden Street in New London;
Merle’s Record Rack at 307 Rackbrook Road in Orange (opened in 1962!);
Mystic Disc at 10 Steamboat Wharf in Mystic;
Redscroll Records at 24 N. Colony Road in Wallingford;
Gerosa Records at 246 Federal Road in Brookfield;
Replay Records at 2586 Whitney Avenue in Hamden.
Knowledge. Experience. Teamwork. Street Smarts
Here’s an intriguing indoor activity for you and your smartest friends.
at 282 Main Street Extension on Middletown
offers a simple challenge: escape from a closed room in less than 60 minutes. You and your teammates will find yourselves in an unfamiliar environment, where you have to rely on common sense and each other to escape the room. You work together to gather objects, find clues, decipher codes, open locks and solve puzzles to find the key that will lead you to freedom. Are you part of the 30 percent who escape? Advance registration is required. Typical group is two to eight people and typical cost is $27 to $30. 860-358-9130.
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.
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.
Beaver Brook Farm Makes Cool Cheeses, Warm Sweaters
Beaver Brook Farm
at 139 Beaver Brook Road in Lyme
, originally a dairy farm, produces wool, yarn, woolen clothes, cheeses and dairy products, sold at a farm store on the property and at farmers markets. People are invited to visit the farm store for its many cheeses, yogurt, gelato, and raw milk. People who knit will love the woolen yarns and people who love to keep warm will go for the farm’s blankets, sweaters, and warm hospitality. The farm owners welcome visitors and invite you to phone ahead with questions. 860-434-2843.
Hop-Scotch Your Way Among CT’s Farmers Markets
Summer and fall in particular are the times for harvesting, cooking, and eating fresh produce grown right where you live. Connecticut has devised a Farmers Market Trail
– including a very helpful trail map
– that guides you to farmers markets, with all the details about days, times, locations, and products. These are places with live music, entertainments for kids, hand-made goods and gifts. The Trail map tells you where to find farm-to-table eateries, walking trails, art galleries, and historic sites. The map shows ATMs near markets.
American Indian Museum Presents Authentic History
Located just off Route 199 in the town of Washington
, the Institute for American Indian Studies
museum and educational center focuses on the indigenous peoples of northwestern Connecticut. Changing exhibits highlight Native American culture from across America, while permanent exhibits focus on American Indian living traditions of the northeast. Outdoor exhibits include a replicated Algonkian Village and simulated archeological site. The Museum Gift Shop offers Native American jewelry, crafts, pottery, books and more. Open year-round. 860-868-0518.
Art and Science Explorations for Families
The Bruce Museum
at 1 Museum Drive in Greenwich
offers expanded learning programs for families and kids age 4 to 10. These drop-in programs include Science Sundays, where kids and parents may explore simple science concepts through experiments and activities. Activity Packs are designed for the family that would like to explore the Museum’s galleries on their own in a fun, hands-on way. The museum's Seaside Center, at Tod's Driftway in Greenwich Point Park, family activities and talks by experts the first Sunday of each month, May to October. 203-869-0376
Griswold’s Maritime Art Shows Its History on Every Wall
The history of the Griswold Inn
in the riverside town of Essex
starts in the auspicious year of 1776, when a local ship builder began work on the Oliver Cromwell, Connecticut’s first warship in the Revolution. Essex became a hub of lodging and hospitality for shipyard workers, continuing through an era of steamboat traffic on the Connecticut River, followed by pleasure boating today. You can see this history on the Inn’s walls: prints by Currier & Ives and Endicott & Co.; ship’s portraits; and illustrations by Norman Rockwell. There is a collection of firearms from the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War. And – yes – the food, drink, and hospitality are still going strong.
Beautiful Oasis in the City
on Trinity Street in Hartford
is a wonderful public sanctuary that merits a full-day visit. The park is home to a carousel that dates from 1914 – the golden age of these structures that combine artistry, magic, and simple fun. For people who love the artistry of nature, Bushnell Park is an urban arboretum of rare and native trees. Visitors can pick up a brochure and take a self-guided walk of magnificent trees from many parts of the world. The park also has beautiful fountains, statues, a pond, and a performance pavilion. The park offers free tours of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch and hosts many public events. Open: May to mid-October. Phone: 860-232-6710.
The Shops at Yale Are Just the Start of Your Exploration
With more than 50 unique boutiques and shops in Chapel Street Historic District and Broadway, Shops at Yale
at 255 Crown Street in New Haven
has the perfect mix of browsing, shopping, dining and people-watching to fill a weekend. The Shops at Yale are rich with boutiques alongside national retailers like Apple, J. Crew, and Urban Outfitters; bluestone sidewalks and beautifully restored architecture; award-winning restaurants and theaters; and world-renowned museums. Near at hand are public spaces that host lots of fun cultural events (one example among many is the sidewalk chalk art festival in August). Mix your pleasures with a visit to ancient beauty at the Yale Center for British Art, the Peabody Museum, Yale School of Architecture Gallery, and the historic Shubert Theater.
Treasures From the Past
With about 200 antiques dealers under one roof, the Stratford Antique Center
on Honeyspot Road is a place where antiques buffs can become blissfully lost. The center is located off I-95 in Stratford
and is locally known as the “big blue building.” It houses 16,500 square feet of antiques and collectibles. Browsers will enjoy the numerous dealer floor spaces and display cases, making this a great shopping attraction for anyone looking for things to do on an afternoon or weekend. 203-378-7754.
Family Fun on the Farm (Planetarium Included)
The folks who run Stamford Museum and Nature Center
at 39 Scofieldtown Road Stamford
have a genius gene for making farm life, the outdoors, nature and the sky a fascinating adventure for young children and families. The science and nature attraction is on a 118-acre site and it encompasses a working farm, hiking trails, picnic area, a playground, art galleries, and a planetarium with observatory and regularly scheduled events describing the heavens above. Many special seasonal events and things to do for families include maple harvest, Easter egg hunts, and fall activities. Property includes the Bendel Mansion & Galleries. Open all year, with hours change seasonally. Phone: 203-322-1646.
All Aboard at the Thomaston Station
The Railroad Museum of New England
on East Main Street in Thomaston
tells the story of the region's rich railroad heritage. The museum has an extensive collection of New England locomotives of all types, passenger cars, freight cars, and cabooses, and artifacts dating from the 1840s to the present, from tickets to signal towers. From late May through October, the museum offers train rides restored 1920s coaches from the historic Thomaston Station and along the Naugatuck River. Be sure to visit the gift shop at the station. Phone: 860-283-7245.
Garden Pottery With Antiquated Inspiration
The potter Guy Wolff
is highly respected by people who love fine craftsmanship. Wolff says he is inspired by at 18th and 19th century English flowerpots and centuries old Asian vases. His pottery for use in the garden is sold and collected widely. He works and operates a showroom at a renovated 1740 house at 1249 Bantam Road, 1.1 miles west of Bantam on Route 202. 860-567-5577.
See the Insides and Hear the History of U.S. Submarines
Located in the home region of Electric Boat, builder of nuclear submarines, the Submarine Force Museum
at 1 Crystal Lake Road in Groton
, operated by the U.S. Navy, displays a giant collection of submarine artifacts, documents and photographs, depicting the entire history of the U.S. submarine force history. The "silent service" – you may be stunned to learn – begins with the “Turtle,” used in the Revolutionary War, continuing through to the Ohio- and Virginia-class submarines. The museum presents various fun scavenger hunts and self-guided tours. Truly fascinating! Open year-round, except for a week of maintenance in spring and fall (call ahead). 860-694-3174.
Artwork Down on the Farm
Weir Farm National Historic Site
on Nod Hill Road in Wilton
is one of two national historic sites that preserves and displays a place for the visual arts. (The other is the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.) From 1882 to 2005, Weir Farm was the home and workplace of three generations of painters, starting with J. Alden Weir. Visitors today can view the Weir home and studios, take guided walks of stone walls and painting trails, and enjoy the rotating art exhibits. The grounds are open year-round; hours at the Visitor Center vary seasonally. Phone: 203-761-9945
Knotted Imagery from the Sea
For a sea-themed memento or a gift to take home from your Mystic
vacation, a fun choice is the nautical decorations at Mystic Knotwork
, with two locations in town, at 25 Cottrell Street and 2 Holmes Street. The origins of the store go back two generations, when the current owner’s grandfather opened Beaudoin's Rope Locker. Browse and buy gifts made of cotton rope: sailor bracelets, nautical hair ties and jewelry, décor accents and Christmas decorations, nautical notions for weddings. You’re not vacationing in Kansas anymore. 860-889-3793.
Wadsworth Presents a Mixture of Art and Entertainment
The marvelous Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
is a grand place to visit, particularly after the mid-decade overhall of the galleries. Permanent and changing exhibits are always worth a fresh visit. This museum leads the way in providing events and entertainments to showcase and enhance exhibits. These may include films, talks, live music, even Sunday brunches. There’s always something to enjoy. 860-278-2670.
Asteroids Are Just the Opening Act at Leitner Observatory
Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium
at Yale University opened in 2009 to the delight of star lovers and planet chasers in New England. Located at 355 Prospect Street, the observatory and planetarium are open to the general public on Tuesday and Sunday nights. 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 last approximately 35-40 minutes and, weather permitting; telescopes will be set up for observing afterwards. 203-285-8840.
Craftsmanship in the Shadow of the Berkshires
During the past 21 years, Heron American Craft Gallery
at 16 Main Street in Kent
has become a destination for people who are searching out the dynamic, ever changing work of American crafts. This shop presents an explosion of color, wit, and whimsy in the form of unusual playthings, ceramics, jewelry, glass work, sculpture, rugs, and clothing. This shop in the foothills of the Berkshires honors the spirit of handmade goods. Open daily. 860-927-4804.
Fair Trade Art Makes Great Gifts
Browsing beautiful handmade artwork from all parts of the world is a fun way to find a special gift. Ten Thousand Villages
store at 1054 Chapel Street in New Haven
presents fair-trade folk art, ceramics, textiles, baskets, jewelry, wall hangings, pillows, rugs, mirrors, vases, incense, candleholders, and furniture by artists in developing world. Each product reflects the traditions of its maker. Enjoy the international music, smell the gourmet coffee, and taste rich chocolate. Your fair trade purchase helps improve the lives of thousands of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Phone: 203-776-0854.
Bees, Hawks, and Other Wild Sights
The Audubon Center
at 613 Riversvile Road in Greenwich
offers indoor and outdoor attractions and fun by people who are experts on nature and wildlife. The 295-acre sanctuary has miles of trails near a hardwood forest, fields, a lake, streams and ponds, stone walls, and homestead buildings. If the weather invites you indoors, the Kimberlin Nature Education Center building has Kiernan Hall Nature Art Gallery with its wildlife viewing window and honey bee hive exhibit, and a Nature Gift Store. 203-869-5272
Meet the Outdoors at Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
at 109 Pequotsepos Road in Mystic
is a nature preserve and learning center with lots of hiking trails and a delightful nature store. Bring your family for a day of walking, birdwatching, nature photography and a picnic. On the 10 miles of hiking trails through woodlands, wetlands, and meadow, you can search for bluebirds, turtles or bullfrogs, admire a summer wildflower garden or simply enjoy a peaceful walk. Wander the Butterfly House and enjoy the tree house. See “Night in the Meadow” in the small theater. Open daily. Trail map.
Boothe Memorial Park Is Entertaining All Year
Boothe Memorial Park & Museum
on Main Street in Stratford
sits on an idyllic, 32-acre site in the north end of Stratford by the Housatonic River, which was the estate of the Boothe family for many generations. There are many architecturally unique buildings and attractions on the grounds as well as a new, handicapped-accessible playground with two climbing walls. The annual Great Pumpkin Festival is a huge attraction in the fall, while outdoor concerts and Shakespearean plays beckon visitors in the spring and summer. Tours of the historic buildings are seasonal (May - October). The park is open and free of charge year round. 203-381-2046.
Ten Thousand Villages Brings the World to You
Visit the Ten Thousand Villages
store at 967C Farmington Avenue in West Hartford
to browse and purchase folk art, ceramics, textiles, baskets, jewelry, wall hangings, pillows, rugs, mirrors, vases, incense, candleholders, and furniture handmade by artists in the developing world. Enjoy international music, the aroma of gourmet coffee, and rich chocolate. Your fair trade purchase helps improve the lives of thousands of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. 860-233-5470.
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. 295-9523
Year-Round Fun in Nature and a Coffeehouse, Too
Located on Lang Road in Windsor
, Northwest Park & Nature Center
is a 473-acre recreational facility that has the virtue of staying open and lively throughout the year. There is a nature center, 12 miles of trails to enjoy during the winter and summer, maple sugaring, a Coffee House Concert Series that brings live music to listeners, and more. Annual events include Country Fair, pancake breakfasts, maple sugaring demonstrations, owl prowls, holiday wreath-making workshop and other forms of fun for all ages. Nice outdoor activities for parents and kids. Phone: 860-285-1886
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.
It’s a National Park – Under Water
What is a marine national monument? It is a national park – think Yellowstone or Acadia – under water. Mystic Aquarium opened in mid-2017 the new Our Blue Park exhibit
that is a photographic journey of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic, off the coast of New England. With three underwater canyons and four seamounts, the monument is a biodiversity hot spot. Most of us will never see this national park face-to-face, but the Aquarium offers the next-best option in glorious giant photos.
Tons of Books Along a Beautiful Shore
At three different but nearby locations in the lovely seaside town of Niantic,
the Book Barn
runs with the motto Because More is Better. This used book emporium, located at 41 West Main Street with two other locations, is stuffed with books (the main building, is, indeed, a barn). Fortunately, books are grouped by genres, so you don't need to shuffle through 350,000 volumes to find something for your taste. The Barn buys and sells books, and it is open daily. 860 739-5715
Fresh Food, Music, and Events at Winter Market
The Litchfield Hills Farm Fresh Market
winter farmer’s market operates indoors at Litchfield Community Center, 421 Bantam Road, Litchfield
, on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You don’t need to wait ‘til spring or summer to enjoy fresh food. Products range from dairy to bee products and from grass-fed beef to lip balm. Live music, guest artists and/or demonstrations are presented. Dates for winter of 2018 are January 6, January 13, January 27, February 10, March 3, March 17, March 31, April 14, April 28, May 19, May 26, June 2.
Moo-sey Around the Farm With Us
The Farmer’s Cow
is a group of six family-owned dairy farms in Lebanon, Coventry, Hebron, Thompson, North Franklin
that welcome people to visit the farms for fun farm tours. During the tours, which run almost year-round, visitors may walk the farms, meet the farmers and cows, learn about farming, and sample local products. Some tours in 2018 are: Summer on the Farm (June 30), Ice Cream Day Bluegrass Bash (July 15), Corn Roast in the Hayfield and Farm Tour (August 18), Celebrating Agriculture with Fairvue Farms Wagon Ride Tour (September 22),
More Than Moos Ice Cream Social (October 20).
Find Food Adventure with New Haven Food & Drink Tours
Most of us know that New Haven is famous for its original and authentic pizza, but there is so much more for your palate to enjoy there. Taste of New Haven Food & Drink Tours
hosts culinary walking culinary tours of this delightful, historic city. Experienced tour guides lead guests on tours with names and themes like Theater District, Canal Quarter, Goatville, Wooster Square, Pizza and Pints Bike, New Haven Symphony, Latin American Tapas, Pizza Lovers, Live To Eat, Theater District, Latin American Tapas, and On 9. Tours usually last 3 to 4 hours, although the Pizza Lovers Tour and the Pizza & Pints Bike Tour are 6 to 7 hours. Gift certificate available for a unique present. You also may book a private tour! Call and check the website for 203-710-3710.
Come Visit Connecticut’s Beautiful Barns
You don’t need to be a photographer or painter to appreciate the beauty of farm barns. These icons of farming life have caught the attention of Connecticut historians, who created a Connecticut Barn Trail
. Use the trail and its maps to explore this beautiful countryside at your own pace. The trail has seven routes that highlight barns at farms and farm stands, orchards, wineries, and historic sites. 203-562-6312.