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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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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999 W Main St, Meriden, CT
Castle Craig Tower is a stone observation tower atop East Peak in Meriden.  The tower, which was dedicated on October 29, 1900, was given to t... Read More
230 Plymouth Rd, Berlin, CT
Activities: Hiking, Scenic Vistas Fee:  There is no parking fee at this park. Read More
Route 5, Wallingford, CT
Located on wooded, sandy knolls, Wharton Brook offers solitude for a quiet, peaceful picnic. In 1918-1920, this Park was known as a traveler's way... Read More
721 Wadsworth Street, Middletown, CT
Enjoy hiking or biking the varied trails of the park or spend some time enjoying the beautiful falls. For a longer stay, visit the designated swimm... Read More
99 North Brandord Road, Wallingford, CT
Acres: 157 Activities: Hiking Fee:  There is no parking fee at this park. Read More
487 North Brooksvale Rd, Cheshire, CT
Located on North Brooksvale road along the Linear Park, Lock 12 contains a pavilion, picnic area, a restored 150 year old canal lock (one of the or... Read More
524 Brooksvale Avenue, Hamden, CT
Park Information: 500+ acre nature park & wildlife sanctuary Barn Domestic Animal Barnyard Maple Sugaring Shack Native Wildlife Garden 20... Read More
150 New Britain Avenue, Newington, CT
As a part of AARP's 60th Anniversary, AARP launched an ambitious effort in 2019 to create 53 fitness parks – one each in all 50 states, the D... Read More
0.6 mile west of the Cornwall Street and Route 10 intersection, Hamden, CT
The Farmington Canal, also known as the New Haven and Northampton Canal, stretched 84 miles from Northampton, Massachusetts to New Haven, Connectic... Read More
200 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT
Two miles of mountaintop resembling a large man lying in repose, the "sleeping giant", is a popular feature of the south central Connecticut skylin... Read More
200 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT
The Quinnipiac River flows 38 miles from its headwaters in Plainville to its mouth in New Haven. Nearly six of those miles and 323 acres of floodpl... Read More
12 Center Street, Prospect, CT
Prospect Parks Recreation Department is proud to launch our new activity registration system and website. To get started please Create an Account w... Read More
400 West Street, Rocky Hill, CT
If you like dinosaurs, you'll love our 200 million-year-old fossil trackway, interactive exhibits and the chance to cast your own dinosaur footprin... Read More
115 Field Road, Crromwell, CT
River Highlands State Park is located in the central CT town of Cromwell.  As its name suggests it features high bluffs on the banks of the Co... Read More
Foot Hills Road, Durham, CT
Visit a Connecticut State Park or Forest and explore the wealth of diverse natural areas and unique features that will make your experience memorab... Read More
Spring Street, Wethersfield, CT
Beaverbrook Linear Park (Spring Street) - 14.3 acres containing open space and Spring Street Pond which is available for ice skating. Read More
Mattatuck State Forest covers over 4,000 acres in the towns of Waterbury, Plymouth, Thomaston, Watertown, Litchfield, and Harwinton and is an ... Read More
341 Milford Street, Burlington, CT
Learn About Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat Firsthand: The biggest threat facing Connecticut's wildlife species is the loss of habitat. As more land... Read More
1561 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford, CT
The area which is now known as Elizabeth Park was once owned by Charles H. Pond. Mr. Pond was a wealthy industrialist and statesman whose career in... Read More
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