Top 25 Connecticut Attractions You Don't Want To Miss

Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Connecticut is one of the favorite travel destinations in New England. It’s a state filled with history, art, culture, and fun. Whether you’re looking to experience outdoor recreation or explore the many historical sights, there are plenty of things to do in Connecticut for everyone.

Being one of the original 13 states established in the US, there are many historical landmarks from the colonial era to be explored by history buffs. Or, if you're into artwork, you'll find some of the best museums exhibiting American art and other works from world-famous artists.

Get ready for lots of fun and sightseeing as you make your way across the great state of Connecticut. It’s a place that will truly amaze you! Here are the top tourist attractions in Connecticut that you must add to your itinerary.

Things To Do in Connecticut

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1: Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport
Flickr/Ken Mist

As the largest maritime museum in the United States, the Mystic Seaport is an essential Connecticut stop! Its full name is actually the Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea in Mystic.

It features a wide variety of water vessels from many different eras of maritime adventure. It is specifically popular for its extensive 19th century recreation of a seafaring village. However, that’s just one of the many incredible exhibits. There is so much to see at Mystic Seaport!

You can climb aboard historic vessels, take a cruise down the Mystic River aboard a wooden coal-fired steamboat, and explore highly interactive displays and exhibits that include a working preservation shipyard in action.

General admission tickets vary by age. For adults, the price is $28.95. Seniors (65+) are $26.95, youths (13-17) are $24.95, children (3-12) are $18.95, and anyone younger than 2 is free. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. excluding national holidays.

There is also free parking just across the street, and a magnificent aquarium just next door. If you’re interested in the aquarium, look into some of the bundle passes like the Mystic Pass Card so that you can really see it all in Mystic, Connecticut.

Address: 75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, CT 06355

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2: Historic Ship Nautilus & Submarine Force Museum

Historic Ship Nautilus & Submarine Force Museum

Learn everything there is to know about submarines with a visit to the Submarine Force Museum. It’s one of the most in-depth museums in the US that explores submarines and their history. The experience even includes a tour of the USS Nautilus.

Submarine Force Museum holds 33,000 objects collected over the years. The exhibitions highlight all aspects of submarines.

You’ll get to see different submarine replica models, see what it’s like in a control room, and ship parts. There are tons of documents and books about submarines.

One of the coolest things to see in Connecticut is the USS Nautilus. The museum includes the actual submarine, which is the first nuclear-powered vessel. It was used during the Cold War but is now decommissioned and docked on the Thames River.

Visitors can climb on board the submarine and explore life inside an actual vessel with an audio tour.

Address: 1 Crystal Lake Rd, Groton, CT 06340

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Also Read: Best Battleship Museums In the USA

3: Lake Compounce Amusement Park

Lake Compounce Amusement Park

There’s a reason why Lake Compounce Amusement Park is one of the top Connecticut tourist attractions. It first opened in 1846 and is the oldest amusement park still operating in the US. It welcomes back visitors year after year to ride its award-winning rides.

The amusement park is a destination for family fun. There are over 40 rides, including a handful of roller coasters and over a dozen water rides.

You can ride one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the country or go for a thrill ride on the famous Boulder Dash.

Admission to the park includes entrance to the Crocodile Cover Water Park. It’s the best place to be on a hot summer day.

If you’re planning a long day at the park, there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat before going on the next rides.

It’s a seasonal park open from May to December.

Address: 186 Enterprise Dr, Bristol, CT 06010

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Also Read: 25 Best Amusement Parks in the US

4: Beardsley Zoo

Beardsley Zoo
Facebook/Beardsley Zoo

Walk amongst the wildlife in Connecticut’s famed Beardsley Zoo. Currently, it is the only AZA-accredited Connecticut zoo. It is also an extensive testament to all things nature!

It has several exhibits, shows, attractions--- and even one of the state’s only carousels. There is so much to explore from reserves, to games, to some good ole fashioned zoo food that makes the trip a family favorite.

Animals here are well protected and cared for, and the experience is truly something you’ll never forget. Watch a tiger prowl, a giraffe feed, or a gorilla interact with friends all within one incredible zoo.

Rates vary by age, but generally adult tickets are $15. The zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. everyday. However, if you want to make the most out of your trip, it is recommended you get started early.

Most animals are early risers, and you’ll be able to see a lot more if you give yourself an extra hour or so in the park. The Beardsley Zoo is large enough that you will need the full day to embrace all of its wonderful attractions.

Address: 1875 Noble Ave, Bridgeport, CT 06610

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Also Read: 30 Best Zoos in the US

5: Hammonasset Beach State Park

Hammonasset Beach State Park
Flickr/Chris Amelung

Spend the day soaking in the sunshine! Hammonasset Beach State Park is two long, golden miles of prime beachfront property. It is one of the most popular attractions as visitors can play in the waves, lay out a nice towel, or play a couple of fun beach games.

This is one of the best spots in the state to go for a little serenity. There are parts where the crowds congregate, and sections entirely undisturbed. It’s all about finding what suits you, and then enjoying your slice of paradise.

As a state park, this beach is well-maintained by the state. It also operates on set hours and includes a few fees. The park is open every day from 8 a.m. to sunset, with the campground open (mid-May to Labor Day) and only monitored after sunset.

To park by Hammonasset Beach State Park you must pay the $13.83 fee on weekends, and $9.57 on weekdays for residents. Any visitors pay $23.40 on weekends, and $15.95. But a stay here is well worth any cost as you will remember this sun kissed dream for many months to come.

Address: 1288 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443

Also Read: 30 Best Beaches in the USA

6: Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration

Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration
Flickr/Eric Savage

Mystic Aquarium is one of New England’s premier aquariums. It’s the only place in the region where you’ll get to see a Beluga Whale and Steller Sea Lions, so take advantage of the incredible opportunity. These animals and many other marine creatures are definitely a sight to see.

Mystic Aquarium is a modern facility used for fun and education. Aside from exhibiting animals, its goal is to teach the public about marine life.

Walk past the large tanks and exhibits showcasing animals, including sharks, jellyfish, and penguins. Several specially designed habitats feature fish native to coral reefs around the world and the Amazon.

Where else can you touch a baby shark and stingrays? The interactive touch tank is always a favorite for visitors. The aquarium also features a special dinosaur exhibition and 4D Theater.

Address: 55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT 06355

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Also Read: 25 Best Aquariums in the United States

7: Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum

Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum
Flickr/Kyle Hartshorn

Walk the same paths as the largest animals that roamed the Earth hundreds of millions of years ago. The Dinosaur State Park holds one of the largest concentrations of dinosaur tracks discovered in North America.

There are over 2,000 preserved tracks within the park and many on display for visitors. It’s undoubtedly one of the rare sights to see in Connecticut.

The Geodesic dome houses hundreds of dinosaur tracks. It’s hard to believe that they are real and so well-preserved.

The dome creates a special setting full of life-size models of dinosaurs and plants from the prehistoric period. There is even an arts and crafts room for kids.

The entire park covers 80 acres. In addition to the dome, there are several other facilities like the arboretum.

It’s a controlled environmental space showcasing diverse flora from New England. It has miles of walking trails to see all of the different plants up close.

Address: 400 West St, Rocky Hill, CT 06067

Also Read: The Best Dinosaur Museums in the US

8: Gillette Castle State Park

Gillette Castle State Park
Flickr/Joe Mabel

Built in 1914, Connecticut is the proud owner of its very own castle! The Gillette Castle State Park is a beloved staple mark of the state and draws hundreds of tourists to its historic doors.

This is a great site to walk the entire grounds, and really see all that décor and grandeur can do. It is a medieval-style building that was once owned by actor William Gillette. The Gillette Castle is a massive building with some of the most beautiful architecture in all of Connecticut.

Visitors can really see all the influences of the ages in every nook and cranny of this attraction. Be sure to opt for a tour and get a closer look at all that makes this place spectacular!

The Gillette Castle interior tour fees are as follows: $6 for adults, $2 for those aged 6-12, and free for children 5 and under. The park grounds by the castle are open from 8 a.m. to sunset every day. The castle itself is open seven days a week from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.

Tours are available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. As this is a very popular attraction, it is recommended to visit this site somewhere close to the opening hours. Not only will there be less people, but you’ll have more room to free roam and have all the time needed to truly see it all.

Address: 67 River Rd, East Haddam, CT 06423

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Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the United States

9: The Mark Twain House & Museum

The Mark Twain House & Museum

Mark Twain is a leading cultural icon in American literature. You can discover a part of his legacy by visiting the Mark Twain House and Museum.

His former house in Hartford, CT, is fully restored and offers guided tours to learn more about America’s greatest writer.

The Mark Twain House is where the author lived when completing his most famous novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Take a house tour to see the room where he developed the iconic characters, his living space, the servants’ quarters, and more. You’ll get a glimpse into the house that inspired his legacy.

Knowledgeable guides share many stories about the author and details about the house.

The three-story house is designed in American Gothic architecture with 25 rooms. Visitors can walk the outside grounds to admire the architecture after the tour.

Address: 351 Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT 06105

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Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Hartford, Connecticut

10: Yale University Art Gallery

Yale University Art Gallery

Yale University is an Ivy League school located in New Haven, CT, and one of the most prestigious in the US.

The historical campus has lots of buildings worth visiting, including the Yale University Art Gallery. The gallery is housed in two connected buildings that feature world-class art.

The gallery collection has many works of American, Africa, Asian, and European art. The works range from the Old Masters to contemporary pieces.

You’ll see paintings from artists such as John Trumbull, Vincent Van Gogh, Peter Paul Rubens, and Pablo Picasso.

The exhibitions are located on various floors. You'll see famous works depicting American History that was the first pieces in the collection.

There are also sculptures exhibited on the rooftop terrace. It's one of the best art-viewing experiences overlooking the campus.

The museum hosts several temporary exhibitions and programs for visitors. The best part is that it’s free and open to the public.

Address: 1111 Chapel St, New Haven, CT 06510

Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in New Haven, Connecticut

11: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

There are many interesting buildings in Hartford, but none catch your eye quite like the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

The castle-style architecture is hard to miss, and you’ll find one of the best art museums in Connecticut housed inside of it.

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is a hub for art and culture. It’s the state’s largest and oldest art museum, established in 1842.

The goal was to introduce art to the region. It has amassed a collection of over 50,000 works since it was founded.

The museum specializes in Egyptian art, European Baroque art, and bronze sculptures. You’ll find pieces from famous artists, such as Monet, Rothko, Renoir, and On Kawara.

Explore the permanent and temporary exhibitions to see one of the finest collections of art in the country.

Address: 600 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103

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12: Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center

Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
Flickr/Britt Reints

Native Americans inhabited the region now known as New England before European settlement. There are a few Connecticut tourist attractions dedicated to the local tribes.

You can learn all about the native tribes at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. It’s the largest museum highlighting Native American history, art, and culture.

The museum features several exhibitions organized in a timeline to walk you through the origin to European contact to the modern-day.

You’ll enter a hall with a diorama featuring life-sized models performing daily tasks. There are many artifacts and information panels detailing life in the pre-colonial days.

In addition to the exhibitions, you’ll get a chance to see a recreated village from the 16th century.

Tucked inside a cedar forest, it’s an accurate glimpse at how natives lived. The museum has an observation tower overlooking the entire area.

The museum is one of the best places to learn about Native Americans. It frequently hosts events, film screenings, and interactive exhibitions.

Address: 110 Pequot Trail, Ledyard, CT 06338

13: New England Air Museum

New England Air Museum

Did you know that Connecticut has played a significant role in the aviation industry throughout history? The New England Air Museum holds one of the largest aircraft collections in the world, including many with local roots. It’s one of the best attractions in Connecticut to explore all things aviation.

New England Air Museum displays more than 80 aircraft in designated air hangars.

It’s an appropriate setting to walk past impressive aircraft – airplanes, helicopters, military aircraft, and more. It has many restored vintage aircraft and even the oldest hot air balloon basket.

The museum covers lots of history, including details about the Wright Brothers. There is a library containing many archives about aviation, art, and multimedia.

Feel free to chat with the staff, who can tell you everything you’d like to know about the aircraft.

There are interactive activities for immersive experiences like flying in a simulator.

Address: 36 Perimeter Rd, Windsor Locks, CT 06096

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14: Roseland Cottage

Roseland Cottage
Dreamstime/Lei Xu

Nicknamed the Pink House, Roseland Cottage is one of the most impressive buildings within the Woodstock Hill Historic District.

It’s the former summer home to the Bowen family that is now open to the public for tours and events.

It’s hard not to admire the stunning architecture of Roseland Cottage. It was built in the 19th century in a Gothic Revival style.

The pink façade makes it stand out from other houses in the district. The outside grounds feature a decorative garden.

The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a recognized National Historic Landmark.

Visitors can tour the inside of the house to see preserved furniture from the 1800s. Much of the house remains kept in its original state. Guided tours provide historical details about the house.

The house is open seasonally from June to October. It frequently hosts community events on the outdoor grounds.

Address: 556 CT-169, Woodstock, CT 06281

15: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is one of the fun things to do in Connecticut to experience new-age art. Unlike other museums in the state, it’s dedicated strictly to contemporary art.

There’s always something new on display in the museums, so anytime is great to stop by.

The museum was started by Larry Aldrich, a notable art collector. The goal is the inspire new generations and provide opportunities to artists.

It achieves its mission by exhibiting emerging artists to well-established artists. You might discover your new favorite artist!

Another unique feature of the museum is that it only holds temporary exhibitions. The exhibits are constantly changing to give plenty of opportunities for solo shows or group exhibitions.

There are lots of public programs for all ages to learn about art or listen in on artists’ talks by featured artists.

Visit on the 3rd Saturday of every month for free entrance.

Address: 258 Main St, Ridgefield, CT 06877

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16: The Glass House

The Glass House

Famed architect Philip John created some of the most noteworthy buildings in the country. So, you could only imagine the detail he’ll use in designing his personal home.

The Glass House was his residence and a unique example of modern design.

Located in New Canaan, The Glass House is one of the unique places to visit in Connecticut. You'll have the opportunity to tour the private home of one of America's greatest architects.

It's appropriately named for the prominent use of glass in the structure to create a seamless flow with the surrounding nature.

Tours begin at the nearby visitor center. You'll arrive at the glasshouse to tour inside and see the unique design, artwork, and vistas.

It's one room, so all living features are contained within it. The property also includes several other structures used for living and working.

The residence is now preserved as a National Historic Landmark.

Address: 199 Elm St, New Canaan, CT 06840

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17: Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

The Essex steam train will be one of your favorite activities during your trip to Connecticut.

Feel the nostalgia as you travel through the Connecticut River Valley on transportation of the past. You can go on an excursion on the steam train or combine it with a cruise on the riverboat.

The steam train is a vintage rail system that operates the train as a fun tourist attraction for leisure and sightseeing.

The ride lasts about 2.5-hours as you trek through the valley for views of the Connecticut River, Gillette Castle, and the Goodspeed Opera House. The entire journey is narrated for context on the sights you’ll encounter.

The experience offers upgrades for a meal in a dining car. There are also holiday specials like the Polar Express in the winter.

If you opt for the riverboat, you’ll hop off the train and get on a vessel to cruise the Deep River.

Address: 36 Main St, Essex, CT 06426

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Also Read: 30 Best Railway Museums in the US

18: Mohegan Sun

Mohegan Sun

You’ll have everything you need for the perfect getaway when you stay at the Mohegan Sun. It’s one of the best vacation spots in Connecticut. The resort and casino are a destination for play, relaxation, and entertainment.

Mohegan sun is owned and operated by the local Native American tribe. It's a 34-story hotel with guestrooms outfitted with traditional décor and modern facilities.

With so much to see and do at the resort, you might not spend too much time in your room.

The resort features three world-class casinos full of your favorite slots and table games. If you need a break from the games, other facilities include a pool, golf course, and spa.

Dine-in at one of the onsite restaurants before catching a live show. There are even several shops within the complex.

Mohegan Sun is a family-friendly resort that makes for a great vacation.

Address: 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd, Uncasville, CT 06382

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19: Hill-Stead Museum

Hill-Stead Museum

Hill-Stead Museum is a museum like none other. There aren’t too many attractions in Connecticut where you can walk through a private home to see an amazing personal art collection featuring works by famous artists like Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, and James McNeill Whistler.

But now, you can take advantage of the opportunity during your trip to Connecticut.

The museum is established in a marvelous estate. It’s designed in a Colonial Revival style and is now considered a National Historic Landmark. The home is preserved with original furniture and decorations.

Guided tours are available to see valuable artwork and antiques. The tour takes groups to 19 of the rooms while hearing details about each space.

One of the highlights of the home is the outdoor garden. It’s called the sunken garden and features a well-maintained design.

It’s a popular event venue and famous for hosting the annual Sunken Garden Festival for poetry.

Address: 35 Mountain Rd, Farmington, CT 06032

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20: Rocky Neck State Park

Rocky Neck State Park

With over 100 state parks in Connecticut, there are many places to visit in Connecticut to enjoy outdoor recreation. Rocky Neck State Park is one of the favorite Connecticut tourist attractions.

It’s not the largest park, but it offers a diverse mix of activities to make it fun for everyone.

Rocky Neck State Park covers approximately 710 acres. It has various landscape features, from wooded areas to marshes to the coast. It’s a fun destination for recreation in any season.

During the summer, the beaches are always full of people. You can go swimming in the Long Island Sound. Also, there are lots of picnic tables for cooking out.

The park permits camping at the seasonal campgrounds. Other activities include hiking, fishing, and biking.

In the winter, the hills become perfect spots for skiing.

During your visit, be sure to stop by the historic stone pavilion built during the Great Depression.

Address: 244 W Main St, Niantic, CT 06357

Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the USA

21: New Britain Museum of American Art

New Britain Museum of American Art

The New Britain Museum of American Art has always been a progressive art venue ever since opening in 1903. It is the first museum focusing on American Art.

Visit the museum to check out the exhibitions filled with thought-provoking and creative artworks.

The museum has a collection of more than 8,400 works of art worth millions of dollars. The art was collected over the years, with pieces dating back to the colonial era to contemporary artists.

It frequently hosts temporary exhibitions and displays art from upcoming local artists. It’s a great way to connect with the art scene in Connecticut.

Browse the exhibitions on both floors to see various paintings, drawings, sculptures, and more. Many of the exhibits cover modern themes that are artistically displayed.

There is art for everyone to enjoy, and the collection is continuously growing.

Address: 56 Lexington St, New Britain, CT 06052

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22: Stamford Museum & Nature Center

Stamford Museum & Nature Center

It’s easy to spend an entire day at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. It’s a place for fun, education, and recreation.

Kids will have a great time, and adults have plenty to keep themselves occupied.

Experience nature like never before at the nature center. What started as a private estate has now grown to a 118-acre campus.

The grounds include several facilities like a farm, planetarium, and observatory.

The site has plenty of walking and hiking trails. You can see the diverse flora growing in the area and come across lots of wildlife. It’s an excellent place for birdwatching. Visitors can also interact with the farm animals.

Stamford Museum is a part of the grounds that you don’t want to miss. It hosts exhibits dedicated to art and nature.

Some of the kid-friendly activities include events, camps, and educational programs.

Address: 39 Scofieldtown Road and, 151 Scofieldtown Rd, Stamford, CT 06903

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23: Shore Line Trolley Museum

Shore Line Trolley Museum

You’ll be amazed at how much there is to know about trolleys. Shore Line Trolley Museum opened in 1900 as the first museum dedicated to trolleys in the US that’s still operating.

The museum offers several experiences, including exploring the history of trolleys and going on a ride.

The museum holds an extensive collection of vintage trolley cars – many are fully restored. Walk around the exhibitions to see how the trolley developed over the years.

You’ll learn lots of information about the history of trolleys in the country. Also, you’ll get an inside look at how the cars operate.

One of the favorite things to do at the museum is taking a ride on a trolley. You’ll ride through a National Historic District and past lots of beautiful scenery. On select days, you can even operate the cars.

Visit on holidays for special-themed trolley rides.

Address: 17 River St, East Haven, CT 06512

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24: Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds

Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds
Flickr/Ritu Jethani

Studio 80 is owned by a prominent Connecticut artist, Gilbert Boro. He’s a sculpture artist who developed a large outdoor sculpture garden to exhibit his works.

It’s one of the best free things to do in Connecticut to enjoy unique art.

The sculpture garden showcases over 60 works of art in a 4.5-acre park. Most of the art was developed right inside Studio 80, although you’ll see works from other featured artists.

Most of the large-scale art is abstract, so you can spend lots of time interpreting the designs as you make your way around the grounds.

The setting is perfect for viewing art with the Lieutenant River in the backdrop.

Studio 80 is located right on the property. Visitors can set up an appointment to enter the gallery and meet the artist.

Address: 80 Lyme St, Old Lyme, CT 06371

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25: Ocean Beach Park

Ocean Beach Park

On a hot summer day, you can find lots of people heading to Ocean Beach Park. It’s no wonder why it ranks as one of the best beaches in New England.

From the soft, sugar-sand beach to the fun boardwalk, it’s one of those places that you won’t want to leave.

Ocean Beach Park is a clean beach where you can enjoy all of your favorite beach activities. From sunbathing to swimming in the refreshing waters of the Long Island Sound. When you need a break from the water, head to the boardwalk.

The boardwalk extends for a half-mile with lots of things to do. The main feature is an amusement park. It has waterslides and other rides for all ages.

You can enjoy a large pool, mini-golf, and a kids’ playground. There are also plenty of snack vendors to grab a bite to eat.

The summer is the most popular time to visit, where you’ll typically see live music and fireworks. Be sure to stay till the evening to catch a picturesque sunset.

Address: 98 Neptune Ave, New London, CT 06320

Plan Your Trip To Connecticut Soon!

We’ve barely scratched the surface of all the things to do in Connecticut. There are activities for a day trip to the state or spending a few days. Some people have lived in Connecticut all their lives and have yet to see everything. Now is the best time to take advantage of visiting the top Connecticut attractions. It’s a destination perfect for any season. The warmer seasons give you plenty of chances to explore the rich nature of the state. And the colder months give you a reason to stay inside and browse your favorite museum for hours - not to mention the beautiful fall foliage. Visit Connecticut to see what makes it such a popular place to visit in New England.

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