Winter is a magical time in Connecticut, and there are plenty of things to do throughout the state. Whether you prefer something relaxed or active, there’s an option for nearly every taste. If you’re wondering what should be on your to-do list this year, here’s a look at some of the best winter events and activities in Connecticut.
Mystic Seaport Museum
Founded in 1929, the Mystic Seaport Museum is an excellent winter activity in Connecticut. It focuses on preserving artifacts from the country’s seafaring legacy and creating an experience far beyond what most visitors would expect.
The Mystic Seaport Museum and its grounds encompass 19 acres along the Mystic River. You’ll find a museum that’s home to over 500 historic watercraft, a recreated coastal village, an operating shipyard, and numerous exhibit halls. Staff members in the village area provide ample information and entertainment, showcasing craft skills, discussing the area’s history, and playing era-appropriate music. You can also see traditional ship-building techniques.
For some fun outdoors, Winterfest Hartford is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Located in Bushnell Park, it’s the perfect opportunity to spend some time ice skating. Using the rink and renting skates is free to all. Plus, there are skate classes available at no cost, too, allowing those who are new to ice skating to get some guidance.
The rink is open seven days a week in most cases. However, it may close for inclement weather and specific events. You can also take advantage of free parking along two nearby streets throughout the Winterfest operating season and many others once it’s after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays or any time on weekends.
Connecticut River Eagle Cruise
During the winter, the Connecticut River is a popular destination for anyone who’d like a chance to spot bald eagles coming down from Canada to fish. Along with an opportunity to spot eagles, you may also see osprey, swans, foxes, deer, hawks, and other types of wildlife. Plus, tour providers usually offer up information about the region along the way, making it a fun learning experience.
There are several eagle cruise operators in the area, and each brings something unique to the table. Additionally, tour durations can vary, allowing you to choose a trip that best meets your needs. While most boat tours do have a heated cabin, it’s still essential to dress in warm layers, ensuring you can comfortably head out on the open decks for better viewing.
Holiday Light Fantasia
Every year, Holiday Light Fantasia takes place in Goodwin Park in Hartford. Goodwin Park becomes a drive-thru winter wonderland, giving visitors two miles of spectacular displays featuring more than one million lights.
In total, there are about 200 unique displays along the way. Along with celebrating Christmas, many of the displays showcase other seasonal holidays and events, like Hanukkah and New Year’s. Starting on Thanksgiving and running through New Year’s Day, Holiday Light Fantasia is open every day from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Gillette Castle State Park
When you arrive at Gillette Castle State Park, you might think you’re about to step into a medieval fortress. However, when you get inside, you’ll experience something incredibly unique, all thanks to the creative mind of William Gillette.
You can tour the 24-room mansion and explore the hand-hewn woodwork. Every door in the castle is entirely unique, and you’ll see tables on tracks, built-in couches, and carved wood light switches along the way.
Plus, the property itself is breathtaking, and there are plenty of trails that are excellent places for casual strolls or fast-paced hikes. You’ll also see a variety of features along the way, including stone bridges, near-vertical steps, and much more.
Mystic Holiday Lighted Boat Parade
If you’re in Mystic on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, make sure to check out the Mystic Holiday Lighted Boat Parade. It features Santa arriving on a tugboat and a tree lighting, as well as a variety of decorated boats making their way down the river. Decorated boats are judged on a variety of factors and based on several categories, but visitors can simply kick back and enjoy the show.
Located in Middlefield, Powder Ridge is the perfect spot for some fun in the snow. You can ski, snowboard, or tube to your heart’s content. Plus, you can get lessons from professionals if you want a bit of guidance, making this a great option for those new to skiing or snowboarding.
Snow biking – also known as ski biking – is also a popular option at Powder Ridge. If you want to try it yourself, that makes Powder Ridge an excellent destination.
Another excellent option for those new to winter sports is Ski Sundown. Along with having access to skiing instructors, you can find low-cost equipment rentals. Plus, the area has some smaller slopes that are very beginner-friendly. As a result, it’s an excellent place to try skiing for the first time, and it can work well for children who may not be ready for what you find at other locations.
Ski Sundown also has night skiing opportunities available. So, if you’ve ever wanted to try skiing after dark, make sure to check it out.
For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to see ski jumping live and in person, a trip to Jumpfest is a must. It takes place at Satre Hill, and you can watch talented ski jumpers fly up to 200 feet through the air, often reaching speeds as high as 50 miles per hour. You may even get to spot a future Olympian or too, which can make the trip especially fun.
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