20 Fun Things To Do In Connecticut

20 Fun Things To Do In Connecticut

This summer, explore the Nutmeg State's hidden gems.
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Whether you grew up in central Connecticut, or are just passing through, here are a local's secrets to a fun summer, indoors and out.

1. Miller's Pond -- Durham

This hidden gem on the town line between Middletown and Durham offers beautiful hiking trails through the woods, and rocks to fish and dive off of. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is grab a floatie and go out and float in the middle of the lake.

2. Harbor Park -- Middletown

Grab your love and a homemade picnic, and snag a wooden swing at Harbor Park on the Connecticut River. This is a relaxing activity for a beautiful day.

3. Brownstone Park -- Portland

Go cliff diving, swimming, ziplining, sliding, and more at Brownstone Park just over the Arrigoni bridge in Portland, Connecticut.

4. Wadsworth Falls -- Middletown

Check out the waterfall, the beach, and hiking trails at Wadsworth Falls State Park.

5. Wadsworth Mansion -- Middletown

Explore Wadsworth Mansion and its historic hiking trails. Every July, the Mansion holds Music at the Mansion, which are Wednesday night concerts on the grounds.

6. Essex Stream Train and Riverboat -- Essex

Of course the only place in America where you can ride a steam train and a riverboat one right after the other is right here in Connecticut.

7. Gillette Castle -- East Haddam

William Gillette, a famous actor known for playing Sherlock Holmes, built and lived in this stone castle on the Connecticut River. It's an adventure to find the tricks Gillette hid in his home, including mirrors placed at just the right angles to see around corners. The grounds and hiking trails are just as fun as going inside the castle.

8. Ocean Beach Park -- New London

It's a beach, pool, and waterpark all in one!

9. Elizabeth Park -- Hartford

America's oldest public rose garden is located right here in Hartford, Connecticut!

10. Bushnell Park -- Hartford

This park in Downtown Hartford is filled with flowers, fountains, and even a carousel!

11. Lyman Orchards -- Middlefield

Lyman Orchards offers pick your own fruit, seasonal corn mazes, a golf course, and the best apple pies.

12. Rocky Neck State Park -- East Lyme

Rocky Neck on Long Island Sound offers not only the beach but walking trails through the woods, camping, and picnic areas.

13. Florence Griswold Museum -- Old Lyme

I'm not a big fan of museums, but I recommend this one! Florence Griswold's house and grounds are home to beautiful artwork, gardens, and little fairy homes!

14. Mark Twain House -- Hartford

This historical landmark is where Mark Twain lived in his adult life, and has been kept virtually the same.

15. The Board Room -- Middletown

Bored this summer? Grab $5 and a friend and head down to the Board Room on Main Street for a night of board games.

16. Wild Bill's Nostalgia Center -- Middletown

Rest in Peace, Wild Bill.

17. Mystic Seaport -- Mystic

Mystic is home to the largest maritime museum in the country. Browse the old shipyards and the historic shops.

18. Athenian II Diner -- Middletown

Grab a milkshake at this 24 hour Greek diner on Washington Street in Middletown.

19. Vecchitto's Lemon Ice -- Middletown

It's not summer unless you've gone to Vecchitto's at least once.

20. Durham Dairy Serve -- Durham

This barn-style ice cream counter on Main Street, Durham is pretty much the best ice cream place ever.

Cover Image Credit: Jack McConnell

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The Only Way We Grow Fearless Is By Walking Into Our Fears

Walking away almost feels like a funeral.You die a bit inside, yet you live in the hearts of those you left behind
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I reminisce about walking down that aisle. In my mind, I counted each step, looking down, praying that I had made the right decision.

I have never been this petrified and thrilled at the same time in my entire life. I knew this was it. This was the moment where everything was about to change. Everything I've always been dreaming of right here, right now.

As a little girl, I remember dreaming about this day, and here it finally was...right in front of me.

I recall having two choices: I could turn around and walk away or I could take a leap of faith and follow my heart. Either way, I knew that this could be the worst decision I have ever made or it could be a life-changing experience.

I knew that regardless of the choice I would make, this would change my life forever.

I remember glancing at my father who was walking beside me. In my mind, I knew that this wasn't easy for him either. I knew that he was so terrified. He was terrified of letting his one and only daughter go.

He knew that this was the moment he had to hand me over. This was the moment he had to trust me and trust that I was making a decision based on my happiness.

That day my father did not hand me over to a man. No, he handed me over to a new country, as well as a new beginning. I wasn't getting married, not even close, I was on my way to start a new life, but this time all alone.

For my father, this was the same concept. He would hand me over with the hope that I find true happiness and live a life having no regrets. He had to watch me walk away to start a life with the thought that he would not be the greatest part of it anymore.

I knew that must have hurt because for 18 years he was my best friend, my training partner and my hero. I was heartbroken knowing I'd leave someone behind that is so dear to me.

We all have fears, and as we grow older, these fears can change...just like we do. Most of us don't fear what we feared when we were younger. Many of us fear failure, death and rejection.

But what I fear most is change. I fear change because I fear not having control of my life. I fear being judged and I fear being alone. I dread waking up one day and not having a single soul that I can call a friend.

Nevertheless, moving on to a new phase in my life required change, and I wasn't ready for that. But, much to my surprise, this is exactly what life handed me, this was exactly the fear I was about to face and honestly, I could not be more terrified.

If you have ever walked away from someone you loved, a job or something that did not serve you well anymore I know it must have hurt because I have been there too.

Walking away from something we knew and once loved always reminded me of a funeral. It made a part of you die, yet it meant we got to live in the hearts of the people that we left behind. We always leave something behind when we leave, whether it's good or bad, and sometimes, change means walking away.

To me, the last days were the toughest because I knew this is the life I have chosen for the next four years. The memory that haunted me the most was the look on my mother's face the day I had to leave. It was a look of terror and uncertainty. This made me think even more about a funeral because, to my mother, I'd just be a memory...at least just for a while.

I knew she feared going back to an empty house with my room left untouched until I return home once again. I knew she'd be lonely, as we did everything together. She was the person I'd go to when I needed someone to listen, a shoulder to cry on and she used to be my biggest supporter.

I didn't know who I was going to talk to anymore or who I'd go to when I need support.

For the first time in my life, I felt completely alone.

This must be a parent's greatest fear, yet they let me go.They had no choice but to face their fears, and I was about to do the same.

I knew that I was going to fight my fears the moment I stepped on that plane. As I looked out the window where I was seated, I saw my reflection, and the first thought that came to mind was that the person staring back at me would be my only friend for a while.

This thought of being alone terrified me.

I liked who I was and what I was doing, but I knew this was going to change. I kept telling myself: "In order to make friends and fit in I had no choice but to adapt to whatever the world I was entering wanted me to be."

It wasn't long before I made my first "friends." They wanted me to change for them, to be like them, to do what they did even if it meant sacrificing everything I believed in. I feared judgment, but I didn't want to lose myself either and going against these friends meant I'd be alone and that's exactly what I did.

This made me change the way I saw myself. From being someone who was so loved I went to feeling so alone and unwanted. I never enjoyed parties, I was always the girl who'd show up for 15 minutes with a Pepsi and leave. I never enjoyed staying out late, and I always felt awkward in these situations. What seemed to be normal for so many people just never really appealed to me.

I felt like I'd never fit in anywhere.

After a few months, I did not like who I was any more I hated my body and every piece of confidence I had just seemed to disappear. It started small with little lies that you tell yourself until it becomes your truth, something you start to believe.

I never felt pretty enough or skinny enough. I was too focused on how people perceived and judged me. I wanted people to love me. I wanted to be the best, but most of all, I wanted to be perfect.

The only problem was that perfect wasn't me, but that's what they wanted me to be.

I remember coming home from track training one day, and an acquaintance came knocking on my door. Apparently, she just needed to tell me something. As she continued to speak, my heart sank as she was telling me some offensive comments she heard the people I called friends said about me.

It wasn't the fact that they were speaking behind my back, it was the words they have said. Despite what I was feeling, I tried to stay strong and to pretend that it did not even bother me when it actually left a scar that I can still recall.

When she left, I started crying. I just could not understand why they would not accept me. I have been trying so hard. For the first time in my life, all my fears became reality. I was judged, I had no control over anything or anyone's opinions about me and I was alone.

For a while, I distanced myself from many things, places and people. I realized for me to be happy once again I had to walk straight into my fears. I had to accept changes in my life, but I didn't have to change who I was for anyone. The only thing I had to change was the people I surrounded myself with because I was made perfect by a perfect God and he loves me despite my flaws.

I had to remove myself from people who did not support or love me for the person that I was. I had to accept that what happens in my life is out of my control, and I had to accept the fact that putting my faith in God was the only way I could find peace.

I had to trust that whatever was happening in my life was His greater plan. Lastly, I had to be alone for a while to appreciate how blessed I actually am.

Despite the fears, I had to overcome I don't regret anything. I thank every person who had something to say, this taught me so much about myself and that in the end, your words do not mean anything.

In fact they actually never did. The way you treat people around you define you as a human being, not me.

I have grown to love myself in every way, and I'm sad that I wasted time caring about what you thought. You have made me face my fears. I don't want to change for you, and I honestly never will.

I could not be more satisfied with the choices I made.

I will continue to love people I will continue living every day as my last because, in the end, it doesn't matter how many friends you have or what you look like.

In the end, your happiness matters, how much you loved matters and how fearlessly you lived matters. Never facing your fears also means not truly being alive.

I have changed for the better. I no longer find the need to fit in because honestly, I never did. I didn't lose myself through anything I experienced, in fact, I got to know myself better.

I don't waste my time on people who don't deserve it anymore. I don't fear change anymore, in fact, I encourage it. I encourage getting on that plane, starting that new job or relationship.

Doing what makes you happy. I encourage doing the thing you fear the most if it means living your dreams.

I encourage embracing change because fear isn't real, but regret is.

Cover Image Credit: Cindy von Ahlefeldt

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The Women Behind The Axe Murders Of Mr. & Mrs. Borden

"Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one."
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The Lizzie Borden House was one of my absolute favorites covered by Ryan and Shane for BuzzFeed Unsolved: True Crime. The house and Lizzie are best known for the axe murders of her father and stepmother that Lizzie was behind.

Born in July 1860 in Fall River, Massachusetts to Sarah and Andrew Borden. But after the birth of Lizzie, Sarah passed away. Andrew remarried to Abby Durfee Gray. Lizzie and her sister Emma did not share a good relationship with their stepmother Abby. The two sisters felt as if Abby's family was after their father's money.

But come August 4th, 1982 Andrew and Abby Borden were found dead, hacked to death by an axe. Abby's head was smashed into pieces upstairs, leading police to believe she was killed first. The father was found in a pool of blood on the living room couch with his face nearly split in two.

Bridget, who was the family's maid found the bodies and alerted local authorities.

Lizzie soon fell under speculation by local authorities that she was the one to cause the murders while her sister was visiting friends out of town. Supposedly, she burned one of her dresses a few days after the murder due to having red "paint" (more like blood is what I believe here) on the dress.


But, since the police were wary of fingerprint testing, they refused to test for prints on the potential murder weapon- an axe- found in the family's basement. And the fact that no blood was ever found on Lizzie and her Christian persona convinced the all-male jury that she was not capable of the murders and found her not guilty.


The infamous rhyme "Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one" became a famous song to taunt Lizzie due to her continuous portrayal by the media and others as the axe-murder.

The Lizzie Borden house is now used as a Bed and Breakfast but many who have stayed feel as if it is haunted by the ghosts of Andrew and Abby Borden. The proprietor of the B&B, Lee-Ann hasn't encountered full-on ghosts but has experienced unexplained happenings during the nine years she owned it.


Wilbur has heard floor-creaks above her when no one is upstairs, or notice doors opening and closing on their own accord and has even smelt faint floral scents from time to time. But, right after she bought that house, she did have a spooky experience.


Wilbur had fallen asleep on the couch in the parlor room and around 3 am woke up to see shadows cast in the front entryway around an old chandelier that is always lit and can only be turned off by someone removing the lightbulbs with a ladder.

She was able to make sense of the shadows except for one where it started walking up the staircase as she was looking at it. And as she processed what she saw the chandelier experienced a power surge and then everything went black.

She ended up sleeping in her car that night.

Tour guides have experienced being touched by unknown hands, feeling of being tugged on their shirts or whispers spoken in their ear and giggling in the attic. It's also believed that if you leave a few coins for Andrew Borden or toys for the giggling attic children the spirits might leave you alone for the night.

According to the photos on their facebook page, they seem to have done a reenactment of the murder on the anniversary, so you know there's that fun activity to experience. Or you could just do your own for the fun of it.

And lastly, coming out later this year is a film called "Lizzie" based on the murders of the Bordens.

So get your learning on and enjoy this wild story from start to finish.


Cover Image Credit: Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum FaceBook

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