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15 Best Ways to Enjoy Summer in Connecticut

Charlotte Bailey

Summer in Connecticut is unlike any other time of year in the state. From the beautiful weather to the incredible activities that are best experienced during this time of year, you can’t overlook visiting this state in summer.

No matter what type of activities you’re interested in, this article on the best way to spend a Connecticut summer getaway has got you covered. Think visiting the beach, going on cruises, and even spending time with your loved ones while picking some fruit!

While the weather during this time of year is incredible, it’s also the time of year that almost everything is open, compared to visiting in the off-season. 

You’ll be able to enjoy the local lobster shacks and even relax at the beach, activities that can be closed during other times of the year.

Escape to Interlaken Inn & Resort

Play some billiards and enjoy summer in Connect at Interlaken Inn & Resort
Play some billiards and enjoy summer in Connect at Interlaken Inn & Resort

If you’re wondering what to do in the summer in Connecticut, consider visiting Interlaken Inn & Resort.

Located in Lakeville, this three-star hotel is an excellent spot to go for a true escape because it’s located relatively lakeside and is filled with fun activities.

This is a small resort located in the Berkshires (one of the most beautiful and well-known areas in the northeast) dating back to the 1800s. 

It’s a genuinely historic inn that’s perfect for visiting, especially if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, primarily because of how charming it is.

The inn itself is filled with amenities that will make your stay incredibly welcoming and comfortable. 

Some popular ones that make it unlike others in the area include its proximity to Lake Wonoscopomuc, an outdoor heated swimming pool, sculpture gardens, a game room, and even tons of lawn games that are seasonal, so they’re usually available to use in the summer.

Ride the Coasters at Lake Compounce

Lake Compounce in Bristol Connecticut
Lake Compounce- Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock

Easily one of the best summer destinations in Connecticut is Lake Compounce—the largest water park in Connecticut and the perfect place to stay cool and beat the summer heat! 

It’s located right in Bristol and is one of the most popular amusement parks in the area. 

No trip to Lake Compounce Amusement Park is complete without a ride on one of the five different roller coasters.

The top roller coaster at Lake Compounce is Boulder Dash, an award-winning wooden coaster that takes around 2.5 minutes to ride fully. Boulder Dash is also the fastest roller coaster in the entire park.

Of course, if roller coasters aren’t your jam, there are other fun rides like Venus Vortex (a waterslide ride), Wave Swinger (classic swing ride), and even Ghost Hunt, where you can try to catch ghosts. Lake Compounce is open seasonally, so it’s best to visit in summer.

Cool off at an Adventure park

Have a blast climbing walls at an Adventure park  and enjoy family time during summer in Connecticut!
Have a blast climbing walls at an Adventure park and enjoy family time during summer in Connecticut!

Are you hoping to have a blast and enjoy family time during summer in Connecticut? Then you’ll want to visit one of the adventure parks! 

Luckily, there are quite a few throughout the state, so no matter where you’re visiting, you should be able to find one relatively close by. These are also open seasonally, which is why it’s best to visit in summer!

The most well-known adventure park in Connecticut is the Thrillz High Flying Adventure Park in Danbury. 

It has its own arcade and is filled with fun activities like obstacle courses, zip lines, rock climbing walls, free jumps, and even jousting! It’s truly a fun time, no matter your age.

Other great adventure parks include The Adventure Park at Storrs (Storrs, CT), The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum (Bridgeport, CT), and Brownstone Adventure Sports Park (Portland, CT), which is discussed more in detail later in this article.

Hit the Beach

Hit the beach and enjoy summer in Connecticut

Summer in Connecticut is best experienced while you’re right at the beach! 

Luckily, Connecticut is a coastal state, so there are tons of beautiful beaches that you can visit, no matter where in the state you are. Plus, each beach has its own amenities that make it unique.

Some of the top Connecticut beaches include Ocean Beach Park (New London, CT), Hammonasset Beach State Park (Madison, CT), and Sherwood Island State Park (Westport, CT). 

Definitely try to find one of the state parks that are located on the beach if you’re looking for better amenities.

Also, note that most sandy beaches fill up fairly quickly in the summer, just because it’s a popular place to visit! 

Try to get there earlier in the morning for a perfect parking spot and to claim your own spot in the sand.

Dive in Candlewood Lake

Cool and calm Candlewood lake in Connecticut

Candlewood Lake is a gorgeous outdoor and recreational area for those looking to escape to the wilderness during their summer holiday in Connecticut. 

It’s the biggest lake in the entire state and is located near Fairfield. The best time to visit it is easily the summer due to the warmer water temperatures.

There are 11 acres of parkland at this beautiful lake that are open for public use. There’s also a playground, food stand, and even picnic spots so you can enjoy your lunch with a breathtaking water view. 

However, you absolutely can’t take a summer trip to Candlewood Lake without taking a quick dive into the water to appreciate it for yourself!

Note that there is a small fee for non-Connecticut residents to visit the lake (averaging about $19 per adult and $13 per child).

Spot Various Fish Species at Mystic Aquarium

Have an interesting summer in Connecticut by visiting the Mystic Aquarium
Mystic Aquarium – Ritu Manoj Jethani /

No trip during summer in Connecticut is complete without a stop in Mystic. This beautiful coastal town truly comes alive in the summer, as many of its shops open seasonally. 

It’s known for its exciting history and gorgeous views.

The main attraction in Mystic is easily the Mystic Aquarium, perfect for those visiting the state with families. 

This Connecticut aquarium features some interesting animals that you can’t usually find in a USA aquarium too, including beluga whales and Stellar sea lions.

With tons of fun exhibits, including ones where you can actually touch stingrays, you’ll easily be able to spend a full day exploring the Mystic Aquarium.

Oh, and don’t leave town without visiting the Mystic Seaport Museum!

Cruise on Connecticut River

Peaceful Connecticut River

As the longest northeastern river, it’s nearly impossible to skip out on the Connecticut River. 

If you’re visiting in the summer, the river is even more gorgeous because it’s absolutely beautiful when the sky reflects off of it, making it a breathtaking blue color.

The best way to enjoy the river is to go on a cruise of some sort. One of the top cruise companies is RiverQuest, a cruise company located in Haddam.

They’re known for their great cruises along the river, and they have quite a few different cruise options depending on the time of day you’d prefer to go.

Smell the Roses at Elizabeth Park Rose Garden in Hartford

one of the top places to visit during summer in Connecticut is the Rose gardens in Elizabeth park at Hartford

Hartford is easily one of the top places to visit during summer in Connecticut. 

It’s the state’s capital and is filled with tons of outdoor summer fun, but it definitely starts to come alive in the summer after the harsh, cold, and snowy winter.

Elizabeth Park Rose Garden is absolutely breathtaking and should not be missed. As you may have guessed, everything in the park is in full bloom during the summer months. 

Throughout the park, there are fantastic walkways, rose arches, and tons of green space. Plus, the park often hosts many different and awesome summer events open to the public.

Have Fun at the Summer Music Series

Fun outdoor concert

One of the top unique things to do during summer in Connecticut is the Outdoor Summer Music Series! 

It’s not necessarily hosted in a particular location, though, and tends to be in multiple cities throughout the state. 

Popular spots where there are live concerts that fall under the Summer Music Series include New Haven, Norwalk, Westport, Hartford, Middletown, and even East Haddam.

The events usually start in early June and end either in September or October, depending on the state. 

The concerts tend to be completely free to attend (though they may vary from location to location) and often include other fun activities like lawn games. Plus, dogs usually are always welcomed!

Cruise around the Thimble Islands

View of Thimble Islands in Connecticut

The Thimble Islands is one of the lesser-known spots to visit in Connecticut. They’re definitely one of the more hidden gems in the state, and because they’re islands, they are best visited in the summer, mainly because they have to be visited by boat.

If you’re looking to visit the Thimble Islands, definitely book a cruise through Thimble Islands Cruise. They have a few different options, including private charters and daily sightseeing cruises.

The sightseeing tour is the more popular of the two because it’s more affordable and it lasts about 45 minutes. 

During the tour, you’ll hear narration that will introduce you to the history of the Thimble Islands dating back to the Victorian Era.

Make a Splash at Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park

enjoy summer in Connecticut by spending a day in Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park

What better way to enjoy a hot summer day than by going to Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park? 

Located in Portland, this is a favorite place to visit among locals. The park itself is best experienced in the summer because the water is warmer when it’s hotter outside!

There are tons of fun summer activities for all ages at the park, but those traveling to Connecticut in the summer vacation with family and younger children will most likely enjoy this park even more. 

Activities at the park include ziplining, swimming, rock climbing, rope swinging, wakeboarding, paddleboarding, and even kayaking.

The entire area is set up in a way so that each of the activities is pretty close by, meaning you could probably squeeze every activity into just one day if you really wanted to! 

If you live nearby, consider purchasing a season pass to save yourself money, especially if you’ll often be visiting.

Go Blueberry Picking

Picking blue berries in an orchard

Eating fruit during the summer is truly just the best. Not only is it refreshing, but it’s tasty too! What’s even better? Going out and picking your own berries! 

Luckily, there are tons of excellent blueberry picking spots at local farms all throughout the state of Connecticut. 

Truly, no matter where in the state you’ll be visiting, you’ll most likely be able to find a spot to pick them up nearby.

One of the best spots to go blueberry picking is Lyman Orchards, located in Middlefield, Connecticut. 

They have a vast blueberry field where you can go out and pick your own. They also have sunflower fields and more that are worth exploring.

Other great spots in the state for blueberry picking include Bishop’s Orchard in Guilford and Litchfield Hills Blueberry Farm in Plymouth.

Have a Drink at a Summer Beer Festival

Have a Drink at a Summer Beer Festival in Connecticut

All adults should definitely consider attending one of the summer beer festivals! As the name suggests, these beer festivals only run during the summer, which is another reason Connecticut is incredible in summer.

These annual events usually take place all over the state and occur during different times of the summer, so be sure to do some research to make sure that there’s one going on during your visit.

Some of the most popular beer festivals include Brewers Ball Homebrew Festival in July and Litchfield Hills Beer & Wine Fest in late August.

Go on a Connecticut Wine Trail

Verdant Winery in Connecticut Wine Trail
Winery Vineyard

Many people don’t know this, but the wine in Connecticut is incredible! What better way to try it than by going on the Connecticut Wine Trail

Consider visiting a few of the top wineries in the state and make a whole girl’s weekend getaway out of it for a truly unforgettable experience.

With so many wineries throughout the state, it can be hard to choose. Consider stopping at some of the most popular ones, including Brignole Vineyards, Hearthstone Farm & Winery, Chamard Vineyards, and Maugle Sierra Vineyards & Winery.

This is best done in the summer because the weather is nice, so you can enjoy the wine at each of the wineries outside!

Explore the Connecticut River Valley

The Antique Essex Steam Train

Last but not least, if you’re spending summer in Connecticut, consider exploring the Connecticut River Valley. 

This is often said to be one of the most scenic parts of the state, so it’s perfect for those who are looking to escape the cities and towns and instead go out to nature.

The area itself is known for quite a few things, including its scenery against the water. To enjoy it fully, consider hopping on board the Essex Steam Train or heading out to the Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park, where you can have some fun right in the valley.

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