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Connecticut is more than just New York’s quiet, pastoral neighbor. This small but mighty New England state packs in dozens of quaint towns, flashy promenades, and a heavy dose of pre-Revolutionary War history. Along its southern border, Connecticut is framed by the Long Island Sound, offering pristine sand dunes favored by sunbathers and beachcombers. The southwest pocket of the state is an easy portal to New York City and a convenient base for big-city shopping and dining. The state capital, New Haven, is a brainiac’s dream, home to Yale University, world-class art galleries, museums, and entertainment venues.
Small towns sprinkled throughout the state like Mystic, Wethersfield, and Bristol give travelers a peek into Connecticut's pioneering heritage. More than half of the state is covered by woodland, making it a natural paradise for outdoor activities. Whether you’re exploring the maple- and birch-filled forests of the Eastern Uplands, with their stellar hiking and mountain biking trails, or the rugged Taconic Mountain Range — home to Connecticut’s highest peak, Mount Frissell, and the state’s ski resorts — there’s no shortage of fun to be had in the Constitution State.
Connecticut is connected to the rest of the country by nearly every mode of transportation — from private helipads to classic commuter trains. While many people from out of state fly into New York City to get to Connecticut, Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Windsor-Locks offers international flights, and Groton-New London Airport (GON) and Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport (HVN) roll out domestic and regional service. On the ground, local highways and country roads make it a breeze to explore every corner of the state by car. Local commuter and Amtrak trains link Connecticut with Washington D.C., New York, and Maine. Around a half-dozen ferry terminals provide an alternative mode of transportation while cruising Connecticut’s scenic shoreline.
In autumn, the clear skies and brilliant foliage attract onlookers to Connecticut, making it one of the most popular times of year to visit. It’s not just the leaves that will catch your attention. Picking apples from the U-pick orchards, plucking oversized pumpkins from their patches, and getting lost in a corn maze are also popular autumn activities. Spring is great for hiking and biking through the blossoming daffodils and dogwood trees — take note of the many blossom festivals that spring up across the state. Summer means packed beaches and parks along the shoreline, but don’t overlook the many great rural campsites. Just know that the weather will be hot and humid. January is often the coldest month, when the state becomes a haven for skiing and tubing.
Connecticut might be a small state, but it has the largest maritime museum in the country. The Mystic Seaport Museum, in Mystic, is a recreated 19th-century seafaring village celebrating the lives and livelihoods of sailors. Exhibitions range from the craft of woodcarving to popular navigation techniques of the 1800s. Historic boats are available to ride with a captain, and some to pilot yourself, bringing the full experience together.
Perched high above the Connecticut River in the city of East Haddam, Gillette Castle State Park offers mesmerizing geologic formations, hiking trails, and a Medieval-style castle. Smooth shale formations and jagged quartz and metamorphic outcroppings might be the first thing to catch your eye upon entering, but the storied stone-and-oak castle, designed by a famed actor and playwright, will warrant a closer look.
Rose-studded archways, perennial-lined paths, and ivy-enshrouded gazebos wind through 100 acres in this formal garden in Hartford. A large hand-dug pond with a stone bridge is a picturesque setting for soaking it all in. The garden’s cafe serves gourmet hot dogs, ice cream, and other snacks during the summer season.