What Is Connecticut Known For?

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Connecticut is in the south of what is still called New England, the region on the USA’s north eastern seaboard where the first European colonists settled. New England stretches north from just above New York, comprising six states, which Connecticut is the southerly one, west of Rhode Island and Maine the northerly. Connecticut continues to grow in population terms since the end of the 18th century. It takes the name of the local river that cuts across the state and Connecticut is derived from Quinnetuket, an indigenous word for “long tidal river”.

The Dutch first settled this area in what is now the state capital, Hartford where the Park River meets the Connecticut. That was just small with English settling in numbers in the 1630’s and 30 years later, Connecticut became a crown colony before the fight for independence began. Today, it is a small, but rich state that maintains its maritime tradition. Its standard of living is among the highest on the seaboard with manufacturing and service industries both thriving. It has a lovely landscape with a real rural feel; the colours of autumn are particularly appealing. Crime figures are low with health and education especially prominent features of life here. Here’s what Connecticut is known for.

What Is Connecticut Known For?

Top Tours

1- Picturesque Towns

New Haven City Downtown Skyline Cityscape
New Haven is a city in Connecticut.

Connecticut is not a state of large cities, rather a rural area with lovely small towns, some coastal.

It is a place that encourages outdoor activities and leisurely tours around the lovely small towns.

There are numerous of them to consider, for example, Westport which straddles the Saugatuck River.

Its shops and waterfront restaurants are well worth exploring and you can enjoy the beaches or picnic areas.


Black Rock is another nice place while further down the coast, Saint Mary’s by the Sea you will get several scenic views, lighthouses, bars, restaurants and shopping.

New Haven is lovely, with spring flowers, parks, gardens and plenty of eateries.

Old Saybrook is at the mouth of the Connecticut River while nearby Essex has some old colonial houses.

Katherine Hepburn lived in Old Saybrook incidentally.

Cornwall has a bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places and plenty of good hiking trails as well.

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2- Fall Colours

Autumn Colours In The Tree Lined Roads
Fall colours is what Connecticut best known for.

Few places can match New England for its colours in the fall and Connecticut is one of the six states of New England.

The leaves vary from pink and red, yellow, orange and brown before they fall to the ground.

Mid-September onwards provides a real splash of colour to add to the lovely rural nature of the state.

Once the leaves have fallen, the weather is still fairly good to enjoy walking in a fairly quiet season.

Connecticut is a pretty state with plenty to see and do but if autumn suits you, the leaves on the trees will add you the enjoyment of your visit.

3- Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (pen name Mark Twain) is seen by many as the “father of American literature” and one of the most famous people from Connecticut.

The creator of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn was born in 1835 in Missouri but made his home in Hartford in 1868.

His home there is now a museum.

His first published novel came out just before his move: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

The setting of the stories about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn was back in the Mid West although by then he was living in Hartford.

He was already a celebrity by then and in demand as a speaker and lecturer.

His opinion on national and world events was sought by all, including governments.

One of his stances was anti-colonialism.

He earned plenty of money but lost a large proportion of it and at one time had to file for bankruptcy although he did later pay off all his creditors in full.

4- Lobsters

Lobster Dinner With Potato Salad And Butter
Lobster is a food Connecticut is known for.

Lobsters have always been regarded as a luxury food and prices vary around the world based upon supply.

There are no supply issues in New England with arguably Maine the most well-known state of the six for lobsters.

However, locals and visitors to Connecticut need not worry because Connecticut has important coastal areas where lobsters are abundant.

The best lobsters are found in cold water, and this definitely applies to the North Atlantic.

In cold water, lobster grows slowly making the meat more tender than in warmer waters.

A lobster sandwich in Connecticut is called a lobster roll and it differs from those sold elsewhere in New England in that it is served warm and covered in butter.

Lobsters are plentiful on Connecticut’s coastline although you need a licence to catch them.

There are several places on the coast where customers can by fresh lobster, or simply head to a seafood restaurant to get experts to cook them.

5- Maple Syrup

Delicious Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is what Connecticut is known for producing.

Maple syrup was produced by indigenous people long before the colonialists arrived.

One story, although not historically authenticated, was that they used maple syrup instead of water to cook venison.

Rituals existed around maple syrup including celebrating the Sugar Moon in springtime by dancing.

In those days, syrup was preferred to the salt colonialists used.

Maple sap was seen as a source of both energy and nutrition.

It was drawn from the trunks in early spring and left out in the cold to naturally concentrate.

The next stage of the process was boiling in clay pots over a large fire to create syrup.

Locals taught colonialist everything from tapping to processing.

Later, colonialists drilled trunks and hung buckets to collect the sap.

6- The USA’s Oldest Running Newspaper

Today’s Hartford Courant began life as the Connecticut Courant as a weekly publication in 1764, becoming daily in 1837.

While claims are made on behalf of a number of publications, no one can dispute that it is the oldest continuously published newspaper in the USA.

In 2018, it began to use the motto “Older than the Nation”.

An earlier publication, Connecticut Gazette of New Haven only survived until 1768.

The Courant concentrates on regional news.

The Times Mirror Group purchased it in 1979 before the Group itself was bought by the Tribune Company which also runs a TV Station although the newspapers it owns were then taken by a subsidiary.

In recent times, Alden Global Capital acquired them.

7- The Origins of Thanksgiving

The fourth Thursday in November is an important date in the USA calendar.

They say that the Christmas holidays actually begin with Thanksgiving, followed the next day by “Black Friday” which has become day where people head out shopping in search of bargains.

Thanksgiving was originally associated with the harvest with the meal always involving turkey, locally grown vegetables and usually cranberry sauce with pumpkin pie the dessert.

A public holiday, there are parades and NFL games these days throughout the USA.

The tradition of Thanksgiving began in New England with the Pilgrims in the early part of the 17th Century.

The first celebration was in 1621 with a three-day feast.

There are many turkey farms in Connecticut; if you want to cook yourself then order one.

Several restaurants offer the traditional Thanksgiving meal as an alternative.

8- Yankee Doodle (Dandy)

The traditional song and nursery rhyme “Yankee Doodle” predates the Revolutionary War yet it is still popular today.

The tune is much older than the lyrics, a tune well-known in Europe years before.

Indeed, a harvest song in the Netherlands dates back to the 15th century.

Doodle is a 17th century English word meaning “fool” and the song sung by British military personnel sang it as an insult to local colonists whom they looked down on.

They laughed at the local “dandys” and how they dressed.

A dandy is someone who places importance on appearance, refinement and language.

The British regarded colonists as crude and lower class even though many tried to “impersonate” high class.

However, the became a song of defiance by those same colonists who added verses to the original, mocking the British and hailing George Washington.

It became a song of national pride.

The 1942 film, Yankee Doodle Dandy, was nominated for eight Oscars, winning three, including one for Best Actor, James Gagney.

9- Charter Oak Tree

Big Oak Tree In A Garden
The Charter Oak Tree is what Connecticut is known for.

You won’t be able to see the Charter Oak Tree anymore but if you visit the Capitol Building in Hartford, you will see its timber that was used to make furniture (a number of chairs and the desk of the Governor).

You see it was blown down in a storm in 1856.

It was thought to date from as early as the 12th Century and tradition has it that Connecticut’s Royal Charter of 1662 was hidden in its hollow in 1687 to avoid confiscation by the British.

Charles II granted Connecticut a degree of autonomy in the Charter but James II then sought to strengthen British power and therefore wanted the document back.

He instructed his representative to get the charter back but he failed to do it.

It has been remembered both on coin and stamp as a symbol of American independence.

10- Lighthouses

Connecticut’s lighthouses are among the most photographed in New England.

You will find them along Long Island Sound as well as further east on the Atlantic Ocean Coast itself.

In the Revolutionary War era beacons and lights guided maritime traffic and have done so ever since.

There are several of them, and if you want to visit, here are some which deserve your attention.

Sheffield Island Lighthouse in Norwalk involves taking a ferry to the island.

You can tour the lighthouse and the home of the lighthouse keeper and then take a nature trail to enjoy the island.

Stonington Harbor Lighthouse is now a lighthouse-turned-historical museum near Mystic.

If you climb the tower’s old iron steps you will get some great views.

Another way to get views of several lighthouse is to take a cruise allowing you to see them from the water.

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11- Norwalk Oyster Festival

The Annual Norwalk Oyster Festival is held on the first weekend after Labor Day (early September) in Veterans Park, close to Long Island Sound.

Funds that are raised help the maintenance of Sheffield Island Lighthouse among other things.

The festival has been held every year since 1978 other than during COVID with around 90,000 attending each year.

The local economy benefits to the tune of about $5 million.

There is plenty of food and entertainment with plenty of international celebrities appearing in the past, the likes of Willie Nelson, Judy Collins, Joe Walsh and the Charlie Daniels Band.

The 31st festival in 2008 was disrupted on the middle day as the rain from Hurricane Hanna swept in, but it resumed the following day.

12- Charles Goodyear

Goodyear still has a prominent name in the tyre business in the 21st century but it all began in the middle of the 19th century.

Charles Goodyear was born in New Haven in 1800. By the time he died 60 years later, he had produced something that would have a huge impact on the world.

He was self-taught, an engineer and chemist.

The family’s hardware business failed in 1830 leaving Charles with a future to plan.

In 1844 he got a patent in the USA, having discovered the process of vulcanising rubber.

Suddenly, you could produce mouldable, pliable and waterproof rubber.

It had taken Goodyear five years of work to achieve this process that could produce everything from a simple rubber band to automobile tyres.

Charles was a descendant of Stephen Goodyear who succeeded Governor Eaton as boss of the company who founded the colony of New Haven back in 1638, London Merchants.

13- The Sikorsky Helicopter

Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford was established by an aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky a century ago.

It was one of the first helicopter manufacturers for both civilian and military use.

Igor was a Russian immigrant, originally from Kiev, now the Ukraine.

His company’s S-38 was so successful, that it was possible to buy land and a factory for ongoing production.

United Aircraft and Transport Corporation was the way ahead, later becoming United Technologies Corporation [the company is currently owned by Lockheed Martin).

The Sikorsky R-4, the first single rotor helicopter, went into full production in 1942 and subsequent have been based upon that initial design.

Blackhawk and Seahawk were later models while the US Presidential helicopter has been a Sikorsky since 1957.

14- The First Hamburger?

New Haven’s Louis’ Lunch claims to be the first fast food eatery to sell hamburgers.

It opened in 1895 and also offered steak sandwiches where again it believes it had few rivals when it started them.

The hamburger was first sold in 1900, satisfying customers who needed to pick something up quickly.

The first restaurant was a wagon but in 1917, the owners moved to a brick building that had previously been a tannery.

While the business moved again in 1975, the hamburgers are made with the same recipe and produced from the original cast iron vertical gas broilers from the 19th century.

In addition, the toast is made in the Savory Appliance Radiant Gas Toaster first used in 1929.

Louis, surname Lassen, was born in Demark as Ludvig and married his Ohio bride Sophie Kurtz in Manhattan in 1889.

The union produced five children, four being boys and Louis ran the business until his death in 1935.

He was a blacksmith by trade, leaving Denmark for the USA in 1881.

The word is he sold foods before adding lunches to his cart.

One day, a customer can in in a rush and asked him to just asked him to put some “meat pucks” between slices so he could dash away.

Soon after meat sandwiches were on the menu and the Larssen family continues to run the business today, the fourth generation!

15- Yale University

Yale University Buildings In New Haven
Yale University is an institution Connecticut is known for.

The two most prestigious universities in the USA (Harvard and Yale) are in New England.

Yale which is in New Haven, Connecticut was founded in 1701, making it one of the oldest Ivy League institutions in the USA.

The state’s clergy was responsible for the initial school which began teaching theology and languages before adding humanities and sciences.

It expanded and by the middle of the 19th century it awarded its first Ph.D.

It was recognised as a university attracting an increasing number of students by the end of that century.

These days, there are 14 constituent schools, including the original undergraduate college.

The library is stunning and athletic facilities as impressive.

Five US Presidents were educated at Yale as well as other heads of state.

The number of prominent people in all walks of life in the USA who graduated from Yale is testimony to its excellence. Download this Yale Smart Phone Self Guided Walking Tour.

Map Of United States With Connecticut Highlight

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Stephen Smith
Steve Smith is a widely travelled writer who has lived on the South West Coast of Turkey since 2008. He hails from North East England where he lived most of his life but has been to every continent of the world, with a particular love for Southern Africa and its wildlife. Argentina, India and Vietnam as other favourite places that he enjoyed greatly while sport is also a passion, cricket and golf as a participant, rugby union and soccer as a spectator.