The Nutmeg state is home to some of the most well-regarded colleges and universities in the country.
Yale University, Wesleyan University and Connecticut College are just a few prestigious schools that thousands of high school graduates flock to for furthering their education.
In fact, data gathered from the Huffington Post ranked Connecticut tenth for states that have the best colleges. There is a diverse range of opportunities for education in this state, all residing in their very own unique towns.
Adjusting to these new towns and the college lifestyle can be challenging, so if you find yourself sitting in your dorm unsure about what’s going on in your community, AmericanTowns is here to help you out.
Here are 22 activities for college students in Connecticut.
It’s the spring semester, the end of the school year is in sight and you’re just itching to enjoy the warmer weather. A popular beach spot in Connecticut, Silver Sands State Park is free to the public and open from 8 a.m. until dusk. If the temperatures are rising and you don’t feel like being stuffed up inside a tiny dorm room all weekend, spend the afternoon at the beach catching some sun and waves with your friends!
Some of the most beautiful art in the country can be found right in Connecticut, in the ever-artistic and diverse city of New Haven. The gallery is free, which is good news for the college kids who don’t have money to spend! (Trust me I was one). The gallery features a combination of permanent collections and temporary exhibits. From African art, to sculptures, to modern and contemporary works, this gallery has a range of exquisite art for everyone to enjoy.
This park is picturesque during any season. In the fall, winter and spring, you can see the immaculate beauty of this mountain from Quinnipiac University’s main campus. Hike up through Sleeping Giant’s various trails of varying skill levels all year round. But don’t worry, every trail guarantees a good workout with beautiful views. The most commonly-trekked route is the Tower Trail, which is about three miles long and finishes off at a scenic four-story stone observation tower offering some of the most incredible views in the state.
Everyone who grew up in Connecticut (and many food critics) will rave about how New Haven is home to the best pizza in the country. And this is no exaggeration. All located in the same small city are the top-ranked pizza restaurants in the country: Sally’s Apizza, Modern Apizza, and of course, Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana. In 2015, the Daily Meal awarded Pepe’s white clam pizza the crown for the No. 1 best pizza in the U.S.
One of the hottest trends at the moment, particularly among young people, is Paint Nite, whose website tells its visitors to “drink creatively.” All over the state of Connecticut (and across the country), Paint Nite visits bars and restaurants. For a reasonable price you can drink your own wine and paint something you’ll be proud of. And if you think you aren’t a good painter, don’t worry! It is all about the experience. Guests are guided through a specific painting and either way, you’re going to have fun. Just visit Paint Nite’s website, enter a state or zip code, and find out which places are hosting an event!
Just about everyone who has recently turned 21 visits this casino in Connecticut. Mohegan Sun offers so much that you probably won’t be able to do it all in one night. The casino features the finest dining, shopping, top-notch live entertainment, and the opportunity to win some big bucks. Most college students particularly enjoy the night clubs. Avalon, Vista Lounge, and Mist are just a few of the trendy clubs at Mohegan that bump dance music through all hours of the night. So if you’re ready to have a few drinks and get your groove on with your friends, plan your trip to Mohegan now.
While most Connecticut sports fans are still mourning the loss of the Hartford Whalers, there are plenty of college teams to be excited about. Not only does UConn have one of the most successful women’s basketball program’s in the country, but they have one of the best teams in all of sports. The Huskies have won a record 11 national championships, tying them with the UCLA men’s basketball team. And if you’ve been a college student in Connecticut over the last four years, you probably know that these ladies have won four championships in a row from 2013-2016. This program produces some of the most talented athletes on the planet and you can see them live in Storrs.
This venue advertises itself as “entertainment and a dining experience.” The Norfolk location was originally used as an opera house, barbershop and saloon in 1883 and is now a premier concert venue in Connecticut that attracts some of the biggest talents in the business. So grab a bite to eat at the delicious bistro and then take a seat to enjoy exciting live music inside a striking work of architecture.
A string of movie theater chains have come and gone from this location. But this year, Cinemark took over the spot and built a new theater entirely. Inside the Cinemark in North Haven, you’ll find enormous wall-to-wall screens, a Starbucks, alcoholic beverages, seemingly endless snacks, and the best part: leather reclining chairs! These provide the ultimate comfort for movie viewing.
Downton New Haven is a hopping spot if you’re looking for a night out at the bar, and Ordinary actually offers a highly unique bar experience with a 1940s style and wide selection of craft beers. This bar has a fantastic nighttime atmosphere with mostly wooden décor. The back room is a comfortable place to chat with your friends and has a moose head mounted on the wall overlooking the space.
While it is mainly open in the summer, Lake Compounce offers a combination of fun in the fall. While you can’t access the water rides, you can access the thrill rides and the Haunted Graveyard from the end of September to the end of October. Buy a pass with your friends to ride on Boulderdash, flying through the dense trees on one of the most legendary wooden rollercoasters in the country. After that, take a scary walk through the Haunted Graveyard for a fright-filled good time.
You’ve probably seen a photo of one of Milkcraft’s mouthwatering cones while scrolling through Instagram because it’s a pretty important place. Their website states that this “small batch creamery began with an inspiration from a stroll down a via in Capri, Italy” and that their goal has been to “create ice cream from scratch and express our passion for artisanal flavors.” The Hong Kong style waffle cones present a variety of delicious flavors including s’mores campfire, cookie butter blue, Vietnamese coffee, and bourbon breakfast. This ice cream is sure to tickle your taste buds.
World of Beer has 50 craft beers on tap and over 500 in the cooler. If you are a beer connoisseur, this place is a must-visit. This is the spot for the 21 and over crowd of college kids looking for a night of drinking the most delicious beers from all over the globe. The staff is also incredibly well-informed and will be able to answer pretty much any beer question you can think of.
The War on Whitney Ave, as local residents and students call it, has been a particularly heated hockey rivalry ever since these two teams met in the national championship in 2013, where underdog Yale defeated top-ranked Quinnipiac. Just 15 minutes down the road from one another, the Quinnipiac Bobcats and Yale Bulldogs square off twice a regular season, once at High Point Solutions Arena in Hamden and once at Ingalls Rink. It’s a battle of one of the oldest hockey programs in the world and a powerhouse newcomer. This is what Connecticut hockey fans look forward to every year, so make sure you get those tickets now as they sell out months before the game!
If you’re in the New London County area of the state, it’s important to stop into the beautiful village of Mystic. Celebrities like Taylor Swift and the Kardashians have been spotted here and it’s also the location of the famous Mystic Seaport, the largest maritime museum in the country. Marvel at the stunning collection of sailing ships and boats, and explore through historic sites. You’ll never get bored in this beautiful town.
One of the most wonderfully-curated museums in the country, the Wadsworth has contemporary art displays that are unmatched. To really delve deep in aesthetically-pleasing, intellectual, and politically-charged pieces of art, spend a day inside of this museum. The Wadsworth also features European art, American art, and impressive costumes and textiles.
Yes, you read that correctly: a ropes course in a furniture store. Never has it been so exciting to go shopping for a new couch. The newly-opened Jordan’s Furniture in New Haven features the largest indoor ropes course in the world with two 60-foot high ropes courses with swinging beams, rope ladders, nets and zip lining. And if you’re hungry, grab a bite to eat at Blaze Pizza then some dessert at Scoop It.
The downtown area of Stamford is an exciting place at night on the weekend with plenty of bars and nightlife activities for college students. There are bars like Cask Republic for delicious drinks and dining (also a location in New Haven), the Palace Theater for some of the best arts and entertainment, and plenty of places to shop like Banana Republic, Forever 21, and H&M.
Architect Philip Johnson built the Glass House between 1949 and 1995. This National Trust Historic site covers a 49-acre landscape and features 14 different structures. The Glass House is truly a work of art, and also features a collection of 20th century art. The charming spot might not be the first place a college student would think to visit, but once you take in the breathtaking sight of these structures, you’ll want to explore for hours.
The shoreline town of Groton is home to the beautiful Bluff Point State Park, which offers opportunities to hike, mountain bike, and go fishing. The park’s website describes Bluff Point as the “last remaining significant piece of undeveloped land along the Connecticut coastline.” If the weather is nice and you’re looking to spend the day outdoors, it will be worth taking a trip up to Groton to experience this beautiful area of nature.
This park, which is characterized by a series of waterfalls on Falls Brook, is one of the most gorgeous sites in the state. There is plenty of hiking opportunities there, with the Kent Falls Trail winding up 1/4 mile along the falls. Their website warns hikers that it isn’t a difficult hike, but it is pretty steep, so be prepared! Oh, and make sure to visit Kent in the fall to truly absorb its beauty. The scenic foliage is unlike anything you’ve ever seen and further proves that this is the best state to be in the fall.
According to their site, Gouveia Vineyards is located “high atop 140 sun-kissed acres” and is constructed of stone and old timbers. There are a lot of beautiful wineries in this state, but there is something exceptionally peaceful about Gouveia. The large glass windows offer a stunning panoramic view of the plentiful woodlands that surround it. Bring your own food inside and have a meal while you sip on delightful, full-bodied white and red wines.