Welcome to the Connecticut Visitor's Information Booth:
Connecticut — the 'Constitution State'
Connecticut is a combination of accessible small cities, seacoast charm and rural New England beauty. The state
is divided into five regions: Hartford & Central Region; New London/Mystic & Southeastern Shoreline; Northeast Region; Fairfield County & Southwest Region; and
Litchfield County & Northwest Region.
Connecticut has many relaxing country inns.
Most of the visitor traffic reaches New England from the south and heads north. Travelers from New York,
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and other areas of the country travel this way each year on vacations to Cape Cod, Boston, New Hampshire and Maine, but those
who quickly drive through Connecticut on the way to their destinations are missing some great opportunities for fun and adventure. But if you slow down and take in the
sights, you'll be amazed at how much the state has to offer.
Being between Boston and New York, Connecticut suffers from a certain amount of "middle child syndrome".
However, one drive through the Litchfield Hills and you could be easily fooled into thinking you've entered Vermont. In the southeastern sections surrounding the
Connecticut River Valley, the towns are quintessentially New England. And there are lots of attractions for parents and kids. The Connecticut shore has plenty of terrific
state parks for ocean swimming, with the kind of warmer water you find off the south coast of Cape Cod.
All in all, you'll find Connecticut beautiful, uncrowded, and an easy drive from New York, New Jersey and other states. The
truth is, once you discover what Connecticut has to offer, you'll want to come back again and again.
Hartford & Central Connecticut Region [back to top]
Hartford is a small, friendly and easily accessible city. One of the interesting things about traveling around Hartford is how
quickly you get out into the country. In fact, the entire area is scenic, relaxing and as the Connecticut Office of Tourism
promotes, "full of surprises." People usually don't think of spending vacation time in Hartford, because they think of it as the "insurance town", but in reality, it's so much more.
Some Hartford highlights include the Mark Twain House. This national historic landmark is an 1874 Victorian mansion with 19 rooms of rare interiors by Tiffany and others.
The Wadsworth Athenaeum is the nation's oldest public art museum, with over 50,000 works spanning a period of 5,000 years. This is an extraordinary exhibit and a must see for art buffs.
The 165-foot Heublein Tower is one of the more popular attractions in greater Hartford. It's located in Simsbury, in Talcott Mountain State Park
. The tower sits atop a former private summer house, and is reached by taking a pleasant, gradual
1-1/4 mile hike up to a cliff area (don't forget to turn left at the cliff). When you visit this attraction, there's a good chance
you'll see hang gliders jumping off to catch the updraft that hits the mountain from the valley below. From the top of the
tower on clear days, you can see all the way across the state of Massachusetts to Mount Monadnock, in the southwest corner of New Hampshire, and Long Island Sound in the other direction.
The Central Connecticut region begins just south of Hartford, more or less at New Britain, the unofficial capital of central
Connecticut, and follows down to Cheshire, an unspoiled town along Route 10. There are a number of interesting exhibits here, including one of the largest public telescopes in the US, located at the
Copernican Observatory & Planetarium, at Central Connecticut State University.
New London/Mystic & Southeastern Shoreline [back to top]
Connecticut offers some of the most scenic coastal towns in New England.
Some of the most scenic coastal towns in New England are located here, and this area will charm you for days, then lure you back for more. Essex, Deep River, East Haddam,
Old Saybrook and other small towns dot the coastline along with the major attractions of Mystic and New London. Essex is relaxing just to walk around, enjoying the boats,
the architecture and the quiet. While you're here, take an Essex Steam Train and Riverboat Ride in 1920s coaches pulled by a real steam locomotive. At Steamboat dock, visit the
Connecticut River Museum, where you can view a replica of the Turtle, America's first submarine, built in 1775, and other exhibits.
Another major attraction in nearby East Haddam is
Gillette Castle State Park on River Road. This castle was designed by actor William Gillette, who became well known for his
portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. The castle overlooks the Connecticut River Valley, and there are hiking trails, horse carriage rides, a picnic area, gift shop and more.
Hammonasset Beach State Park, you'll find a two-mile beach with full facilities, making it an ideal spot for swimming, camping, hiking, fishing, boating and more.
There's also a nature center here. The park is open year-round, and a parking fee is charged.
Mystic and New London are the stars of the seacoast show, with Mystic Seaport being
one of New England's most visited attractions. It's America's largest maritime museum, offering acres of adventure and history. On your visit to this 19th century whaling
village, you'll see spectacular tall ships and re-created homes, shops and more.
There's also plenty of action for the gambling crowd at Foxwoods, which is located in
the town of Ledyard. Foxwoods is the world's largest casino, drawing fun seekers from all over the northeast. There's also Mohegan Sun
, which is located in Uncasville. This gaming casino features a stunning interior based on Native American tribal designs. And don't forget to visit the Mystic Marinelife Aquarium
. This a large and wonderful aquarium includes exhibits on whales, bottle nosed dolphins and more.
In New London, you can visit the U.S. Coast Guard Academy
, where, when in port, you can see the official Coast Guard tall ship Eagle, as well as a multimedia show about what life is like in today's Coast Guard. Ocean Beach Park on Ocean Avenue
has everything for a lively time, including a pool, waterslide, food concessions, and miniature golf.
Northeast Connecticut [back to top]
This area of Connecticut is often call the "Quiet Corner", and many vacationers return here year after year just for that
reason. However, quiet doesn't mean dull. The Quiet Corner is paradise for antiqueing, with over 400 dealers located in
Putnam alone. The Corner is beautiful country, and there are a number of delightful B&B s to welcome you. In addition,
walking, biking, fairs, festivals, and a number of other activities will keep you constantly entertained during your visit.
If you're not planning to stop here, there's a great way to see the Quiet Corner on your way elsewhere. If you're heading
through Connecticut on the way to the Boston area or other points north, here's a tip: just north of Hartford on Route 84,
take Route 384 to 44 and follow 44 East. You'll be riding toward the beautiful towns of Coventry, Mansfield, and toward
Pomfret and Putnam, the antique capital of the area. Take time to stop in Coventry at the Nathan Hale Homestead, a 1776 farmhouse and exhibit devoted to the life and times of Connecticut's hero.
Caprilands Herb Farm is another stop in Coventry. There are other stops on Route 44, which you can choose from as well. When you get to Putnam, you'll want to
stop to walk around and enjoy the town and browse the antique shops. From here you can hop onto Route 395 toward
Worcester. It turns into Route 290 near Worcester and hooks up with I-90, which is the Massachusetts Turnpike. This is where
you would have ended up if you had just continued along Route 84 toward the Turnpike on your way toward Boston, and it's many times more interesting.
Fairfield County & Southwest Connecticut [back to top]
This area is divided into two sub areas: Coastal Fairfield and the Housatonic Valley District.
As you enter Connecticut along the interstate from New York, you enter the coastal Fairfield County area, home of some of
the best shopping and museums in New England. This is also a scenic area to drive through on the back roads, and we
recommend getting off the interstate (Route 95) and heading a few miles north and hopping onto Route 15, the Merritt Parkway.
Coastal Fairfield County is a vibrant mix of small towns and the lively, multi-ethnic city of Bridgeport. Bridgeport is home of the Barnum Museum
, a collection of P.T. Barnum memorabilia and exhibits, including a miniature hand-carved circus and much more. Beardsly Zoo
is an amazing collection of North and South American wildlife, including timber wolves, antelope and exotic animals of the rainforest. And the city of Norwalk offers the Maritime Aquarium
, featuring seals, sharks, otters, as well as an IMAX theater with changing exhibits.
The Housatonic Region is best reached by taking scenic Route 7 from Coastal Fairfield and driving north. You can also enter
Connecticut from Route 84, and if you do, there's an Information Center about two miles over the state line. The region is
comprised of nine towns, Danbury being the largest and the center of commerce. For a town of its size, it's surprising to learn
that the mall here, Danbury Fair Mall, is the largest mall in New England. The Danbury Railway Museum, a fascinating railroad history museum is located in a restored railroad station.
The region is also home for a number of New York celebrities and entertainers who live in the smaller towns and can be seen
shopping in Danbury. Traveling through some of the neighboring towns is a relaxing drive in the country, and Newtown has one of the prettiest Main Streets anywhere.
The Litchfield Hills & Northwest Region [back to top]
Many consider the Litchfield Hills Region to be one of the most wonderful parts of New England. The towns here look like
picture postcards, and the covered bridges, rivers and rolling hills that highlight the countryside make this a very special place.
In addition to the incredible countryside, some of Connecticut's most popular attractions are located here as well. The Lake Compounce Theme Park
, located in Bristol, is America's oldest amusement park, and includes a white water raft ride, two
roller coasters and a lot more. It's open Memorial Day to late September. On Riverside Avenue in Bristol, you can visit the Carousel Museum of New England
, housing the finest collection of antique carousels in existence. Bristol is also home to the American Clock & Watch Museum
, said to have the world's best collection of American clocks, with over 3,000 timepieces on display.
Litchfield and Kent are distinctive towns, noted for art galleries and antique shops. The best way to see the entire area is by
taking a leisurely ride up Route 7 from the Danbury and New Milford areas. You can drive up to the Lakeville and Canaan areas, then cut across on Route 44 to Winstead and drive south on Route 8.
To quickly find attractions, restaurants and shops in Connecticut, use the Find Attractions search engine. To quickly locate lodgings, use the Find Lodging search engine.
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