Every year, Memorial Day weekend comes and goes and it leaves me with a glimpse of an ideal summer: Gorgeous weather, great food, and time spent with family and friends. All of this also leaves me wondering, “So how long until Labor Day weekend?”
Why wait until then? Instead of taking that far away, exotic vacation, find a more local route. Consider it a twist on the typical vacation ideology. A staycation in Connecticut has plenty to offer families, friends, or a quick getaway for two.
Try a local state park. There are about 40 of them located around the state and about a dozen of them provide camping areas with cabins. Camping is very inexpensive compared to staying in a hotel and usually runs anywhere in between $12 to $33 a night for in-state residents. One of the most popular state parks is Hammonesset Beach State Park. Located in Madison not far from I-95, it offers over two miles of shoreline for swimming, fishing, boating, with a boardwalk along the beach.
If you enjoy time spent in the sun and sand, why not take a little trip to Westport’s Sherwood Island State Park? As the first Connecticut state park established, this park offers another wide sandy beach to use for swimming and fishing. The facility also includes a nature center offering weekly activities.
Looking for more of a rustic and woodsy state park experience? Visit Salt Rock State Park in Baltic. What was once farmland is now a149-acre wooded park. In addition to fishing and camping, there is an outdoor swimming pool for registered campers. If you don’t feel like camping or spending your entire vacation completely immersed in the outdoors, check out some of the other state parks and state forests for great day hikes and scenic views.
If you’re traveling as a family, keeping the kids entertained while allowing them to explore and learn can prove to be a bit challenging. Check out the Mystic Seaport. The authentic early American experience has always been a favorite spot for family vacationers. So much to do and see in one area! With the price of admission, take a stroll past their re-created 19th century village, a collection of tall ships and historic vessels that are available for tours and exploration, and preservation shipyard where you can see how antique vessels are being restored. Admission also includes the entire exhibit, galleries, and the attractions and events scheduled for that day. There are plenty of places to eat within the Seaport as well as the surrounding area. And if you’re not ready to leave just yet, you can extend your stay at the many hotels and bed and breakfasts nearby for an overnight stay.
Just a stone’s throw from Mystic, New London is also another great coastal get away. The town is centered where the Connecticut Thames River and the Long Island Sound meet providing visitors with picturesque scenery. Don’t miss the U.S. Coast Guard Academy which offers self-guided and cadet led tours. When available, you can experience viewings of the daily cadet drills and tours of the tall ship Eagle.
For those who love history, New London has the Shaw Perkins mansion, which was the home to the state’s Naval Office during the Revolutionary War, the Hempstead Houses, and the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse. While in New London, you might also want to check out the Connecticut College Arboretum featuring native trees to North America, a wildflower garden, outdoor theatre, and a greenhouse.
When planning your next getaway take these things into consideration and realize that by vacationing locally, you’ll be saving yourself some guilt by reducing your greenhouse gas emissions or the overall amount of money spent on your travel expenses. And who knows? Maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about your home state.
For more information on any of the fun things to do in Connecticut, check out ct.gov/dep or CTVisit.com.
Image courtesy of CT.gov