From unusual and unexpected outdoor environments to entire abandoned towns, Connecticut has a slew of surprising attractions that will attract any curious local traveler. Some of the locations on this list are downright bone chilling while others are surprising to find in Connecticut. Read on to plan an outing to explore the unusual, unique, and quirky attractions that you can find in the most unexpected of places!
This beautiful waterfall is located in the most unexpected of places in downtown Norwich. Yantic Falls Indian Leap was frequented by Mohegan Native Americans in the 1600s and was the site of an infamous battle against the Narragansett Native Americans. Supposedly, a group of Narragansett Native Americans plunged to their death rather than surrender to the Mohegans who cornered them at this waterfall. In more recent history, the Yantic Falls fueled paper and cotton mills until the early 1900s.
Old Town Mill in New London lies underneath I-95 and near a low-income housing development. Fueled by waterpower, the Old Town Mill was used to grind corn, wheat, and rye into flour from 1650 until the 20th century. The Old Town Mill is currently free to visit from sunrise until sunset.
The former home of the quirky William Gillette, Gillette Castle is an unusual mix of exterior and interior styles. The façade of Gillette Castle looks like a medieval castle and the outdoor gardens are no less unique than the inside of the castle. This former home is now a museum and you can visit both the grounds and indoors. Keep a look out for built-in couches and distinct doors.
Gungywamp is an archeological site containing paleo and woodland artifacts from Native Americans. Despite some conspiracy around what was found at the site, archeologists have stated that the artifacts from Gungywamp are similar to what has been found at other similar sites in the northeast. Whether you buy into the extraordinary conspiracy theories or not, Gungywamp is a unique place for a hike. Contact the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center to organize the necessary permissions.
This strange village in East Haddam has been owned by two different Connecticut residents over the years, has been featured in horror films and music videos, and is currently unpopulated. In Johnsonville, you can still find numerous buildings from its time as a mill town and from its more recent history. No Trespassing signs are posted on the property but it is up for sale!
Not as spooky as some of the others on this list, but still unexpected is Cato Corner, a cheese farm in Colchester. Cato Corner produces 15 different types of cheese by hand using milk from their 45 cows. The cows are free-range and are not given hormone treatments, so stop by and try some delicious, natural cheese at Cato Corner.
Who knew there was a Buddhist Temple in Connecticut? Certainly not me! Located in the scenic Litchfield Hills is this Laotian Buddhist temple that attracts Lao people from all over the state for services and celebrations. While the grounds are open to everyone to visit, do keep in mind that this is a practicing religious institution and cultural respect should be shown and proper dress should be worn. Expect to see numerous colorful statues and shrines throughout the property.
As part of Yale University, the Cushing Center holds a large collection of objects and specimens from Dr. Harvey Cushing, a surgeon trained at Yale. Among the objects on display, you’ll see books, manuscripts, posters, artwork, and lots and lots of brains. A student of neuroscience, Cushing created a brain tumor registry through which he collected 2,200 specimens (not all the specimens are brains).
This unique library and museum is home to objects and documents that highlight human intellect, discovery, and creativity. Featured in their exhibits are an atlas from 1699 that shows the sun as the center of the universe and an original 1957 Russian Sputnik. Unfortunately, this library is not open to the public, although visitors, librarians, and students are sometimes granted access.
Just as the name suggests, the Glass House is a house made entirely from glass and was built in the 1970s by Phillip Johnson. The Glass House features several visiting exhibitions including the current Yayoi Kusama: Narcissus Garden exhibition. Those interested in visiting the Glass House must buy tickets for one of their tours and children must be over the age of 10 and accompanied by an adult to visit.
The Dinosaur State Park couldn’t be more geared towards kids of all ages. Dinosaur State Park has one of the largest collections of dinosaur tracks in North America. Wander their two miles of trails, enjoy dioramas of Triassic and Jurassic environments, and marvel at the tracks created by Dilophosauruses under their geodesic dome.
Learn everything you could ever want to know about the tasty little candle served in a unique package that is made at the PEZ factory in Orange. On your visit to the PEZ factory, you can view production of PEZ candies through windows or via video monitors. Additionally, you can see PEZ dispensers and tins from PEZ’s 80 years of history.
Connecticut is home to the National Association for Amateur Radio, a public service association that announces inclement weather warnings and more across the country. If you’d like to learn more, you can visit the AARL headquarters in Newington for a tour of their facilities and collections. Highlights include the vintage-AM stations, labs, and licensing classes.
As the symbol of Willimantic from the 1700s, four larger than life frog statues sit on the corner of the aptly named Frog Bridge. Historical records say that in the mid-1700s, inhabitants of Willimantic were woken up one night by an eerie sound. The next morning, they found that numerous fogs had died due to the low waters at that time and that they had been hearing the sounds of frogs fighting to get in the remaining water. The frogs are sitting on spools of thread to honor Willimantic’s former role in the thread industry.
Let’s end this list with a bit of a spooky one! Located in Bristol, find the Witch’s Dungeon Movie Museum, which features life-size figures of characters from classic monster movies and tons of original movie props. If you are a fan of classic horror movies, you’ll love the displays. Highlights include Frankenstein’s Monster, Werewolf of London, and Zenobia, the Gypsy Witch.
Skip the usual attractions this weekend and visit something entirely different in Connecticut. I’m sure that you’ll be surprised at the unique, unusual, and downright quirky things that you’ll find in our state!