An easy drive from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and eastern Pennsylvania for a day or a weekend trip, Connecticut is the picturesque southern gateway to New England. The northwestern part of the Constitution State – the Litchfield Hills – is rich with rolling landscapes, dainty villages centered upon town greens, lots of hiking and bicycling trails, and numerous antique shops.

Hartford, in the central Connecticut River Valley, and its outlying cities offer many historic buildings such as the Old State House, the delightfully quirky Mark Twain house, and the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks. Fun on the asphalt can range from watching NASCAR races on the Stafford Motor Speedway to driving along U.S. 91 and viewing the region’s old tobacco barns and fields.

Returning to the shoreline, the coastal Fairfield region presents a range of outdoor and youthful fun: the Beardsley Zoo, a favorite for kids; the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk; the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport. New Haven and its environs are the home of Yale University, with its magnificent architecture and world-class art museums; the Hammonasset Beach State Park, with miles of sandy beaches; and the Thimble Islands. Moving toward Mystic, on the eastern shore, the tables are busy every day of the year at the world-renowned Mohegan Sun Casino and the Foxwoods Resort and Casino. Don’t miss the chance to dine at the assortment of fine restaurants at the casinos.

Mystic itself offers the delightful Mystic Aquarium and the unique Mystic Seaport, a living history museum depicting coastal New England in the 19th century. Not far down the shore is the city of New London, home port of the United States Coast Guard Academy and its training ship, Eagle. New London’s Ocean Beach Park is an old-fashioned family beach with plenty of amusements for children. Plentiful shopping can be found in the Tanger Outlet Center in Westbrook, the Clinton Crossing outlets in Clinton, and at Olde Mystic Village in Mystic. And in the quiet, northeastern corner are the lovely villages of Pomfret, Woodstock, and Lebanon and enough antique shops to keep a lover of that persuasion on the move for many days.

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