Connecticut

TRAVEL GUIDE

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You can travel from just about any point in Connecticut to any other in less than two hours, yet the land you traverse—fewer than 60 miles top to bottom and 100 miles across—is as varied as a drive across the country.

Connecticut's 253 miles of shoreline blows salty sea air over beach communities like Old Lyme and Stonington, while patchwork hills and peaked mountains fill the state's northwestern corner, and once-upon-a-time mill towns line rivers such as the Housatonic. Connecticut has seemingly endless farmland in the northeast, where cows might just outnumber people, as well as chic New York City bedroom communities such as Greenwich and New Canaan, where boutique shopping bags are the dominant species.

Just as diverse as the landscape are the state's residents, who numbered more than 3½ million at last count. There really is no such thing as the definitive "Connecticut Yankee." Yes, families can trace their roots back to the 1600s, when Connecticut was founded as one of the 13 original colonies, but the state motto is "He who transplanted still sustains." And so the face of the Nutmegger is that of the family from Naples now making pizza in New Haven and the farmer in Norfolk whose land dates back five generations, the grandmother in New Britain who makes the state's best pierogi and the ladies who lunch in Westport, the celebrity nestled in the Litchfield Hills and the Bridgeport entrepreneur working to close the gap between Connecticut's struggling cities and its affluent suburbs.

One quality all Connecticut Yankees have in common, however, is inventiveness; Nutmeggers are historically known for both their intellect and their desire to have a little fun. The nation's first public library opened in New Haven in 1656 and its first state house in Hartford in 1776. Tapping Reeve developed America's first law school in Litchfield in 1784, and West Hartford's Noah Webster published the first dictionary in 1806. On the fun side, Lake Compounce in Bristol was the country's first amusement park; Bethel's P. T. Barnum staged the first three-ring circus; and the hamburger, the lollipop, the Frisbee, and the Erector Set were all invented here.

Not surprisingly, Nutmeggers have a healthy respect for their history. For decades, Mystic Seaport, which traces the state's rich maritime past, has been the premier tourist attraction. Today, however, Foxwoods Casino near Ledyard, run by the Mashantucket Pequots, is North America's largest casino, drawing more than 40,000 visitors per day. Thanks in large part to these lures, not to mention rich cultural destinations, cutting-edge restaurants, shopping outlets, first-rate lodgings, and abundant natural beauty (including 92 state parks and 30 state forests), tourism is one of the state's leading industries. Exploring Connecticut reveals a small state that's big in appeal.

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New Haven

Though the city is best known as the home of Yale University, New Haven's historic district, dating back to the 17th century, and the distinctive...

Hartford

Midway between New York City and Boston, Hartford is Connecticut's capital city and the former insurance capital of the United States. Founded...

Litchfield

Everything in Litchfield, the wealthiest and most noteworthy town in the Litchfield Hills, seems to exist on a larger scale than in neighboring...

Stamford

While business is often what brings people to Stamford, what keeps them here are the quality restaurants, nightclubs, and shops that line Atlantic...

Norwalk

In the 19th century, Norwalk became a major New England port and manufacturing center, which produced pottery, clocks, watches, shingle nails...

Kent

Kent once held many ironworks, and today boasts the area's greatest concentration of art galleries—some nationally renowned—as well as a prep...

Mystic

Mystic has devoted itself to recapturing the seafaring spirit of the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of the nation's fastest clipper ships were...

New London

New London, a small and slightly gritty city on the banks of the Thames River, has long had ties to the sea. In the mid-1800s it was the second...

Woodbury

There may be more antiques shops in quickly growing Woodbury than in all other towns in the Litchfield Hills combined. Some of the best-preserved...

Cornwall

Connecticut's Cornwalls can get confusing: there's Cornwall, Cornwall Bridge, West Cornwall, Cornwall Hollow, East Cornwall, and North Cornwall...

Norfolk

Thanks to its severe climate and terrain, Norfolk has resisted development and stands as one of the best-preserved villages in the Northeast...

Greenwich

Lush forests, rolling hills, sandy beaches overlooking sparkling Long Island Sound, and a picture-perfect downtown area filled with chic boutiques...

Westport

Westport, an artists' community since the turn of the 20th century, continues to attract creative types. Despite commuters and corporations...

Pomfret

Pomfret, one of the grandest towns in the region, was once known as the inland Newport because it attracted the wealthy, who summered here in...

Middletown

With its Connecticut River setting, easy access to major highways, and historic architecture, Middletown is a popular destination for recreational...

Waterbury

...

Ledyard

Located in the woods of southeastern Connecticut between Norwich and the coastline, Ledyard is known first and foremost for the vast Mashantucket...

Farmington

Farmington, incorporated in 1645, is a classic river town with a perfectly preserved main street. This bucolic and affluent suburb of Hartford...

Simsbury

Colonial-style shopping centers, a smattering of antiques shops, and a proliferation of insurance-industry executives define this chic bedroom...

Chester

Upscale boutiques and artisans' studios fill the chiefly 19th-century buildings along Chester's quaint and well-preserved Main Street. Chester...

New Preston

The crossroads village of New Preston, perched above a 40-foot waterfall on the Aspetuck River, has a little town center that's packed with...

Ridgefield

In Ridgefield, you'll find an outstanding contemporary art museum nestled in a rustic atmosphere within an hour of Manhattan. The inviting town...

Old Saybrook

Old Saybrook, once a lively shipbuilding and fishing town, bustles with summer vacationers and antiques shoppers. Its downtown is an especially...

Essex

Essex, consistently named one of the best small towns in the United States, looks much like it did in the mid-19th century, at the height of...

Putnam

Ambitious antiques dealers have reinvented Putnam, a mill town 30 miles west of Providence, Rhode Island, that was neglected after the Depression...

Storrs

The majority of Storrs's hillside and farmland is occupied by the 4,400 acres (and some 18,000 students) of the main campus of the University...

Milford

...

Woodstock

The landscape of this enchanting town is splendid in every season: the rolling hills seem to stretch for miles. Scenic roads lead past antiques...

New Milford

If you're approaching the Litchfield Hills from the south, New Milford is a practical starting point to begin a visit. It was also a starting...

Madison

Coastal Madison has an understated charm. Ice cream parlors, antiques stores, and quirky gift boutiques prosper along U.S. 1, the town's main...

Washington

The beautiful buildings of the Gunnery prep school mingle with stately Colonials and churches in Washington, one of the best-preserved Colonial...

Stonington

The pretty village of Stonington pokes into Fishers Island Sound. A quiet fishing community clustered around white-spired churches, Stonington...

East Haddam

Fishing, shipping, and musket making were the chief enterprises of East Haddam, the only town in the state that occupies both banks of the...

Wethersfield

Wethersfield, a vast Hartford suburb, dates to 1634 and has the state's largest—and, some say, the most picturesque—historic district, with...

Salisbury

...

Riverton

...

Bethlehem

...

Guilford

...

Bristol

There were some 275 clockmakers in and around Bristol during the late 1800s—it is said that by the end of the 19th century just about every...

Old Lyme

Old Lyme, on the other side of the Connecticut River from Old Saybrook, is renowned among art lovers for its past as the home of the Lyme Art...

Norwich

Outstanding Georgian and Victorian structures surround the triangular town green in Norwich, and more can be found downtown by the Thames River...

Lebanon

...

Groton

Home to the Naval Submarine Base New London (the U.S. Navy's first) and to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, designer and manufacturer...

Bridgeport

Bridgeport, a city that has endured its share of hard times, is working hard to revitalize itself and overcome its negative image with improvements...

Windsor Locks

Incorporated in 1854, Windsor Locks is halfway between Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts. Named for the locks of a canal built to bypass...

New Haven

Though the city is best known as the home of Yale University, New Haven's historic district, dating back to the 17th century, and the distinctive...

Hartford

Midway between New York City and Boston, Hartford is Connecticut's capital city and the former insurance capital of the United States. Founded...

Litchfield

Everything in Litchfield, the wealthiest and most noteworthy town in the Litchfield Hills, seems to exist on a larger scale than in neighboring...

Stamford

While business is often what brings people to Stamford, what keeps them here are the quality restaurants, nightclubs, and shops that line Atlantic...

Norwalk

In the 19th century, Norwalk became a major New England port and manufacturing center, which produced pottery, clocks, watches, shingle nails...

Kent

Kent once held many ironworks, and today boasts the area's greatest concentration of art galleries—some nationally renowned—as well as a prep...

Mystic

Mystic has devoted itself to recapturing the seafaring spirit of the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of the nation's fastest clipper ships were...

New London

New London, a small and slightly gritty city on the banks of the Thames River, has long had ties to the sea. In the mid-1800s it was the second...

Woodbury

There may be more antiques shops in quickly growing Woodbury than in all other towns in the Litchfield Hills combined. Some of the best-preserved...

Cornwall

Connecticut's Cornwalls can get confusing: there's Cornwall, Cornwall Bridge, West Cornwall, Cornwall Hollow, East Cornwall, and North Cornwall...

Norfolk

Thanks to its severe climate and terrain, Norfolk has resisted development and stands as one of the best-preserved villages in the Northeast...

Greenwich

Lush forests, rolling hills, sandy beaches overlooking sparkling Long Island Sound, and a picture-perfect downtown area filled with chic boutiques...

Westport

Westport, an artists' community since the turn of the 20th century, continues to attract creative types. Despite commuters and corporations...

Pomfret

Pomfret, one of the grandest towns in the region, was once known as the inland Newport because it attracted the wealthy, who summered here in...

Middletown

With its Connecticut River setting, easy access to major highways, and historic architecture, Middletown is a popular destination for recreational...

Waterbury

...

Ledyard

Located in the woods of southeastern Connecticut between Norwich and the coastline, Ledyard is known first and foremost for the vast Mashantucket...

Farmington

Farmington, incorporated in 1645, is a classic river town with a perfectly preserved main street. This bucolic and affluent suburb of Hartford...

Simsbury

Colonial-style shopping centers, a smattering of antiques shops, and a proliferation of insurance-industry executives define this chic bedroom...

Chester

Upscale boutiques and artisans' studios fill the chiefly 19th-century buildings along Chester's quaint and well-preserved Main Street. Chester...

New Preston

The crossroads village of New Preston, perched above a 40-foot waterfall on the Aspetuck River, has a little town center that's packed with...

Ridgefield

In Ridgefield, you'll find an outstanding contemporary art museum nestled in a rustic atmosphere within an hour of Manhattan. The inviting town...

Old Saybrook

Old Saybrook, once a lively shipbuilding and fishing town, bustles with summer vacationers and antiques shoppers. Its downtown is an especially...

Essex

Essex, consistently named one of the best small towns in the United States, looks much like it did in the mid-19th century, at the height of...

Putnam

Ambitious antiques dealers have reinvented Putnam, a mill town 30 miles west of Providence, Rhode Island, that was neglected after the Depression...

Storrs

The majority of Storrs's hillside and farmland is occupied by the 4,400 acres (and some 18,000 students) of the main campus of the University...

Milford

...

Woodstock

The landscape of this enchanting town is splendid in every season: the rolling hills seem to stretch for miles. Scenic roads lead past antiques...

New Milford

If you're approaching the Litchfield Hills from the south, New Milford is a practical starting point to begin a visit. It was also a starting...

Madison

Coastal Madison has an understated charm. Ice cream parlors, antiques stores, and quirky gift boutiques prosper along U.S. 1, the town's main...

Washington

The beautiful buildings of the Gunnery prep school mingle with stately Colonials and churches in Washington, one of the best-preserved Colonial...

Stonington

The pretty village of Stonington pokes into Fishers Island Sound. A quiet fishing community clustered around white-spired churches, Stonington...

East Haddam

Fishing, shipping, and musket making were the chief enterprises of East Haddam, the only town in the state that occupies both banks of the...

Wethersfield

Wethersfield, a vast Hartford suburb, dates to 1634 and has the state's largest—and, some say, the most picturesque—historic district, with...

Salisbury

...

Riverton

...

Bethlehem

...

Guilford

...

Bristol

There were some 275 clockmakers in and around Bristol during the late 1800s—it is said that by the end of the 19th century just about every...

Old Lyme

Old Lyme, on the other side of the Connecticut River from Old Saybrook, is renowned among art lovers for its past as the home of the Lyme Art...

Norwich

Outstanding Georgian and Victorian structures surround the triangular town green in Norwich, and more can be found downtown by the Thames River...

Lebanon

...

Groton

Home to the Naval Submarine Base New London (the U.S. Navy's first) and to the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, designer and manufacturer...

Bridgeport

Bridgeport, a city that has endured its share of hard times, is working hard to revitalize itself and overcome its negative image with improvements...

Windsor Locks

Incorporated in 1854, Windsor Locks is halfway between Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts. Named for the locks of a canal built to bypass...

New Haven, Mystic, and the Coast

As you drive northeast along Interstate 95, culturally rich New Haven is the final urban obstacle between southwestern Connecticut's overdeveloped...

The Litchfield Hills

The foothills of the Berkshire Mountains are some of the most spectacular and unspoiled scenery in Connecticut. Two highways, Interstate 84...

Hartford and the Connecticut River Valley

Less touristy than the coast and the northwest hills, the Connecticut River Valley is a swath of small towns and uncrowded state parks punctuated...

Southwestern Connecticut

Southwestern Connecticut is a rich swirl of old New England and new New York, a region that consistently reports the highest cost of living...

The Quiet Corner

Few visitors to Connecticut experience the old-fashioned ways of the "Quiet Corner," a vast patch of sparsely populated towns that seem a world...

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