Traveling in 2021? Please check with each state/destination for its current COVID-19 guidelines, as these are constantly changing and the most accurate, up-to-date information may not be reflected here.
Connecticut is one of New England’s best-kept secrets that you’ll just have to visit to believe. You’ll be amazed at the most beautiful places in Connecticut and how they treat your eyes with its time-honored heritage and nature’s diversities. Wondering why you didn’t include it on your bucket list sooner?
Let’s explore the great state of Connecticut to find stunning destinations – historical sights, natural scenery, and more. It has a lot to offer, and I’ll give you the inside scoop on places you don’t want to miss.
1. Mystic Seaport
You can discover Connecticut’s rich maritime history by visiting the Mystic Seaport. It’s an attraction with indoor and outdoor experiences. The museum has a lot of historical facts and exhibitions, but the true beauty waits for you outdoors. Mystic Seaport is the largest maritime museum in the US.
The best part about the site is wandering around the marina. You’ll see lots of different ships from various periods. Some of the vessels are designated as national landmarks. The marina leads to the seaside village, which is recreated as it looked in the 19th century.
2. Connecticut State Capitol Building
Visit Hartford, the capital, to see one of the prettiest places in CT- the Connecticut State Capitol Building. The impressive building stands as the centerpiece of the Bushnell Memorial Park. It’s open to the public to admire the exterior and interior details. Connecticut State Capitol Building was completed in the late 1800s in a Gothic Revival architectural style. The elaborate gold-topped dome is the most elaborate feature of it. Take a guided tour to learn about the state’s history while exploring different legislative rooms, offices, Hall of Flags, and statues inside of it.
3. Kent Falls State Park
Spend some time in the beautiful outdoors with a visit to Kent Falls State Park. It’s where you’ll find the picturesque Kent Falls. It’s an excellent destination to spend the day enjoying recreation and leisure.
It’s only a short hike to Kent Falls after you park, so it’s easily accessible for everyone. The falls are one of the most beautiful places in CT. Kent Falls is a series of drops totaling 250-ft. It’s best in the spring when the water flow is heavier or in the autumn when colorful trees surround it.
4. Connecticut State Route 169 Scenic Drive
The Connecticut State Route 169 Scenic Drive is unlike any other in New England. It’s the best way to appreciate the state’s beauty along a relaxing road trip. A section of the route extending approximately 32-miles long is designated as a National Scenic Byway. The most popular part of it runs from Canterbury to North Woodstock. You’ll pass by several other small towns. The views along the trip are mainly the diverse landscape that features everything from streams, to hills, to woodlands. You’ll pass by remote farms, historical homes, and landmarks.
5. Elizabeth Park
Elizabeth Park should definitely be on your itinerary if you’re looking to visit one of the coolest spots in CT. It’s a gem that you’ll be glad you visited. The stunning garden is one of the best photography spots. Located in Hartford, the garden opened in 1897, and now it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The colorful garden has flowers covering more than 100 acres. The most famous feature of the park is the rose tunnel. Catch it in the right season for the best experience. Tulips begin to bloom in May, and the roses are best from June until the fall season.
6. Saville Dam
The natural beauty of the Saville Dam is a truly captivating experience. The iconic stone turret makes it feel like a fantasy as you take in the scenic views. The dam was built on the Farmington River, forming an artificial reservoir. Forested hills surround the reservoir to create stunning scenery. Several walking paths wind around the reservoir and up to the turret. You can walk the bridge to the turret that looks like a castle from a fairy tale. It’s no wonder why it’s one of the most photographed landmarks in the state.
7. Town of Essex
New England is known for having America’s favorite small towns. Essex is a historic town that’s always a popular tourist destination. It’s a charmingly beautiful place that will always keep you coming back. Essex is situated on the banks of the Connecticut River. Main Street is the central part of town where you’ll find restaurants and boutique shops. The best area is the waterfront. You’ll find a boardwalk with picturesque views of boats in the Essex harbor. Be sure to stick around for the sunset.
8. Tod’s Point
Of all the most beautiful places in CT, Greenwich ranks as one of the most expensive places to live in the US. Many of its residents work for local hedge funds. And where there is wealth, you’re sure to find beauty nearby. Tod’s Point, one of the most beautiful places in CT, is a 2.6-mile scenic loop trail around the peninsula known as Greenwich Point. A trail is a place for recreation, exercise, or enjoying the views looking out to Long Island Sound. It’s only open at certain times for non-residents, and passes are required. If you’re lucky enough to visit, take advantage of seeing such beautiful waterfront scenery.
9. White Sands Beach
Stop searching for the most beautiful beach in Connecticut because White Sands Beach is everything you’ve been looking for and quite undeniably one of the most beautiful places in the state. It’s appropriately named because you’ll be greeted with soft white sand leading out to the clean waters of the Long Island Sound. Old Lyme, CT, is a popular vacation spot. You’ll find lots of beachfront properties and rentals where you’ll literally be steps away from the beach.
White Sands Beach is a family-friendly environment to enjoy beach activities like sunbathing, swimming, and boating. There are also picnic tables to have a meal at the beach. White Sands Beach is a top beach to visit in Connecticut with incredible views looking out towards the water.
10. Wadsworth Falls
The force of the water flow of Wadsworth Falls will genuinely blow you away. Don’t expect to see a towering waterfall because it only has a 15-ft drop. But it’s considered the most powerful in all of New England and few among the most beautiful places in CT, so it’s definitely a must-see. Wadsworth Falls is located in Wadsworth Falls State Park. The park contains two waterfalls, and both are worth checking out. Wadsworth Big Falls is the main attraction. The wide fall combined with the forest setting makes it a beautiful reward after hiking to the site. Wadsworth Little Falls is also nearby that has fewer crowds in case the big falls get busy.
11. Goodspeed Opera House
You don’t have to be a fan of opera to appreciate the beauty of the Goodspeed Opera House. Since 1876, the Victorian-style building has featured world-class plays that have landed on Broadway and beyond. Goodspeed Opera House is a top performing arts venue in Connecticut. From the riverfront location to the elegant interior décor, it’s a place that showcases luxury. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to catch a show. It has featured notable plays like Annie, Camelot, Because of Winn Dixie, and Christmas specials. There is always something new showing at the theater.
12. Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry
Locals use the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry, but it’s one of those hidden gems that you don’t want to miss as a tourist. The ferry crosses the Connecticut River between Rocky Hill and Glastonbury. It’s a fun river journey that offers beautiful sights on either side. The ferry is the oldest ferry route still operating in the US and one of the most exquisite locations among the most beautiful places in CT. It’s uniquely designed as an open-air flatboat pulled by a tugboat across the river. It’s a unique way to view the scenery. If you don’t want to pay the fare to cross the river, you can relax, have a picnic at the adjacent Ferry Park, and watch the crossings.
13. Hopkins Vineyard
Visit Hopkins Vineyard so you can finally settle which is better – the wine or the views. The vineyard is part of the Connecticut Wine Trail and a favorite stop out of all the locations. You won’t find too many other vineyards located on the lake. Hopkins Vineyard is located right on Lake Waramaug, which gives special growing conditions for the near dozen different types of grapes. After learning about the production process, you can head to the wine bar to enjoy beautiful views of the lake and vineyard while enjoying a glass of award-winning wine. Imagine sipping a glass of wine glancing at one of the most beautiful places in CT. That is Hopkins Vineyard! It is also one of the best places to visit in Connecticut during summer.
14. Gillette Castle
It’s not every day that you get to see a medieval castle, especially in the US. But Gillette Castle quickly debunks that statement. The castle was built in the early 1900s by William Gillette, known for playing the role of Sherlock Holmes. It’s no mystery, however, that the Gillette castle is one of the most beautiful places in CT with a tinge of historic glory. The castle and its surrounding area are designated as a state park for preservation. Visitors can walk the grounds and tour the inside of the castle to see the uniquely designed interior. It overlooks the Connecticut River.
15. Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge
The Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge is a long-standing part of the town of Simsbury, but it wasn’t until the locals got involved that it became a popular destination. Thanks to the local creativity, its seasonal decorations make it a beautiful place to visit. The bridge was once used to extend Drake Hill Road across the Farmington River. It’s now strictly for pedestrians and bikes. Between June and September, locals decorate the bridge with colorful flowers. It’s a popular place to take photos. The local art trail festival also features local artwork.
16. Lynde Point Lighthouse
New England is synonymous with lighthouses, so you have to include a visit while in Connecticut. Lighthouses always create beautiful scenery, and the Lynde Point Lighthouse doesn’t disappoint. The Lynde Point Lighthouse is a 71-ft tower built-in 1803 to aid ships navigating the Long Island Sound. It’s still used today as a historical landmark of all the exotic and the most beautiful places in CT. Although it’s not open to the public, there are a couple of ways to get some great shots and views of it. One of the best ways is taking a boat ride on the Long Island Sound and cruising along the banks.
17. Talcott Mountain State Park
Connecticut has a diverse landscape that you can appreciate incredible views within Talcott Mountain State Park. It’s a popular park for recreation and has a breathtaking view at the top of Talcott Mountain. Take the Talcott hiking trail to reach the summit. It starts steep but is a relatively easy climb after. At the summit, you’ll find the iconic Heublein Tower. Visitors can climb to the top of the 165-ft tower for one of the most beautiful views in Connecticut. You’ll have panoramic views of the lush green landscape and nearby towns such as Simsbury.
18. Haight Brown Vineyard
Explore the rural side of Connecticut at a beautiful destination like Haight Brown Vineyard. What can be better than tasting wine, a delicious cheese plate, and views of the vast vineyard? Haight Brown Vineyard covers 20-acres. It’s open to the public for self-guided tours to see where the grapes grow and how the wine is produced. It specializes in Chardonnay and Riesling.
It’s a charming vineyard with a tasting room established in a restored barn for a bit of character. It creates a fun atmosphere with live music and hosts annual wine festivals throughout the year. So, if you are a wine-lover or have never really seen a Vineyard, Haight Brown Vineyard scores a must-see.
19. Lake Quonnipaug
You can always count on Lake Quonnipaug to be an exemplary, tranquil destination in any season. It’s a large freshwater lake that’s a popular place to hang out for locals and visitors. You can enjoy lots of activities on the lake. The forest-covered shoreline has a few beaches to relax and build sandcastles. The water is also great for swimming. There are a few places to go for renting kayaks or paddle boats. You can spend an entire day out on the lake. So, if you are looking for places to visit in Connecticut during summer, Lake Quonnipaug should definitely be a must-see.
20. Thimble Islands
Go on a Thimble Island cruise to discover the many islands within the Long Island Sound. There are over 100 islands as part of the archipelago. The tours take you sightseeing to several, or you can take a direct ferry to the larger islands for recreation. Many of the islands are privately owned and inaccessible. That doesn’t stop you from enjoying the sights from the boat. You can, however, explore the larger islands like Rogers Island, Outer Island, and Money Island. The islands have various hiking trails, museums, and wildlife. It really defines an adventurous find of all the most beautiful places in CT.
Amy is the founder of New England with love. A proud Vermonter, she hopes to share her love of New England and help you find the best adventures in the region. Amy is also blogger/founder at Two Drifters, where she writes alongside her husband about romantic and couples travel, relationships, honeymoons, and more. When not working on websites, Amy is probably reading, cuddling with her husband and cats, & drinking a maple latte.