Cooler temperatures in New England bring a flurry of winter wonders to Connecticut, where visitors can enjoy twinkling holiday lights and Santa sightings, new indoor and outdoor activities for adventure and history lovers, fireside dining, and reduced rates at hotels, inns and B&Bs along the shoreline and countryside.
It is easy to maximize every moment of a winter daytrip, weekend or week-long getaway in Connecticut, with suggested trip itineraries, event listings, lodging deals and other resources at www.CTvisit.com.
Here are just a few ways to make the most of the season:
Try something new:
- Book a stay at the newly opened boutique hotel Graduate New Haven, located in the heart of downtown. Nearby, The Shops at Yale is offering free horse-drawn carriage rides most weekends in December.
- View the “Northern Lights” at Mystic Aquarium (Dec. 7-Jan. 4), a new outdoor experience with shimmering lights, music, live penguins and more.
- Experience a new holiday exhibit at Norwalk’s Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, “Toys, Trains and Magnificent Trees: Illuminating Christmas at the Mansion” (Nov. 20-Jan. 5).
- Admire a record-breaking number of painted palettes created by artists from all over the country in Old Lyme at the Florence Griswold Museum’s “Magic of Christmas” celebration (Nov. 29-Jan. 5).
- See “J.M.W. Turner: Watercolors from Tate” now through Feb. 23 at the Mystic Seaport Museum; it’s the only North American venue for the exhibition.
- Mark the calendar for a major new international exhibition, “On the Edge of the World: Masterworks by Laurits Andersen Ring from SMK—The National Gallery of Denmark,” coming to the Bruce Museum in Greenwich in Feb. 2020.
Ring in the holidays:
- Find the perfect Christmas tree at any one of Connecticut’s many tree farms, including Jones Family Farms in Shelton. The family owned farm has a barn filled with holiday decor, wine tasting room, gift shop and more.
- Be dazzled by more than one million lights during Holiday Light Fantasia at Hartford’s Goodwin Park, with animations celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year’s and Three Kings Day. Other holiday lights events include Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce in Bristol and Festival of Silver Lights in Meriden.
- Board the festively decorated Northern Lights Limited or Santa Express trains from the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston for a visit with Santa and hot chocolate service. Winter train outings are also offered by the Essex Steam Train, Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor and Danbury Railway Museum.
Book a winter getaway:
- Visit the charming cities and towns throughout Connecticut featured in new, heartwarming holiday movies, including “Holiday for Heroes” (Hallmark Channel) and “Rediscovering Christmas” (Lifetime).
- Discover the Town of Washington to explore nature preserves, dine by the fire at the historic White Horse Country Pub and stay the night at Mayflower Inn & Spa, where several rooms feature fireplaces.
- Experience the Village of Ivoryton, home to the Ivoryton Playhouse and located minutes from downtown Essex and the historic Griswold Inn.
- Explore the Town of Putnam, which hosts the Fire & Ice Festival, the largest single ice-block competition in the U.S. Stay at a cozy inn or B&B in nearby Pomfret, where the Fireside Tavern at Sharpe Hill Vineyard offers respite from the cold.
Relieve cabin fever:
- See a show—holiday themed or otherwise—at one of Connecticut’s award-winning theaters or performing arts centers, such as The Ridgefield Playhouse.
- Warm up on the Connecticut Beer, Wine or Spirits Trails, or at an axe throwing venue, escape room or virtual reality center, such as Spark VR in Vernon.
- Get pampered at the spas at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, where you can also enjoy gaming, dancing, dining and live entertainment all winter long.
- Hit the slopes at one of Connecticut’s ski, snowboard or tubing destinations, such as Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort in Middlefield which is hosting a New England Winter Festival most weekends in December. Or, hit the trails for hiking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Winding Trails in Farmington offers equipment rentals, miles of trails and ice skating.
“We invite everyone to discover why Connecticut is the ideal destination for a classic New England winter getaway,” said Randy Fiveash, director, Connecticut Office of Tourism. “Whether looking to make new holiday memories, have a snow-filled adventure, or warm up by the fire, our location and size make it easy to do more with your valuable time.”