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

CTGTHINGSINTRO 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.

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.

One Museum Drive Greenwich, CT, 06830 Phone: 203-869-0376

Secrets of Fossil Lake, through April 17, 2016

Fossil Lake is one of the most important paleontological site in the world... the detail of preservation is beyond exceptional. Travel back in time to a lake that vanished 50 million years ago. This exhibition brings together a remarkable assemblage of fossils that capture an ancient ecosystem from a time when Wyoming was covered in subtropical forests. Encounter ferocious predatory fish, delicate feathered birds, and tiny primitive horses, all preserved in astonishingly beautiful fossils. ​. Learn how museum preparators painstakingly remove the rock matrix to expose a new fossil specimen, and how paleontologists piece together the lifestyles of extinct species from fossil evidence.

Matthews Park - 303 West Avenue Norwalk, CT, 06850 Phone: 203-899-0606

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. Expanded in November 2010, our museum offers engaging and educational exhibits and 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.

950 Trout Brook Drive West Hartford, CT, 06119 Phone: 860-231-2824

The learning place for fun and adventure

This creative community where learning and fun connect adds a healthy dose of whimsy, geared toward children 2 to 12 years old. Founded in 1927, it’s the fifth oldest children’s museum in the nation. Its various components offer hands-on, minds-open, child-centered interactive labs, workshops, multi-sensory exhibits and demonstrations. There’s a renown science-curriculum-based Preschool program and Connecticut’s largest public, digital, and full dome planetarium, and science camps during school vacations. Roaring Brook Nature Center in nearby Canton is our outdoor classroom, with hiking trails, bluebird boxes, and wildlife habitats on 165 acres of the State Wildlife Refuge. The Wildlife Sanctuary takes in unwanted and confiscated Illegal pets, and injured animals. Then there’s the mammals, turtles, tortoises, birds, lizards, amphibians, arthropods, snakes and fish. Oh My.

Sailing from the Niantic Bay Marina Niantic, CT, 06357 Phone: 860-448-3662 Toll-Free: 800-382-2824

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.

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).

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.

One of the great places to serve the soul’s desires

What’ll it be today in the borough? In the morning a stop at a favorite restaurant or tea room, the newsstand to pick up a real paper and chat up the natives. There’s a beach to explore, an ocean to marvel at, and a great old lighthouse museum to discover. On weekend evenings it’s an exhibition at a favorite local arts venue or perhaps a concert on a lovely green. Sunday’s it’s a feature lecture from a worldly array of speakers open to the public. There’s always great shopping, delicious food, and the history of Stonington - in the homes and sites that have filled the borough for centuries - while sunsets over Stonington harbor are not to be missed.

Schooner Wharf - 15 Holmes Street Mystic, CT, 06355 Phone: 860-536-0416

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.

1080 Chapel Street New Haven, CT, 06520 Phone: 203-432-2800 Toll-Free: 877-274-8278

The best of British art in a celebrated edifice

The Yale Center for British Art is a public art museum that houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. Included are paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, rare books, and manuscripts from the Elizabethan period onward. The works of Reynolds, Stubbs, Gainsborough, Turner, Constable and others who lived and worked in Britain are on display. Enjoy a year-round schedule of exhibitions and programs as well as a Reference Library and Archives, conservation laboratories, a study room for examining works from the collection, and an online catalogue. The building, opened ain 1977 is the last to be designed by acclaimed American architect Louis I. Kahn and is near many of New Haven’s best restaurants, theaters, and shops. Free and open to the public.
The museum is currently closed for the conservation of its building and will reopen on May 11, 2016.

351 Farmington Avenue Hartford, CT, 06105 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.

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.

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

A full roster for great theater for 2016

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 2016 Season includes Back Home Again: On the Road with John Denver, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, The 39 Steps, Chicago, Rent, Man of La Mancha and Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Story!

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. Visit MysticAquarium.org to explore more.

85 Lyme Street Old Lyme, CT, 06371 Phone: 860-434-2600

A getaway that includes jazz, massage, and an historic destination

Old Lyme, Conn., is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway, and the Old Lyme Inn is the ideal place to stay. Old Lyme is the epitome of a small New England town, with wonderful museums, specialty shops, beaches and leisure activities. Our historic inn was originally built in 1856, and was recently restored. We've added all the modern amenities, while preserving the historic ambiance. Our comfortable rooms include gas fireplaces, flat screen TVs with cable, high-speed Wi-Fi, climate control air conditioning, hypoallergenic pillows, organic linens, bamboo bathrobes, Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries, Keurig coffee makers, and more. In-room spa treatments are available. Enjoy delicious New England fare in our restaurant, and hear the top names in jazz in our Sidedoor jazz club.

at the Ivoryton Inn - 115 Main Street Ivoryton, CT, 06426 Phone: 860-767-1031

"The best barbecue allowed above the Mason Dixon line"

One bite and you'll swear Porky Pete's BBQ in Ivoryton, CT is the best barbecue allowed above the Mason Dixon line. We serve succulent pulled pork, beef brisket, St. Louis ribs, and chicken, all of it hickory smoked and covered in tangy sauce. Every part of the South has a different barbecue style - our standard secret recipe, developed by Mother Selene, is similar to the vinegar-based sauce found in & around Memphis, Tennessee. Our sweet Texas-style sauce is also available. We've got all the traditional sides, too -- baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, corn on the cob, pasta salad, three bean salad, mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits, corn bread, and more. Slake your thirst with lemonade or sweet tea. Grab yourself a meal, or order take out by the pound and feed your whole gang.Visit us in the Ivoryton Inn, or at our original location at 60 Plains Road in Essex!

21 Prindle Lane Danbury, CT, 06810 Phone: 203-992-9000

Bounce brings trampoline sports fun to Danbury!

This unique indoor trampoline park has folks of any age jumping, bouncing and flipping through the air safely and under supervision. Launch yourself from tumble mats and try out some tricks in the triple foam pit area. Slam dunk a basketball or jump into the next round of dodgeball. Dual Xtreme! Ninja Courses challenge your agility and strength with cargo net climbs, swinging rings, a rock wall, monkey bars, net bags, balance beam and more. Children ages 5 and under have their very own Bounce! Jr.® Zone with trampoline court, foam pit, and mini slam dunk basketball hoop. Enjoy the healthy snacks bar and spacious upstairs lounge with TV, WiFi and streaming capabilities. Great for kid’s parties and group activities.

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.

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.

Knowledge. Experience. Teamwork. Street Smarts

Here’s an intriguing indoor activity for you and your smartest friends. Adventure Rooms 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.

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

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.

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 2016 are Sister Sparrow cherry Popping Daddies, 10,000 Maniacs, Ballroom Thieves, Livingston Taylor, Ana Popovic, Marcia Ball, Leaon Russell, Spyro Gyra, Delbert McClinton and more more. Phone: 203-259-1036.

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.

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

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.

A Paradise for Serious Cooks

One fine way to soothe and encourage the gourmet cook in your family is through a gift-buying trip to Weekend Kitchen at 6 North Main Street in Essex. Founders David and Nancy Smith have created a shopping environment that is beautiful, eclectic, and old worldly. The cookware and kitchenware is a mix of traditionally styled and often hand crafted items along with more contemporary design oriented products. The shop’s faux finished walls, serene mural, and antique fixtures create an inviting setting in which to shop for yourself or a special gift. Come find everything from sculpted copper coffee scoops to panini pans. Phone: 860-767-1010.

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

Fairfield History From Garden to Battlefield

Fairfield Museum and History Center to explore the history of this community, through the lens of world wars to ordinary daily life. The museum offers exhibition galleries, a family education center, a theater overlooking the Town Green, and a museum shop. Exhibits have looked at baseball in America, golf, witchcraft in Connecticut, traditional crafts, the Pequot tribe, and the stories behind everyday objects. The museum’s 1750 Ogden House has a Colonial-period garden and a bee keeping project. Open daily except major holidays. Phone: 203-259-1598

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.

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

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.

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.

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.”

Concerts in the Garden Surrounded by Art

Coastal Connecticut’s history as a hub of American Impressionist painters (a la the Florence Griswold Museum) is alive and active at Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery at 1 Spring Street in Chester. In addition to its artwork on display the studio hosts a monthly concert series called Concerts in the Garden. Musicians and singers performing every style from cool jazz to blue grass and beyond entertain for listeners seating outside in the garden amphitheatre (or inside the gallery, in colder weather). It’s a BYOB and picnicking scene. Monthly concerts happen year-round; check the schedule! 860-526-2077.

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.

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.

Jiminy Cricket Hops

The comic book and cartoon characters from your childhood and earlier are hopping around in their original styling at the Barker Character, Comic, and Cartoon Museum at 1188 Highland Avenue in Cheshire. Archie and Jughead dolls? Roy Rogers Lunch Box? Charlie McCarthy Puppet? If you remember these icons wouldn’t mind visiting them again, the museum probably has them. Enjoy the collection of 80,000 antique toys and collectibles as well as a cartoon theater. Open year-round, Wednesday-Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Phone: 203-272-2222.

Sports in All Seasons

The SportsCenter of Connecticut on River Road in Shelton doesn’t give a darn about the weather. This covered and weather-protected facility offers numerous activities such as a golf practice range, 18-hole miniature golf course, baseball and softball batting cages, laser tag arena, bowling, and the world’s only double-decker ice arena. You like sports? Now, inclement weather doesn’t need to slow you down and you will have plenty of things to do with friends and family. Phone: 203-929-6500.

City Stampede

Bushnell Park 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. Created by Russian immigrant craftsmen, the carousel is notable for the horses’ flamboyant faces and real horsehair tails. Besides the 48 horses, there are two lovers chariots, 800 twinkling lights, 24-sided pavilion houses, and a Wurlitzer band organ. A dollar will buy you a three-and-a-half minute ride of dreams. Hours: Friday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Rides are $1.

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. Come for the best in contemporary crafts, music, and just plain fun. Open daily 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Phone: 860-927-4804.

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

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

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.

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

Art and Science Explorations for Families

The Bruce Museum at 1 Museum Drive in Greenwich kicked off 2016 with expanded learning programs for families and kids age 4 to 10. These drop-in programs (no registration needed) include Science Sundays, where kids and parents may explore simple science concepts through experiments and activities. Art Adventures provides the creative spark and supplies for art and craft projects inspired by the Museum’s exhibitions. Programs are from 1 to 3 p.m. and are included in the Museum admission fee. Bruce Moose 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. Each pack contains four to five objects and activities that encourage more looking, more learning and more discoveries. The new Activity Packs feature an Animal I-Spy game, complete with binoculars, that encourages families to search throughout our woodland diorama to find camouflaged animals. 203-869-0376

Cool Tunes and Comedy at the Bridge

Bridge Street Live, is an art deco-style club and restaurant at 41 Bridge Street in Collinsville. The club’s bar room, lounge, and huge wrap-around decks overlook the Farmington River and Sweetheart Mountain. Lots of cool, live entertainment and events are scheduled for the months ahead at this concert venue and comedy club. Collinsville is an antiquated turn-of-the-century industrial village that has been revitalized and now supports many activities and artists. In 2009, Arthur Frommer named it “one of the top 10 coolest towns in America.” Phone: 860-693-9762.

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.

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.”

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.

History of the Textile Mills in Willimantic

The Windham Textile and History Museum , located in the former home of the American Thread Company at 411 Main Street in Willimantic,, preserves the history of the textile industry and how it affected the economy, culture, and lives of New England people from the 1800s to the present. Nineteenth century working conditions were often harsh in America’s mills. Later, advanced technological change and labor unrest roiled life in the textile mills. This museum displays the workplaces and the people whose lives centered upon the textiles of New England. Guided tours on Sunday at 2 p.m.; self-guided tours during hours of operation. Hours of Operation: Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Phone: 860-377-7755.

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

Artistic Works in a Stone-Walled Landmark

Connecticut River Artisans, at 4 Water Street in Chester, is inside a 1909 stone building so delightful looking from the outside that you itch to go inside, regardless of what you might find there. In fact, what you find there is original, artist-made pottery, stained glass, fine art, jewelry, handbags, and cards are among the beautiful items we carry. There is always something new from the workshops of local and regional artists. It’s an adventure in beauty and gift shopping. Open year-round, but hours vary seasonally. 860-526-5575

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 "Jeersey Boys," Art Garfunkel, “Kinky Boots,” the New Haven Ballet, the Music of John Williams, and more. The New Haven Symphony Orchestra also performs there. People who love live theater should not miss this dynamic legend.

Winery Offers the Best of California and Connecticut

Located in the beautiful small town of North Stonington, Jonathan Edwards Winery, at 74 Chester Main Road, is situated on a 48-acre hilltop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Jonathan Edwards creates premium California and Connecticut wines to highlight each coast’s climate. The two diverse product lines complement each other and allow guests to sample delicious wines that showcase what each area is known for. Wine lovers are welcome to stop in, taste the wines, tour the winery and vineyards, enjoy a picnic, and browse the gift shop for wine items and local treats. Each season in the vineyard has its own unique charm. Phone: 860-535-0202.

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.