1. Wadsworth Atheneum, 2. The Glass House, 3. Roseland Cottage, 4. Stamford Museum & Nature Center, 5. Mystic Seaport Museum, 6. Mystic Aquarium, 7. Greenwich Avenue Shops, 8. Hammonasset Beach State Park, 9. Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, 10. Lake Compounce, 11. Yale University Museums. Connecticut is a small state in New England Beaches which is densely packed with unique attractions, breathtaking natural beauty, flea markets, and diverse museums. You can go zip-lining, golfing, sailing, fishing, dine in an elegant restaurant or feast on great clam chowder in a waterfront shack, all in one day. Settled by Dutch, and covered by fragrant maples and ancient oaks, Connecticut is the home of Yale University, Peabody Museum, Mystic Aquarium and Lake Compounce. Here are some of the best places to visit in Connecticut. Be sure to call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.
- Wadsworth Atheneum
- The Glass House
- Roseland Cottage
- Stamford Museum & Nature Center
- Mystic Seaport Museum
- Mystic Aquarium
- Greenwich Avenue Shops
- Hammonasset Beach State Park
- Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo
- Lake Compounce
- Yale University Museums
Wadsworth Atheneum ranks first on the list of the best places to visit in Connecticut. The Wadsworth Atheneum, the country’s oldest free public museum, houses over 50,000 works of art in its Gothic-style building. Its collections of American arts, particularly those of the Hudson River School, are particularly impressive. Portraits by John Singleton Copley, paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and Andrew Wyeth, and sculpture by Alexander Calder are among the more than 5,000 American works of art on display.
The European collections include works by Italian Baroque painters, Surrealists, and Impressionists such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The European Decorative Arts collection contains over 7,000 pieces, ranging from ancient glass and bronzes to Meissen, Vincennes, and Sèvres ceramics. The wealthy Victorian collectors who displayed their treasures in cabinets without labels or curation inspired the Cabinet of Art and Curiosity room. These collections include artworks as well as natural history and other oddities; digital touch screens provide information that would normally be found on labels in a modern museum.
Google rating: 4.7/5.0
Address: 600 Main Street, Hartford, Connecticut
Phone: +1 860-278-2670
The Glass House
The Glass House is a must-see attraction in Connecticut, so plan your visit accordingly. You must purchase a ticket in advance to gain access to this spectacular property, which is open to the public from mid-April to mid-November. The transparent house is the main attraction, with its glass walls providing indoor guests with 360-degree views of the lush landscape and shimmering pond below.
Philip Johnson, a noted architect known for his contemporary designs, designed and lived in the house, which is complemented by a circular swimming pool, brick guesthouse, painting gallery, pavilion in the pond, Da Monsta building, and an interesting Sculpture Gallery. Cars are not permitted to visit the site on their own due to its secluded location in a residential neighborhood of New Canaan. Visitors must instead drive to the Glass House Visitor Center & Design Store in town, located at 199 Elm Street. Guests will board a shuttle to the site from here.
Address: The Glass House Visitor Center & Design Store, 199 Elm Street, New Canaan, Connecticut
Phone: +1 203-594-9884
Roseland Cottage ranks 3rd on the list of the best places to visit in Connecticut. Roseland Cottage, also known as The Pink House because of its distinctive color, was the summer home of Henry and Lucy Bowen and their young family. Bowen was a successful New York businessman who hosted a number of notable visitors, including four US presidents and other political figures.
With a steep roof, sharply pointed gables, and elaborate ornamental fretwork under the eaves, the house is an excellent example of the Gothic-Revival style popular in the mid-1840s. The interior is equally ornately decorated in Victorian style, with pocket doors, patterned carpets, wallcoverings that resemble tooled leather, and diamond-pane windows with stained-glass inserts.
The carriage barn houses the country’s oldest surviving indoor bowling alley, and the house overlooks a parterre garden with 600 yards of boxwood hedge encircling 21 beds of perennials and colorful annuals. The house and gardens are designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Address: 556 Route 169, Woodstock, Connecticut
Stamford Museum & Nature Center
The Stamford Museum & Nature Center is a hands-on attraction popular with residents of all ages. Whether you come to explore the winding walking trails, admire the statues that dot the hilltop garden, or let the kids run wild in one of Connecticut’s best playgrounds, you’re in for a treat. In the Recycled ReCreations Makerspace, you can make something unique out of recycled materials, go bird-watching, or spend time getting to know the animals at the center’s adorable Heckscher Farm.
This working New England farm is home to farm animals such as goats, horses, and chickens. It also has a Maple Sugar House. The Overbrook Nature Center & Gift Shop is not to be missed, especially on Sundays when the Explorer’s Program is available for children. Inside, you’ll find adorable creatures to examine while your children borrow an Explorer’s Backpack to join you on the hike. Join them each Sunday to support local agriculture and pick up some great products and produce. Many of their favorite vendors will be returning along with some new friends. The Heckscher Farm tent will have all of your favorite maple syrup, SM&NC’s Heckscher Farm blend coffee, Arethusa products, and more. Be sure to check below for the most up-to-date list of vendors. As always, admission to the market is free.
Google rating: 4.6/5.0
Address: 39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford, Connecticut
Phone: +1 203-977-6521
Mystic Seaport Museum
Mystic Seaport Museum ranks 5th on the list of the best places to visit in Connecticut. When you step foot on the vast grounds of the Mystic Seaport Museum, you’ll understand why it’s considered one of Connecticut’s top tourist attractions. A working shipyard, planetarium, children’s museum, discovery barn, re-created 19th-century seafaring village, and a large collection of historic boats are all part of this impressive attraction.
The most famous of these is the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last wooden whale ship. Climb aboard for an educational tour. You’ll see the massive vat where whale blubber was boiled into oil, as well as the crew’s tiny bunks. Book a cruise on the smaller passenger boats, or rent a rowboat if you’re hoping to get out on the water. There’s so much to see here that you’ll want to reserve at least two hours (but we’d suggest more). When you get hungry, there are a few on-site restaurants to choose from.
Address: 75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, Connecticut
Phone: +1 860-572-0711
Mystic Aquarium is Connecticut’s best aquarium. It features beluga whales, a Stingray Touch Pool, a Sharks Touch Habitat, a Marsh Trek, and an Animal Rescue Center. Do you want to pet a starfish? You can do all of this and more at the Discover Long Island Sound exhibit. There are so many fun extras available here that you’ll want to extend your visit. Guests can book a Penguin Encounter, where they can get nose to beak with one of the world’s most fascinating birds, for an additional fee.
Alternatively, select a private training session with a sea lion, a feeding and painting session with stingrays, or a one-on-one session with a harbor seal. The California Sea Lion Show at the on-site Foxwoods Marine Center is not to be missed. You’re in for a real treat with costume changes, original music, and an intriguing family-friendly plot. Interacting with computer-generated animations in the Wild Arctic exhibits is another fun attraction. You can virtually interact with a polar bear and meet a walrus here. The Jurassic Giants indoor dinosaur trail features giant animatronic dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus, and other prehistoric creatures, as well as two 4D theaters.
Address: 55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, Connecticut
Phone: +1 860-572-5955
Greenwich Avenue Shops
Greenwich Avenue is where the glitzy town’s Lululemon-clad moms congregate. Whether you want to window shop in high-end stores (think Hermès, Saks Fifth Avenue, Richards, and Moncler) or sip a mocha latte in an upscale café, you’re in for a treat. Greenwich Avenue, the main street of this affluent suburb, is also home to some of the town’s best restaurants, so you can enjoy a relaxing lunch or dinner while taking a break from all that retail therapy. Don’t want to break the bank for a bagel? No worries, there are mid-range options to tempt your palate, as well as chains such as Starbucks.
When you’ve had your fill of shopping and eating, head to the Greenwich Historical Society to learn about the town’s history. For those with extra time, another must-see attraction in Greenwich is the Bruce Museum. The fascinating exhibits change frequently and contain information ranging from massive geodes to more recent scientific discoveries.
Location: Greenwich, Connecticut
Phone: (203) 629-2225.
Hammonasset Beach State Park
Hammonasset Beach State Park ranks 8th on the list of the best places to visit in Connecticut. The soft sand of Hammonasset Beach State Park attracts beachgoers all year, but it gets crowded in the summer. This is one of Connecticut’s best state parks, and it has one of the best beaches in the state. You’ll understand why once you dip your toes into the calm waters of Long Island Sound. Hammonasset Beach is Connecticut’s largest beach, stretching over two miles, so even on the busiest days, you’ll find room to stretch out your towel and raise your beach umbrella. On this Connecticut beach, beaching isn’t the only thing to do. Canoeing, kayaking, swimming, SUPing, and fishing are all popular activities.
The winding nature trails and the impressive Meigs Point Nature Center are also available to visitors. Grab a bite at one of the concession stands, use the restrooms, and if you don’t want to leave so soon, book a campsite. Hammonasset Beach State Park Campground is one of the best places to camp in Connecticut, with 558 campsites, a volleyball court, a playground, bathrooms, showers, and so much more for those who want to spend the night at this popular attraction.
Address: 1288 Boston Post Road, Madison, Connecticut
Phone: +1 203-245-2785
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo
This animal-lovers’ haven, Connecticut’s only zoo, is popular with families who want to give their children the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most adorable wildlife. Crawl through plastic tubes leading into the depths of a prairie dog enclosure, have a colorful bird land on them in the Walk-Through Aviary, spy a gator in Alligator Alley, or see an Amur leopard. When hunger strikes, the Peacock Café serves traditional kid fare such as chicken fingers, and children’s meals include a toy animal to take home.
Google rating: 4.4/5.0
Address: 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut
Phone: +1 203-394-6565
Lake Compounce, Connecticut’s best theme park, is a must-see for thrill seekers. This 175-year-old venue in Bristol is North America’s oldest continuously operating amusement park. And boy, is it entertaining! This is without a doubt one of Connecticut’s best family attractions. The 65-mile-per-hour Phobia Phear Coaster will exhilarate (and likely scare) every brave rider, while Boulder Dash is one of the best wooden roller coasters in the world. We recommend waiting until after lunch to board these thrilling rides.
Don’t worry, there are less exciting rides available. The Flying Elephant, massive Ferris Wheel, and carousel will delight children (and adults) of all ages. An on-site water park makes it easy to cool down and continue the fun in a more refreshing manner. Plunge down Mammoth Falls in a tube, laze through the river on Croc-O-Nile, or putter around Bayou Bay. Bring water shoes, as the ground is rough and can get quite hot during summer.
Address: 186 Enterprise Drive, Bristol, Connecticut
Phone: +1 860-583-3300
Yale University Museums
Yale University is a gleaming jewel in the heart of New Haven. While some areas of the city leave something to be desired (it’s best to stay close to the campus), this Ivy League heavyweight brings culture to the forefront of this port town. Just off the main green is the Yale University Art Gallery. This museum, which houses over 250,000 objects, contains masterpieces by artists such as Monet, Degas, and Manet.
If you want to see dinosaurs, go to the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, one of Connecticut’s top tourist attractions. Among the more than 14 million specimens and objects on display are fossils, meteorites, and Babylonian carved stone divination objects. The Yale campus is a popular tourist destination, with buildings designed by Eero Saarinen, Frank O. Gehry, and other notable architects. The visitor center features a video and historical displays, as well as free student-led campus tours every morning.
Google rating: 4.1/5.0
Address: 149 Elm Street, New Haven, Connecticut