How to Spend the Summer in Connecticut
We live in an era where people crave to be unique and irregular, yet also accepted. We want to be seen doing something new and different, not the same old song and dance as everybody else. During high school, I constantly heard voices all around me with differing opinions on where the best places to look for universities were. Something that stuck out to me during my late teenage years was how often my peers complained about Connecticut. All I ever heard was negativity surrounding the concept of growing up here, going to school here, and (God forbid) settling down here. I grew up here AND completed my undergraduate degree here, so you might be able to understand the offense I took. I have lost track of the number of times I heard the phrase, “there is nothing to do in Connecticut.” I beg to differ with fiery intensity.
For the longest time I was offended by these remarks. I felt I was being put down for loving my home. I felt ashamed for choosing a university within a short drive from my hometown. I no longer feel that way because I recently decided that the people who felt these things must not have known the Connecticut that I know. The Connecticut I know oozes American history and New England charm. It boasts delicious, original food, good beer, and beautiful natural views in nearly every town. The people can be reserved, but quite lovely if you take the time to speak with them. The Constitution State is one full of character. So instead of feeling a barrier between those that have expressed dislike for my home state, I decided to invest my time into creating something positive, enlightening, and hopefully fun.
Below is a list of incredibly awesome summer activities, my little guide on how to spend the summer in Connecticut. Do these activities and then try to tell me that there’s nothing to do in Connecticut.
Ride a Tube Down the Farmington River
Quintessentially Connecticut, and one of my favorite summer activities, tubing down the Farmington River should be a priority during the warm season. Grab a group of friends, head down to New Hartford, and rent a tube! It’s $20 cash for 2-3.5 hours of good fun. Best time to go: the day after it rains.
Host a patio dinner party
I like to believe that I am a fabulous hostess when it comes to social events with my friends. Wine nights, bonfires, and casual dinners are my specialty. My new obsession this summer is creating a platter of various avocado, veggie, and fruity toasts as detectible finger food. Having a few of your close friends over for good food and good conversation is also a great way to save money on eating and drinking out.
Go strawberry picking
If you want to join in on the strawberry picking game, you need to get in early. In late June-early July, grab your sunnies, your best friend, a basket and head out to the local berry farm. The local favorite near me is Rose’s Berry Farm.
Explore Mystic for the day
Ah, Mystic. The seaport, the aquarium, the pizza. You really cannot go wrong spending time in any part of this town. My favorite is the old town right by the water and old shipyard. You can’t help but feeling like you’re truly in the heart of New England while walking through this area.
Take a scenic drive
Connecticut is full of nature, picturesque old New England towns, and little lakes. My personal favorite area to drive through is Litchfield county.
Enjoy some farm fresh ice cream
Looking to stray from your usual supermarket name brand ice cream for a fresh, creamy summer delight in a cone? Connecticut has oodles of charming ice cream stands specializing in farm fresh ice cream!
Check out Mark Twain’s house
Ever heard of Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer? Mark Twain lived right in historic Hartford, Connecticut. You can take a tour of his home and learn about his life.
Eat your way through the Coventry Farmers’ Market
The Coventry Farmers’ Market has earned its reputation for the place to be on Sunday mornings between the months of June and October. At the Nathan Hale Homestead, you can enjoy the presence of Connecticut history while you get wonderfully lost among European pastries, gourmet foods, farmstead cheeses, organic produce and so much more. On your left you’ll find ten different flavored BBQ sauces, all available for taste testing of course, and on your right you’ll smell the beautifully designed beeswax candles. Can I buy five please? Don’t fill up too much on your gourmet caprese grilled cheese before you take the opportunity to taste my personal favorite: the chocolate-dipped cannoli.
Go for a swim at Columbia Lake
I am partial to Columbia Lake because I grew up going here with my friends, but Connecticut has pretty little lakes all over the state! Jumping off the rope swing into the water and canoeing around the lake bring back childhood memories of summer camp in the woods. Favorite activity: tubing
Grab some brews and head to the beach
When in Connecticut, you really cannot claim to be far from the beach. At most I would say the furthest a person could live from the beach would be 90 minutes. Why not take advantage of our state’s tiny size, grab some craft brews at the local shop (or the shop you road tripped 3 hours to Vermont for), and hit the sand? Or one better, step out on a boat to cruise along the Long Island Sound.
Ride the oldest ferry in the United States
Connecticut is old, like mid-seventeenth century old. Running since 1655, the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferry is the oldest running ferry service in the United States! It’s first draft was a raft, but the ferry has since updated to a nice ferry boat that will take you across the Connecticut River to enjoy a good lunch.
Eat at Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria
Whenever people that I meet from different countries tell me, ” Americans know nothing about pizza,” I respond, “you know nothing about Connecticut.” There are stores in Fairfield, Manchester, Danbury, West Hartford, and Waterbury, but it’s really worth it making the drive to the original Frank Pepe’s in New Haven. Why not explore Yale University while you’re there?
See the town that inspired Gilmore Girls
Do you spend hours a day rewatching Lorelei and Rory’s witty banter? Have you gotten into long debates entitled Jess v. Dean? Sometimes do you want to say nothing other than, “Oy with the poodles already?” Did you know that Starshallow is actually based on a town in Connecticut? That’s right! The show’s creators were inspired by the little western CT town, Washington Depot.
Drink a beer at Eli Cannon’s
I was only introduced to Eli Cannon’s in Middletown last year and instantly fell in love. So many rotating taps of good local beer. A backyard beach fully equipped with sand toys and adirondacks. Monstrous buffalo chicken nachos. Once you step inside of this bar you will wonder how it took you so long to get here in the first place.
Visit a microbrewery
Connecticut has so many awesome breweries! To name a few of my favorites to inspire you… Topshelf, Kent Falls, Beer’d, New England, 2 Roads, Thimble Island, Black Hog, Stubborn Beauty… the list goes on!
What am I missing? Is there anything you’d add to this list?