Wondering Where to Go When You Visit Connecticut?
Nestled between Boston, Massachusetts and New York, New York is the small New England state of Connecticut. Its capital city is known as the “Insurance Capital of the World” because of the many insurance companies headquartered there, but we assure you – there’s much more to this state than the 9-5 city of Hartford. Its vibrant colors shine in the fall, and its weather is always the perfect temperature in summertime. No matter the season, you’ll find plenty to do inside the state borders of the Nutmeg State, but if you get the itch to explore outside of it, you’re just a short day trip from both Beantown and The Big Apple. You won’t need to venture far though with these ideas on where to visit in the great state of Connecticut.
Gillette Castle State Park
Picture a medieval castle, high atop a hill, overlooking the waterfront – and there you have Gillette Castle. This stone mansion was built in 1919 by actor William Gillette, who was best known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. The home, also known as The Seventh Sister, is located in a hill chain known as the Seven Sisters, between Lyme and East Haddam, Connecticut. The actor himself designed the home and its furnishings and he took great pride in it. There are 24 rooms inside and the property is covered in trails, gardens, and overlooks. You can also find a railroad station, vegetable cellar and goldfish pond on the property. The area is now a state park so you can explore the beautiful vistas and appreciate the craftsmanship of this unique home.
Elizabeth Park Rose Gardens
Step into a fairytale with a trip to Elizabeth Park in West Hartford. This stunning garden used to be the estate property of a wealthy Hartford businessman and was turned into a park in 1897. Swiss landscape architect Theodore Wirth then took over the project of updating and expanding the garden and his work has landed the park on the national register of historic places. The park’s most prominent feature is the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden, which was the first municipal rose garden in the United States and still to this day the country’s third-largest rose garden.
The park is also home to a tulip garden and a rock garden among other features and has an overlook with a beautiful view of Hartford’s city skyline. The park’s 101 acres also hosts concerts, ballets, weddings, and has multiple athletic fields for visitors to enjoy. Be sure to pay a visit to downtown West Hartford for trendy dining and shopping while you’re in the area. If you love nature, you may want to stop at the nearby West Hartford Reservoir, especially when the trees are ablaze with color in the fall.
This historic seaside village is full of charm. In Mystic, you’ll find a 19th-century seafaring town preserved in time. In the harbor sit massive sailing ships of yesteryear, and quaint storefronts and homes decorate the shoreline. The famous Mystic Seaport Museum is a must while you’re in town, where you can learn about the fishing and whaling history of the area. The Charles W. Morgan is the last surviving US whaling ship and floats in the museum’s waters.
This vessel is one of 4 designated National Historic Landmarks housed by the museum. Visit “Captain’s Row” on Gravel Street, where the captains of ships in the Mystic Harbor used to call home. You can also stop by the Mystic Aquarium to see the only beluga whales in New England, or take a cruise around the harbor on a schooner. Olde Mistick Village is the place to go for old-timey shopping and dining. Don’t forget to get a donut at B. F. Clyde’s Cider Mill or a slice of pizza at Mystic Pizza.
Mark Twain House
You’ve of course read about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, but have you ever wondered where their adventures began? The answer is in this unique house in Hartford, Connecticut. Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, lived in this red brick home when he wrote most of the well-known works that would earn him the title of America’s greatest author. Just as extravagant inside as it is on the outside, this national historic landmark is open for tours. In its 25 rooms, you’ll find a cafe, a conservatory, a library, and the billiards room where Mark Twain wrote his most famous stories. If you’re a fan of literature, this house and museum is a must for your Connecticut itinerary.
This Ivy League school may be bustling with students when you visit, but that’s no reason to stay away from taking in the sights of its historic halls. The university’s visitor center in New Haven provides guided tours for guests led by active students that detail the school’s 300-year history. While you’re on campus, don’t miss the Yale University Art Gallery or the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. These museums are open to the public and are just as iconic as the university itself.
If you’re looking for the quintessential New England experience, head to the Litchfield Hills in northwest Connecticut. This area is home to picturesque small towns, waterfalls, covered bridges, and some of the most serene scenery there is to find. Its charm multiplies in the fall when the leaves change and the hillsides light up with color. Downtown historic Litchfield is home to one of the most photographed churches in New England, Litchfield Congregational Church. At Kent Falls State Park, you’ll find the tallest waterfall in the area. You can also walk part of the Appalachian Trail in this region. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can check out the Connecticut Wine Trail instead. There are also a number of scenic drives in the area, which makes it perfect for RV travelers.
Where to Go When You Visit Connecticut
From quaint towns to historic homes and universities, a visit to these spots in Connecticut will have you feeling like you’re stepping into a different era. Each unique in its own way. Does our list of places to go when you visit Connecticut have you feeling inspired? See where else there is to discover with our other favorite RV destinations on the blog!