Connecticut is one of America’s oldest and smallest states, but a Connecticut vacation is sure to be big on fun and full of exciting new adventures. Connecticut is home to a few of America’s landmark destinations like one of its most famous universities and the home of one of its most famous authors.
In Connecticut visitors can also enjoy a few blasts from the past like the oldest amusement park or a still operating steam train.
Mystic Seaport & Freedom Schooner Amistad
This village located in the cities of Groton and Stonington, Connecticut, is one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations. This seaside village has something for everyone including shopping, marinas, museums and an aquarium. In celebration of the village’s maritime heritage you’ll find attractions like historic ship captain’s home, traditional sail boats that you can take a day cruise on, and many galleries. Mystic is a popular multi-day destination as there is plenty to keep visitors busy for days on end.
Essex Steam Train and River Boat Ride
This popular attraction, operated by the Valley Railroad Company takes visitors on two of Connecticut’s favorite and oldest forms of transportation. The steam train travels from Essex to Chester, before returning to Deep River. At that point passengers have the option of going on the Becky Thatcher Riverboat Trip heading up to the East Haddam Bridge, a swing bridge, before returning to the Deep River Landing and the return train.
Mystic Aquarium is one of three facilities holding Steller sea lions and it has the only beluga whales in New England. Special exhibits include a ray and shark touch pool, an African penguin exhibit, a jelly gallery, and an “Exploration: Wild” ecosystems exhibit. Within the aquarium, encounter programs are offered to visitors, who for an additional fee can get close to the African penguins, touch and stand in the water with beluga whales, and feed and touch sting rays in a special pool.
Mystic Aquarium also features a 4D Theater showing interactive films, including Ice Age and Polar Express. Also a National Geographic Theater running films from National Geographic.
Mark Twain House
The home of one of America’s favorite writers is also one of Connecticut’s favorite destinations. Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, lived in this home in Hartford from 1874 to 1891. It was in this house that he wrote a few of his most famous books including the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Although Twain didn’t live in the house his entire life, it has been declared a National Historic Landmark and has become a major destination for visitors.
Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center
This museum in Mashantucket, Connecticut educates visitors about the history of Native American culture. At the museum visitors can explore collections of artifacts from tribes throughout eastern North America from the 16th to the 20th centuries. There are also interactive exhibits and life-size displays that interest visitors. One of the most famous features is a life-size diorama showing the life of the Mashantucket Pequot from the last glacial period to modern times. The museum has received numerous awards and is considered one of the best Native American cultural museums in the nation.
Top Things to do in Connecticut
Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casinos
Mohegan sun has restaurants, night clubs, lounges, and more than 25 shops. The casino floor features a variety of table games, race book, and more slots than you could imagine.
Foxwoods casino in has more than 7,000 slot machines and 380 table games. Pair that selection with 24 hour poker on 100 tables and a few other treats like bingo, keno, and race book and you’ll have enough to keep everyone entertained for days.
Gillette Castle State Park
Of all the things you’d expect to find in Connecticut, a castle might not top your list, but this unique property near East Haddam and Lyme is definitely worth a visit.
Some of the favorite sights at the castle and grounds include oddities like a system of hidden mirrors and unusual door knobs and locks, a series of walking trails, and old electric and steam engines. At Gillette Castle State Park tourists can enjoy visiting a museum, walking on hiking trails, and attending theatrical celebrations.
Philip Johnson’s Glass House
This unique masterpiece constructed in 1949 draws visitors from all around to marvel at the design of the house made entirely of glass and steel. The architect, Philip Johnson, designed the house to exhibit certain qualities including minimalism, geometry, proportion, and the effects of transparency and reflection. The entire building is only 56 feet long and 32 feet wide, by 10.5 feet tall but it features a kitchen, dining, and sleeping area.
This world famous Ivy League university is Connecticut’s pride and glory and New Haven’s number one tourist destination. The university was founded in 1701, making it the third oldest university in the U.S. The campus today covers 260 acres and has a 500 acre golf course and natural preserve. The design of the campus is considered Collegiate Gothic, although several modern buildings on campus are considered noteworthy, including a library made of translucent marble designed to protect precious books from direct light while glowing after dark. Tours of the campus are available to visitors.
Connecticut is home to the oldest amusement park in the U.S., located in Briston. With 332 acres of games, rides and entertainment, there’s plenty to keep the whole family busy all day long. The amusement park also has a beach and water park included in the price of admission.
The Lake Compounce Amusement Park has rides for all ages. Some of the favorites include Boulder Dash, the first wooden coaster to be built entirely on the side of a mountain and 3 other coasters.
Things to do in Connecticut
This little New England state might be small on size, but not on fun. Connecticut is the perfect destination for cultural and historical attractions. For visitors looking for fun, it doesn’t matter how old you are you’ll find plenty of places to play in Connecticut.