30 Things to Do in Central Connecticut this Summer Last Updated: November 2023

When the sun is shining and the ocean’s calling, you'll know it’s summer in Connecticut. As the days get longer, more fun activities emerge — and you can be sure businesses are working hard to keep you safe. Whether you’re soaking up sun or stars, there’s so much to see and do, from active adventure and family fun to relaxation and romantic escapes. Here’s your guide to the summer season in Central Connecticut.

Just be sure to check with each location before venturing out as hours may change.

Active Adventure

1. Get out on the water. Try paddle boarding or kayaking with rentals from Branford River Paddlesports, Kayaks and Tours, Black Hall Outfitters in Westbrook, or Collinsville Canoe & Kayak.

2. Climb to the top. Take guided rock climbing lessons and explore the heights of Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, Pinnacle Rock in Plainville, West Rock Ridge State Park in New Haven, and more.

3. Make a splash. Ditch the chlorinated pool and get out into nature! Enjoy the natural swimming hole at Gay City State Park in Hebron.

4. Get golfing. Grab your clubs, kart, and take a swing at Gillette Ridge Golf Club in Bloomfield, Blackledge Country Club in Hebron, East Hartford Golf Club, Rockledge Golf Club in West Hartford, or Tradition Golf Club at Wallingford.

5. Go fish. Whether you’re reeling in big stripers, blackfish, fluke or something else, take a captain-lead fishing trip aboard Island Sport Fishing Charters, Sea Sprite, North Coast Charters, FlyingConnie Fishing Charters, or Nightjack Sportfishing.

6. Paddle around. Between two marinas in the town of Lyme, explore Hamburg Cove, a quiet spot known for its calm waters... and being the ideal place to paddleboard. Cove Landing Marine's rentals will give you an amazing day of paddling opportunities in the Lower Connecticut River.

Below are a few more spots to find active adventure:

Rest and Relaxation

7. Admire roses. The early weeks of summer are ideal for seeing these vibrant blooms. Stroll through exquisite rose beds, flower arches, gazebos, and more at Elizabeth Park in West Hartford or Pardee Rose Gardens in Hamden.

8. Experience cryotherapy. A “cool” way to revitalize your body, cryotherapy exposes you to sub-zero temperatures and eases muscle pain, as well as joint disorders like arthritis. Try it for yourself at Glastonbury Cryotherapy or Imagine Float in Avon.

9. Just breathe. Center yourself by taking an online meditation course at Copper Beech Institute. All levels are welcome – and you can even take it outside!

10. Book a refreshing facial. After a day in the sun, cool down and detox by getting a facial at spas like A Moment Away in Southington and Plainville,  Delamar Spa in West Hartford, or By the Sea Day Spa in Branford.

11. Browse beach towns. Take a leisurely stroll by the water and window shop walkable town centers such as Essex, Madison, and Old Saybrook.

Below are a few more spots to find rest and relaxation:

Arts, Culture & History

12. See outdoor art. Get out in the open air and admire masterpieces. Explore sculptures at the Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk in Hartford, The Sculpture Mile in Madison, or magnificent murals in downtown Hartford.

13. Explore unique histories. Learn about something new at less typical history museums such as the Great Middletown Military Museum, Connecticut River Museum in Essex, Vintage Hi Fi Museum in West Hartford, New England Motorcycle Museum in Vernon, the Vintage Radio & Communications Museum in Windsor, or the Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine in Granby.

14. Snap for sunken garden poetry. In the gorgeous gardens of Farmington’s Hill-Stead Museum, attend a one-of-a-kind event which hosts and celebrates poets laureate, Pulitzer Prize winners, and other award winning poets.

15. Ride Segway style. Get out and take in a historic town – on Segways! Enjoy a guided tour of Guilford, scenic views, and a fun ride with Shoreline Segways.

Below are a few more spots to find arts, culture & history:

Food and Drink Adventures

16. Scream for ice cream. On a hot summer’s day, what’s better than a cold treat? Find fantastic flavors at Milkcraft in West Hartford, Honeycone Cream Company in Chester, Ashley’s Ice Cream in multiple towns, Grass Roots Ice Cream in Granby, Main Street Creamery & Café in Wethersfield, and Scoopy Doos in Milford.

17. Enjoy dinner with a view. Open-air, cool breeze – dine waterfront at River in Wethersfield, Shell & Bones in New Haven, Sunset Bar & Grill in Westbrook, or Fresh Salt in Old Saybrook.

18. Love lobster rolls. It’s seafood season and a fan favorite’s ready to be devoured. Whether you like ‘em served hot or cold, you’ll find tasty options in Connecticut. Find lobster rolls at Lobster Landing in Clinton, the Lobster Shack in East Haven, Johnny Ad’s in Old Saybrook, and Bill’s Seafood in Westbrook.

19 Drive-in to your meal. Stop for a quick & tasty meal at food stands like Glenwood Drive-In in Hamden, Stowe’s Seafood in West Haven, or Blackie’s Hot Dogs in Cheshire.  No need to be on a road trip – you can swing by anytime!

20. Sip outdoor wine & brews. Add some flair to a summer night or day and spend it on the inviting grounds of a vineyard of brewery. Lounge outdoors at Chamard Vineyards in Clinton, Paradise Hills Vineyard in Wallingford, Rosedale Farms & Vineyard in Simsbury, Connecticut Valley Brewing Company in South Windsor, or Stony Creek Brewery in Branford.

21. Solve a mealtime mystery. Enjoy dinner and an interactive show at The Dinner Detective in Hartford and New Haven, where you’ll partake in a murder mystery show paired with a delicious four-course meal.

22. Sit your rump on a stump. Ever eat while sitting on a tree stump? You can at The Place in Guilford — a truly unusual restaurant where visitors dine outdoors while a crackling wood fire roasts savory clams, smoky lobsters, sweet corn, and much more.

Below are a few more spots to find food and drink adventures:

Family Fun

23. Adventure on the water. Experience family-friendly thrills at Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park in Portland, which has rock climbing, wakeboarding, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, cliff jumping, scuba diving, zip lines, water obstacles, a rope swing, and more.

24. Go camping. Whether you prefer tents or cabins, there’s plenty of camping family fun at spots like GrandView Camp Resort and Cottages in Moodus, River Highlands State Park in Cromwell, Wolf’s Den Family Campground in East Haddam, and Riverdale Farm Campsite in Clinton.

25. See a drive-in movie. Perfect for the age of social distancing, try a nostalgic family favorite and see a movie at the Southington Drive-In – don’t forget the popcorn!

26. Get sand in your toes. It just isn’t summer without a beach day. Soak up the sun, make sandcastles, and more at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Clinton Town Beach, West Beach in Westbrook, or Old Saybrook Town Beach.

Below are a few more spots to find family fun:

Romantic Escapes

27. Snap waterfall shots. Whether you’re taking engagement photos or simply capturing sweet moments, Connecticut’s waterfalls are stunning and romantic locations for photos and dates. Discover the beauty of Devil’s Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, Enders State Forest in Granby, Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middletown, and Roaring Brook Falls in Cheshire.

28. Go stargazing. What’s more romantic than an evening under the stars? For unobstructed views, try Talcott Mountain Science Center in Avon, or stay up all night and stargaze while camping at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison.

29. Cruise together. Find romance on the water with scenic cruises such as Connecticut River Cruise & Charter in Middletown, Onrust and RiverQuest both in Essex, Becky Thatcher Riverboat in Deep River, or Sea Mist Thimble Island Cruise in Branford.

30. Pack a picnic. Plan a sweet afternoon meal together at great picnic spots like Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven, Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, Lost Acres in Granby, or Bushnell Park in Hartford. You can even bring takeout from local spots to help #SupportCTbusinesses.

Below are a few more spots to find romantic escapes: