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Connecticut's Top Attractions
The most southern of the New England states, Connecticut offers a charming New England feel with cosmopolitan style. With award-winning theaters, beautiful beaches, state-of-the art museums and more, Connecticut offers a diverse blend of experiences that are all in close proximity to each other - from relaxing and active, historic and contemporary to cultural and nature-orientated.
CHILL & THRILL
Soak in the Shore
The stunning Connecticut shoreline has all your vacation necessities in one spot. Beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts, a variety of boutique shops, rentals and fantastic seafood make quaint towns, like Milford, Guilford, Essex, Kent, Mystic and more.
Be endlessly entertained at Connecticut’s Casinos
Whether its Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods Resort Casino, Connecticut’s casinos represent two of the largest casino destinations in the world – from gaming and 24/7 top entertainers, boutique shopping, fine dining, signature spas and golf facilities. Coming early in May 2015, Foxwoods Resort Casino will feature a new Tanger Outlets location that will include upscale branded and designer outlet retailers.
REWIND & FAST-FORWARD
Watch history come alive at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Mashantucket
The largest Native American museum in the world, this state-of the-art museum boasts life-size exhibits, dramatic films and touch-screen computer programs that put the excitement of the past right at your fingertips.
Discover, invent and learn at the Connecticut Science Center
Located in Hartford, this world-class destination provides educational and entertaining experiences for families from around the globe. Kids and adults will love the variety of interactive activities – from the 165 hands-on exhibits, a state-of-the art 3D digital theater, four educational labs and more.
MODERN & HISTORIC
Reflect at The Philip Johnson Glass House
Connecticut, specifically the town of New Canaan, is one of the largest centers of Modern residential design in the United States and the famous Glass House, created by American architect Philip Johnson, is one of the most significant structures of the 20th century. An object of fascination for decades, the rectangular house was built in 1949 out of quarter-inch-thick glass and without interior walls. Absent of curtains or blinds, the property’s 49 acres of trees, landscaping and 14 additional structures are the house’s only source of privacy.
Go back in time at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford
The 1874 Mark Twain House in Hartford was the author’s residence for 17 years and is where he penned some of his most famous works including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Twain’s Gilded Age mansion is a must see for its exotic Louis Comfort Tiffany designed interiors.
WET & WILD
Splish, splash and scream at Lake Compounce in Bristol
Lake Compounce is America’s oldest and longest-running theme park. The park features more than 50 rides and attractions, including the Splash Harbor Water Park, Zoomer’s Gas n’Go antique car ride and Boulder Dash, voted the number one wooden roller coaster in the world. Enjoy the rides by day and then stay overnight at Bear Creek Campground, where you can stay in a cabin, pitch your tent or hook up your RV – close enough to the park so you won’t miss an hour of fun.
Go wild at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, the only zoo in the state, is situated on 52 lush acres in historic Beardsley Park in Bridgeport. The Zoo features 300 individual animals representing nearly 100 species native to primarily North and South America.
ZIP & ZEN
Enjoy active adventures at Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park in Portland and Power Ridge Mountain Park & Resort in Middlefield
Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park is Connecticut’s first outdoor adventure park. Guests can experience activities from rock climbing, wakeboarding, cliff jumping and zip lining to scuba diving, snorkeling and more.
The founders of Brownstone introduced a new adventure in 2013, a year-round mountain adventure sports park, called Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort in Middlefield. The park has the only full-size half pipe in the state and builds off Brownstone’s success of catering to the entire family offering activities for the extreme adventurer to the casual observer, including mountain biking. The park will also be opening Fire at the Ridge, where renowned chef Kevin Cottle, who competed on the hit show Hell's Kitchen, will create artfully-inspired regional cuisine.
Stroll through Yale University in New Haven
Art lovers will be enthralled while touring Yale University Art Gallery (including paintings by Manet, Picasso, Monet and van Gogh) and exploring the city of New Haven, known as one of the most groundbreaking cities for architecture and design in the United States. The gallery’s expansion and renovation, 15 years in the making, unites the 1953 museum building by Louis Kahn, the 1928 Old Yale Art Gallery and the 1866 Street Hall into a single treasure chest.
UNPLUG & RECHARGE
Immerse yourself in an artist’s world at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme
Old Lyme was the home of American Impressionism at the turn of the 20th century, largely thanks to Florence Griswold, “keeper of the artist colony.” Florence opened her home to a group of artists in the early 1900s and today the inspirational grounds and gardens are open to all.
Ride the newest Attractions at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury
Quassy is a traditional family amusement and waterpark with award-winning "Wooden Warrior" roller coaster, "Splash Away Bay" an interactive water play area, "Fish Pond" a splash pad for the little ones, and home of the gigantic "Tunnel Twister" waterslides. Offering guests more than two-dozen entertainment rides and attractions, including a swimming beach, boat rides, catered outings, food, full arcade and two new attractions for the 2015 season, including the spectacular new spectacular thrill ride “FRANTIC,” and a kiddie bumper car ride named “Collidoscope.”
SOAR & PLUNGE
Let your imagination soar at New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks
Travel through the history of aviation at one of the most outstanding aviation centers in the nation. Tour the museum’s three exhibit hangars and see more than 80 aircraft, helicopters, amphibians, modern jets and trophy-winning racers from all periods of history. Take a close look at some of the airplanes that so proudly served the World War II, such as the P-47 Thunderbolt, the Corsair and the Hellcat. The museum includes a number of hands-on exhibits for children’s entertainment includes computer flight simulators and pedal-pusher airplanes. Special events, such as “Open Cockpit Days” are held throughout the year.
Touch a shark at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
Come nose-to-nose with sharks, seals, river otters, jellies, sea turtles and other amazing marine animals from Long Island Sound. Year round study cruises abroad the aquarium’s new unique hybrid-powered research vessel, R/V Spirit of the Sound™. The new research vessel is powered by a unique hybrid electric propulsion system - reducing fuel consumption by an estimated 75 percent - and offers a climate-controlled indoor classroom and outdoor research space.
STAGED & UNSCRIPTED
Take in a show at one of Connecticut’s Award-winning Theaters
Enjoy a concert at Infinity Music Hall & Bistro in Norfolk, an intimate music, dining and entertainment destination. The newly renovated, historic building contains its original proscenium stage and wood, as well as many other notable details and features award-winning shows. If you can’t venture to the northwest corner of the state, Infinity Music Hall & Bistro is also located in Hartford, offering the same great entertainment and delicious food in a 600-seat concert venue. Or head to Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam from April through December to enjoy originally produced musicals (since 1877). Numerous Goodspeed productions have transferred to Broadway, receiving more than a dozen Tony Awards.
Experience Connecticut’s breathtaking fall foliage
Fall is arguably Connecticut’s most beautiful season – with leaves in all corners of the state changing colors and providing one of nature’s most precious beauties. The season doesn’t last very long, so don’t let it pass you by – take a few days and go leaf peeping! You can see beautiful views all across the state – from Litchfield Hills (most well-known for its fall foliage - the town of Kent has been ranked the number one Fall Foliage Town in New England by Yankee Magazine) to New Haven to Fairfield County – you simply can’t go wrong. If you’re looking to take in the leaves in the Greater New Haven region, your first stop has to be Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden. The view from the Stone Tower gives you a beautiful 360 degree panorama view, looking south to Long Island and north past Hartford.
BY LAND, BY SEA
Hop aboard the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat
The only Steam Train and Riverboat connection in the country! At the historic, 1892 Essex Station, travelers can enjoy riding on a vintage steam train through the woodlands or a riverboat excursion through the Connecticut River Valley, so beautiful that the Nature Conservancy named it one of the "last great places" on earth. Take in breathtaking scenery and view historic landmarks such as Gillette's Castle and Goodspeed Opera House.
Have a whale of a time in Mystic
Mystic is filled with family attractions and lets kids of all ages have fun. Mystic Aquarium, is the place to discover whales, penguins, sea lions and other marine animals. The aquarium features a multimillion-dollar Titanic - 12,450 Feet Below exhibit that takes guests on a journey to new depths of discovery through the eyes of the team that found Titanic.
The nation's leading maritime museum, Mystic Seaport, brings visitors back to the 19th century with guided tours of waterfront tall ships, Civil War reenactments, one of the largest collections of maritime photography in the country and a planetarium. Visitors can climb aboard the Seaport’s beautifully restored Charles W. Morgan whaleship, which was built and launched in 1841. The Morgan is now America’s oldest commercial ship still afloat after being relaunched on July 21, 2013. Throughout the year, Mystic Seaport hosts a variety of popular annual events such as Lobster Days (May), Chowder Days (October) and historic Lantern Light Tours (December).
RELAXING & ACTIVE
Engage in interactive exhibits at Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk
At Stepping Stones Museum for Children, the hands-on exhibits and educational programs engage, inspire and delight every child. With five main galleries, a Traveling Exhibit Gallery and over 100 hands-on activities, children can see, hear, touch, feel and participate, allowing their ever-growing minds venture to amazing new places.
Enjoy family fun at EMPOWER Leadership Sports & Adventure Center in Middletown
EMPOWER Leadership Sports & Adventure Center is the Northeast's premiere canopy tour experience featuring zip lines, rappelling and orienteering (map and compass), among other thrilling adventures for everyone. Perfect for families, friends, groups and clubs to experience something new!
ESCAPE & DISCOVER
Stroll through Connecticut’s quaint and historic towns
The charm of Connecticut can be found in its small towns and main streets. Explore unique shops and galleries, get immersed in the café culture and soak in the authentic life. Start your country getaway in Greenwich, the state’s coastal southwest corner. Greenwich Avenue, the “Rodeo Drive of the Northeast,” is packed with boutiques, jewelry stores, design showrooms, chic cafés and art galleries. Another quintessential New England town nestled along the shoreline is Guilford, which branches off from the largest town green in the state. There you can find five museums set up shop inside historic homes—including the Henry Whitfield State Museum which is the oldest stone house in New England. Finally, our 2014 Fan-Favorite voted town of Westport generates the feeling of a New England town with a modern twist. Located on the Long Island Sound, the town offers a wide range of leisure activities, recreational venues and three beaches along the coast.
Enjoy a taste of Connecticut by exploring the Connecticut Wine Trail & Connecticut Beer Trail
The Connecticut Wine Trail is a council of 25 charming vineyards located around the state. Connecticut produced wines have won hundreds of awards and medals and include varieties such Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Vineyards of note include Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen, which offers year-round wine tasting, Sharpe Hill Vineyard in Pomfret, which features a fine gourmet restaurant the Fireside Tavern and Haight-Brown Vineyard in Litchfield, where you can sample delicious artisan cheeses and other foods with your wine at HB Café.
For those who prefer drinks of the hoppier variety, check out Thomas Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield, where you can tour the factory and sample 13 unique beers. For more Connecticut breweries around the state, check out the Connecticut Beer Trail, which spotlights the high quality and creative diversity of fresh, hand-crafted, locally-brewed beer, linking together some of the best breweries in the nation.
About The Connecticut Office of Tourism
Connecticut’s Office of Tourism (COT), a division of the Department of Economic and Community Development, created the award-winning still revolutionary strategic marketing initiative to build pride among residents and bolster the state’s reputation as a business and tourism destination. The brand, still revolutionary, communicates and proudly celebrates Connecticut’s spirit of independence and innovation that motivates people to experience new things, defy convention and blaze their own trails. Located in New England, the Northeast part of the United States, and easily accessible from both New York and Boston, Connecticut is home to fine dining and entertainment, serene beaches and hiking trails, historic treasures and world class lodging and museums. To obtain more information about Connecticut tourism or plan your next getaway, visit www.CTvisit.com, or call 1-888-CTvisit. Join other passionate residents and visitors by becoming part of the state’s social community, on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and now, Instagram.
Kathleen Stevens, Tourism Division
Connecticut Office of Tourism
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