Day trips have become the best option for those of us that want to enjoy our vacations without having to spend a lot of money on travel costs. Connecticut might be a small state, but we are not lacking in things to do. Here are some suggestions for day trips in Connecticut.
Gillette Castle in East Haddam is a location that I have visited quite a few times, and have some great memories of my times there. The castle was built on the top of the southernmost hill in the Seven Sister Sisters chain by William Hooker Gillette, an actor and playwright best known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes .The state acquired the estate in 1943. Aside from the castle tours, the site also offers hiking and camping. It is a beautiful spot and suitable for families, though I would not recommend binging very young children. There is no fee for parking; however, the cost for the castle tour is $6.00 for adults and $2.00 for children six to twelve.
Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison is Connecticut’s largest shoreline park, with more than two miles of beach. This state park offers visitors swimming, camping, boating, biking, hiking, and fishing. There are also nature center programs and exhibits. There is a little something for everyone at this beach and I recommend it for people of all ages. Parking fees vary and range between $7.00 and $22.00 depending on time you arrive, day and resident status.
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat has seasonal activities all year that show the natural beauty of the Connecticut River Valley. You leave Essex on a coal driven train and head north. Regardless of the season, the twelve-mile trip offers fantastic scenery and lasts around an hour. If you chose to take the boat ride as well, you leave the train in Deep River to board the boat, while the rest of the train passengers continue onward. The steamboat will take you to East Haddam, and you will again be astounded by the views during the journey. Special events and private bookings are available, including visits from Santa Claus and Thomas the train for children and romantic or theatric dinner cruises for adults. The charge for the train and boat ride is $26.00, $17.00 for children between two and eleven. Family rates are available and special fees are charged for sitting in specific train cars.
Mystic Seaport is a non-profit organization that is education driven and the nations leading maritime museum. The site is open year round, though their hours vary with each season. Attractions include a historically accurate nineteenth century village complete with historic ships, a working preservation shipyard, and formal exhibit galleries. Community classes, sailing programs, boat rentals, a planetarium and children’s museum are also available attractions. You might need two days here to see everything; thankfully, they are well aware of this. Validate your ticket on your way out and you can return within seven days for another full day of exploration. General admission is $24.00, $22.00 for seniors and $15.00 for children six years and older.
Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven exhibits more than eleven million specimens and objects in various scientific fields. The Discovery Room is a hands on room for adults and children to get up close and personal with science, and has always been my personal favorite. Some of my other favorite exhibitions include the Daily Life in Egyptian Life, the Great Hall of Dinosaurs, and the Hall of Minerals, Earth and Space. Admission is $7.00 adults, $6.00 seniors and $5.00 Children for three through eighteen and college students with school identification. Group admission rate are available with advanced reservations.