Summer vacations can get expensive, especially when you add up airfare, hotels and rental cars. So why not consider a Connecticut staycation this summer? Someplace close that you can drive to and then get home in a day. Here’s a list of some of Connecticut’s most popular day trip destinations.
Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park
Address: 161 Brownstone Ave, Portland, CT 06480
This is Connecticut’s first and only outdoor adventure park. You can go snorkeling, wakeboarding, zip lining, cliff jumping, and more. This is a great day trip for the whole family or active group of friends. You’ll get exercise and have fun outside at the same time. Learn more about the park and upcoming special events on their website.
Connecticut’s Casinos: Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Resort Casinos
Foxwoods address: 350 Trolley Line Blvd, Mashantucket, CT 06338
Mohegan Sun address: 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd, Uncasville, CT 06382
If you’re looking for a fun getaway with friends or a romantic partner, consider Connecticut’s two major casinos: Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun. Mohegan Sun in the foothills of southeastern Connecticut is the larger of the two, with 364,000 square feet of gambling space. Both have restaurants, shops, theaters for shows and concerts, and other non-gambling areas. Check their websites (Foxwoods.com and MoheganSun.com) for upcoming events, and consider getting a room for the night for added fun and safety.
Connecticut Science Center
Address: 250 Columbus Blvd, Hartford, CT 06103
The Connecticut Science Center is a nine-story museum located on the Connecticut River in Hartford. The building has a total 154,000 square feet including 40,000 square feet of interactive exhibits consisting of videos, audios, visuals, tactile components, programs, and live demonstrations. Bring the kids as it’s both educational and fun. Learn more on their website.
Connecticut Wine Trail
Address: Throughout Connecticut
For a fun and relaxing adult day out, “taste the adventure” on the Connecticut Wine Trail, a unique collection of 24 vineyards statewide, all with tasting rooms where visitors can sample their portfolio of wines. Connecticut’s wines have won dozens of awards, so you won’t be disappointed. Consider visiting in the fall for the added visual burst of colorful foliage.
Gillette Castle State Park
Address: 67 River Rd, East Haddam, CT 06423
If you’re a fan of visiting historic homes, Connecticut is a treasure trove, and Gillette Castle is one of the gems. Actually, it’s made largely of stone. Looking on the outside like a medieval fortress, the house was commissioned by American actor William Gillette, who was best known for portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage. It receives 300,000 visitors a year, also for its hiking trails, a picnic area, and a museum, and several theatrical events throughout the year. Find out more on Gillette Castle State Park’s website.
Address: 186 Enterprise Dr, Bristol, CT 06010
Opened in 1846, Lake Compounce is the oldest continuously-operating amusement park in the United States. The park covers 332 acres and includes a beach and a waterpark which can be used by guests at no extra charge.
Lake Compounce has over 50 rides and attractions, including Boulder Dash, a wooden roller coaster ranked the #1 Wooden Roller Coaster in the World by the Golden Ticket Awards since 2013. Check out on the Lake Compounce website and then head over for some fun!
Address: 700 Main St, Middletown, CT 06457
“A trip to Lyman Orchards is an outing you’ll never forget,” reads their website. Lyman Orchards is the 12th oldest family-owned business in the United States, and it’s no wonder it’s been around for so long; the grounds are beautiful, stretching over 1,000 acres. There’s a huge golf course, and in the summer you can try your hand at the corn maze. Plan your visit soon, as “Pick Your Own Strawberries” season opens in June.
Mark Twain House
Address: 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut
The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford was the home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) and his family from 1874 to 1891. Designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter and built in the American High Gothic style, Clemens biographer Justin Kaplan called it “part steamboat, part medieval fortress and part cuckoo clock.” Clemens wrote many of his best-known works while living there, including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “The Prince and the Pauper,” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Take the guided tour through the house to learn how the Twain family lived and explore further into Twain’s life. Visit the website for details.
Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration
Address: 55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT 06355
You and your family will have a “whale” of a time at Mystic Aquarium! It’s one of three U.S. facilities holding Steller sea lions and it has the only beluga whales in New England. Special exhibits include a ray and shark touch pool, an African penguin exhibit, a jelly gallery, and an “Exploration: Wild” ecosystems exhibit. Visit their website for details and a list of summertime events.
Sleeping Giant State Park
Address: 200 Mount Carmel Ave, Hamden, CT 06518
Attention hikers and mountain bikers, Sleeping Giant State Park is a must-do. Located in south-central Connecticut about 8 miles from New Haven, Sleeping Giant is two miles of mountaintop resembling a large man lying in repose, the “sleeping giant.” A 1-1/2 mile scenic trail leads to the stone observation tower on the peak of Mt. Carmel which provides an excellent view of Long Island Sound and the New Haven area. Take a day trip with the family, bring food for picnicking, then spend the rest of the day walking and exploring the wilderness. Wear comfortable, rugged shoes, and bring a camera—there are some great views.