The 10 Best Parks in Connecticut!

From scenic forests to seaside getaways, Connecticut has some extraordinary parks. Immerse yourself into wild nature or prim, manicured gardens and spend a day outdoors while soaking in the sun. Don’t forget to check for ticks after returning home from a great day outside!

1. Elizabeth Park, Hartford, CT

This gorgeous inner city park provides a green lung for Connecticut’s capital city. The highlight of Elizabeth Park is its massive rose garden and its large walking loop, providing a nice path for runners and dog walkers. Children and athletes will be happy to hear that Elizabeth Park also has two baseball fields, two basketball courts, and a playground.

2. Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, CT

With a mansion, manicured gardens, picnic tables, and a beach, Harkness Memorial State Park really has it all. In the summer, the Harkness mansion can be toured, and those visiting for the first time should consider taking a tour as the interior is just as impressive as the stone exterior. Harkness is also very popular for weddings, so there is a good chance you’ll spot couples exchanging vows or taking photos.

3. Sleeping Giant State Park, Hamden, CT

Sleeping Giant is another of Connecticut’s wonderful state parks due to the picturesque views it provides from the top of the overlook on Mt. Carmel. After a leisurely hike, Sleeping Giant State Park is perfect for a picnic a spot of fishing or some additional hiking on nature trails.

4. Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison, CT

Hammonasset Beach State Park is one of the most popular beaches, campgrounds, and parks in Connecticut—and once you visit, it is easy to see why. The soft sand beneath your toes is perfect for kids to build sandcastles, and the long boardwalk is a great option for a sunset walk. Hammonasset Beach State Park also has a really excellent playground, a butterfly garden, and a natural education center.

5. Chatfield Hollow State Park, Killingworth, CT

Chatfield Hollow State Park is a good option for both nature lovers and those interested in Native American history. Many pre-Colonial Native American artifacts have been found near the Indian Council Caves, which is where gatherings were perhaps held. The park also features a brook and pond where fishing and swimming is permitted.

6. Pachaug State Forest, Voluntown, CT

The largest state forest in Connecticut, Pachaug State Forest encompasses several different habitats and spans five towns. The Chapman Area features a beautiful rhododendron swamp and a 58-mile-long motorcycle trail. Mt. Misery Overlook provides a great view of the expansive forest and fishing is allowed in some ponds.

7. Barn Island, Stonington, CT

Barn Island is a stunning park and coastal Wildlife Management Area. The birding here is great and occasional signs detail organisms you might pass by. Note that hunting season is allowed in-season, so visitors might consider wearing bright colors at that time.

8. Salem Land Trust, Salem, CT

Located in the small town of Salem, the Salem Land Trust is a really nice green space that is great for nature walks. In the right season, you’ll see evidence of monarch butterflies. At the Salem Land Trust, there are several loops and out and back again trails as well as some wetlands.

9. Sherwood Island State Park, Westport, CT

Sherwood Island State Park was the first state park in Connecticut and remains a favorite to this day. Swimming, picnicking, and fishing are all welcome at Sherwood Island. Additionally, naturalists of all ages can visit the nature center and saltwater marsh nature trail. 

10. Nehantic State Forest, Lyme, CT

Nehantic State Forest is a great natural park for outdoor activities. Featuring lakes for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and swimming, all those interested in water sports will find a fun activity. Nehantic State Forest is also a prime hiking location and features numerous loop and out and back again trails of varying distances. Hunting is also allowed in designated seasons.

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