10 Best Places to Visit in Connecticut

Martina Rosado
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Hammonasset Beach State Park

Hammonasset is a 10½-mile-long (16.8 km) linear coastal park that lies directly east of the city of Madison as well as from Madison Beach State Park to the south, between a point at the extreme northern end of the state park, which lies between the Hammonasset River and the Connecticut River. The entire area is part of an expansive National Seashore.

It offers visitors plenty of wildlife, from stately white-tailed deer to red fox, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse and a plethora of songbirds. In the winter there are beaver and snowshoe hare.

The coastline and marsh surrounding the park provide a home to colonial plants and birds. From south to north, five different plant communities are found along the allowed two-mile length of the park. These are salt marsh, freshwater tidal marsh, freshwater tidal marsh, freshwater floodplain forest moist woodland, and acidic seepage marsh.

It is a flawless place for bird watchers to find 150 different species of migrating birds, birds of prey, and dragon fly.

Gillette Castle State Park

Norwalk

Maritime Society (Norwalk, CT).

Norwalk’s Maritime Society is located on the Connecticut River and features a variety of different exhibits including boats, ship models, photographs, paintings, and an elaborate library. The Boat House is a well-preserved 1827 boat building workshop and features two sea-going craft. It also holds special events such as a pirate-themed ball. There are also exhibits devoted to the history of Norwalk and the city’s maritime tradition.

The Norwalk History Museum, housed in a refurbished 1849 Merchant's Exchange with a meticulously restored 1850s Noble House exhibit, includes exhibits on Norwalk's past as a prime trade route for goods headed up and down the Connecticut River.

The Barstow House Museum features restored rooms furnished with typical 19th century items. Several rooms are dedicated to the history of Norwalk as a major port, including the reconstruction of a residential street in about 1850.

Silver Sands State Park

Trail, Silver Sands State Park, Waterford, CT.

One of the most popular hiking trails in the state, the miles of paved and un-paved, hiking- and biker-only paths offer users spectacular views of the estuary as it curves around the mouth of the Housatonic River. Be sure to stop at the end of the Silver Sands State Park Trail and take a look at the charming salt marshes that surround the river.

Many unique plants and trees flourish in this area providing wildlife habitat and a great place to hunt for signs of wildlife.
Silver Sands State Park Trail․©2012 Bob Olmstead

This is the perfect hike for all skill levels, if you’re worried about having a hard hike, you can take the Silver Sands trail in Cheshire County or Picklesimer Road in Waterford and you don’t have to worry about ankle deep mud or a hard hike.

The trail starts with a 1.7 mile rock wall that provides an easy access of hiking. The second mile of the trail has a picnic area, great rest area for those that need a break as the trail curves around the estuary for a total of 3.4 miles of hiking. This is not a crowded place and you can expect to find wildlife, hikers, and bikers along your way.

Stamford

Stonington

(quiet, quaint and small)

This is one of the most pristine and quiet parts of CT and extremely charming. … The town is pretty much why people love it; it’s plenty quiet and … gets you away from all of the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

New London

Connecticut.

When most people think of Connecticut, they visualize a wealthy part of New England, filled with wealthy people looking for cozy New England estates. However, they most certainly do not think of New London, which serves as a gateway to the northwestern part of the state. New London is one of the oldest ports in the country, and even the state. It was founded in 1634 as a way of providing a harbor for fishing and trading with the neighboring Native American towns.

Later on, it became one of the oldest colonial seaports in North America. During the Revolutionary War, it served as the main port for the British Navy. It served in the state’s legislature for a short time and became the capital of the state in 1780.

Today, New London has become an educational and economic hub between two urban centers: Waterbury to the east and New Haven to the south. The central part of the city is home to New London State College and the UConn campus.

While much of the state’s coastline is within a steady state of rising seas, New London has managed to maintain a level of permanence that is disappearing in most areas. The state’s shortest captain’s walk is here, at the U.S. Coast Guard Ice Station New London, which has provided the US government with ice for shipping and air equipment for over 50 years.

Mystic

Mystic Aquarium is one of the oldest aquariums in the United States and has been recognized as one of the top 10 aquariums in the country by Aquatics Monthly magazine. It is also the only aquarium on the East Coast to receive the Aquatic Conservation awards from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association 5 times.

As the longest operating aquarium in New England, Mystic Aquarium has been a great attraction for travelers to Connecticut for many years. Many of the animals on display at the aquarium are rescued from various situations, meaning that there are rare species on display, like a Sea Lion pup that was born in a car wash lot.

There are also seals, sea lions, spotted dolphins, beluga whales, white-faced eels, leopard sharks, walruses, and flying fish. As you wander through the aquarium’s 1.5 million gallon facility, you will soak in tons of natural spring water and have fun as you explore the fantastic aquatic life that is on display here.

You will find also there is much more to Mystic Aquarium than just the animals. There are an underwater theater, an animal care center, and a 100,000 square foot visitors’ center.

Visitors will be surprised at how much they can see, do, and have fun at this attraction. This one places is well worth a visit.

Hartford

(Downtown)

Hartford is the capital of Connecticut and is often referred to as the “Biggest Little City in America.” Hartford is home to some of the best attractions for visitors in the state.

You can trace the history of Hartford all the way back to the building of Fort Hart in 1635. The indian town of Shinnecocks occupied the now-Hartford area for hundreds of years before the English made their final move for good.

Established in 1638, the Hartford Colony was the first permanent English settlement in New England. From there the city has had a lot of changes and settled disputes back and forth between the English and the Indians.

After the Revolutionary War, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York united to form the United States and declared Hartford the state capital. The City continued to grow during the 19th century. From its unique vantage point on the Connecticut River, Hartford became a prosperous manufacturing city.

The Derby Street Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the best place to experience the first settlement of the Hartford area. Many of the homes have been restored to their Victorian architecture and include some of the nation’s oldest buildings.

New Haven

The New Haven area is home to many colleges and universities. The town of New Haven is centrally located, making it easy to travel to and from all of the prestigious colleges and universities in the area.

New Haven also is home to Yale University and a large community of artists, with many galleries, museums, and events dedicated to the arts.

Visit the state’s largest green space, New Haven Green. This area has a combination of recreational fields, gardens, monuments and memorials honoring those who have lived in the region a long time.

Many people know about the West Campus of Yale University, which is located in the center of the green.

New Haven also is home to many esteemed museums. The Yale University Art Gallery is home to thousands of pieces from all eras of the history of art. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum is one of the finest museum collections in the nation. It features a collection of oil paintings from the 17th century to the present, and an interactive rotation gallery featuring watercolor paintings. It also has a remarkable collection of ancient art, Asian artifacts, Post-Impressionist works, and prints.

This area also has a strong artistic community. Perform in a play produced by the area’s oldest professional theatre company New Haven Players, founded in the 1780s.