Whether because it's the home of Yale University or because it's one of the New England states and therefore an excellent fall foliage destination, Connecticut often comes up as a possible road trip destination. While those are two great reasons to visit, there are plenty of other attractions, regardless of the season.
THE OLD LIGHTHOUSE MUSEUM
Nearly on the eastern edge of the state is Stonington. Here the Historical Society operates a museum in a former stone lighthouse and keeper's house, which was in use for nearly 70 years. In addition to being able to climb the house's tower, visitors can explore a related museum and another nearby house maintained by the Society. The home of Captain Palmer showcases the story of a man who, in his early 20s, was credited with being the first American to discover Antarctica.
HISTORIC SHIP NAUTILUS & SUBMARINE FORCE MUSEUM
Further west within Mystic Country rests the USS Nautilus. After 25 years of service in the Navy, during which the ship achieved several historic milestones, the USS Nautilus was decommissioned. Several years later, the submarine came home to Groton, Connecticut, where it was built. The Navy's and the world's first nuclear-powered submarine is now a free museum on the Thames River. Enjoy a self-guided audio tour of the ship and pose your questions afterward to the volunteer docents in the accompanying museum.
Essex Steam Train
ESSEX STEAM TRAIN & RIVERBOAT
Take a small detour from the coast and exit I-95 at Essex. This is an excellent opportunity to explore the interior of Connecticut. On this roundtrip excursion, you will not only experience steam locomotives restored from the 1800s but also enjoy the beauty of the Connecticut River Valley landscape. Halfway through the train journey, you have the option to board a riverboat and explore the Connecticut River, including the Haddam Swing Bridge.
Lighthouse Point Park
LIGHTHOUSE POINT PARK
Keep heading west along the coast, and you'll come to Lighthouse Point Park. While not the most ornate of Connecticut's lighthouses, New Haven Lighthouse is still a worthy stop for the whole family. This lighthouse is adjacent to a beach, a boardwalk, and an old working carousel. This ride from the 1900s was given new life in the 80s, and today can be ridden for a small fee. While once a common occurrence, the carousel is now one of fewer than 100 still operating today.
The Mark Twain House
MARK TWAIN HOUSE AND MUSEUM
Turn north now towards the center of the state. In under an hour, you will be in the heart of Hartford. The Mark Twain House is a National Historic Landmark and is accessible by guided tours. You'll be able to visit a museum and tour the home, which Mark Twain is quoted as saying, "had a heart and a soul." Within the house, you'll see and learn about the place where Twain wrote popular novels like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.