Connecticut is a small New England state, full of charm, rural beauty and several major cities. The state's top tourist attractions include Yale University, which maintains numerous world-class museums, Mystic Seaport, the restaurant and nightlife scene in downtown New Haven, The Maritime Aquarium, and two major Native American casinos.
|Fairfield County |
Southwest Connecticut, near New York City. This area has many beaches and lighthouses, and many of the state's biggest cities, such as Bridgeport, Stamford, and Norwalk.
|Litchfield Hills |
Northwest Connecticut. Here you will find the less dense areas with colorful leaves in the autumn. There are some smaller cities such as Torrington, Danbury, and New Milford.
|Greater New Haven |
South central Connecticut. Home to Yale University, and numerous museums and theaters. It includes cities such as New Haven and Milford.
|Connecticut River Valley |
From North central Connecticut to the coast. Home to New England's 2nd most populous region, the Knowledge Corridor, featuring Connecticut's state capital Hartford and many historic sights.
New London, Tolland and Windham Counties in eastern Connecticut. A good place to get a view of the Long Island Sound, with beaches, and the famous Mystic Seaport/Aquarium. Has two of the biggest casinos in the world. Includes cities such as New London, Mystic, Uncasville, and Ledyard.
- 1 Hartford – the state capital.
- 2 Bridgeport – the most populated city in the state.
- 3 Danbury – also known as Hat City, Danbury is home to Western Connecticut State University, Candlewood Lake, and many good restaurants.
- 4 Mystic – this is one of the most common places to visit, due to the historic seaport and aquarium.
- 5 New Haven – home to top-rated restaurants, tourist attractions and Yale University.
- 6 New London – a historic whaling port on Long Island Sound, home to the coast guard academy,
- 7 Norwalk – home to trendy SoNo with an active night life and The Maritime Aquarium
- 8 Stamford – a sizable city with so many large corporate headquarters that there's a substantial reverse commute from New York City to Stamford; a local dining and bar scene has followed
- 9 Waterbury – this is a small urban community with lots to do. Look for the Union Station Clocktower that overlooks the city.
Connecticut is rich with history, nature, art and beauty. There is truly something for everyone. While many people are drawn each year to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casinos, there is much more in this state. There are a number of beaches at the shore, state parks and forests throughout the state, and many smaller parks as well. Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam is an excellent family destination. So is the Essex Steam Train and River Boat Ride in Essex.
Connecticut was one of the original 13 colonies of the United States, and was the fifth state to ratify the constitution in 1788. Over the next centuries, the state became a manufacturing center, and supported the war effort during the Civil War and the World Wars. Today, Connecticut is one of the richest states in the union, and is the home to many businesses.
The State of Connecticut is divided in half by the Connecticut River, the largest river in New England. The state's general geographic regions can be understood as a set of quadrants, with Hartford, the state's capital, acting as the centerpoint. Within the immediate vicinity of Hartford are the large towns of Manchester, New Britain, Bristol, Meriden, and Middletown, which have close ties with the capital, and the state's primary airport, Bradley International, 15 miles north of Hartford, in Windsor Locks. Looking beyond the heartland, the southeastern part of the state has close ties to New York and is highly developed and urbanized (especially in the panhandle) including cities such as Bridgeport and New Haven, as well as several historically affluent towns such as Stamford, Darien, and Greenwich. To the north of the urban agglomeration can be found the city of Danbury, the gateway to the state's rural northwest, as well as the manufacturing city of Waterbury. Moving along the shoreline, the southeastern part of the state becomes significantly less urbanized than the southwest, and includes many of the state's fine beaches. This region includes the historically important ports of Mystic, Groton, and New London, as well as the crossroads city of Norwich. Moving northwards, the northeastern part of the state, known to locals as the "Quiet Corner", is very rural, with few major population centers, but includes many historical towns, scenic parks, and woodlands. The largest city is Willimantic, in the southern part of the region, with the towns of Putnam and Killingly/Dayville acting as local centers of activity. The University of Connecticut, in Storrs, can be seen as a part of this region as well. The Northwestern part of the state is also very rural, especially in the northwestern corner. This region is known for its beautiful natural scenery, particularly hills and highlands and the Housatonic river, attracting visitors and campers from near and far. The region's largest town is Torrington, with several notable towns such as Kent and New Canaan being known for their affluent residents. The largest body of water in the state, Candlewood Lake, is in this region, as is the state's highest point, the slope of Mount Frissell (2,379 ft), on the border with Massachusetts.
Overall, the state contains 8 counties, and 169 towns and cities.
Like most of New England, the weather in Connecticut is varied with the seasons. It can be highly unpredictable in the spring and fall months. The weather in Connecticut is generally stable compared to many other parts of the country. Dangers that plague many regions of the country (e.g., tornadoes, mudslides, earthquakes, etc.,) are not a danger here.
It is recommended to bring clothes for a variety of temperatures when visiting, and to check the weather report closely. Although there are periods of little or no rain, a raincoat or umbrella are good items to pack. Warm clothes in the winter and light clothes in the summer are also important, although it is recommended to pack a light jacket, even in the summer months.
Due to the state's origins and subsequent proximity to the immigrant gateways of America (such as historical Ellis Island), many towns and cities in Connecticut have significant cultural minorities which are reflected in the speech and traditions observed in each locale.
Although historically, Connecticut was settled by English, Scots, Irish, and German populations, most large cities in Connecticut today, including Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury possess significant Latino populations. New Britain, and several other communities, are well known for their large Polish communities, New Haven's Chinatown caters to Mandarin speakers, and Wooster St serves as the city's "Little Italy." Indeed many communities, particularly in the Southwestern part of the state, have residents of Italian heritage and in Northeastern Connecticut there is a significant population with French-Canadian heritage. There is even a small Greek presence in some Connecticut communities.
Owing to its location, Connecticut's regions possess several American English variations. For example, many people in Fairfield County are observed to have something akin to a New York accent (likely due to the county's proximity to New York City), while some people in Northern and Northeastern Connecticut have something akin to a Boston accent. Still, others have what would be considered a neutral, non-rhotic Northern American accent. In some places, other languages have melded with American English to produce entirely new accents. If anything, Connecticut's speech is not at all one-dimensional.
Spanish is the most widely spoken second language, owing to the sizable Latino population in cities and is understood at least to some degree by a sizable portion of the rest of the population, as it is the most offered choice of foreign language in school. French is also taught to some degree in schools, but widespread knowledge, apart from the elderly French-Canadian population, is non-existent. Most other languages will not be understood, except in the presence of specific minority groups.
- See also: Air travel in the US
- Bradley International Airport (BDL IATA) in Windsor Locks is the state's largest airport. Nearby to Hartford and Springfield (Massachusetts), it has increased its volume at a rapid pace. Due to its location north of Hartford, it can be difficult to access for northeastern and northwestern border residents, but is convenient for heartland residents. For non-central residents, it can be more convenient to travel to New York, Massachusetts, or Rhode Island for flights. Still, as the 3rd largest and 2nd busiest airport in New England, it can be a good alternative destination if all else fails. It was named after fallen soldier Eugene M. Bradley who died there during a 1941 training drill.
- Tweed New Haven Regional Airport (HVN IATA), a smaller airport with flights to Philadelphia.
- Waterbury-Oxford Airport, popular with private aviation.
- Sikorsky Mem'l Airport (BDR IATA) in Stratford is a private aircraft charter service based there.
- Meriden Airport in Meriden provides private air charter.
- Danbury Municipal Airport (DXR IATA) in Danbury is mainly used for general aviation.
- Danielson Airport in Danielson is mainly used for general aviation.
Out of state
- LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark in the New York City area are all common choices for travelers in the Western part of the state. These are all larger airports than in-state airports, and have more flight opportunities. But for travelers to the Eastern part of the state, they are too far to be of much convenience.
- Logan International Airport in Boston is one of two good choices for travelers with destinations in the Eastern part of the state, but is far away from any of Connecticut's major cities, such as Hartford and New Haven. Still, it is only about a 60–90-minute drive away from locations along the I-395 corridor, so if you are visiting the northeastern part of Connecticut, it can be a solid choice, particularly for its larger availability of flights.
- T.F. Green International Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island is a great alternative to Boston if travelling to the Eastern half of Connecticut. The airport covers many domestic and a fair number of international flights, and in many cases, is only about an hours' drive from your destination.
- Westchester County Airport is the closest commercial airport to the lower Fairfield County area. However, these are US Domestic flights only.
The Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry crosses Long Island Sound daily between Port Jefferson, Long Island and Bridgeport, CT. It carries cars and passengers. Cross Sound Ferry connects New London, CT and Orient Point, NY (the easternmost tip of Long Island's North Fork.) It also carries cars and passengers.
Amtrak provides frequent service to Connecticut destinations on trains between Penn Station in New York City and South Station in Boston. MetroNorth provides frequent weekday commuter service from Grand Central Station Manhattan and several cities and towns in southwestern Connecticut's Fairfield and New Haven counties.
As with trains, there are frequent intercity buses between South Station Boston and Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan with stops in Connecticut. Major bus lines serving Connecticut include Peter Pan and Greyhound.
Those entering Connecticut by car from the west can choose from three major routes. Interstate 84 enters Danbury, Connecticut from Pennsylvania and the lower Hudson Valley of New York and continues to Waterbury, Hartford and Worcester. The Merrit Parkway, closed to trucks and buses, enters the state from New York's Westchester County, and is considered one of America's most scenic highways because of how its design matches the bucolic leafiness of the suburbs that surround it. An extension of the Parkway tunnels under a hill north of New Haven and continues to Meriden where it merges with Interstate 91 going north towards Hartford and beyond. Interstate 95 traverses the east coast of the United States from Maine to Florida, and runs along Connecticut's coast from east to west. The visitor should be aware I-95 North according to federal road signs is actually going East in Connecticut, and I-95 South is going West in Connecticut. Between New York and New Haven I-95 goes through densely populated suburbs and is heavily congested. East (North according to directional signs on the road) of New Haven I-95 goes through more rural coastal towns and is not so congested.
Fuel is more expensive in Connecticut than it is in New York or Massachusetts.
Car is the easiest way to travel through the state, and the best if you are planning on sightseeing. Several major highways, including I-95 I-84, I-91 and I-395, run through the state.
Information on Connecticut Transit can be found here.
- Connecticut Transit (CT Transit), 100 Leibert Road, ☏ , fax: . Hartford.
- Hartford county is also served by a rapid bus transit CT Fastrak
- Bridgeport is served by its own service.
There are eight commuter rail lines that connect most major cities and towns. New Haven is the main hub that connects to all these commuter rail lines, as well as to Amtrak routes.
- Metro North New Haven Line - daily service between Grand Central Terminal, New York City to New Haven State Street Station, New Haven with stops at Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport, Milford, and New Haven
- Metro North New Canaan Branch- daily service between Stamford Station, Stamford to New Canaan Station, New Canaan with stops in the Stamford neighborhoods of Glenbrook and Sprigdale and New Canaan neighborhoods such as Talmadge Hill and Downtown New Canaan
- Metro North Waterbury Branch- daily service between Bridgeport Station, Bridgeport to Waterbury Station, Waterbury with stops at Shelton, Ansonia, Beacon Falls, and Waterbury
- Metro North Danbury Branch- daily service between South Norwalk Station, Norwalk to Danbury Station, Danbury with stops at Wilton, Redding, Bethel, and Danbury
- CT Rail Hartford Line - daily service from New Haven Union Station, New Haven to Springfield Union Station, Springfield with stops at Wallingford, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor, and Springfield
- CT Rail Shore Line East - daily service from New Haven Union Station, New Haven to New London Union Station, New London with stops at Branford, Clinton, Old Saybrook, and New London
- Amtrak Northeast Corridor- daily service between Union Station, Washington D.C. to South Station, Boston with stops at Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London
- Amtrak Hartford Line- daily service between New Haven Union Station, New Haven to Greenfield Station, Greenfield with stops at New Haven, Wallingford, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor, Springfield, Holyoke, and Greenfield
Connecticut is rich in botanical gardens: Barlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford., Connecticut College Arboretum in New London, Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum in Rocky Hill (south of Hartford), Elizabeth Park Rose Garden Hartford, Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, Highstead Arboretum Redding (near Danbury), Marsh Botanical Garden on the Yale Campus in New Haven, and the New Caanan Nature Center in New Canaan.
Connecticut is part of the Knowledge Corridor, with a large number of colleges and universities. Yale University is the 3rd oldest university in the country, and is one of the country's 8 Ivy League Schools. This school has been home to many famous people, including presidents, authors, judges, and senators. Yale is in the downtown area of New Haven, overlooking the green. University of Connecticut, more commonly known as UConn, is the largest university in Connecticut, with famous men's and women's basketball teams. The main campus is in Storrs. Quinnipiac University is a private university in Hamden. Connecticut College in New London was founded in 1911 as a college for women, but went co-ed in 1969. The entire campus is an arboretum.
Connecticut has three historical forts to visit: Fort Griswold in Groton, Fort Nathan Hale in New Haven, and Fort Trumbull in New London. Fort Griswold is the well-preserved site of the largest Revolutionary War battle fought in Connecticut and is across the Thames River from Fort Trumbull which was captured by British forces led by Benedict Arnold in 1781.
There are dozens of lighthouses scattered along Connecticut's coastline that will capture your imagination and add historical flourish to your photos. Here are a few of the best: Sheffield Island Light on Sheffield Island off the coast of Norwalk, New London Ledge Light in New London, Avery Point Light in Groton, Lynde Point Light in Old Saybrook, Stratford Point Light in Stratford, Tongue Point Light in Bridgeport, and Morgan Point Light in Noank in Groton.
Sports fans can cheer on the Women's National Basketball Association's Connecticut Sun in Uncasville, or the UConn Huskies teams of the NCAA. The football team plays at the biggest stadium in the state, Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
Beardsley Zoo is in Bridgeport.
There are two amusement parks in the state. Lake Compounce is the oldest amusement park in the United States. It's in Bristol, and has dozens of rides for all ages, and good food. Quassy Amusement Park is an old amusement park in Middlebury. This park is more suited for younger children.
There are two aquariums to visit: Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, and Mystic Aquarium and Seaport in Mystic.There are many beaches in the state, including Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk; Cove Island Park, Cummings Park, and Kosciuszko Park in Stamford; Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport; Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme; Sherwood Island State Park in Westport; and Silver Sands State Park in Milford.
Bicycling is popular in Connecticut. There are plenty of country roads, coast line, lighthouses, and hills to keep you going. The state maintains a website called CT Trails with a list and maps of trails. Some are paved and others are packed dirt.
Connecticut has three ski areas in the western part of the state. Mohawk Mountain Ski Area is the largest ski area in the state, in Cornwall. Mount Southington Ski is a family-friendly resort, that caters to skiers and snowboarders, near Plantsville in Central Connecticut. Ski Sundown is a great place for beginner and intermediate skiers, about 40 minutes west of Hartford, at New Hartford.
There are hikes for every level on mountains or along the beach, many of them are suitable for kids. Here are a few:
- Talcott Mountain State Park which is 950 ft and it is in Simsbury
- Jessie Jerard Trail which is a 3.3-mile trail which is in Barkhamsted
- Burr Pond State Park which is a public recreation are with 438 acres of land in Torrington
- Sleeping Giant State Park is a mountain with a building top of the mountain in New Haven
- Case Mountain is a mountain with a waterfall in Manchester
- West Rock Ridge State Park is a mountain with trails in New Haven.
Connecticut has an incredible number of restaurants everywhere you go. There are thousands of restaurants state wide. Downtown New Haven has more top Zagat-rated restaurants than any other community in Connecticut. Interesting ethnic restaurants, including Eritrean, Malaysian, Turkish, Spanish, French, Mexican, Cuban, Jamaican, Ethiopian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Southern and Northern Indian, Nepalese, Cantonese and Italian restaurants can be found throughout the city. Also, the state's large casinos have plenty of dining opportunities.
Connecticut, especially New Haven, is known for its old-fashioned, thin-crusted pizza, locally called "apizza."
Southington, Connecticut, between Hartford and Waterbury, is famous for their many apple orchards. This small town of forty thousand people has an incredible variety and supply of apples, celebrating their staple crop with the annual Harvest Festival in October. Anyone traveling through this beautiful state in the Autumn must stop in Southington for a bag of apple fritters and other foods made from the town's famous apples.
Alcohol can only be sold Monday-Saturday 8AM-10PM and Sunday 10AM-6PM. For on-premises consumption, such as at bars, it can be sold Monday -Thursday 9AM-1AM, Friday - Saturday 9AM-2AM, and Sunday 11AM-1AM.
Discover Connecticut's craft beer culture, boasting great local breweries, quality brewpubs and beer bars, home brew supply shops, and beer festivals. Many breweries offer tours of their facilities, and of course free samples of their products.
Although Connecticut is well known for its affluence, and is the third wealthiest state in America, there are sections in the state's largest cities (especially Bridgeport, New Haven, and Waterbury) that can be dangerous, especially at night. However, common sense will more than likely keep you far from any signs of trouble in Connecticut, as the state is widely considered to be one of the safest in the country.
Connecticut is the infamous birthplace of Lyme disease. Take precautions against tick bites and see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice a bull's-eye-shaped rash around the site of a bite or get flu-like symptoms after walking through possibly tick-infested areas (forests, etc.). Tick season is usually from the spring to the fall.
Connecticut has been known for its sudden shifts in weather. Be prepared for freezing temperatures and snowstorms in the winter and thunderstorms in the spring and summer.
- New York - Bordering Connecticut to the south and west, New York is home to America's largest city as well as amazing natural beauty in the less urban areas. A lot of people live in Connecticut and commute to work in New York.
- Massachusetts - The cities of Boston and Springfield are within reasonable driving distance of Connecticut's northern border.
- Rhode Island - In the summer Connecticut residents swarm the Ocean State's beaches, but Rhode Island also offers urban charms in the capital city of Providence and centuries of history in Newport.