Connecticut is the southernmost of the six New England states and one of the original thirteen colonies. The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle near present-day Hartford, soon followed by the English from the colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts, eager to establish a trading position for lucrative beaver pelts. New Haven’s four-mile-wide harbor quickly made it one of the most active ports in the Northeast, providing access to markets that aided the growing manufacturing industry. New Haven became an early center for education with the establishment of Yale University. Today’s tourist attractions recall these early influences, as well as the contributions of the Native Americans, whose culture is still active in Connecticut.
1 Mystic Seaport
Mystic Seaport recreates a historic seaport village as part of one of the most prominent maritime museums in the United States. An important part of the museum is the excellent collection of floating craft, including the world’s last surviving wooden whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan (1841). Other historic ships include the Joseph Conrad, the schooner LA Dunton, and several steamships. The buildings on the 19-hectare site are not only the houses and shops of a small village, but also the sailmakers, shipbuilders and others who supplied the ships. Several museums have ship figureheads, nautical art, the history of shipping and ship models.
Adres: 75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, Connecticut
Official site: www.mysticseaport.org
Accommodation: Where to stay at Mystic Seaport
Read also: Tourist Attractions in Boston
2 Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
The Yale Peabody Natural History Museum is one of the highlights for visitors to Yale University. The extensive collections cover a range of subjects from dinosaurs and New England birds to Greek and Roman antiquities and Aboriginal art. The exhibits of Native American cultures are exceptional, with everyday objects and art, from Blackfoot, Apache, Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow, Navaho, Zuni, Pima, Hopi and other traditions, as well as an excellent collection of Aboriginal bark paintings. Children don’t want to miss the Egyptian mummy in its atmospheric exhibition space.
Adres: 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut
Official Site: https://peabody.yale.edu/
Accommodation: Where to Stay in New Haven
3 Mystic Aquarium & Research Institute
At the Mystic Aquarium, you can meet ocean creatures and experience Birds of the Outback, an interactive exhibit. Go in and touch a ray, go beak-to-nose with a penguin, and get up close to beluga whales and other popular animals, such as Steller sea lions, African penguins, and blue-tongued skinkers. Other attractions include the XD Motion Theater Deep Sea 3D and exhibits based on Dr. Robert Ballard.
Adres: 55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, Connecticut
Official site: www.mysticaquarium.org
4 Gillette Castle State Park
Set on a 184-acre estate in East Haddam, the unique Gillette Castle is the home of 1919 William Hooker Gillette, known as the actor who played the original Sherlock Holmes. The house has the appearance of a medieval fortress from the outside, and the interior features hand-hewn woodwork and unique features designed by Gillette herself, including wooden door latches and light switches. The walkways he designed through the estate are just as unusual, with wooden trestles and arched bridges.
In the spring, summer and fall you can cross the Connecticut River from Chester on the Hadlyme ferry, with great views as you approach the castle.
Adres: 67 River Road, East Haddam, Connecticut
Official Site: https://www.ctrivervalley.com/4-Connecticut-CT-in-of/Major-attractions-in-CT/gillette_castle_state_park/
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Gillette Castle State Park
5 Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center is a tribal-owned complex that presents exhibits on the Native American and natural history of Southern New England. The indoor exhibits feature dioramas, text panels, interactive computer programs, and a series of films highlighting the evolution of Mashantucket Pequot life. Visitors will encounter a 16th-century coastal Pequot village, a crevasse from 18,000 years ago, as well as life on a reservation from 1675 to the 1970s.
Adres: 110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Official site: https://www.pequotmuseum.org/default.aspx
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Mashantucket
6 Lake Compounce: Family Theme Park
Considered the oldest operating amusement park in the United States, Lake Compounce Theme Park in Bristol is home to a 1927 wooden roller coaster and a 1911 carousel. This popular summer family outing offers all kinds of rides and games. Connecticut, Crocodile Cove has wave pools, slides, and sections designed specifically for younger children. There are also kiddie rides, including a mini roller coaster, for those not big enough for the thrilling rides.
Adres: 186 Enterprise Drive, Bristol, Connecticut
Official Site: https://www.lakecompounce.com/
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Bristol
7 New England Air Museum
The New England Air Museum at Windsor Locks is spread over two large hangars, housing more than 70 aircraft. On display are helicopters, amphibious vehicles, jet planes, WWII planes and others. It’s not just planes to look at, though. Interactive exhibits include science demonstrations and a flight simulator.
Adres: 36 Perimeter Road, Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Connecticut
Official site: https://www.neam.org/
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Hartford
8 Weir Farm National Historic Site
This lovely rural retreat in Wilton was the summer home of artist J. Alden Weir for 40 years. The site includes his studio, home and other buildings, as well as a visitor center. Visitors can view some of his original works and travel the Painting Trail to view the scenery that inspired many of his paintings. Also unique are the painted bison scattered around the grounds, depicting scenes from the Weir Farm.
Adres: 735 Nod Hill Road, Wilton, Connecticut
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/wefa/index.htm
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Wilton
9 The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum features rotating exhibits of thought-provoking contemporary art and does not collect art or maintain a permanent collection. It showcases works based on changing themes and aims to promote the work of innovative artists who encourage viewers to think creatively. Also on the property is a two-acre sculpture garden.
Adres: 258 Main Street, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Official site: https://aldrichart.org/
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Ridgefield
10 Roseland Cottage
Located in Woodstock, this 1846 Gothic style summer home is referred to as Henry C. Bowen House, Roseland Cottage, or The Pink House. It is a National Historic Landmark. Inside, the appearance remains as good as it was in the 19th century, when it was often used to entertain guests, including US presidents. On the grounds are gardens, an ice house, a shed with an indoor bowling alley and a garden house.
Address: 556 Route 169, Woodstock, Connecticut
Official Site: https://www.historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/roseland-cottage
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Woodstock