Even if you’re not usually an adventurous person, long winters can definitely get you in the mood to find some cool places to explore in Connecticut. With summer just around the corner, I bet you’re itching to get out there and discover something new. So why not start at one of these places?
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Bushnell Park, Hartford
Located just off Trinity Street, Bushnell Park is the oldest publicly funded park in the country. You'll know you're there when you pass through the grand stone arch known as the Soldiers and Sailor's Memorial Arch.
Explore the surrounding Hartford area as you walk the 50 acres of park. And definitely check out the carousel! A dollar will buy you three and a half minutes on this well maintained beauty featuring real horse hair for the tails. You will also be able to see the Capitol building as well as several beautiful statues and fountains throughout the park. Just follow the signs!
2. UConn's Animal Barn, Storrs
A lot of people don't know that UConn was originally an agriculture school. Or that their barn is open to the public! Visitors can see dairy and beef cows, sheep, and horses. If you visit in the spring, your chances of seeing a newborn are greatly increased.
If you've never seen the UConn campus, this would be a great excuse to get up there! Not to mention you can visit the dairy bar after you pet the animals and score some delicious frozen treats.
3. Ocean Beach Park, New London
When you name a beach ocean, you know the focus is going to be having some fun in the water. This 50 acre park features half a mile of boardwalk, an Olympic size pool, an 18 hole mini golf course, and a cafe to keep you there all day.
Check the calendar and plan a weekday trip where you can catch a movie on the sand or hear live music. This white sand beach is soft under your feet and perfect on a warm day!
4. Leatherman's Cave, Watertown
The legend of Leatherman claims a French traveler, constantly dressed in leather despite the heat of the summer, continually hiked a 365 mile loop, sleeping in caves along the way. He was so punctual in his routine that townspeople started preparing meals for his arrival.
As this cave falls along the Mattatuck trail, you can enjoy some pretty stunning views on your way up. But definitely make sure you bring some water and a snack for this one.
5. Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park, Portland
If you're not afraid of being in the tiny unstable boat known as the kayak, traveling at fast speeds, or heights, than this place is perfect for you. Enjoy the still waters and explore the nearby land.
If you want to stay closer to base, you can take advantage of cliff jumping, rope jumping, zip lining, and some awesome floating inflatables. There's something for everyone in the group here!
6. Bed and Breakfast Bicycle Trail, Western Connecticut
Take a ride along the western coast! Though this trail is nearly 30 miles long, it's almost entirely flat which means you don't have to be in amazing shape to do it. For a longer ride, take one of the mini side trips and discover some hidden gems.
To complete this feat, spend the night at one of the bed and breakfasts along the way. The Stanton Inn in Greenwich (pictured) is known for offering an exceptional breakfast spread.
7. Housatonic River, Litchfield
At 149 miles long, the Housatonic river also runs through Massachusetts (but the Connecticut side is definitely better). If you're feeling especially adventurous, you can try your hand at fly fishing while you're here.
Most people come for the kayaking and rafting. With both light and rushing rapids, this river is perfect for beginners and the more experienced alike.
8. Mount Tom State Park, Litchfield County
This park runs through Washington, Litchfield, and Morris. This is a great place for hiking, picnicking at the beach, or both! Some folks even scuba dive here.
If you decide to go the hiking route, then brace yourself for some truly jaw dropping views. The hike to Mount Tom Tower is a one mile, five hundred foot climb, but is definitely worth it.
9. The Dinosaur Place at Nature's Art Village, Oakdale
This place lets you live Jurassic Park without fear of being eaten. As you follow the trail through the woods, you will come across more than forty life size dinosaurs! This is by far one of the best ways to learn about dinosaurs.
Plus, they have a super cool water pad so you can cool off after a day of discovering dinosaurs. This is easily an all day event!
10. Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, Essex
The 12 mile, two and a half hour round trip train ride will show you the heart of the Connecticut River Valley. At 20 mph this is a photographer's dream for pictures of untouched habitats.
You can also take advantage of the riverboat ride, which only takes half the time. It will give you a chance to see impressive historic sights, like Haddam Swing Bridge.
11. Satan's Kingdom, New Hartford
With a name like Satan's Kingdom, tom foolery definitely takes place here. But visitors are warned to be careful! Tubing can be dangerous if you don't take it at least a little seriously.
But people love floating down the Farmington river. You can also canoe and kayak but that's not nearly as relaxing as drinking sweet tea and drifting down stream.
12. Cherry Blossom Festival, New Haven
Mark your calendar for this one, folks! Every April, the Historic Wooster Square Association hosts their annual cherry blossom festival. Honestly, this event is too pretty for words.
But this picture is a great example of what you'll see. Visitors exclaim that the trees always seem to blossom right before the festival starts. It's almost like they know!