Colonial Connecticut was somewhat different from its Puritanical neighbor to the north. A bit more tolerant. A bit more liberal. But certainly not pacific. In 1687 they boldly defied the British king by refusing to surrender their 1639 charter, hiding it instead in a hollow tree. And Connecticut colonists had a revolutionary spirit to match any zealous Massachusetts rebel. About half of Washington's New York army in 1776 was made up of Connecticut men. Rich in history, rich in seafaring tales, rich in American ingenuity (Connecticut has the most "firsts" than any other state) and rich in pastoral and coastal beauty, Connecticut is a hale haven for the curious tourist.
CONNECTICUT TOURIST INFORMATION: (800) 282-6863
STATE HOUSE, Hartford (860) 240-0222
Open year round, Mon. - Fri., 7-5 Closed Holidays.
Majestic exterior. Exquisite interior. Beautiful grounds. The Connecticut Capitol provides endless entertainment for art, architecture or history hounds.
MARK TWAIN HOUSE, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford (860) 493-6411
Closed New Years Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Open Mon. - Sat. 9:30-5, Sun. 12-5, June - Columbus Day.
Sun. 12-5 the rest of the year.
Never expected the author of "Huck Finn" to live in such an elaborate mansion. Although Gothic and somewhat foreboding, it's tastefully designed and functionally smart.The tiniest element works well to create an overall impression of elegant, yet comfortable living.
Check it out . . . Abutting Mark Twain's Gothic House is Harriet Beecher Stowe's "cottage." Quite different in its juxtaposition to Twain's elaborate estate. One can only imagine what these two neighbors were like.
DINOSAUR STATE PARK, 400 West Street, Rocky Hill (860) 529-8423
Open Tues. - Sun. 9-4:30
Housed under an enormous geodesic dome are more than 500 footprints belonging to gigantic reptiles from the lower Jurassic period. These tracks testify to the dinosaurs who walked this very land 200 million years ago. Outside the museum is a walkway marking the passage of time and leading to 60 acres of nature trails dotted with pleasant picnic areas.
Tip: Make tracks! Bring a 5-gallon bucket, 10 pounds of plaster of Paris, a quarter of a cup of cooking oil, and some rags and you can make your own tracks to take home and keep forever. (Casting area open 9 - 3:30, May-Oct.).
NEW ENGLAND CAROUSEL MUSEUM, 95 Riverside Ave., Bristol (860) 585-5411. Open Tues.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 12-5. Closed major holidays.
Merry-Go-Rounds will never seem the same again after taking a guided tour through this museum of hand-carved horses ranging in ages from 10-80 years old. Learn about the craft itself and the sad fate of these sterling stallions.
AMERICAN CLOCK AND WATCH MUSEUM, 100 Maple Street, Bristol
(806) 583-6070. Open daily 10-5 Apr. - Nov.
Grandfathers, pendulums, banjos, porch lights, church towers . . . these are just some of the types of clocks you'll see in this house of timepieces.
Tip: Time to watch watches. Allow plenty of time to watch the 20-minute video in the presentation room before hitting the many clock-filled rooms in this 197-year old house. The background will help you understand what makes 'em tick.