Connecticut at a glance
The closest New England state to New York, scenic Connecticut has a rich colonial and cultural heritage. Its capital, Hartford, is home to an opera company, a symphony orchestra and the $165 million Connecticut Science Center.
The former whaling port of New London is Connecticut’s art and music hub, with a lively beach scene in the summer.
You probably didn’t know
PT Barnum of circus fame was once mayor of Bridgeport, the largest city in Connecticut.
Connecticut Lore: Strange, Off-Kilter & Full of Surprises (Zachary Lamothe, 2013).
- Population: 3.5 million
- Annual visitor numbers: 2.9 million
- January mean temp: -4°C
- August mean temp: 21°C
Things to do in Connecticut
Shell & Bones
Probably the best new Connecticut restaurant to emerge in 2016, Shell & Bones would be worth the visit for the view alone – nothing but the sheer blue horizon of Long Island Sound. But throw in the exquisite sauces and soups of former QE2 chef Arturo Franco, the fresh seafood from sustainable sources and the management chops of three experienced restaurateurs from New Haven itself, and you have a meal that will live long in the memory.
Stony Creek Brewery
America’s third smallest state now contains nearly 50 independent craft breweries, most with in-house bars or, at least, tasting taprooms. Riding this new wave, the Stony Creek Brewery near Branford Harbor is anything but a poky space for sampling. A huge building with twin-level terracing and waterfront tables, it offers 14 top options, three seasonal, from the black wheat Reposado Negro to Belgian-style Sun Juice.
A landmark eaterie in Hartford for the best part of a century, Carbone’s is regularly voted the best Italian restaurant in Connecticut. Owner-chef Vinnie is the third generation of Carbones to oversee the satisfied consumption of much-loved dishes such as lobster risotto, linguini vongole and the house carbonara. Carbone’s is closed Saturday lunchtimes and all day Sunday.
Often cited as one of the best of its kind in America, Oyster Club in Mystic is run by experienced restaurateur Dan Meiser, whose right-hand man James Wayman was named Connecticut Chef of the Year for 2016 by the Connecticut Restaurant Association. Listing the 15 local producers responsible for the day’s delicacies, the Oyster Club operates according to the motto, ‘from farm and sea to table’, ensuring fresh, seasonal, sustainable ingredients. Its adjoining Tree House opens from late May.
Established for two decades as New Haven’s prime nightspot, Club Vandome is a multi-space venue where Latin rhythms rule. Depending on the night, and the space – there’s a main room, The Warehouse and a patio hookah lounge – you might find something a little more techno or tropical.
33 Golden Street
The venue for cult bands such as Connecticut’s own hockey-obsessed Zambonis, 33 Golden Street is the ideal hang-out for New London’s alternative crowd of artists, musicians and locals, out to have themselves a whale of a time. Look out for the ‘3 Bands for 3 Bucks’ nights.
Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market
Connecticut’s unique Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market brings thousands of browsers, traders and street-food vendors to Route 7 in New Milford every Sunday from April to December. Gates open before 5am for the super-early buyers, who pay a premium to nab the best bargain – regular shoppers enter later for $2. If you’re after antique Americana, this is where to come.
Stackpole Moore Tryon Tuesday’s
Stackpole Moore Tryon Tuesday’s has long been Hartford’s go-to store for upscale mens- and womenswear. Custom-tailored, made-to-measure suits and designer dress shirts are the stock in trade here, along with high-spec business and leisurewear by Nic & Zoe, Frank Lyman and select others. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
The Bushnell is both a venerable performance venue created by the designers of New York’s Radio City Music Hall and a contemporary arts complex. Regularly hosting the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and made-for-Broadway musicals by Elephant Eye, it also stages the likes of Tony Bennett and Diana Krall in 2017.
Connecticut Science Center
Hartford’s $165 million contemporary family-friendly attraction, Connecticut Science Center comprises 150 hands-on exhibits, a 3D digital theatre and four educational labs where a regular series of workshops, demonstrations and talks is organised. Journey to Space and The Last Reef are among the 3D films screened.
- St Patrick’s Day parade, New Haven (March)
- Dogwood Festival, Fairfield (May)
- Sea Music Festival, Mystic (June)
- International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven (June)
- Barnum Festival Parade, Bridgeport (May/June)
- Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz (July)
- Deep River Ancient Muster & Parade, Deep River (July)
- Mystic Outdoor Art Festival (August)
- Milford Oyster Festival (August)
- Mystic Seaport Chowder Days (October)
- Giant Balloon Parade, Stamford (November)
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