Explore the outside at one of Connecticut’s great little-known parks, hidden waterfalls, and historic architecture. These wonderful sights can be enjoyed by foot, in a car, or on a ferry, providing even more excitement. Get ready to uncover the Nutmeg State’s hidden gems.
Located in an unsuspecting location just outside of the industrial downtown Norwich, visitors will find a beautiful waterfall. Yantic Falls, also known as Indian Leap, is a small park with a waterfall, trails, and former train tracks that can be followed for some distance into forest. This Connecticut hidden gem is both stunning and provides a great green space just outside of downtown Norwich.
Barn Island is a waterfront nature preserve with excellent birding and wildlife observation opportunities. There are several trails through forests and coastal marshes, making for a great exploration of a few of Connecticut’s varied habitats.
Another beautiful waterfall to be found in Connecticut is a 60-foot-tall waterfall with three tiers. Located near Buttermilk Falls are two caves and a large pond. This beautiful trail is a great way to spend an afternoon hiking through Connecticut’s beautiful nature.
Another oasis of green in an unexpected location near a city-center is the Old Town Mill in New London. This former grain mill was originally built in 1650 but was destroyed by Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War. It was rebuilt shortly after and worked until the 20th century. The grounds of the Old Town Mill are beautiful and can be visited from sunrise until sunset year-round.
White Flower Farm is a nursery where you can wander the grounds, see beautiful flowers, and purchase flowers to take home. You can walk through the display gardens and see numerous flowers in their three greenhouses. The staff at the White Flower Farm are knowledgeable about gardening and will help you recreate your own garden sanctuary at your own home. White Flower Farm is only open seasonally from April until November.
Beautiful gardens surrounding a tearoom and shop is another of Connecticut’s hidden gems. The tearoom holds tea tastings and in the store, you can purchase specialty teas. The gardens at Sundial Gardens are also appreciated by visitors for their intricate design.
The picturesque West Cornwall Covered Bridge was built in the 1800s and is one of the few remaining historic covered bridges in Connecticut. The two small parks flanking either side of the bridge provide perfect vantage points to take photographs of the bridge and flowing river. Drive through, but only one car is allowed at a time.
Located in Connecticut’s oldest town is the Wethersfield Ancient Burying Ground, which provides a glimpse into life in the 1700 and 1800s. When visiting the cemetery, something to note is that important families were buried at the top of the hill while slaves were buried at the bottom. The oldest gravestone is from 1648.
The Great Meadows is a land trust with wondering for hiking trails and numerous outdoor programs. Come to see some wildlife such as turtles, kingfishers, and herons. The Great Meadows Conservation Trust aims to conserve this parcel of land to protect Connecticut’s environment and wildlife for future generations.
From April until the end of November, visitors can go for a ride on the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, which has been in operation since 1769. Though the original ferry was pushed by manpower, the current ferry, built in 1949 is a bit more high-tech. The Chester-Hadlyme ferry can fit approximately eight cars and 49 passengers for a scenic, short ride.
The ferry connecting Rocky Hill with Glastonbury is the United States’ oldest continuously operating ferry. Traveling across the Connecticut River, the ferry service began in 1655, and similarly to the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, it was manpowered. The ferry can carry three cars.
A one-mile-long land bridge allows visitors access to Charles Island from Silver Sands State Park during low tide. Charles Island is currently a wildlife refuge and no one lives on the island. However, it has an interesting history as a resort surrounded by a small village (ruins can still be seen today) and as a cursed island.
The Quinnipiac Trail is the oldest trail in the Connecticut Hiking Trail System. The Quinnipiac Trail is 24 miles long and connects North Haven to Cheshire, and follows the Quinnipiac River. The floodplain makes for a challenging hike through forest and riparian habitats. This is also a great place to look for bald eagles, wild turkey, otter, heron, osprey, owls, and kingfishers.
Wadsworth Falls State Park is a good option for those looking for a hidden gem with waterfall views. There is a swimming area and picnic area located in Wadsworth State Park and numerous hiking trails.
The Saville Dam is a historic landmark built in 1940 that is a scenic overlook. The view provides a look at the primary water supply for the Hartford area and the trees on Connecticut’s rolling hills. The dam itself is also beautiful and we’re sure will feature prominently in visitors’ photographs.