Despite being a small state in the Northeastern region of the United States, Connecticut offers a plethora of family-friendly vacation destinations. From beaches to amusement parks, museums to nature reserves, there is something for everyone in Connecticut. In this blog post, we will explore the best family vacations in Connecticut, so you can plan your next trip with ease.
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Mystic Country is a region in southeastern Connecticut that encompasses several towns and attractions, including Mystic Seaport Museum and Mystic Aquarium. Families can explore the charming towns of Mystic, Stonington, and Old Lyme, visit the beaches and parks, or sample the local cuisine. Mystic Country is also home to several vineyards and wineries (we actually had our wedding at one of these wineries), where families can take tours and the grown-ups can enjoy tastings. The region hosts special events throughout the year, including fairs, festivals, and concerts.
Mystic Seaport Museum
Mystic Seaport Museum is a living history museum located in the town of Mystic, Connecticut. It is the largest maritime museum in the United States and boasts over 19 acres of exhibits, ships, and artifacts. Families can take a stroll through the 19th-century seafaring village, board historic ships, watch live demonstrations, and participate in hands-on activities like knot-tying and sail-making. Mystic Seaport Museum also offers boat rides on the Mystic River and a planetarium for stargazing.
Mystic Aquarium is a popular family destination located in Mystic, Connecticut. The aquarium is home to a variety of marine animals, including beluga whales, sea lions, and penguins. Families can watch animal feedings, attend educational programs, and touch live animals in the interactive touch tanks. Mystic Aquarium also has a 4-D theater and a ropes course for adventure-seekers.
Mystic Pizza is a must-visit destination for families who love pizza and pop culture. The restaurant, located in the town of Mystic, Connecticut, gained fame in the 1988 movie “Mystic Pizza” starring Julia Roberts. Families can try the famous pizza, which features fresh ingredients and a crispy thin crust, and snap a photo in front of the iconic sign. The restaurant also has a gift shop where visitors can buy souvenirs and movie memorabilia.
Family vacations in Connecticut would not be complete without a visit to Lake Compounce, the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States, located in Bristol, Connecticut. The park features over 40 rides and attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, and a variety of children's rides. Lake Compounce also has a water park called Crocodile Cove, which has slides, pools, and a lazy river. The park hosts special events throughout the year, including a Halloween-themed event in the fall.
Litchfield Hills is a picturesque region in the northwest corner of Connecticut, known for its rolling hills, quaint towns, and scenic drives. Families can explore the hiking trails in the state parks, go fishing in the rivers and lakes, or take a scenic drive on the winding country roads. The region is also home to several historic sites, including the Old Bethlehem Historical Society and the Tapping Reeve House and Law School, where the first law school in the United States was established.
Yale University is an Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut. The campus is home to several museums and galleries, including the Yale University Art Gallery and the Peabody Museum of Natural History. Families can take a guided tour of the campus, visit the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, or attend a performance at the Yale Repertory Theatre. The university also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, including concerts, lectures, and exhibits.
When you get hungry be sure to head to Louis’ Lunch, the birthplace of the modern day hamburger. Don’t expect any fancy fanfare or grandeur though, just a taste of history. Family vacations in Connecticut aren't complete without one of these iconic burgers.
Connecticut Science Center
Connecticut Science Center is a hands-on science museum located in Hartford, Connecticut. The museum features interactive exhibits and live demonstrations on topics ranging from biology and chemistry to physics and engineering. Families can explore the dinosaur exhibit, design and test their own creations in the engineering lab, or watch a live science show. The museum also hosts special events throughout the year, including camps and workshops for kids.
Hammonasset Beach State Park
Hammonasset Beach State Park is a popular beach destination for family vacations in Connecticut. The park is located in Madison, Connecticut, and boasts two miles of sandy beach, as well as picnic areas, walking trails, and camping facilities. Families can swim, sunbathe, and build sandcastles on the beach, or explore the tidal pools and salt marshes. The park also hosts special events throughout the year, including guided nature walks and family-friendly concerts.
Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
Essex Steam Train and Riverboat is a unique family attraction located in Essex, Connecticut. Families can take a steam train ride through the scenic Connecticut River Valley and then board a riverboat for a cruise on the Connecticut River. The trip offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside, including historic homes, wildlife, and natural beauty. The train and boat also host special events throughout the year, including holiday-themed rides and dining experiences.
In conclusion, when it comes to family vacations in Connecticut there’s a wealth of destinations to choose from, from museums and amusement parks to beaches and nature reserves. Whether you prefer history and culture or outdoor adventure and entertainment, there is something for everyone in Connecticut. So, pack your bags, gather your family, and head to the Constitution State for an unforgettable vacation.