Top things to do

Top Choice Bistro in Chester

River Tavern

This popular wood-accented bistro with a bar and dining-room menu dishes up impeccable food with a variety of inflections. The menu changes, but if it’s in season you should definitely order shad, caught from the Co…
State Park in Essex

Hammonasset Beach State Park

Though not off the beaten path by any means, the two full miles of flat, sandy beach at Hammonasset Beach State Park handily accommodate summer crowds. This is the ideal beach at which to set up an umbrella chair, c…
Museum in Old Lyme

Florence Griswold Museum

The 'home of American Impressionism,' the Florence Griswold Museum exhibits 6000 works with solid collections of American Impressionist and Barbizon paintings, as well as sculpture and decorative arts. Her house, wh…
Vietnamese in Chester

Good Elephant Bistro

In 2016 Chester's lauded L&E French bistro merged with the Good Elephant to expand its repertoire of contemporary French cuisine with aromatic French-Vietnamese dishes. It works. Come on Sunday for Vietnamese st…
Theater in East Haddam

Goodspeed Opera House

The classic Goodspeed Opera House is an 1876 Victorian music hall known as 'the birthplace of the American musical' and still produces a full schedule of shows: Man of La Mancha and Annie premiered here before going…
Cafe in Chester

Simon's Marketplace

For casual eats, Simon's is part cafe, part eatery, part ice-cream parlor, part candy shop, part general store. It's a great spot to grab a quick meal, supplies for a sunny picnic, or to load up the kids on sugary t…
State Park in East Haddam

Devil's Hopyard State Park

Legend has it that the round holes in the 60ft Chapman Falls within the park were made by the Devil himself, but you can thank the state of Connecticut for the 860 acres of pretty grounds for camping (campsite per n…
State Park in Connecticut River Valley

Dinosaur State Park

Connecticut’s answer to Jurassic Park, Dinosaur State Park lets you view dinosaur footprints left 200 million years ago on mudflats near Rocky Hill, 10 miles due south of Hartford along I-91. The tracks hardened in …
Museum in Essex

Connecticut River Museum

Adjacent to Essex's Steamboat Dock, this museum's meticulously presented exhibits recount regional history and include a reproduction of the world's first submarine, the American Turtle: a hand-propelled, barrel-lik…
Castle in East Haddam

Gillette Castle

Built in 1919 by actor William Hooker Gillette, who made his fortune playing Sherlock Holmes, this gaudy, medieval-style 'castle' is an eccentric turreted mansion made of fieldstone. Looming on one of the Seven Sist…