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The Best Outdoor Activities in Connecticut

outdoor activities in connecticut

For those with a taste for adventure, few states across the nation are as suitable as Connecticut. Even among the natural beauty and coastal charms of New England, there’s an overwhelming assortment of engaging, heart-pumping and otherwise thrilling outdoor activities in Connecticut.

From its scenic parks and trails to more fast-paced pastimes, the state caters to every desire, offering a strong incentive to those looking to relocate or take a much-needed break from the stresses of daily life. So, before you lock in those travel plans, here are a few reasons why Connecticut needs to be on your must-visit list.

Park it up

One of the key selling points of Connecticut is its wide range of parks. While there are far too many to name here, let’s run through some of the highlights.

Kent Falls State Park: On a visit to this Litchfield Hills locale, you can trek across a covered bridge right up to the cascading falls over the Housatonic River and the shimmering reflecting pool below. Whether you’re in the mood for some fishing – this is a designated Trout Park, after all – or just want to take in the sights, it’s a worthwhile stop.

Talcott Mountain State Park: From this park’s 165-foot-tall Heublein Tower, you’ll be able to take in a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape. Or you might opt to simply take in the museum of local history housed within the tower itself. Either way, the 1.25-mile hiking trail is sprinkled with natural wildlife, making it the perfect spot for bird-watching of picnicking.

Devil’s Hopyard State Park: This park earned its name because of the round holes in its falls, but we think you’ll agree it’s heavenly nonetheless. Looking for a place to wander, go fishing or otherwise explore the elements? Look no further as this park’s 21 campground sites and wooded surroundings position it as a great place to get away from it all.

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Hiking and biking

Despite the prevalence of hiking and biking trails at the parks we’ve already mentioned, there are plenty more options in Connecticut for those looking to get moving.

Hubbard Park & Castle Craig: One of the more unique destinations in Connecticut, this one attracts crowds from all over, largely because of the stone observation platform atop Castle Craig Tower. Below, guests can explore a whopping 1,800 acres of hiking trails and picnic areas. It’s definitely something to keep in mind the next time you’re in or near Meriden.

Mattabesett Blue Trail: Not far from Middlefield, this 9-mile trail leads hikers down mountainous terrain at every turn, including some of the lushest areas around. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive trail than this one, as its interconnected looping trails will keep you busy for hours.

Tunxis State Forest: The next time you find yourself anywhere near routes 20 and 179 in Granby, set aside some time to spend here. Of course, it’s brimming with hiking trails and mountain bike trails, but if you have energy to spare after all that, Tunxis also offers cross-country skiing, fishing, hunting and boating.

outdoor activities in connecticut
The Housatonic River.

Fit for fitness

Once you’re done hiking and biking around the wide range of parks and trails throughout Connecticut, you might be looking for an even greater shot of adrenaline.

Satan’s Kingdom State Recreation Area: In the summer months, people flock here for a ton of different activities, namely those in the water. Tubing, canoeing and kayaking are all popular choices for visitors to this New Hartford locale, as the Farmington River ideally sets the stage for vigorous workouts and lazy afternoons alike.

Hammonasset Beach State Park: This 2-mile beach bears the designation of being the largest shoreline park in the state, so you know it’s something special. In the mood for some swimming, scuba diving and saltwater fishing? Look no further. Hammonasset even offers camping, picnicking and a nature center to ensure that it has something for everyone.

Clarke Outdoors: Since we’re focusing on the many outdoor activities in Connecticut, there’s no way we would dare leave this one off our list. One of northwestern Connecticut’s greatest treasures, Clarke Outdoors gives visitors the opportunity to travel down a miles-long stretch of the Housatonic River via canoe, raft or kayak. A word of advice: Make your reservations now.

Adventure time

Athletically inclined visitors to Connecticut (clearly) have no shortage of things to do, but before we send you on your way, here are a couple more destinations worth considering.

EMPOWER Leadership Sports & Adventure Center: This Middletown locale focuses on adventure as an opportunity to build bonds between family and friends. The half-mile guided zip line canopy tour is among the most attractive features, but don’t forget to make time for the other aerial activities, such as tree-climbing and scavenger hunts.

Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park: Here’s another adventurous spot with more options than you’ll have time to experience in one day. From rock climbing, wakeboarding, cliff jumping and scuba diving, this is the perfect place to soak in all the intense fun the outdoors can bring. Muster up your courage for the exhilarating obstacle courses, zip lines and other challenges.

Indulge your interests

Ready for your next adventure? There are literally hundreds of other things to do in Connecticut.

Plan your next Connecticut adventure with AAA.

Tell us some of your favorite outdoor activities in Connecticut in the comments below.


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