Great Things To Do in Connecticut includes off-the-beaten-track fun

Great Things To Do in ConnecticutConnecticut is packed with great things to on a family or adult getaway. There are scenic shoreline and country drives, antique shopping, world-class museums, historic sites, pretty walks, and plenty of activities for your vacation adventure.

Looking for more great things to do in New England? Visit our other websites for other suggestions for family activities, seasonal events, local attractions and other things to do while visiting:

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Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Essex CT

One Railroad Avenue Essex, CT 06426 Phone: 860-767-0103 Toll-Free: 800-377-3987 Fax: 860-767-0104

A rail excursion with a water chaser

Any “great things’ list includes travel, adventure, and high entertainment value. Find all three here wrapped inside an historical and ecological adventure into “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The 1892 Essex Station is your launch point. Climb aboard the Essex Steam Train on a 12-mile, narrated trip to Deep River Landing. There you’ll board the Becky Thatcher riverboat for a 1¼- hour cruise along the Connecticut River and see the natural habitats of wildlife and water birds. Gillette Castle, Goodspeed Opera House, and the Haddam Swing Bridge are among the historical highlights along the way. Upon Becky's return, “steam” on back to Essex Station. More great things can be found in the EST&R special programs for train fans, jazz lovers, romantics, kids and families.
 
Featured Listings

Connecticut’s Old State House Connecticut’s Old State House Hartford CT

800 Main Street Hartford, CT 06103 Phone: 860-522-6766

Be Inspired at Connecticut’s Old State House

Begin your visit to Hartford with a guided or self-guided tour at one of the nation's oldest state houses. Explore Want Change?, an exhibit featuring historic figures from Connecticut's past. Find family activities in the Holcombe Center and the exciting multimedia exhibit, History Is All Around Us. Check out the Museum of Curiosities, located near restored legislative chambers.
Air conditioned/heated. Handicapped accessible. Discounted parking available at State House Square Garage and Constitution Plaza Garage.

Admission: Adults - $6; Children, students and seniors - $3. Discounts available. Last ticket sold at 4 p.m.
Summer Hours: July 6 - October 12: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Winter Hours: October 15 - July 3: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Black Hawk Party Boat Black Hawk Party Boat Niantic CT

Sailing from the Niantic Bay Marina Niantic, CT Phone: 860-448-3662 Toll-Free: 800-38 CATCH

Spend a special day or evening on the water

Board a great party boat with an experienced skipper and fish for striped bass, bluefish, porgies, sea bass, blackfish and other delicious food from the sea. Serious fisherman sail on the "Captain's Choice," trips scheduled for the best fishing time and circumstances. Enjoy a night bass trip with no crowds or tangles or a special seal watch, sunset, fireworks and/or nature cruise with science field trips also on the menu. Plan a private day charter of 15 or more and night charters of 12 for your next party or celebration. You can bring your own gear or rent rod and reel. New to fishing? The experienced crew will ensure you have a great day on the water. But do bring your lunch. Then catch your dinner. Reservations are not required and the parking is free.

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Essex CT

One Railroad Avenue Essex, CT 06426 Phone: 860-767-0103 Toll-Free: 800-377-3987 Fax: 860-767-0104

A rail excursion with a water chaser

Any “great things’ list includes travel, adventure, and high entertainment value. Find all three here wrapped inside an historical and ecological adventure into “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The 1892 Essex Station is your launch point. Climb aboard the Essex Steam Train on a 12-mile, narrated trip to Deep River Landing. There you’ll board the Becky Thatcher riverboat for a 1¼- hour cruise along the Connecticut River and see the natural habitats of wildlife and water birds. Gillette Castle, Goodspeed Opera House, and the Haddam Swing Bridge are among the historical highlights along the way. Upon Becky's return, “steam” on back to Essex Station. More great things can be found in the EST&R special programs for train fans, jazz lovers, romantics, kids and families.

The Dinosaur Place at Nature's Art Village The Dinosaur Place at Nature's Art Village Montville CT

1650 Hartford-New London Tpke. (Rt. 85) Oakdale, CT 06370 Phone: 860-443-4367 Fax: 860-443-0253

Meet the residents - large and in charge

A dinosaur encounter is one of the all time great things to do. And you can do that nearby and safely and have more fun than you can possibly imagine. Indoor/outdoor activities here will bring you up close and personal to not only dinosaurs, but to wildlife, nature trials, a water park, a titanic playground and science activity center that will teach you a thing or two. There’s 50 acres of pristine woodland, 40+ life-sized dinosaurs, a man-made lake, and a monster playground with a swinging, vibrating three–dimensional double tower to shake you silly. There a maze to get lost in, a Splashpad to cool down in and lots of tasty food, picnic areas and shady spots. But be listening for footsteps. Big ones.
Informational Listings Courtesy of VisitNewEngland.com

Aquarium Visit
Life of the Oceans, Unveiled Maritime Aquarium of Norwalk CT Unveils Life of the Oceans

Making connections with sharks, seals, otters, jellies, sea turtles and other animals from Long Island Sound inspires and delights visitors to The Maritime Aquarium at 10 North Water Street in Norwalk. Year-round study cruises take visitors right into the sound to experience animals in their own environment. Changing exhibits and attractions, special events, two hands-on touch tanks and an IMAX theater with its six-story-tall screen ensure every aquarium visit is fun and educational, too. Hours: daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., (closing is 6 p.m. in July and August.) Phone: 203-852-0700.

Art Museums
Connecticut Art Trail: Fairfield Region Connecticut Art Trail: Fairfield CT Region

Here is a project that can keep you busy year-round: explore the 15 world-class museums and historic sites and attractions that comprise the Connecticut Art Trail. The trail meanders among historic sites, bucolic farms, art studios and artists' houses to grand and modern art museums in vibrant downtowns. The trail includes a feature called Trail Getaways that presents recommended itineraries along with helpful suggestions for things to do in nearby places to visit and dine. In the Fairfield region, the trail includes Bruce Museum in Greenwich, the Bush-Holley Historic Site in Cos Cob/Greenwich, the Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton/Ridgefield, and the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk.

Be Ready to Stomp the Divots Greenwich Polo Club CT

Here’s a fun outdoor adventure to tuck into your weekend calendar for September. The Greenwich Polo Club at 80 Field Point Road in Greenwich hosts public polo matches on Sundays in June, July, and September. The grounds open at 1 p.m. and matches begin at 3 p.m. Feel free to arrive early and tailgate. Pack a picnic lunch and bring a blanket or chairs. Children are always welcome, and so are dogs as long as they are kept on a leash. Attire is casual or garden party chic. During breaks in play, it is traditional for spectators to go onto the field and stomp down the divots, thank you very much. Check the club’s website for details.

Birdwatching
Sanctuary Is Home to Birds of Many Feathers Sanctuary Is Home to Birds of Many Feathers (and Species)

Connecticut Audubon Society’s Birdcraft Museum on Unquowa Road in Fairfield is an intimate natural history museum with its own songbird sanctuary. This family-friendly museum offers first-class natural history programs and exhibits to bird lovers of all ages. Planted in 1914 as a refuge to attract, and harbor migratory and resident birds, the six-acre site has sheltered more than 120 species of birds. A bridge over a pond on the property allows close-up views of the sanctuary and its inhabitants. Visitors can observe a honeybee hive, a collection of African animals, and other changing exhibits, and attend scheduled demonstrations of bird-banding in spring and fall. Phone: 203-259-0416.

Dining & Nightlife
Hip Happens in SoNo Dining & Nightlife Hip Happens in South Norwalk CT SoNo

SoNo -- South Norwalk -- is a piece of the town's downtown business district centered on Washington Street has been converted to a sizzling attraction that mixes upscale restaurants, shops, nightclubs, museums, and galleries in this waterfront town on Long Island Sound. The anchor of this trove of great things to do is the Norwalk Maritime Center, including exhibits, events, cruises, and a boat building shop. Nearby, is Oyster Shell Park. Clubs and eateries in SoNo include Naked Greens, Gingerman, Brewhouse, Chocopologie, Barcelona, SONO Baking Company & Cafe, Black Bear Saloon, Strada 18, Match, and Bradfords Grill and Tavern.

Farm Visit for Families
Ambler Hosts Farm Fun Year-Round Ambler Hosts Farm Fun Year-Round Wilton CT

Ambler Farm, at 257 Hurlbutt Street in Wilton is a 200-year-old farm now managed as a working farm, educational resource, and open space for the public. People are welcome to drop in any time to walk, visit the animals, stop by the farm stand, spread a picnic. Adults and kids can watch the sheep-shearing; learn to knit and do other traditional crafts; enjoy the maple syrup harvest; and much more. Annual special events include Ambler Farm Day, Valentine’s Tea, and the Summertime Barbecue. New events are in the works. Open every day of the year from dawn to dusk. Phone: 203-834-1143.

Fine Shopping
Rodeo Drive on the Right Coast Fine Shopping Greenwich Avenue is Rodeo Drive on the Right Coast CT

Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich has been nicknamed after Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles because of its beauty, charm, and fabulous shopping, from daily products to upscale goods like a fine violin or a memorable wedding gift at the lavish Hoaglands of Greenwich. Things to do, places to shop, and lovely eateries to indulge in lunch or dinner surround browsers on all sides. It helps to visit the street with some money to burn, but the attraction of strolling and peeping in shop windows is open to everyone.

Food Tastings
Connecticut's Chocolate Trails Food Tastings Connecticut's Chocolate Trails

In the chillier months of the year, why not stop for a tasty treat on your scenic drive? Chocolate is an internationally adored food, and Connecticut's chocolatiers will show you why -- if you're not a chocaholic already! Connecticut's Chocolate Trails include lots of delectable treasures all over the state. The Chocolate Rain Shop in Norwalk offers customizable gifts. Chesire's CocoaShack is a tasty pit stop, with fresh s'mores and Mexican hot chocolate. Travelers say that Thorncrest Farm in Goshen is worthy of making this list, too. From handmade holiday chocolates, to freshly-made exotic deliciousness, this list of chocolatiers is a must-taste New England tradition.

Indoor Sports
All Sports; All the Time All Sports All the Time at Chelsea Piers in Stamford CT

Modeled after the very successful Chelsea Piers athletic complex on the West Side of Manhattan, New York, Chelsea Piers at 1 Blachley Road in Stamford is an indoor play area that offers sporting fun for people from babies to great-grandparents. The 400,000-square-foot facility offers swimming and splashing, ice skating and hockey, net games of all kinds, batting cages, gymnastic, and many more activities. Come to learn or just play. Program directors and instructors love to encourage activity and learning by people of all abilities. Amenities like mezzanines allow parents to watch kids play in comfort. Open year-round. Phone: 203-989-1000.

Outdoor Walks
Arboretum Is a Portal to Nature Outdoor Walks Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford CT is a Portal to Nature

Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens at 151 Brookdale Road in Stamford offers a retreat for quiet outdoor walks every day of the year. The 90-acre property has champion trees, gardens, wildflower meadows, red maple wetlands and boardwalks, and woodland walking trails. The arboretum’s Silver Center hosts art displays and summer concerts. Warm weather includes guided tours of gardens and wetlands and meadows. Even -- maybe especially -- in winter, this is a refuge for a deep breath in the wild. Open daily. Phone: 203-322-6971

Outdoors & Nature
Family Fun on the Farm (Planetarium Included) Outdoors & Nature Family Fun on the Farm (Planetarium Included) Stamford CT

The folks who run Stamford Museum and Nature Center at 39 Scofieldtown Road Stamford have a genius gene for making farm life, the outdoors, nature and the sky a fascinating adventure for young children and families. The science and nature attraction is on a 118-acre site and it encompasses a working farm, hiking trails, picnic area, a playground, art galleries, and a planetarium with observatory and regularly scheduled events describing the heavens above. Many special seasonal events and things to do for families include maple harvest, Easter egg hunts, and fall activities. Property includes the Bendel Mansion & Galleries. Open all year, with hours change seasonally. Phone: 203-322-1646.

Public Parks
Boothe Memorial Park Is Entertaining All Year Boothe Memorial Park in Stratford CT Offers Outdoor Fun Through the Seasons

Boothe Memorial Park & Museum on Main Street in Stratford sits on an idyllic, 32-acre site in the north end of Stratford by the Housatonic River, which was the estate of the Boothe family for many generations. There are many architecturally unique buildings and attractions on the grounds as well as a new, handicapped-accessible playground with two climbing walls. The annual Great Pumpkin Festival is a huge attraction in the fall, while outdoor concerts and Shakespearean plays beckon visitors in the spring and summer. Tours of the historic buildings are seasonal (May - October). The park is open and free of charge year round. Phone: 203-381-2046.

Art Museums
Wadsworth Is a Trove of Outstanding Artwork Wadsworth Atheneum is a Trove of Outstanding Artwork Hartford CT

Wadsworth Atheneum, at 600 Main Street in Hartford, America's oldest public art museum, is an imposing castle-like structure containing more than 45,000 works of art. It has a refurbished sculpture garden and a collection of many fine paintings of the Hudson River School of art, and works by Dalí, Caravaggio, and Miró. Major art patrons have endowed the collections Meissen and Sèvres porcelain, English silver, and American furniture. And the staff continues to schedule new exhibitions, lectures, tours, performances, films, and family events. Open daily except Mondays, Tuesdays, and major holidays. Phone: 860-278-2670.

Cool Forest Has Letterboxing, Handicap-Accessible Fishing Cool Forest Has Letterboxing, Handicap-Accessible Fishing Salmon River State Forest CT

Comstock Covered Bridge in East Hampton is one of Connecticut’s last remaining covered bridges, located within the Salmon River State Forest, which covers over 6,000 acres in Hebron, Colchester, East Hampton, and Marlborough. The forest includes the Airline Trail, which follows an old railroad bed and features the 137-foot-high Lyman Viaduct, providing a wonderful view of the Dickenson Creek valley; a handicap accessible fly-fishing area; and a letterbox hike. The letterbox lies off River Road in Colchester. The estimated time of the trip is less than an hour. The hike is less than a quarter of a mile on easy terrain. There is a solitary grave on this forest – a memorial to a soldier. The gravestone is weathering away, but you can still see the soldier’s name, the date, cause of death, and his age.

Cool, Classic Home Styling Cool, Classic Home Styling West Hartford CT

Stylish, classic, and comfortable. L.C.R. Retail is a design firm that, in addition to construction and consultation, operates a retail shop 981B Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. The shop has a tasteful collection of furniture and accessories by Anna Weatherley, Kosta Boda, Michael Wainwright, Tamara Childs, Mottahedeh, and J. Fleet Designs. Cool resource for your own home or for gift shopping. Open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and weekends by appointment, Phone: 860-231-7742

Family fun
Coffeehouse Concerts and Year-Round Fun Coffeehouse Concerts and Lots More Fun Are in Store at this Nature Center

Located on Lang Road in Windsor, Northwest Park & Nature Center is a 473-acre recreational facility that has the virtue of staying open and lively throughout the year. There is a nature center, 12 miles of trails to enjoy during the winter and summer, maple sugaring, a Coffee House Concert Series that brings live music to listeners, and more. Annual events include Country Fair, pancake breakfasts, maple sugaring demonstrations, owl prowls, holiday wreath-making workshop and other forms of fun for all ages. Nice outdoor activities for parents and kids. Phone: 860-285-1886

Historic Home
Three Centuries of History Come Alive Three Centuries of History Come Alive at Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum Wethersfield CT

Kids and adults will find Colonial history alive and lively at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, 211 Main Street Wethersfield. Tours of the museum immerse visitors in the 18th and 19th centuries as they hear tales of the charm, hardship, and political intrigue. The property includes the 1752 Joseph Webb House, where Gen. George Washington and French Lieut.-Gen. Rochambeau planned the military campaign at Yorktown, Virginia; and the 1770 Silas Deane House and 1788 Isaac Stevens House. Nearby Old Wethersfield has 300 historic houses. Museum open year-round except January to March. Phone: 860-529-0612

Historic Homes
The Great(est) American Writer The Great(est) American Writer Mark Twain House & Museum Hartford CT

The Mark Twain House & Museum at 351 Farmington Avenue in Hartford is one of Connecticut’s most valuable attractions and recognizes Samuel Clemens's (Mark Twain’s) role as one of our nation’s foremost literary icons and his ongoing influence on American culture. The Mark Twain House & Museum’s collection contains 16,000 artifacts, the main one being the historic home of Samuel L. Clemens, which has been meticulously restored. The collection also includes pieces that originally belonged to the Clemens family; other period pieces of decorative and fine arts and domestic artifacts; and popular culture artifacts that display interpretations of Mark Twain’s image, work and characters; and material relating to the work and style of the original architects and decorators of the Twain House. Phone: 860-247-0998.

Live Theater
Theater is Great at Goodspeed Goodspeed  Opera House East Haddam CT

This historic Victorian theater overlooking the Connecticut River is a beauty, and that is just the start. Home to the original productions of “Man of La Mancha,” “Shenandoah,” and “Annie,” and recipient of two special Tony Awards for outstanding achievement in the musical theater, the Goodspeed Opera House at 6 Main Street in East Haddam is world renowned as the home of the American musical. The work is professional, quick, and wonderfully entertaining, and the theater brings some of Connecticut’s most popular events. In 2014, patrons can look forward to "Damn Yankees," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn,” and "The Circus in Winter." Phone: 860-873-8668.

Luxury Shopping in Central CT

The Westfarms shopping center at 1500 New Britain Avenue on the border of West Hartford and Farmington is an upscale shopping place with style and kick. The enclosed center is anchored by New England’s first Nordstrom along with Lord & Taylor, J.C. Penney, and two Macy’s locations. Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton, two of the great luxury brands, came to the center in 2008. Westfarms has two signature dining restaurants, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Brio Tuscan Grille, both a pleasure for dinner or lunch during a festive shopping day. Come, browse, and enjoy. Phone: 860-561-3024.

Planetariums
Copernican Observatory Brings Stars to Your Eyes

Stargazers, pay attention. The Copernican Observatory & Planetarium on Paul Manafort Drive Stanley Street is on the grounds of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain is home to one of the largest public telescopes in the United States. The observatory and planetarium hold monthly star gazing throughout year and the public is welcome to these free shows. For planetarium shows, seating is first come, first served. The planetarium is located in Copernicus Hall and there is convenient parking in the Copernicus garage. See campus map. Phone: 860-832-3399

Shopping for the Home
Polish Stoneware Adds Brilliance to Your Home

The Zanger Company at 21B Kenny Roberts Memorial Drive in Suffield is an attraction that has opened its warehouse showroom to the public to enjoy and buy the richly colored Polish stoneware and pottery from the very respected Polish manufacturer Ceramika Artystyczna. Zanger imports directly from Ceramika Artystyczna, finding an American following for heirloom-quality fine art for the home. Each piece is still with hand-cut sponges, a technique descended from the folk art tradition known as potato stamping. The colors are dazzling. The showroom is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Phone: 860-668-8915.

Absolute Bliss: A Day Along the Wine Trail Handy Signs Point <br>to the State's Blooming Wineries

Connecticut’s mild climate makes the state a fruitful place for growing grapes, and the state’s wine-making industry has bloomed in the past three decades. A delightful way to sample Connecticut vintages is to take a drive along the Connecticut Wine Trail , a route that bypasses 15 vineyards (and some beautiful countryside). The trail consists of two sections, in the eastern and the western parts of the state. Blue highway signs mark the trail and the state produces a colorful brochure. Connecticut's wineries produce a wide variety of wines, ciders, and fruit wines. All the wineries have tasting rooms and all offer at least one tour daily. Many host festive special events. Call ahead for tour schedules. Phone: 860-267-1399.

Ahoy Tubers! Farmington River Tubing Connecticut

Unless you are a real Nervous Nellie, you will probably get a thrill from a not-very-scary ride on the white water of the Farming River with help from Farmington River Tubing at 92 Main Street in New Hartford. These folks will put you and your friends in river tubes for a 2.5-mile ride down the scenic Farmington River. Traveling over three sets of rapids, you'll experience a thrill as you splash through the white water. A fee of $18 to $20 per person includes the rental of a river tube, a life jacket, and a shuttle bus ride from the take-out point to the starting pointOpen Memorial Day to Labor Day. Phone: 860-693-6465.

Animals of the Forest, Explained by Experts White Memorial Conservation Center Litchfield CT

The White Memorial Conservation Center at 80 Whitehall Road in Litchfield is a place to enjoy the great outdoors and also to learn more about it. The 4,000-acre preserve includes a Nature Museum. Plan a visit here with the amateur biologist of the family. The museum takes has dioramas and fine works of illustration to help tell the story of this wild place. Huge photo murals and animal mounts illustrate the marshes, fields, and forests on this preserve. A special exhibit on the Art of Taxidermy tells the secrets of this craft. A children's room has a live snake home, a beaver dam, a fluorescent rock cave, a bird sculpture garden, and other awesome stuff of the great outdoors. Open year-round, daily. Phone: 860-567-0857

Art Museums
Connecticut Art Trail Reveals Contemporary Work Connecticut Art Trail Reveals <br>Contemporary Work in Litchfield

Here is a project that can keep you busy year-round: explore the 15 world-class museums and historic sites that comprise the Connecticut Art Trail. The trail meanders among attractions such as historic sites, bucolic farms, art studios and artists' houses to grand and modern art museums in vibrant downtowns. The trail includes a feature called Trail Getaways that presents recommended itineraries along with helpful suggestions for things to do in nearby places such as where to visit and dine. In the Litchfield region, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield and Mattatuck Museum Arts and History Center in Waterbury.

Bookstores
Book Lovers Flock to the Hickory Stick

Hickory Stick Bookshop at 2 Green Hill Road in Washington Depot has been operating for six decades, offering the best qualities of a local, independent bookstore: good selection, expertise, fellowship among book lovers. Staff members, with a collective century of book business experience, are happy to guide you to your favorites or to help you make new discoveries in literature. Events such as Book signings, book club, local authors, and staff favorites. Also, the store has a selection of book accessories and gifts, and fun stuff for children. Open daily. Phone: 860-868-0525

Farm Architecture
Come Visit Connecticut’s Beautiful Barns

Barns have been called the biggest tool on the farm. These icons of a place’s farming life have caught the attention of Connecticut historians, who have undertaken a large survey of the state’s barns. The barns project also created a Connecticut Barn Trail, which people can explore at their own pace. The trail has seven routes that highlight the presence of barns at farms and farm stands, orchards, wineries, and historic sites. The routes travel along beautiful roads with barns scattered in the landscape. Trail guides are through the barn project website. Phone: 203-562-6312.

Farm Visits
Alpaca, Not Llama Alpaca, Not Llama

Take a break from the hectic world around you with a visit to the gently rolling countryside of western Connecticut and a world-class alpaca farm in Watertown. Learn why the curious gentle alpaca's fiber is comparable only to cashmere. You'll relax and maybe laugh a bit at the antics of these wonderful animals. As you tour South Wind Farms, get to know the alpaca family, and peruse the many different types of yarn and other alpaca products the farm has to offer. South Wind Farms welcomes visitors, but please call ahead to schedule. Phone: 860-274-9001.

For Your Reading Pleasure

During a visit to this relaxed and postcard-pretty Litchfield county town, people who love books should visit Johnnycake Books, 12 Salisbury Street in Salisbury, offering 8,000 titles and soft seating to browse them. The shop is housed in a 19th-century farm cottage and surrounded by perennial gardens. A place to soothe the spirit and feed the mind. Open Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. , Sunday, noon-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday by chance or appointment. Phone: 860-435-6677

Fresh Food, Music, and Events at Winter Market Fresh Food, Music, and More at a Winter Farmers Market  CT

The The Litchfield Hills Farm Fresh Market winter farmer’s market operates indoors at Litchfield Community Center, 421 Bantam Road, Litchfield, on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You don’t need to wait ‘til spring or summer to enjoy farm-fresh food. Products range from dairy to bee products and from grass-fed beef to lip balm. Live music, guest artists and/or demonstrations complimentary to the market atmosphere and the mission are presented. Dates for winter of 2013-14 are December 14 and 21; January 4 and 18; February 1 and 15; March 8 and 22; April 5 and 19; May 3 and 17.

Garden Gifts
Shakespeare's Garden Hits All the Sweet Spots

Shakespeare's Garden at Burr Farm, 25 South Obtuse Road in Brookfield gets the blood stirring for gardeners and anyone else who loves beautiful plants and flowers, even in indoor arrangements. Greenhouses, annuals and perennials, pots and garden ornaments, and Christmas trees, wreaths, and garlands are abundant. Even if you are not a gardener, you love someone who is and needs gifts throughout the year right? This is a great place to spend an afternoon with children as well when you’re looking for activities where you can explore and learn about some of nature. Open daily. Phone: 203-775-2214

Gift Shopping
Pewter Says “New England” Pewter Says “New England”

Few art objects say “New England” more than fine pewter items, and one place to find these is Woodbury Pewter Factory Outlet on Main Street in Woodbury. Woodbury Pewter pieces are available in both traditional and contemporary designs. If you are looking for a gift or a remembrance of your day in western Connecticut, this company creates decorative accessories; tabletop, baby, and holiday items; lamps; mugs; tankards; tableware; candlesticks, tea and coffee services, and hundreds of other items. Woodbury Pewter is all hand-crafted in Connecticut and made from the highest quality, lead-free pewter. The company offers a pewter making demonstration and also sells factory second pieces at reduced prices. Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Phone: 800-648-2014.

Gift Shopping
Shopping Chauvinism Isn't a Bad Thing Shopping Chauvinism Ain’t a Bad Thing

The Connecticut Store on Bank Street in Waterbury is the flagship outlet for Made in Connecticut products. Particularly if you are searching for great gifts or luxuries for the home for a Nutmeg State expatriate who has wandered afar, visit the Connecticut Store. The store offers products by Wiffle Ball, Bovano, Woodbury Pewter, Waterbury Button, PEZ, Liberty Candle, Alynn Neckwear and many more.

Historic Farm Visit
Farming, Art, and Cookery Combined Farming, Art, and Cookery Combined

Hunt Hill Farm , at 44 Upland Road in New Milford is the unique result of a life-long collaboration between the late Skitch Henderson, an artist, and his wife Ruth. The heart of two historic farms, Hunt Hill Farm has seen activity for almost 300 years, but it has been the home of Ruth & Skitch Henderson since 1968. Now, the property is the Henderson Cultural Center, which comprises an art museum, a gallery, a land preserve of more than 130 acres of farmland and woodland, ten historic buildings associated with these classic New England farms, and the Silo Store and Cooking School. Looking for things to do in the area? It is a beautiful place to visit, explore, take classes, and breathe in the loveliness of a historic farm property. Phone: 860-355-0300.

History Museum
Indian Museum Presents History of America's Natives Indian Museum Presents History of America's Natives  CT

Located just off Route 199 in the town of Washington, the Institute for American Indian Studies museum and educational center focuses on the indigenous peoples of northwestern Connecticut, the Woodland Indians of New England. Changing exhibits highlight Native American culture from across America, while permanent exhibits focus on American Indian living traditions of the northeast. Outdoor exhibits and attractions include a replicated Algonkian Village and simulated archeological site. The Museum Gift Shop offers the best in Native American jewelry, crafts, pottery, books and more. Open year-round. Phone: 860-868-0518.

Nightlife
Awesome Setting; Cool Tunes Awesome Setting; Cool Tunes

Built in 1883 in picturesque Norfolk in northwest Connecticut, Infinity Hall, on Route 44 in the center of town, is an intimate music, dining and entertainment destination. Newly renovated, the hall hosts more than 200 music and entertainment shows by quality national and regional artists annually. Infinity Bistro, the music-themed restaurant and bar, serves gourmet delights and spirits. In addition to popular music shows of many genres, both the music hall and bistro offer other forms of entertainment including comedy, magic, poetry slams, and shows for youngsters. Phone: 860-542-5531.

Walking Tours
Visit a Classic Town Center

The village of Plymouth Center, in southeast Litchfield County, is an archetypal New England town centered upon a town Green and the white-steepled church. A self guided walking tour takes you through this historic place, touching on the Plymouth Burying Ground, with gravestones dating to 1749, and where 38 soldiers from the Revolutionary War are buried and several historic buildings, including where George Washington stayed during the Revolutionary War, and a house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad. A fun walk in any season.

38th Voyage of the Whale Ship Charles W. Morgan

The Charles W. Morgan is the last of an American whaling fleet that numbered more than 2,700 vessels. The wooden vessel and her records tell a dramatic story of one of America’s most daring -- and destructive -- commercial seafaring industries: whaling. Built in New Bedford and launched in 1841, the Morgan was in active use as a commercial vessel until 1921. In 1941, it was transferred to Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT, when the majestic lines of the 113-foot ship dominate the waterfront as the seaport’s flagship vessel. Mystic Seaport began in November 2008 and finished in June 2013 a massive refurbishing of the ship. The Morgan is America’s oldest commercial ship still afloat – only the USS Constitution is older.
In May 2014, the Morgan began a 3-month voyage to ports throughout New England, to teach people the history of the vessel and of New England’s maritime heritage and to spark discussion about the past and current perceptions of the whaling industry in America. At port stops, visitors may board the ship on selected days and also enjoy a dockside traveling exhibit about the Morgan and Mystic Seaport. Her schedule is:
June 28-July 6 — New Bedford, State Pier. The ship will be open to the public with the dockside exhibition. There will be a special July 4th celebration and many other community activities.
July 7-11 — Sailing window to Provincetown via the Cape Cod Canal. There will be an overnight stop at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (no public access).
July 11-13 — Day sails on Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (not open to the public). Overnight mooring in Provincetown Harbor (no public access).
July 15-17 — Sailing window to Boston.
July 18-22 — Boston, Charlestown Navy Yard. The ship will be berthed next to the USSConstitution and open to the public with the dockside exhibition.
July 23-25 — Sailing window to Massachusetts Maritime Academy via the Cape Cod Canal.
July 26-27 — Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The Morgan will be open to the public with the dockside exhibition. The visit coincides with the centennial celebration of the opening of the Cape Cod Canal.
July 28-30 — Sailing window to New London.
August 6-8 — Sailing window to Mystic.
August 9 — A homecoming celebration awaits the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport.

And That’s Segway It Is Shoreline Segway CT

Not everyone wants to own a Segway, but that doesn’t mean you cannot try it out. Shoreline Segway tours offers guided Segway tours (following instruction and practice) in Guilford, Hammonasset Park in Madison and in the Mystic area. All rides are a 30-minute practice session followed by a one-hour ride. Rides are offered daily and year-round, weather permitting. The Guilford and Hammonasset tours glide through the Guilford historic district to the marina on Long Island Sound. The Hammonasset Park ride moves along bike trails near the beach and out to the wetlands viewing platforms. The Mystic tour travels through town, across the historic Mystic Bridge and along scenic River Road. Segway tours make great gifts, and gift certificates are available. Tours offered year-round, weather permitting, by appointment. Phone: 203-453-6036 or 203-215-3900.

Antique Shopping
On the Trail of Antique Treasures On the Trail of Antique Treasures CT

Mystic Country is a place of many delightful antique shops in towns like Old Lyme, Niantic, Mystic, Stonington, Canterbury, Brooklyn, Coventry, Putnam, Woodstock, Willimantic, Norrwich, and Lebanon. Now, visitors can receive a wonderfully succinct and helpful brochure describing the Mystic Antiques Trail. The brochure is available online as a pdf or in print through the mail. It has a detailed regional map and names, addresses, and descriptions of 30 antique shops. With this brochure, a half-tank of gas, and a sense of adventure, a day of antiquing activities in Mystic is pure fun. To request a free guide call 860-536-8822 or visit mystic.org.

Art Museums
Art Trail Is Rich with Stops in Mystic Region Art Trail Is Rich with Stops in Mystic Region

Here is one of the state’s activities that can keep you busy year-round: explore the 15 world-class museums and historic sites that comprise the Connecticut Art Trail. The trail meanders among historic sites, bucolic farms, art studios and artists' houses to grand and modern art museums in vibrant downtowns. The trail includes a feature called Trail Getaways that presents recommended itineraries along with helpful suggestions for nearby places to visit and dine. In the Mystic region, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, the Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, the William Benton Museum of Art in Mansfield/Storrs, the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, and the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain.

Bookstores
Tons of Books Along a Beautiful Shore Tons of Books Along a Beautiful Shore CT

At three different but nearby locations in the lovely seaside town of Niantic, the Book Barn runs with the motto Because More is Better. This used book emporium, located at 41 West Main Street with two other locations, is stuffed with books (the main building, is, indeed, a barn). Fortunately, books are grouped by genres, so you don't need to shuffle through 350,000 volumes to find something for your taste. The Barn buys and sells books, and it is open daily. If you are looking for things to do and getting warmed up for a visit, dip into Glenn's Book Notes to get your list started. Phone: 860 739-5715

Borough of Dreams Borough of Dreams

New England is not short of beautiful villages, but Stonington Borough, on a small peninsula in the Fisher’s Island Sound, is special. A walk through its tight streets is a joy by itself. Colonial-era houses rich with fine architectural details and dripping with flowers from window boxes are packed cheek-to-cheek along Water and Main streets, where you can find many intriguing antique shops. A handful of well-used fishing boats cluster at the town docks, which thrum with music and flags and cheer during the annual Blessing of the Fleet. All you need here is the power to stroll, gaze, and enjoy.

Coffee Shops
Coffee and Tea, and the Music Is Free Coffee and Tea, and the Music Is Free  CT

Bean & Leaf, at 13 Washington Street in the historic waterfront district of New London opened its doors as a bright, relaxing and welcoming place to enjoy exquisite coffees and teas. It has evolved into a roost in this beautiful old downtown for people who enjoy those beverages, along with conversation, light-and-healthy food, and excellent, free music events. Comfortable seating, including some couches, is just right to enjoy live music almost nightly, including a jazz combo on Mondays and finger-picking acoustic guitar on Fridays. No cover to enjoy the music! Menu includes juices, salads and soups, bean dishes, toasted sandwiches, pitazzas, chips and dips. It is just what a classic coffee house should be. Open daily until 10 p.m.; Sundays until 8 p.m. New London's Historic Waterfront District is a hub of art, music, and design venues, unusual boutiques, and 30 eateries in a 26-block National Register Historic District. Phone: 860-701-0000.

Come and Stomp to the Music

The town of Putnam is in Connecticut’s northeastern “Quiet Corner,” but if you are itching to hear or make some sound on a trip there, visit the Stomping Ground, at 132 Main Street in Putnam, a young restaurant-bar with live music five nights a week. It was opened by an artist and a musician who decided to more their frequent living room-based musical evenings into a business establishment. Crafts beers, good food, made from scratch in a tiny kitchen, loads of music. Phone: 860-928-7900

Farm Visits
Moo-sey Around the Farm With Us

The Farmer’s Cow is a group of six family-owned dairy farms that welcomes people to visit the farms for fun farm tours. During the tours, which run almost year-round, visitors may walk the farms, meet the farmers and cows, learn about farming, and sample local products. Some tours are: Springtime on the Farm Tour, Ice Cream, Blueberry & Bluegrass Bash, Corn Roast and Farm Tour, Celebrate the Harvest, Much More than Moos, and Cows and Fields. All walking tours are free and fun for the entire family. Phone: 866-355-COWS

First Light Offers Chance for First Bite First Light Sportfishing Noank CT

You don’t need to own a boat or even know what you‘re doing to try sportfishing. You can start by finding an experienced outfit like First Light out of Noank. First Light is a fully equipped bass boat that was designed to fish New England waters safely and comfortably. She is outfitted with the latest electronic gear and tackle to provide a productive and exciting fishing trip. First Light leaves her slip at the Noank Shipyard most nights and early mornings in search of trophy stripers. She also stands ready to steam offshore of Block Island or Montauk Point for shark and tuna when feasible. The mission of our Sportfishing at First Light is catch fish and have a good time. For more resources on sportfishing rentals and charters, contact the Connecticut Charter Party Boat Association . Phone: 860 344-1698.

Funky, Fashionable, Fascinating…

After only a year in operation, The Past Antiques Market at 1650 Hartford-New London Turnpike in Oakdale was chosen in 2014 as Best Antique Stop in New England by Yankee Magazine. The magazine's Travel Guide to New England stated: "The Past Antique Market has two floors of carefully arranged funky, fashionable, and fascinating antiques." An antique shopper's delight and a collector's showcase, The PAST Antiques Market features historic American and other fine collectibles by a variety of artisans. The market is part of Nature’s Art Village a shopping area and dinosaur nature theme park founded originally in 1991. Adults who love unusual, nature-inspired gifts can browse the shops while kids enjoy visiting the world of the dinosaurs. Phone: 860-437-3615.

Get a Look at a Legend at Foxwoods

Among the entertainment at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in the summer months is Legends in Concert, a national-caliber celebrity tribute show with performers doing spot-on imitations of great entertainers like Johnny Cash, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Adele, and Tina Turner. Performances are at the Fox Theater, 350 Trolly Line Blvd., Mashantucket are July 22 through August 31, three times a day (check website). Tickets are $30 and $40. Good nostalgic fun and great tunes are guaranteed. Phone: 800-200-2882

Gift Shopping
Try Olde Mistick Village for Nostalgic Shopping Olde Mistick Village Adds <br>Nostalgia to Shopping Fun

Olde Mistick Village, on Coogan Blvd. in Mystic, just off Exit 90 of I-95, is a quirky but really fun place to shop, especially as the Christmas season approaches. It is an open-air shopping center set up to resemble a Colonial village, complete with duck ponds, a waterwheel and replica of a steepled New England meetinghouse, where performances and special events take place. Visitors can wander along brick pathways to our more than 40 stores that sell exceptional gift items from the world over. The meeting house and Victorian gazebo host performances of musicians, dancers, and storytellers free of charge, will bring back the nostalgia of yesteryear. Lots of seasonal things to do and events include a fest of lights at Christmas and egg hunts at Easter. Open daily, year-round. Phone: 860-536-4941.

History Museum
First Nations at Mashantucket First Nations

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, which is the world's largest Native American museum, offers events and experiences for young and old, from life-size dioramas that transport visitors into the past to changing exhibits and live performances of contemporary arts. Four acres of permanent exhibits depict 18,000 years of Native and natural history, while two libraries offer materials on the histories and cultures of all Native peoples of the continent. The museum is located on Pequot Trail in Ledyard, near the Foxwoods Resort and Casino. Phone: 800-411-9671

Indoor Adventure
Skydiving: The Leap of a Lifetime

Ready to face your fear of heights? Take the plunge and experience the sensation of floating in a freefall at speeds upwards of 120 miles per hour. At the Skydive Danielson facility in Danielson, qualified instructors lead first-time skydivers into the adrenaline rush of a lifetime: a scenic ride over the landscape followed by a tandem jump from a height of 13,000 feet! Those who leave the Skydive Danielson facility wanting more can sign up for technical classes and receive their license to skydive. Phone: 860-774-5867

It’s all in Bloom at Quackin’ Grass Nursery It’s all in Bloom at Quackin’ Grass Nursery

If rare and hard-to-find plants are your thing, stop by Quackin’ Grass Nursery at 16 Laurel Hill Road in Brooklyn and check out its impressive selection of plants. Green thumbs and garden novices alike will appreciate Quackin’ Grass’s display grounds, showcasing everything from decorative flowers and ornamental trees to herbs and hardy perennials in more than 16 different borders and gardens. Hours: First Saturday in April through November 1; Thursday-Monday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Phone: 860-779-1732.

Live Theater
Kate, in Spirit Kate, in Spirit   CT

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center at 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook is a performing arts organization located in an historic theater and town hall. Opened in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building has been renovated and now includes a 250-seat theater and a small museum full of attractions honoring Katharine Hepburn, Old Saybrook’s most celebrated resident. The building, known locally as “the Kate,” has just turned 99 and, like good wine, it has improved with age. Trained docents lead tours and fill you in on its rich history as they guide you through Old Saybrook’s crown jewel. (for tours, call 60-510-0473). The theater itself offer offers programming for all ages and tastes. Phone: 877-503-1286.

Maritime Museum
Beauty, History of Connecticut River on Display Beauty, History of Connecticut River <br>on Display at This Museum

If you are drawn to the Connecticut River by the beauty of its unspoiled marshlands, the Connecticut River Museum on Main Street in Essex offers an exceptional vantage point in all seasons. From its docks you can see bald eagles, migratory birds, and a wide variety of waterfowl. The tidal wetlands that surround the Museum are an environmental treasure and a beautiful natural attraction. The family-friendly exhibits are filled with art and artifacts that link the river’s stories to our lives today. Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Phone: 860-767-8269.

Sap Services
Ahhh at the Spa in Norwich Ahhh at the Spa in Norwich CT

Ahhh at the Spa Who doesn’t need a little soothing care from time to time? The Spa at Norwich Inn , 607 West Thames Street in Norwich begins the healing process the moment you arrive at its 40-acre property of gardens, ponds, and walkways in the lovely Connecticut woodlands. Parking valets will welcome you to the facility, where experts in massage, facials, and a full range of other spa services stand ready to sooth and heal. Sporty guests can enjoy the fitness center. Hair styling and skin care is available. You do not need to be a guest at the inn to use the spa services. Come and treat yourself for a day or a weekend, one of the best things to do when you want to relax. Phone: 800-ASK-4-SPA.

Seaside Walks
Bluff Point Beckons to Walkers, Skiiers Bluff Point Beckons to Walkers, Skiiers

Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton offers the visitor a delightful mixture of wooded hiking and cross-country skiing trails coupled with spectacular wildlife viewing on Long Island Sound. Because of its Coastal Reserve designation, access to the bluff is by foot or non-motorized vehicle only. The trail to the bluff passes through wooded and open areas until the view broadens as the bluff is approached. Here vegetation is more sparse and diminutive because of wind exposure. Among the plants to be found at the headland are native beach plum, beach pea and red and white shore roses.

Shopping at the Casino
Shopping for All Tastes Shopping for All Tastes   CT

As you approach the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, the sleek profile of the high-rise buildings with their jaunty, jagged roofline is a clue that you are in for something bold and uninhibited. Inside the casino, you’re sure of it. Whether or not you gamble, the Sun is a jaw-dropping wonderland of design, architecture, entertainment, dining, events, and … shopping. The main concourse is packed jaw-to-jaw with an unusual array of shops, from major brands in outdoor wear at Trailblazer to lavish cut crystal jewelry at Swarovski to Fisher Price toys. Even if you leave your plastic in your pocket, you will still enjoy the spectacle and find plenty of things to do.

Summer Evening at the Drive-in Summer Evening at the Drive-in

For the sake of nostalgia or some unusual fun for youngsters under age 50, try spending a foolish summer evening at an authentic drive-in theater. The Mansfield Drive-In Theatre at 228 Stafford Road in Mansfield (junction of routes 31 and 32) was built in 1954 and it is the real McCoy. Doo-wop music greets patrons as they roll onto the property, threading their way among the speaker poles servicing three 55-by-110-foot screen. The place has it all: two movies nightly, a snack bar with plenty of junk food, people loading up the back of a pickup with a whole crew of movie buffs; and even a small playground. Perfect fun for a summer evening. (there’s a bonus: on Sundays, the adjacent property is a giant flea market). Phone: 860-423-4441.

Antique Shopping --
Come to Clinton for Antiques Come to Clinton for Antiques  CT

It’s no secret that the town of Clinton has become a hot spot attraction for browsing and buying fine antiques. Susan Alon, proprietor of the MiRIAMGREEN Antiquarian Bookshop & Gallery in Clinton, has written “… a constellation of new shops dealing strictly with ... antiques & specialty goods ... has opened in previously unoccupied and in many cases historic real estate, bringing a new look to the Clinton downtown and a new audience, the upscale antiquers.” The Clinton Antique Center, a 70-dealer shop at 78 East Main Street, is a huge influence. However, Alon noted, “…clustered closely along Main Street within the space of four or so miles, you have the opportunity of viewing the merchandise of dozens of dealers, and benefit from their experience, taste, and connoisseurship.”

Art Museum --
Art Museum Trail Focuses on Yale Art Museum Trail Focuses on Yale <br>in the New Haven Region

Here is an activity that can keep you busy year-round: explore the 15 world-class museums and historic sites that comprise the Connecticut Art Trail. The trail meanders among historic sites, bucolic farms, art studios and artists' houses to grand and modern art museums in vibrant downtowns. Discover diverse, quality collections rich in history and heritage, including European masterpieces, American Impressionism, ancient art and contemporary culture. The trail includes a feature called Trail Getaways that presents recommended itineraries along with helpful suggestions for nearby places to visit and dine. In the Greater New Haven region the trail includes the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven.

Art Trails --
Explore Yale's Architecture on Foot Art and Architecture on Foot <br>at Your Own Pace

The city of New Haven, along with its ivy encampment, Yale University, wants to make it easy for visitors to enjoy the wide variety of public art and fine architecture attractions in the city. A self-guided walking tourof art on the Yale campus is available, stopping at works by Maya Lin, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, and others. Also, the Yale Visitor Center at 149 Elm Street leads free group walking tours of public art at Yale by request; call the Visitor Center (203-432-2300) a week before the requested date. An walking tour of New Haven architecture includes part of the Yale campus, along with Science Hill and the Yale Medical Center. The tour visits buildings by Louis I. Kahn, Paul Rudolph, Cesar Pelli, and Eero Saarinen. On the tour, you can soak in a wide range of architectural styles and see how those styles mesh to create a distinctive city, making this one of the most interesting things to do in the area.

Barns, Books, and Time for Browsing Barns, Books, and Time for Browsing

Old books, old maps, old postcards. People who can browse for hours among this type of treasure should beat a path to Whitlock's Book Barn on Sperry Road in Bethany. The business is, in fact, a barn and a former turkey house stuffed with many thousands of used books, maps, and prints. Much of the material comes from estate sales and people reducing their libraries. The business has been operating since 1948, receiving a steady stream of buyers and sellers of books, maps, and ephemera. Fans of maps will savor the selection of maps from the 1800s, including hundreds of maps by town and by county from 21 states. The collection includes maps by Mitchell, Colton, Tilden & Baker, and the Beers family. There also is a selection of international maps. The barns are open Tuesdays through Sundays. Phone: 203-393-1240.

Boat Cruises --
Cruise the Thimble Islands

The Thimble Islands, just off the shore of Stony Creek, was first seen by Europeans in 1614 and, by legend, served for a time as a hideout for the pirate Captain Kidd. Once called The Hundred Islands, the islands have a long history of use from farming to quarrying. Three boat captains can take you on cruises around these beautiful islands. They are Captain Bob Milne on the Volsunga IV; Captain Mike Infantino on the Sea Mist I; And Captain Dave Kusterer on the Islander . Lots of dates, times, and perks to enjoy.

Bookstores
A Bookstore With a Serious Love of Reading

R.J. Julia Booksellers at 768 Boston Post Road in Madison opened two decades ago as an independent bookstore whose mission was, and is, to be a place where words matter and where writers meet readers. The store hosts more than 200 events a year. Authors from all over the country visit the store to inspire, educate, and entertain. A knowledgeable staff, opinionated book selections with shelf-talker tags help book lovers find books that are just right for them. Open daily, Phone: 203-245-3959.

Drive New Haven’s Charmed Shoreline New Haven Ct Shoreline Drive

Set aside a day to drive part of the shoreline of Greater New Haven. This strip of land along Route 1 contains historic homes, stylish restaurants, nature preserves -- all within a few miles of the Long Island Sound. Start on Route 1 in Branford's elegant downtown. Walk around the Green or veer off onto the many hiking or bird watching trails. The scenic Route 146 takes you into Stony Creek, a tiny former fishing village. The Thimble Islands are visible from Stony Creek's harbor. Next up, Guilford has a truly grand town Green, a lengthy, well-shaded block that's lined with charming storefronts. Madison's quiet, walkable downtown includes the much-loved R.J. Julia Booksellers and many other small shops. Outside of town is Hammonasset Beach State Park, Connecticut's largest shoreline park.

Food Tours--
Taste of New Haven

Gather with friends to soak in the tastes, sights, and sounds of New Haven. On Taste of New Haven’s themed food and drink tours, guides lead guests through the buzzing city and into its finest eateries, with fun stops at cultural spots along the way. Try the Pizza and Pints Bike Tour, a bicycle tour with pizza and pub pit stops, or the New Haven Symphony Tour, which offers an evening of multicultural cuisine and a complimentary ticket to hear some sweet sounds. This year’s Trick or Eat Spooky Tour is a ghost tour with a frightful amount of food and drink tastings. Tours run year-round for 1.5-4 hours in rain or shine, and your departure point is revealed when you register. Phone: 203-710-3710

Food Trucks --
A La Carte in the Heart of New Haven A La Carte in the Heart of New Haven

The heart of New Haven’s downtown gets a lot of its soul from the popular and plentiful outdoor food vendors that cluster up on weekdays in the streets and intersections near Yale-New Haven Hospital, the New Haven Green, and Yale University. The cuisine from the food stands spans the globe and it is easy to eat from one hand during a time-out from office or classroom. Favorites include the Caseus Cheese Truck (Depalma Court), the Tijuana Taco Company (Crown Street); Hayama Cart or the Lalibela Cart (Prospect and Sachem streets); the Peking Edo Cart or Jung’s Kimchi Corner or the Ay! Salsa Cart (Cedar and York streets). Along with cumin and chili peppers, variety gives the spice to life. Keep your ears sharp for live music events in the warm seasons.

Indoor Activity--
Go Climb a Rock

During the chilly seasons or on rainy days, are you and your kids climbing the walls? Come of the place where this activity is a fun, challenging indoor sport (for all ages)! Prime Climb is an indoor rock-climbing gym at 340 Quinnipiac Street in Silversmith Park in Wallingford, next to Walco Park. For fun and physical training, rock climbing is the next big thing, and indoor clubs are springing up everywhere. Good for children, teens, and adults. Prime Climb offers specials and kid-oriented activities. Phone: 203-265-4006

Shopping --
High-Tone Shopping in Outlet Form High-Tone Shopping in Outlet Form  CT

Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets with 70 upscale stores features an impressive collection of the finest designer labels and brands for you, your family and your home. Located on Killingworth Turnpike in the town of Clinton, an easy stop directly off of I-95, this is Connecticut's only upscale outlet center, making it the perfect destination for a day of shopping activities. A VIP Shopper Club offers exclusive savings, like 50 Plus Shopper Perks. Lots of individual in-store promotions are happening all the time. Seasonal entertainment for shoppers and even for the children. Phone: 860-664-0700

Wine Tasting --
You Bring Lunch; They'll Supply the Wine You Bring Lunch; They'll Supply the Wine

For the folks at Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford, producing first-rate wines is clearly a labor of love. Joe and Lucy Gouveia planted their first vines ten years ago and to today visitors can sample wines made from the eight different types of grapes that thrive there. Set on top of a hill overlooking the vineyard, the Winery Building boasts a large stone fireplace, panoramic views, woodlands and sunsets, making this the perfect romantic getaway for couples looking for things to do. Guests are invited to bring their own picnic lunch to enjoy as they sip on Gouveia’s award-winning Stone House Red, Whirlwind Rose, or Oaked Chardonnay. Open Friday to Sundays. Live music events Saturday evenings. Phone: 203-265-5526.