Connecticut 50 by 50
Welcome to 50 by 50 where I highlight one state each week and what to do when visiting. This week is Connecticut, the 5th state to join the union on January 9, 1788. It is nicknamed The Constitution State for the belief that the US Constitution was drawn from its first constitution called The Fundamental Orders established in 1638-1639.
There are three cities in which to base your Travels. Hartford is the Capital of Connecticut and also the Insurance Capital of the world. It is one of America’s oldest and most historic cities. New Haven is found along the coast of the Long Island Sound and is the first planned city in America. It is the Culture Capital of the state where you will find plenty of theatre, music, museums and food. It is also the home to Yale University which was founded in 1701 and the Yale University Museum. Stamford, also along the coast, is less than an hour from New York City by Amtrak and Metro North. It also has lots to do at Harbor Point where you can find live music, performances, farms markets, craft fairs, and free water taxis to restaurants.
If you are looking for ideas out of the big cities, head over to Lover's Leap State Park. There are no parking or entrance fees to the 160-acre park with hiking trails, historic ruins and the famous iron bridge that was resorted in 1895. The ideal beach can be found at Ocean Beach Park. With a Half-mile of soft sand, it is the perfect family destination. Park admission is per vehicle and up to 5 people. You can also pay per person if you want to walk up. Price include the access to beach, an Olympic-size swimming pool, hiking trails, playgrounds, splash pad, restaurants and ice cream store. For an extra fee you can add waterslides, mini-golf, arcade games. It is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and hosts weekly events like sock hops and magic shows. Or enjoy the classic small town Washington, which is actually five iconic villages. Located at the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, this family friendly community hosts events throughout the year so there is always something to do.
Need something else for the kids to do? Visit the Mark Twain house in Hartford. This 1874 mansion has lots of artifacts to see, including the desk where Samuel Clemons wrote his more famous works and where the author says he spent his happiness years. You can also visit the home virtually right now. Mystic Aquarium is a marine aquarium in you guessed it—Mystic, Connecticut and has special exhibits include Stellar sea lions, beluga whales, African penguins, jelly fish gallery, and the "Jurassic Giants" dinosaur exhibit. When you are done exploring land and oceans, head over to Mystic Pizza—This 1973 pizza spot inspired the 1988 film and serves up pies in a memorabilia-filled space. While the restaurant was not in the movie, many people venture to try it.
For all my foodies out there, head over to Louis' Lunch that claims it is “the birthplace of the Hamburger Sandwich.” Ground beef patties grilled open-flame cast-iron grills, and served on toasted white bread with cheese, tomato, and onion as the only other additions that can be requested. So bring your own ketchup and mustard if you need it. Or how about the Place. “There’s no place, quite like this place, anywhere near this place, so this must be The Place.” Open from May to October, this a la carte outdoor seafood restaurant cooks out every night over wood fire grill as long as the weather is good. Bring cash or check and also BYOB for a memorable night. Looking for something truly unique? You can’t go wrong with Travelers Restaurant right off the highway. Comfort food at an affordable price with a friendly staff. Plus you get to choose a free book at the end! Or for something more memorable, how about enjoying a lobster dinner on the ocean! Mystic Whale Cruises serves dinner at sunset as you sail along the coastline. It is also BYOB but make sure you do so you can toast the the end of a perfect evening.
And for those looking for more romance, head to the Homestead Inn. Established in 1997, this luxury boutique hotel is located in Greenwich and includes the Manor House and Carriage house. It also is the home of the Thomas Henkelmann Restaurant which serves up Contemporary French cuisine for lunch and dinner. You can also arrange for private dining or events.
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