10 Top-Rated Connecticut Tourist Attractions
1 Mystic Seaport
Mystic Seaport is a recreation of an historical seaport village and a major nautical museum in the United States. The most prominent ships on display include the last antique whaling ship, and the Bark Charles W. Morgan (1841). Other historical ships featured are the Joseph Conrad, the Schooner L.A. Dunton and various steam vessels. The buildings on the grounds are not only the houses and stores of a small village, but also the sailmakers, ship builders and others who provisioned the ships of old. Several museums feature ship figureheads, the history of shipping, and ship models.
2 Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University
The Peabody Museum of Natural History is one of the main highlights for visitors to Yale University. This comprehensive museum features a range of topics from dinosaurs and Egyptian mummies, to Native American Indian artifacts.
3 Mystic Aquarium & Institution For Exploration
Encounter ocean animals with a visit to the Mystic Aquarium. Experience Birds of the Outback, an interactive exhibit. Reach in and touch a ray, go beak to nose with a penguin, and get up close to a beluga whale. Some of the most popular animals here include beluga whales, Steller sea lions, African penguins, and blue tongued skinks. Other attractions include the XD Motion Theater Deep Sea 3D, and exhibits based on Dr. Robert Ballard's expeditions.
4 Gillette Castle State Park
Located on a 184 acre estate in East Haddam, the unique Gillette Castle is the 1919 home of William Hooker Gillette, known for being the actor who played the original Sherlock Holmes. The home has the appearance of a medieval fortress from the outside.
5 Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center is a tribally owned complex that presents exhibits on the Native and natural history of southern New England. The indoor exhibits feature dioramas, text panels, interactive computer programs, and a series of films that highlight the evolution of Mashantucket Pequot life. Visitors will encounter a 16th-century coastal Pequot village, a glacial crevasse from 18,000 years ago, as well as life on a reservation from 1675 to the 1970s.
6 Lake Compounce Family Theme Park
Lake Compounce Theme Park, a popular summer family outing in Bristol, features all kinds of rides and games. It is thought to be the oldest operating amusement park in the United States and is home to a 1927 wooden roller coaster and a 1911 carousel.
7 New England Air Museum
The New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks is spread throughout two large hangars, with more than 70 aircraft. On display are helicopters amphibious aircraft, jets, WWII aircraft, and others. Visitors can see science demonstrations and try out a flight simulator.
8 Weir Farm National Historic Site
This country retreat in Wilton was the summer home of artist J. Alden Weir for 40 years. The site includes his studio, home, and other buildings as well as a visitor center. Visitors can travel the Painting Trail to observe the scenery that was inspirational in many of his paintings.
9 The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
The Aldrich Museum of Art features changing exhibits of contemporary art and does not hold a permanent collection. It showcases works based on changing themes. Also on the grounds is a 2 acre outdoor sculpture garden.
10 Roseland Cottage
Located in Woodstock, this 1846 Gothic Revival style summer house is referred to as Henry C. Bowen House, Roseland Cottage, or The Pink House. It is a National Historic Landmark. Inside, the appearance remains much as it was in the 19th century, when it was often used to entertain guests, including US presidents. On the grounds are gardens, an icehouse, a barn with an indoor bowling alley, and a garden house.