Although I was born in NYC, I consider Connecticut my home because it’s where I grew up. There’s admittedly not much to do, but if you ever happen to be taking a road trip and passing through, here’s some free, off-the-beaten path stuff to look out for. Keep in mind - this is meant for summer since everything’s outside!
West Hartford, CT: Elizabeth Park
Home to the U.S.’s oldest rose garden, Elizabeth Park is stunning once everything comes into bloom. There’s arches covered in roses and a huge variety of other flowers throughout the park. It’s a great photo spot, and a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Free parking is located inside of the park.
Groton, CT: Bluff Point State Park
This is one of my favorite state parks. It’s free to park and incredibly dog-friendly. There’s about a four mile loop through the park (which is pretty flat, so it’s not so much a hike as a walk). About halfway through, you have access to an area that is not quite a beach, but something like it. It doesn’t have lush, warm sand (instead it has rocks and shells galore), but it’s a beautiful spot and really relaxing. And the plus is that it’s pretty empty. You can also kayak if you bring your own equipment.
Griswold, CT: Buttonwood Farms
This event is only available one week per year - but if you’re around during that one week, I’d definitely recommend stopping by. Buttonwood Farms’ primary business is ice cream, but during the last week of July, they open their field of sunflowers to the public. It’s free to park, and proceeds from bouquets of sunflowers and related products go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. To say it’s a gorgeous sight is an understatement.
Hamden, CT: Sleeping Giant or Simsbury, CT: Talcott Mountain
These are another two of my favorite state parks. Sleeping Giant varies in difficulty - I did the blue trail which leads to the tower and is rated strenuous (which I agree with). That’s a wonderful hike to do if you have the energy. It’s a lot of scaling, but it’s totally worth it. Talcott Mountain is a quick 1.5 miles to the top, where there’s an observation tower that allows you to see over much of Connecticut.
If you’re willing to spend some money, here’s some Connecticut activities with fees:
Attractions: Gillette Castle, Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Mark Twain House, Connecticut Children’s Science Museum.
Arts: Wadsworth Antheneum, Yale Art Gallery, Hartford Stage Company.
There’s a great natural beauty about the state, especially in the spring (once everything comes into bloom) and autumn (once the leaves start changing colors). If you like nature, this is a nice place to see it.