Why you need to connect with Connecticut

One of America’s smallest states, Connecticut is the perfect destination if you like to include a little driving on your holiday. Not so vast that you can’t move around it with ease, Connecticut nevertheless has so much to offer.

Home to American author Mark Twain as he wrote some of his most memorable works, the ‘Constitution State’ is rich in historical importance. Beyond that, however, Connecticut also possesses astounding natural beauty. Located south of Massachusetts and north of New York State on the Atlantic coastline, it’s the ideal place to go if you’re looking to explore what America’s north-eastern coast has to offer.

Mark Twain House
Mark Twain home in Hartford, Connecticut

Literary Giants

Mark Twain’s Family Home
Located in Connecticut’s capital city of Hartford, you’ll need to make sure your trip takes in a visit to the home of one of America’s most widely-loved authors, Mark Twain. Born Samuel Clemens of Missouri in 1835, Twain lived in this house between 1874 to 1891. Described by his biographer as ‘part steamboat, part medieval fortress and part cuckoo clock,’ it was in this house that Twain would compose some of his most celebrated works; bringing characters like Tom Sawyer and, of course, Huckleberry Finn, to life. Fully restored and open to the public, the Mark Twain House & Museum also offers a whole host of special events catered to everyone from the literary aficionados, to families travelling with young children.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Centre
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the second best-selling book across the whole of the 19th century. Considering it was only published in 1852 is one thing, that the book ranked #1 was the bible is another. Beyond its commercial success however, Stowe’s novel played an important role in shifting the attitudes of those who supported slavery, and, in the opinions of some scholars and historians, hastened the onset of the American Civil War. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, you can visit the home that has now become a conversational, interactive museum that encourages visitors to participate along with your guide. Learning all about Stowe herself, the tour also covers a whole range of social and cultural issues from the 19th century; from slavery to the role of women in society, from immigration to equal pay. A truly fascinating experience, one of America’s smallest states has certainly left a lasting literary mark on the whole country.

Outdoor Pursuits

Mystic, Connecticut
Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

Mystic Seaport Museum
The self-proclaimed ‘leading maritime museum’ across the whole of America, the Mystic Seaport Museum is a little bit special. Boasting over 500 historic watercraft amongst its collection, it’s also home to the world’s oldest whaleship; the 1841 Charles W. Morgan – something to get those fans of Moby Dick excited. However, beyond this incredible collection, the Mystic Seaport Museum really strives to bring America’s maritime past to life. With its recreated New England coastal village and a working shipyard, visitors are guaranteed an authentic experience of life from a distant time. You’ll meet historians, storytellers, musicians and craftspeople who conjure up an image of life as it were for a 19th century, sea-faring American. It even has a planetarium that lets you see how sailors of old used to rely on the stars to navigate their ships. Demonstrating the skills and techniques of traditional shipbuilding, this is also a fantastic place for families. From swabbing the decks of the children’s museum, to building a toy boat souvenir, the Mystic Seaport Museum offers an interactive experience that won’t be forgotten. By the way, the town of Mystic itself is home to some of Connecticut’s loveliest coffee shops. Check them out here before you go.

Enders State Forest Waterfall
Enders State Forest

Chasing Waterfalls
Connecticut is one of the places to go if you’re looking to experience nature at its most awe-inspiring. Home to an incredible number of waterfalls, if you’re up for an adventure, this could be exactly what you’re looking for. One of the most popular spots is Enders Falls in the Enders State Forest. Offering an accessible trail that takes you right to the waterfall, visit in the Autumn months and the changing colour of the forest landscape will make for an astounding sight.

Indian Well Falls is another of Connecticut’s beautiful waterfalls. Unlike Ender’s Falls, you’ll be able to stop off here and – if you’re thinking ahead – enjoy a picnic on the shaded grove at the water’s edge. Although you’re not allowed to swim around the waterfall itself, there is a little beach close by where you can go to cool off. For the more adventurous among you, the Great Falls are where you should be looking to go. Located near the aptly-named Falls Village, this 60-foot high waterfall allows you to get into a kayak and manoeuvre around beneath the cascading water. Not one for the faint-hearted, make sure to take a trip into the nearby village when you’re through. With its churches, railroad depot, streets and houses, Falls Village prides itself on looking like it never moved beyond the 1800s – the perfect way to relax after kayaking under a 60-foot high waterfall. For an even broader look at all the outdoor activities available to visitors, check it out here.

Food & Drink

High-Tea
If you enjoy the finer things in life, there’s no doubt you’ve been tempted to go for a spot of high tea in London. Well, lo and behold, the people of Connecticut are past masters at serving up some delicious afternoon treats. With town names like New London, New Britain, Bristol and Norwich, perhaps this shouldn’t be such a surprise. If you fancy Tea With Tracey in the town of Seymour, a wonderful selection of homemade sandwiches and cakes will be complemented with 220 different tea selections. Mrs. Bridges’ Pantry in the town of Woodstock strives to create a more quintessentially English experience. Along with its homemade jam and clotted cream, it goes so far as to offer baked beans on toast and a steak and kidney pie. If you really want to go all out, however, the Bee & Thistle Inn of Old Lyme might just tempt you. Only offering their Afternoon Tea during the festive period, the Bee & Thistle Inn is an ideal spot for any romantic getaway you have planned. Located along the coast, it offers a spa on the premises, along with art exhibitions and live performances from a whole host of various musicians.

Connecticut Vineyard

Chamard Vineyards
Located near the coastal town of Clinton, the Chamard Vineyards allows you to experience a New England winery held up to the finest French traditions. One of the regions many wineries, the Chamard Vineyards is just one stop on Connecticut’s wine trail. Offering wine-tasting and vineyard tours, the Chamard Vineyard also possesses a ‘French-inspired’ bistro. With its farm-to-table service, it is a wonderful way to experience authentic, locally-sourced food in a beautiful surrounding environment.

Hitting the Road

Hartford skyline
Hartford skyline

Setting out from Hartford, you’ll only be slightly more than a three-hour drive from New York City; less then that again into Boston. So, if you want to combine Connecticut’s natural beauty with a day or two in the big city, this will be very doable indeed. However, if you’d prefer to take in some of New England’s lesser-spotted sights, Hartford is the perfect place to kick off your east-coast American road-trip.

Hidden Beaches Road Trip
Worth visiting at any time of year, Connecticut’s beaches are a sight to behold. With their incredible views of the Atlantic, a two-hour drive from Bluff Point in the north to the Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in the south will let you decide what appeals to you most. A trip that takes in six beaches in total, you can plan out your route with this extremely helpful interactive map.

Sunset at Saville Dam
Sunset at Saville Dam

Castle Road Trip
Certainly one for the architecturally-minded, as Mark Twain’s 19th century house proves, Connecticut is the place to go for exquisitely designed buildings. With so much European influence feeding into the state’s early architecture, some of these buildings will undoubtedly resemble ones you have seen before. However, they are not just for looking at. Inside many, you can take a walk around and explore the incredible job that has been done restoring and furnishing them. You can take a look at the route here.

Small Towns Road Trip
Although you might stumble across some of Connecticut’s beautiful small towns whilst exploring the state anyway, this trip makes sure you experience some of the most memorable of all. Taking in eight different towns, you’ll see a version of America you may have thought had already vanished. Maybe a bit too much to take in during one day of driving, you could build a whole trip around visiting these small towns one by one. A view of the route is available here.

Fly direct to Hartford, Connecticut and start planning your ideal getaway.

Read next:

Road Trip: Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula