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Where to Go and What to Do in the Summer in Connecticut (2023)

Connecticut might be the third smallest state in the United States, but there is no shortage of fun and exciting things to do. This beautiful Nutmeg State has so much to offer that visitors are left wanting to keep coming back for more. Verdant landscapes marked by white picket fences, golden sandy beaches, sparkling lakes, and cascading waterfalls cover the state from end to end, wowing visitors with an abundance of natural beauty. The bigger cities of Connecticut offer a plethora of unique museums, theaters, and fine dining options for tourists, while the quaint little towns provide natural beauty, lush forests, charming shops, and waterfront cafes to indulge yourself.

One of the best times to visit the state of Connecticut is in the summer months when the entire state comes alive with the colors of summer. From the green rolling hills to the beautiful beaches, people come out in droves to enjoy the warm weather and golden sunshine all around.

Where to Go and What to Do in the Summer in Connecticut

So when you are deciding on your next summer getaway, here are the best places to visit and exciting things to do in the summer in Connecticut.

1. Spend a beautiful day in Mystic

There are many beautiful small cities in Connecticut, but none as charming as Mystic. The town of Mystic was established in 1684. The town’s maritime history is famous and evident at every turn you take in this beautiful former shipbuilding seaport. Throughout the year, there are many annual events that celebrate boats, schooners, pirates, and more as a way to keep the history of the town alive. There are dozens of ways to get out on the water here, making it a perfect holiday for adventure lovers.

One of the top-most attractions you must check out in Mystic is the Seaport Museum, which takes up at least a few hours of your day. This museum is packed with many incredible things to see, including a recreated 19th-century fishing village, an old wooden whaling ship, and a separate children’s museum. You can even board a cruise from here.

Visitors to Mystic should also check out the Mystic Aquarium, which is home to beluga whales, seals, and a wide variety of other creatures, including penguins. Across the street from the aquarium lies the beautiful Olde Mistick Village, which is an open-air mall that is set up in a recreated 18th-century village style.

Another unique thing to do in Mystic is to climb aboard the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine housed at the Historic Ship Nautilus and Submarine Force Museum. This is a hugely popular place for families with children as admission is free. Children take an immediate liking to the working periscopes.

Once you are done exploring the town, make sure to stop to have a slice at the Mystic Pizza, made famous by Julia Roberts.

2. Take The Ferry To See The Magnificent Gillette Castle

If you want to truly experience the sights and sounds of Connecticut, one of the top-rated things to do is to take the ferry and visit the famous Gillette Castle. The famed Chester-Hadlyme Ferry takes visitors and their cars from the charming small town of Chester to cross the mesmerizing Connecticut River to reach Hadlyme, which is home to the unique attraction known as Gillette Castle.

This is a super popular route, especially during the warm summer months, but it is during the fall season that you get to see this route at its best. During fall, you get to take in the spectacular red, orange, and yellow hues that reflect in the sparkling waters of the Connecticut River as the trees that surround the hilly shores known as the Seven Sisters are colored in a rainbow of colors.

Once you reach Hadlyme, visit the castle, which is located in East Haddam. The Gillette Castle was constructed in the early 20th century by William Gillette, a stage actor. Sprawled over 184 acres, the estate offers some stunning views of the river flowing below. This is a medieval Gothic castle that is home to many secret passageways, numerous whimsical treasures designed by Gillette himself, and various intricate locking mechanisms.

3. Become A Child And Climb Aboard The Essex Steam Train

If you want to enjoy the beauty of Connecticut, it is best to climb aboard the Essex Steam Train and make your way through the stunning Connecticut River Valley as you soak up all the history in the vintage coaches of this antique steam train. The Valley Railroad Company operates the Essex Steam Train, and tours leave from the Essex Station starting in early May to late October. You can also combine a river cruise package on the Connecticut River on the equally remarkable Becky Thatcher riverboat to see some breathtaking sights along the way.

There are many more enjoyable things to do in Connecticut, from hiking the trails that take you to the magnificent Kent Falls to fishing in Madison. You will never have a dull moment in this state.

4. Visit The Beautiful Hammonasset Beach State Park In Madison

Located in Madison, the Hammonasset Beach State Park is not your average day in the park kind of weekend getaway. Having over a two-mile-long shoreline, Hammonasset is the biggest coastline in Connecticut, and the beach here attracts over one million visitors every year.

There are many recreational activities to take part in here at this beautiful beach, including sunbathing, swimming, or just enjoying a walk on the boardwalk. There is a hiking trail that takes you around the beach area, and you can even enjoy fishing here.

There are many concessions available along with clean restroom facilities to use. Make sure to take out some time to check out the park’s incredible Meigs Point Nature Center.

This park is also a great place to camp overnight as it is home to a huge camping ground that opens from Memorial Day weekend till mid-October. There’s a volleyball court, playground, an amphitheater, and many other fun activities available at the campground. The Hammonasset Beach State Park is a popular spot for campers, and there are over 500 electric and primitive camping sites. So if you are into camping, the Hammonasset Beach State Park is the perfect place to spend a weekend away from the noise and stress of the city.

5. Get Back In Touch With Yourself As The Laid Back Town Of Colebrook

Nestled in Litchfield County, the beautiful small town of Colebrook derives its name from Colebrook Country, England. This is a true blue New England town that is the ideal getaway for those who want to escape the hustle-bustle of big cities and daily life to get back in touch with the basics. Take the time to wander around this picturesque town, have a chat with the friendly locals, and make a stop at Rock Hall, a historic place on the National Register.

The best time to visit the town of Colebrook is during the 4th of July festivities, so plan your trip accordingly so that you are in Colebrook for the 4th of July weekend. Also, check out the fantastic Colebrook Store to get your hands on some delicious local food that many call edible history.

6. Enjoy A Picnic At The Candlewood Lake In Danbury

One of the most beautiful lakes in Connecticut is Candlewood Lake, the biggest lake in the state. This is an artificial lake that sprawls over 16 miles in length and 8.4 square miles in size. The Candlewood Lake is located in both Litchfield and Fairfield counties.

Having 86 miles of useable shoreline, the lake is home to several boat launches, and ten marinas. This is a popular spot for visitors and also a popular camping spot. One of the best things to do here, apart from sailing, swimming, and fishing, is scuba diving. Despite the waters being murky, there are many divers here, trying their luck to find the lost city of Jerusalem, which was flooded to create this lake.

While the lake is technically a reservoir, it was made by Connecticut Light and Power in the late 1920s. The company also constructed the hydroelectric Rocky River Dam in an attempt to boost the amount of electricity produced by pumping water from the Housatonic River into the Candlewood Lake.

7. Go Camping at the Lake Waramaug State Park in New Preston

This is one of a kind camping spot in Connecticut, and you will not want to leave from this beautiful campground. The biggest attraction at the Lake Waramaug State Park in New Preston is the massive sparkling Lake Waramaug, after which the park is named. You can see this spectacular lake from almost every angle as a huge 96 acres of campground welcome you to this stunning state park.

This park is also home to a soft and sandy beach that stretches along the shore and is located near the main parking area. This is an excellent beach for families with small children as you can play around in the sparkling water or opt to kayak, swim, paddleboard, or canoe. There are endless options to have fun on the water.

The Lake Waramaug State Park Campground is one of the best places to go camping in Connecticut, especially for families. There are 76 open and wooded campsites to choose from, all of which offer breathtaking lake views.

On the campsite, you will find all the amenities like showers, bathrooms, and a dumping station. Shelters and picnic areas are built separately, and you can also rent a canoe. It is also possible to rent a cabin if you don’t want to stay inside a tent.

8. Enjoy The Cascading Kent Falls Come Crashing Down In Kent

What an amazing feel it is to see water come crashing down the 250 feet of falls that make up the breathtaking Kent Falls inside the Kent Falls State Park in Kent. The Kent Falls is known as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state of Connecticut, and it is a sight to behold. As you make your way through a misty hiking trail to reach the top, you will feel an adrenalin-fueled rush when you look down to see the water crash down into Falls Brook, which is a tributary that leads to the mesmerizing Housatonic River. If you want to get some fantastic long exposure shots, it is best to visit Kent Falls on a cloudy day.

Take your time to explore the Kent Falls State Park as well, which is set beautifully among the Litchfield Hills and is also home to a picturesque covered bridge, which makes for some incredible pictures as well.

There is no denying that the state of Connecticut is truly blessed with some of the most beautiful waterfalls, and you can also check out some of the other falls like Buttermilk Falls in Plymouth, Roaring Brook Falls in Cheshire, Campbell Falls in Norfolk, Burr Falls, Chapman Falls in East Haddam, and many more.

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