One of the must-see attractions in eastern Connecticut is Diana's Pool in Chaplin, along the beautiful Natchaug River. This fishing, kayaking and hiking spot is also popular as a destination because of its sheer beauty. An almost rite of passage for University of Connecticut and Eastern Connecticut State University students during the warmer months, folks from all over the state and beyond can be found there enjoying this natural marvel. (Diana's Pool is on Route 198 in Chaplin. Swimming is officially prohibited. Small parking area on Diana's Pool Road, overflow in the Chaplin Fire Department lot).
Rusty Lanzit, Chaplin
Lots To Do In Hartford
When friends from New Zealand, Japan and Sweden stay with us in Farmington, we make sure to spend a day (or days) in Hartford, our fine, small capital city, before we travel to other parts of the state. We do a historic tour of the Capitol, Old State House, the Isham-Terry or Butler-McCook houses, city hall and the Connecticut Historical Society. Then, we often spend an evening dining in the city before a Broadway show at the Bushnell or an event at Riverfront, with a walk down to the Colt building when possible. Finally we also work in time to walk through Bushnell Park, stopping at the carousel and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. Our foreign friends all compliment this neat little city we call Hartford.
Bev and John Perotti, Farmington
One of my frequent recommendations to friends and family is the various small music venues in the Simsbury area. Nothing beats the intimacy of a cozy 100-seat room with amazingly talented (and often unheralded) performers singing only a few feet away. If you haven't experienced the multitalented singer-songwriter Liz Longley at the Beekley Memorial Library concert series in New Hartford, or the incredible guitar playing of Laurence Juber (former lead guitarist of Wings) at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville, or the unparalleled fiddle mania of Martin Hayes at the Celtic Music Series at the University of Hartford, or the insanely gifted world-class guitar playing of Frank Vignola at the Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton, you are missing some unforgettable entertainment.
Gary Berman, Simsbury
Steep Rock Park
I grew up in Woodbury and from there we rarely ventured to Connecticut's shoreline. We were more apt to head into the northwestern part of the state. My brother's Eagle Scout project, a galvanized steel-lined outhouse, found a place in Steep Rock Park in Washington Depot. Steep Rock remains one of my favorite places to hike. There's a wonderful vista of the fall foliage from atop a hill, there is a big railroad tunnel to walk through and there are ruins remaining of buildings that used to house young women visiting from New York City: http://steeprockassoc.org/.
Also along the Shepaug River is Mine Hill in Roxbury, there are several protected mine shafts, remains of a village, and a blast furnace that is in great condition. http://www.roxburylandtrust.org/minehill.html
Berkshirehiking.comalso contains good information for both of these sites.
Deirdre Roberts, Middletown
Visitors to the state should be made aware that we have the best theater entertainment outside of Broadway in the nation. In addition to the Goodspeed Opera House, there is always something at the Ivoryton Playhouse, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hole in the Wall Theater, the Little Theatre of Manchester at Cheney Hall, Westport Country Playhouse, Yale Repetory Theatre and on and on.
And make certain that all visitors, especially with young children, visit Dinosaur Park in Rocky Hill. Add in the Mark Twain House in Hartford, a must-see curiosity.
Richard Milne, Rocky Hill
Connecticut is revolutionary, and yes, we have many historic sites to enjoy. Along with the casinos and all that. But we also are lucky enough to have a stunning coastline, and even luckier to have a beach bar/ music venue/ fun-time place for anyone with a pulse — the Pavilion on Sound View! Generations have spend summers on the beach in Old Lyme making memories. This spot deserves attention. And frankly, Connecticut should have more areas like it! Areas where the sole purpose is to enjoy life.
Katy Thibault, Southington
Every summer my three brothers and I get together and go somewhere special. One year, we visited the 27-acre Lebanon town green. There we toured the Gov. Jonathan Trumbull House and the Wadsworth Stables, which are both Daughters of the American Revolution properties. The Wadsworth Stables were saved from destruction in the 1950s and moved from Hartford to Lebanon. We also visited the War Office, home of many meetings of the Committee of Safety during the Revolution, and the Jonathan Trumbull Jr. House.
Ann Sheedy, Lebanon
Park River Hike
A modest adventure is the new short trail along the little Park River (the Hog River) in Hartford's West End.
Park in the Connecticut Historical Society lot off Elizabeth Street — the lot along the river — a quarter-mile trail goes along the river and up to Lorraine Street. Many features of Connecticut's terrain are visible: wetlands, broadleaf and pine, wildlife, all in the center of a busy area between Asylum and Farmington Avenues. A bonus of the walk is a stroll back to your car through the Connecticut Law School and/or the Law School Community garden along Girard Street.
The Connecticut Historical Society is usually open to visitors and for the ambitious walker, the Wallace Stevens walk goes right by on Asylum Avenue. Picnic tables are on the Historical Society grounds and the restaurants (and restrooms) are off Farmington Avenue, just a few minutes' ride. The trail is for the fit, and proper footware should be used — the Hog River can make a muddy trail.
Mike McGarry, Hartford
A Country Drive
Take a drive in Litchfield County: Begin in New Milford. Walk around a bit while there. Then, take Route 7 north. Keep your eyes open for life-sized sculptures. Drive north to Bull's Bridge. Cross its covered bridge. View the Housatonic River. Continue on to Kent; walk around there, too. A unique little town.
Next stop: Kent Falls, one of the most inspiring landscapes in Connecticut. Travel farther north to Cornwall and cross its covered bridge. Check out the architecture. Drive through the Housatonic State Forest to South Canaan.Turn south onto Route 63.
Check out the Goshen fairgrounds, maybe something's going on. Continue south to Litchfield. Walk its historic green, take pictures of its iconic Congregational Church. Visit the library and the nation's first law school. Have lunch.
Continue south to the White Flower Farm, best in warmer months. Stop. Get out and walk around. Farther south, Route 63 crosses I-84.
The trip can be reversed. In which case, have lunch in Kent. Either way, this trip leaves a lasting impression on first-time visitors to Connecticut.
Paul Becker, Naugatuck
Nothing in Connecticut is more revolutionary than state hero Nathan Hale's homestead in Coventry. Surrounded by the 1,470-acre Nathan Hale State Forest, the birthplace of Nathan Hale is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is owned by the Connecticut Landmarks and is available for tours.
In addition to Nathan Hale's homestead, the area also contains the 1710 Strong House and the 1821 Elias Sprague House, both operated by the Coventry Historical Society and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Donald Patterson, Vernon
Shop, Float, Eat
When visitors come to Connecticut, we start the day with breakfast at LaSalle Market in Collinsville, stop in at Antiques on the Farmington, and then enjoy a float down the Farmington River. For dinner one of my favorite spots to entertain is Apricots in Farmington. Connecticut is a beautiful place! Links: lasallemarket.com, antiquesonfarmington.com, farmingtonrivertubing.com, apricotsrestaurant.com.
Caroline Murphy, West Hartford
Fife And Drum
Connecticut is the mecca of ancient fifing and drumming. To experience this music the best place to go is a fife and drum muster. What's a muster? It is a gathering of fifers and drummers. What's reported to be the largest gathering of fifers and drummers in the world takes place in Deep River on July 21. The parade steps off at 11 a.m. with the muster to follow. The Deep River Muster is regularly attended by 50 to 60 corps from as far away as Switzerland. The Westbrook Muster on Aug. 25 in Westbrook steps off at 11 a.m. The Moodus Muster in East Haddam is Oct. 20 at noon, a smaller muster in a beautiful historical setting. Just bring your chairs and enjoy the music.
Chuck Paul, East Hampton
I take visitors from outside New England to the burying ground in my hometown of Plymouth. It is in a classic setting next to a white steepled Congregational Church on the village green. There are gravestones of 38 soldiers from the Revolutionary War. The inscriptions describe how hard life was back then, such as "died of scald, age 2 years," "lived to bury five husbands," "died with her daughter stillborn" and "departed this life suddenly by the fall of a building."
People from other parts of the country are always amazed at the history we have here.
Jerry Milne, Plymouth
I recommend the Hill-Stead Museum on Mountain Road in Farmington. The house is 100 years old, built by Alfred and Ada Pope, and designed by their daughter, Theodate Pope (who designed and built Avon Old Farms school for boys in Avon). Mr. Pope was an art collector. You will see paintings by Monet, Manet, Degas, Whistler, Cassatt. The grounds are spectacular as well. The Sunken Garden was designed by Beatrix Farrand, who was a well-known landscape architect at the turn of the last century. There are three miles of hiking trails. The grounds are open daily to the public, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. http://www.hillstead.org
Peggy Sterns, Avon
I am a native of Simsbury and I've looked up at the Heublein Tower on Talcott Mountain all my life. It is on the Metacomet Trail, which is a 62.7-mile historic trail through Connecticut. You can access the tower from Route 185. Park and take the trail up to the tower, which was built in 1914 as a summer home by the Heublein family. The view is awesome.
On the way to the tower is King Philip's cave. He was an Indian and, according to the Simsbury legend, he sat in the cave when his warriors burned the town of Simsbury in 1676. When I was a kid we used to climb up to the cave and pretend that we were Indians.
Mary Mitchell, Simsbury
I think the most under-appreciated lake in Connecticut is Lake Waramaug in Kent. If you enjoy fishing, swimming, canoeing, picnicking or camping, Lake Waramaug State Park is the ideal destination. The surrounding area boasts many wonderful B&Bs and inns in which to stay. There is the Hopkins Winery complete with tastings and antiquing, cycling and fabulous cuisine abound. There is so much to do and every season is more beautiful than the last.
Stephanie Dexter, South Windsor
Cotton Hollow in Glastonbury is a most beautiful, 80-acre preserve that my father used to take us to when we were kids, and I have never stopped going. It used to be old iron foundries, grist, saw and cotton mills. Long hiking trails, clear water rapids, freshwater springs, old foundations of the mills, and typical New England wildlife resides at Cotton Hollow. On a hot summer day, pack a cooler and head over to the Hollow for some swimming, relaxation and sun; or, on a cool fall day, take a hike through the trails and climb through the old foundations of the mills. Whatever you do at Cotton Hollow, there is just something special and magical — maybe it's the history that lies within, or maybe it's the real New England experience you get from visiting.
Angela Mull, Manchester
Take In A Game
Connecticut has dozens of sporting venues including the University of Connecticut and other colleges, the Connecticut Sun, the Connecticut Whale, the Connecticut Tigers, Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Blue Fish, and the New Britain Rock Cats. When friends and family come to visit me in Connecticut, these are the first things I take them to see. Marketing these sports can help grow their attendance and hopefully lead to their long-term presence in Connecticut.
Brian Stanley, Groton
Last year we had visitors from Sweden. Out of all the places we took them to, their favorite was tubing at Satan's Kingdom in New Hartford. The most fun was moving along on the tube through rapids with water splashing all around. The tubing ride takes about two hours and is well worth the cost!
Another stop for our Swedish visitors was a drive to Hubbard Park in Meriden. We drove to Castle Craig and then climbed the stairs to the top of the tower. The views on a clear day are amazing.
Lorraine MacDonald, Canton
Cruise The Thimbles
Take the Thimble Island cruise from the village of Stony Creek in Branford. The captain of the cruise narrates the history of the islands and tells very enjoyable tales of the past. I have returned several times after that with my family and friends.
Claire Silverman, South Windsor
Because all major highways criss-cross Farmington, getting here is a given. When they get to Farmington the whole story is right here. Nice old historical town, you got it. A river, sure, farms and international corporate headquarters. Take your pick. Soon to expand, a giant medical complex. Enough! Lets go home and have a drink and supper.
Dick Russell, Farmington
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