Come for Work, Stay for Fun Last Updated: December 2020
These days, traveling for work doesn’t need to be “all-business.” From top-rated restaurants to award-winning theaters to museums and music venues, there’s lots more to do in the Nutmeg State once the working day is done. In fact, Connecticut isn’t the only state seeing travelers do more with business travel. This trend is known as “bleisure,” and nearly half (43%) of business trips today add a leisure component.* So whether you tack on a few days or simply make it a point to leave your hotel to explore a bit, we’ve got a few suggestions for enjoying your own bleisure time in Connecticut!
Hartford — Artwork After Work
If you’re at the Connecticut Convention Center, the XL Center or anyone of hundreds of companies located downtown, you’re just steps away from fine art and fine dining. Just a short drive from Bradley International Airport, Connecticut’s capital city is populated with a vibrant restaurant scene and colorful museums, like the Wadsworth Atheneum, the nation’s oldest continuously operating public museum, which often hosts evening events and free admission from 4-5 pm Wednesdays through Sundays. Also in Hartford, Real Art Ways hosts events and exhibits from contemporary art to international cinema, including their Creative Cocktail Hours, the first Thursday of every month. For dining that’s also considered a work of art, try Peppercorn’s Grill, J Restaurant & Bar, or On20. In the city’s Front Street District, just steps from the Convention Center, you’ll find familiar names like Capital Grille, as well as local favorites like Blind Pig Pizza Company.
New Haven — Good Food and Good Company
Easily reached via Amtrak, New Haven is located along the shoreline, but still in the heart of New England. The centerpiece of New Haven, the historic Yale University Campus is filled with museums, music and art, so you’ll find so much to do just steps from the Yale Conference Center. Walk off campus, and you’ll find amazing theater, dining, shopping and more. See what’s on at the Shubert Theatre or the Long Wharf Theatre. Or enjoy live music most nights at the iconic Toad’s Place. If you’re looking for happy hour or late night cocktails, New Haven offers great nightspots like 116 Crown, Ordinary or Zinc. And if you’re hungry, don’t miss a chance to try what is widely regarded as America’s #1 pizza at the original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. Or grab a bite at the real home of the hamburger, the charming Louis’ Lunch on Crown Street.
Connecticut’s Casinos — Work and Play
There aren’t many convention centers these days that can claim to have top-rated accommodations and world-class entertainment, dining, golf and shopping right on site. In Connecticut, there are two such destinations, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, conveniently located almost halfway between New York City and Boston. Each dramatic location offers its own unique benefits, but whether you are attending a large convention or a small conference, both work hard to make sure you have a memorable visit. At Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, you can relax after business is done at one of the dozens of restaurants, including a few by names you’ll know, such as Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain, Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse and Jasper White’s Summer Shack. There is also golf, live entertainment, comedy, sporting events and of course, legendary gaming. Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket bills itself as a “city” for meeting planners. Packed with dining, golf, accommodations, shopping (including an outlet mall) and more, Foxwoods offers business guests a world of activities, virtually under one roof. Dine at David Burke Prime, The Scorpion Bar or the Hard Rock Café.
Litchfield Hills — Business With a View
Connecticut’s Litchfield hills region may offer more of a unique appeal for business travelers, especially when it comes to corporate retreats and getting “off the grid.” Properties often specialize in meeting space that relaxes and revitalizes guests — and invites them to stay a little longer. The Heritage Hotel and Conference Center in Southbury is not far from Quassy and Lake Compounce amusement parks—perfect for bringing kids and extending a short business trip into a long summer weekend with the family. And Lakeville’s picturesque Interlaken Hotel & Conference Center is minutes from small towns, wineries and dairy bars, not to mention Lime Rock Park racetrack and Infinity Music Hall, two legendary Connecticut destinations.
Fairfield County — Coastal Consideration
Just a short ride from New York City (and New York area airports), and home to many national and international corporations, Connecticut’s Fairfield County is a popular destination for business travelers. Here are some popular activities, whether you have a weeknight or a weekend.
- In Stamford, take the trolley from downtown or the train station to Harbor Point, for any number of dining options, especially in spring and summer months where you can eat along the boardwalk and take in views of the Sound.
- If you happen to have business up the coast in Norwalk, don’t miss the lively scene in SoNo (South Norwalk), including spots like Local Kitchen & Beer Bar and Mama’s Boy.
- Further up I-95 in Bridgeport, enjoy some fresh seafood at Captain’s Cove Marina, sample local craft beer at Brewport Brewing Company or small batch craft cocktails at Fifth State Distillery.