I have been in Connecticut working at ESPN for two years (HOLY CRAP). Not surprisingly, there have been times where I’ve been all-consumed by work, obsessed with deadlines, meeting the right people and just trying not to get my a** fired (those first seven months…oy). Now, I am very thankful to be in a good place professionally, where I’m proud of my work and feel free to really appreciate everything in front of me. New people, new places, new adventures.
Because I’m a nerd, and I needed one place to list ALL THE THINGS I WANT TO SEE AND DEVOUR AND HIKE AND VISIT, I humbly present my Connecticut Bucket List (Connucket List?). I’ve already completed some (the bolded ones) and can’t wait to finish the rest, with friends, with visitors, with anyone. Care to join me?
2 Cambridge House, Granby
3 Willimantic Brewing Company, Willimantic
4 BF Clyde’s Cider Mill, Mystic
5 Connecticut Wine Trail - There are 24 wineries on the trail. Would love to visit all of them, but visit five and I’ll cross this one off.
6 Ted’s Restaurant, Meriden – The specialty is steamed cheeseburgers. I repeat: STEAMED. CHEESEBURGERS. Speaking of burgers…
7 Louis’s Lunch, New Haven – …apparently the burger was invented here in 1900, when a customer needed a fast lunch to eat on the go and the owner took steak trimmings and put them on toast.
8 Pizza, New Haven – There are a bevy of options, so I won’t stir the debate by picking just one. I’ve heard legendary things about Frank Pepe’s, Sally’s and other places, too. Guess I have to try them all. Tough job, but somebody has to do it.
9 Griff’s Chicken Shack, Hamden – I saw this place on the local news and nearly passed out from the glorious images I saw.
10 Brunch at the Simsbury Inn, Simsbury - Had my birthday brunch here with some of my mom’s friends. Everything was fresh and delicious, and the mimosas were top notch.
11 Brunch aboard the Lady Katharine, Hartford
12 Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop, Mystic – I sat here, alone, tipsy as anything from too much wine with dinner, and slurped a glacé, which is basically an ice cream float with COFFEE instead of soda. I imagine it was entertaining for others to watch my facial expressions of delight, eyes charged with sugar and booze.
13 Chocopologie, South Norwalk
14 Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford
15 Tour the State Capitol, Hartford
16 Mark Twain House, Hartford – Twain once said about Hartford, “Of all the beautiful towns, it has been my fortune to see this is the chief.”
17 Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford
18 Connecticut Science Center, Hartford
19 Mystic Aquarium, Mystic
20 Mystic Seaport, Mystic - It’s really hard to describe the Seaport. It’s like a living outdoor museum, an old sea village recreated in every way, from the buildings to the ships to the exhibits. If you’re into boats, you can’t miss this place. Truly one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been to.
21 Marsh Botanical Garden, New Haven
22 Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven
23 Movies and Mimosas, New Haven
24 Goodspeed Opera House, Chester/East Haddam
25 Hillstead Museum, Farmington
26 American Clock and Watch-Making Museum, Bristol
27 Carousel Museum, Bristol
28 US Coast Guard Band, New London
29 US Coast Guard Academy, New London
30 Adventure Park at Discovery Museum, Bridgeport
31 Museum of Puppetry, Storrs
Get Out There!
32 Heublein Tower/Talcott Mountain State Park, Simsbury – My go-to for a hike. A just-challenging-enough trek followed by gorgeous views.
33 Gillette Castle State Park, East Haddam
34 Dinosaur State Park, Rocky Hill
35 Five Mile Point Lighthouse, New Haven
37 Ocean Beach Park, New London
38 Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford
39 Sleeping Giant, Hamden
40 Wadsworth Falls State Park, Middletown
41 Canoeing on the Farmington River, Avon/Simsbury
42 Biking the Air Line State Park Trail, Through several towns in Central Connecticut
43 Apple picking at Lyman Orchards, Middlefield
44 Bushnell Park, Hartford
45 Elizabeth Park, Hartford
46 New Haven Green, New Haven
47 Warbird Experience, Pawcatuck
48 Skydiving, Ellington
49 Ziplining, Middletown
50 Brownstone Park, Portland – Does this not look like the most badass waterpark you’ve ever seen? Thought so. Of all the things on this list, I might be most excited for this one.
51 Hot air balloon ride, Terryville
52 Spa retreat by the sea, Westbrook
53 Take a ferry across the Long Island Sound, New London
54 Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry, Rocky Hill
55 Bald eagle watching by boat, Essex – This might be happening for my birthday.
58 Horseback riding, Litchfield – I’ve already done this, technically. I took a few riding lessons last year (and was told I looked athletic), which I enjoyed, but I’ve decided I preferred having a guide and going on a trail ride, as opposed to riding around in circles.
59 Lake Compounce, Bristol - It’s pretty damn cool that I basically work across the street from this place. A small but cool theme park you can make it through in half a day if you’re strapped for time. Also the site of ESPN’s annual company picnic, in which we get the park to ourselves, eat free food, ride the rides and maybe drink a little. MAYBE. It’s pretty much one of the best days of the year.
60 Yale football game, New Haven
This is by no means a comprehensive list. Thanks to Google, ctvisit.com, ctmuseumquest.com (a fantastic resource, thanks to my friend Dan for pointing it out to me) and FoxCT’s Day Trippers for helping me to compile it. Connecticut natives and longtime residents…am I missing anything? What’s something new you could try in your state?