Things to Do and Must-Visit Attractions in Connecticut

The pristine Cross Campus at Yale University
The pristine Cross Campus at Yale University | © Ian Dagnall Commercial Collection / Alamy Stock Photo
Christy Taylor

While Connecticut might be small, it’s mighty in terms of all the attractions it’s home to. Those looking for history can visit Mark Twain’s house, explore the entire city of Mystic or tour Yale University. For foodies, make sure to sample a classic lobster roll or a piece of pie after picking apples in an orchard.

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Step back into literary history at Mark Twain’s House

Before moving into the house, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, AKA Mark Twain, lived in several other places but he spent 17 years at this residence and wrote many of his most-famous works here: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1994) and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). The Victoria Gothic Mansion was built especially for Mark Twain and his wife in 1873 and had many modern conveniences like central heating, telephones and devices for calling servants into specific rooms. Today the house has been beautifully restored and includes a museum, café, store and hosts special events, exhibits and film showings.

Tour Yale University

The pristine Cross Campus at Yale University

No trip to New Haven is complete without wandering the hallowed halls of the Ivy League Yale University. Founded in 1701, Yale has educated 61 Nobel Laureates, five US Presidents and 19 US Supreme Court Justices, along with some famous faces such as Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o and Hillary Clinton. Start your visit at the Yale Visitor Center in John Pierpont House, the oldest private home in New Haven. Tours last approximately one hour and are led by students who will provide insight into campus life, details on Yale’s 300-year history and possibly even reveal information about its notorious secret societies like the Skull and Bones.

Gamble the night away at a casino

Who needs Vegas? Connecticut has not one, but two major casino complexes. Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, owned by the Pequot Tribe, has seven casinos, restaurants, spas, theaters, shopping centers and two hotel towers. Along with gambling, Foxwoods has live entertainment specializing in comedy. Big names who have performed here include Joel McHale, Trevor Noah and Jerry Seinfeld. Mohegan Sun is located in Uncasville and is owned by the Mohegan Tribe. Along with two casinos it has two spas, a family entertainment facility, two hotel towers, shopping and dining. Mohegan has a 10,000-person arena and has hosted performers like U2 and Britney Spears.

Experience all historic Mystic has to offer

Mention the name Mystic and a few things come to mind. First could be the Julia Roberts movie, Mystic Pizza (1988). The actual pizzeria that inspired the movie still exists and visitors can grab their own slice of heaven. It also conjures up images of the historic Mystic Seaport. A leading maritime museum, visitors can board preserved ships including the world’s only surviving wooden whale ship, the Charles W. Morgan. At Mystic Aquarium the must-see attraction is the sweet-faced beluga whales whose habitat is the largest in the US. Historic Downtown Mystic is a foodie-lover’s dream with diverse restaurants, as well as shopping and a variety of other attractions.

Go apple picking in an orchard

Connecticut in the fall is the perfect time to go apple picking in one of its many orchards. The first-ever apple pie recipe came from Connecticut. The season runs from the end of summer into early winter, but the ideal time is in September or October. Along with apple picking, various orchards offer pumpkin picking, hay rides, corn mazes and tractor rides. Certain farms will even do the work for you and sell delicious cooked apple fritters, apple pie and apple cider. Favorites include Lyman Orchards, Rose’s Berry Farm, Rogers Orchards and Beardsley’s Cider Mill and Orchard.

Sample a lobster roll, Connecticut style

There are two ways to enjoy lobster rolls: Maine or Connecticut style. Maine style is served cold with salt, pepper and mayo. Connecticut style is hot lobster meat dressed with warm butter and lemon. Either way they are best enjoyed with a side of hot french fries and a view of the water. From seafood shacks to gourmet restaurants there are many places to tuck into the perfect roll. Fairfield Lobster Craft is known for its lobster mac and cheese. In Noank there are Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough and Ford’s Lobster, Bill’s Seafood in Westbrook makes the perfect lobster aalad BLT and the mom-and-pop Lobster Landing in Guilford is owned by one of the last lobstermen on Long Island Sound.

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