When the coronavirus steps off the world stage and we all get back to normal, here’s why you need to plan a trip to Connecticut:
Driving in and around Connecticut, your camera will snap constantly at postcard scenes of the classic New England town: a village Green, steepled churches, clapboard houses with deep front porches, wrought iron fences, vest pocket gardens. A few beauties: Madison and Old Saybrook on the shore near New Haven; Stonington Borough near Mystic region; Kent, in the Litchfield region; Brooklyn in the northeastern “Quiet Corner.” See more Scenic Drives.
Connecticut claims to be the birthplace of the pizza in America, in about 1925 at the hands of Frank Pepe, at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven. The pizzeria still attracts plenty of pizza lovers to Wooster Street. The Connecticut Office of Tourism has created well-mapped, self-guided “trails” that you can use to explore producers of beer, chocolate, wine, pizza, and cocktails – all over the state. Points on the trails are breweries, wineries, vineyards, and restaurants where visitors are welcome for tastings. The Connecticut Wine Trail, which is active throughout the year, also offers drop-in classes, tastings and pairings, and entertainment.
While you’re cooped up at home (planning a visit to Connecticut?) here’s a helpful list of CT restaurants now offering takeout and/or delivery of meals.
Museums – Glorious to Wacky
Connecticut museums cover a vast range. There is fine art at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven or the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford; lore of the sea at Mystic Seaport in Mystic; American Impressionism at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme; Native American culture at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Mashantucket; the master of the flim-flam at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport; natural science at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford; the history of Pez Candy in Orange.
Stretched along the Long Island Sound, Connecticut has its share of lighthouses and opportunities to get out on the water. The Sheffield Island Light, on Sheffield Island near the entrance to Norwalk Harbor, can be reached by a ferry ride out of Norwalk. Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven’s harbor is like a nature-made amusement park. People go there to swim, fish, launch boats at a public ramp, watch migrating birds, and attend ranger-led programs about marine ecology and sailing history. There is even a carousel. One of the best saltwater family beaches in the state is Ocean Beach Park in New London, with white sand, a boardwalk, a huge pool, mini golf and amusement rides. On the water, the sailing schooner Argia raises anchor for regular shoreline cruises from Mystic.
Connecticut celebrities are of the highest class you will find anywhere. Start with Mark Twain (the writer Samuel Clemens), whose vast Victorian house in Hartford tells stories (like the turned-around headboard of the bed) of this American master, and the adjoining museum fills in more, in his own words. In the performance arena, the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (“The Kate”) in Old Saybrook, the home town and life-long residence of Katharine Hepburn, hosts lives theater and music of every variety.
Kids & Families
What do kids like? Dinosaurs? Hand your kids over to The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village in Oakdale. Would they like to ride on an antique steam train and a real river boat – you will find both in Essex. They can climb through a forested park up to a real castle – filled with quirks and hidey-holes — at Gillette Castle. Get a kick out of watching your kids watch the animals at Mystic Aquarium or Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport or the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. There’s a challenging adventure ropes course in New Haven. Simplest, and maybe best of all, is the many forested parks across the whole state.
Trivia for the Trip
Connecticut’s nickname is the Nutmeg State. Sailors brought nutmeg seed back from long voyages. Over time, peddlers from Connecticut developed the reputation for selling fake nutmegs made out of carved wood.
And, what about that quarter?
The Connecticut quarter shows the Charter Oak and here’s the story: on the evening of October 31, 1687, a British representative of King James II demanded the surrender of Connecticut’s government. The Connecticut Charter was on the table between the arguing men. During the discussion, the candles were mysteriously snuffed, bringing down total darkness. When the light was restored, the Connecticut Charter had vanished. The story goes that Captain Joseph Wadsworth sneaked the document out and hid it in the hollow of an oak tree on Samuel Wylly’s property. The tree is known as the Charter Oak.