As a New England vacation travel writer I’ve always considered Connecticut an overlooked state when people choose destinations and attractions for a New England vacation. As you’ll discover here a Connecticut vacation offers excitement… or peace and quiet, depending on your mood.
Let’s take a quick look at seven reasons why you should consider a Connecticut vacation for your next New England trip.
THE MUSEUMS OF CONNECTICUT
With more than 14 diverse theme museums in Connecticut, there’s bound to be something to suit your taste. Here’s a quick rundown…
Bridgeport is home to The Barnum Museum and Discover Museum, and at Danbury, you’ll find the Military Museum of Southern New England and the Danbury Railway Museum. Keeping with a train theme Thomaston hosts the Railroad Museum of New England and Naugatuck Railroad.
In Bristol, you can find The New England Carousel Museum and period timepieces at the American Clock and Watch Museum. Just a little south in Waterbury is Time Expo, and a chance to celebrate the heritage of the Litchfield region at the Mattatuck Museum. At the Connecticut Antique Machinery Museum in Kent experience machinery that once drove commerce in the area.
Windsor Locks is not just home to Bradley International Airport but also to the New England Air Museum and south in East Haven experience another form of transportation at the Shore Line Trolley Museum.
And rounding out our must-see list is Mystic’s Museum of America and the Sea, and the fabulous Mashantucket Pequot Museum in nearby Mashantucket.
THE CONNECTICUT WINE TRAIL
Wineries in Connecticut? Yes, in fact, there are 16 of them scattered throughout the state, and they make a perfect basis for a Connecticut Vacation. The climate in Connecticut is mild compared to the rest of New England and wines produced include Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, and Riesling. While Connecticut wines have only been produced since 1978, many farms where the grapes are grown are hundreds of years old. The wine tasting room will usually be open but call ahead for a tour time. You’ll find these wineries not geared for large bus loads, but on the plus much more intermit than wineries in Northern California.
The wine trail is split into two major regions and it’s suggested your tour is split up over three to four days. But because the trail takes you near so many other destinations and attractions in Connecticut let yourself be distracted and enjoy the jaunt through the scenic and historic New England towns.
FOXWOODS AND MOHEGAN SUN
Combined Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun make the largest casino complex in the world. Foxwoods is owned and run by Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, and Mohegan Sun by Mohegan Tribe on lands they own in Uncasville. These are sophisticated high-style experiences with shopping complexes, hotels, high-profile entertainment acts, and top-rated restaurants. They are both close to each other and located in the eastern region of Connecticut, and close to museums, scenic drives, and the Connecticut vacation attractions in Mystic.
HISTORIC HOMES OF CONNECTICUT
Perhaps the most famous home to see on your Connecticut vacation is Mark Twain’s in Hartford, which is now a museum as well full of many artifacts he accumulated in the 17 years he lived there. Also in Hartford is Harriet Beecher Stowe home of Uncle Tom’s Cabin fame. Another famous woman’s home is the academy run by Prudence Crandall in Canterbury – it’s the site of the first academy for black women in New England. Your trip to Connecticut should include the town of Litchfield where you can view museum quality preserved colonial homes, and the Litchfield History Museum and Tapping Reeve House and Law School.
Connecticut includes many historic homes that played an important role in the Underground Railroad and the African-American journey from slavery to freedom.
ESSEX STEAM TRAIN AND THE CONNECTICUT RIVER
The historic 1892 Essex station is your kick-off point for a unique combined 21/2 hour vintage Steam Train and Riverboat Cruise along the Connecticut River. In the summer it’s cooling, and in the fall stunning with the turning of the leaves. The Connecticut River Museum is also in Essex and vividly brings to life the river’s history as told through paintings, artifacts, and interactive exhibits.
THE TOWN OF MYSTIC
Mystic Seaport and the Mystic Aquarium are magnets for visitors to Connecticut. The seaport is billed as The Museum of America and the Sea and depicts an authentic 19th-century seafaring village, tall ships to tour, and a Preservation Yard where master shipbuilding skills are still practiced. The Mystic Aquarium includes a delightful array of indoor and outdoor exhibits, including Beluga whales, and a stunning display and model of the Titanic.
THE ANTIQUE RUNS
Connecticut is famous for its concentration of antique shops and draws thousands of treasure hunters each year who take a Connecticut vacation just to stock up on bargains and specimens to collect and decorate their homes. The village of Woodbury is known as the “Antiques Capital of Connecticut” and has over 45 dealers, but the fact is you’re never too far from that special purchase no matter where you are in the state. Just sometimes it’s nice to take the time to follow your nose along a scenic New England road and see where it takes you… you can bet if it’s in Connecticut, it’ll take you close to an antique shop.