The 20 Best Free Things to Do in Connecticut (2024 Guide)

Connecticut has many attractions; it can be hard to decide what to do first! However, that list of activities shrinks substantially when you’re on a budget. If that sounds familiar, you’re in the right place to find some of the very best free things to do in Connecticut.

Connecticut is full of opportunities to experience delightful entertainment, culture, and art, all while having a wonderful time and not breaking the bank.

From single adults looking for a fun night out on the town to families that want to explore the great outdoors, there are limitless options for everyone in Connecticut – and all without spending a dime!

Our top picks include parks, hikes, museums, and other areas you can visit any time of the year and have no-cost fun.

You’ll be shocked by all of the free things to do in Connecticut!


1. Explore the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden

Address: 1561 Asylum Ave, West Hartford, CT 06117


Did you know Connecticut is home to the oldest public rose garden in the US? And, it is entirely free. Elizabeth Park contains tens of thousands of individual rose bushes across many species of the Rosa genus.

The main garden, with a rose-covered gazebo, is the perfect date spot in Connecticut. You can also explore smaller side gardens incorporating startling colors and formations.

While Elizabeth Park is best known for its rose gardens, there are a few other notable sights. There is some nice stonework and archways at the entrances. You can also get a great view of the Hartford skyline from the lookout point across from the main entrance.

Playgrounds, sports fields, and open spaces provide plenty of free areas for whatever outdoor activity you love.


2. Hike a Section of the Appalachian Trail

Address: Various trail locations between Sherman and the MA-CT border


The Appalachian Trail winds along the Appalachian Mountains for over 2180 miles. It is the longest hiking-only path in the world. The ‘AT’ stretches from Maine to Georgia, crossing 12 other states in the process, including Connecticut.

For about 50 miles through CT’s northwestern corner, the Appalachian Trail passes through towns like Salisbury, Sherman, and Kent.

While hiking any section of the trail will be a challenge, the views are certainly worth it! And, you’ll be able to tell your friends you hiked the Appalachian Trail! Well, sort of.


3. Go on a Paranormal Adventure

Address: Various locations

Website: N/A

Did you know Connecticut is home to many of the spookiest places in the country? Whether you’re a believer in the paranormal or not, you can spend the day visiting some of these haunted locations.

Here are a few spots to get you started:

  • Union Cemetery (Easton, CT) — home of the “The Lady in White.”
  • Seventh Day Baptist Cemetery (Burlington, CT) — haunted by the “Green Lady.”
  • Center Church (New Haven, CT) — a crypt under the church holds tombstones from 1687
  • Fairfield Hills State Hospital (Newtown, CT) — a defunct mental institution with plenty of creepy sights in its halls.

Because these sights draw paranormal enthusiasts from across the state and beyond, access to certain areas may be limited. We recommend only touring these spots during the day to avoid trespassing.


4. Wander Around Mystic, Connecticut


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Address: 1 E Main St, Mystic, CT 06355


The town of Mystic seems to have a little bit of everything. You can browse the shops downtown or at Olde Mistick Village. Alternatively, you can walk along the boardwalks at the seaport and surrounding areas. There’s even a working drawbridge dividing downtown.

Most people visit Mystic during the summer, when you can enjoy one of the nearby paid attractions, like the Mystic Aquarium or Mystic Seaport. However, winter in Mystic is just as picturesque! The many shops and homes decorate to give the sense of a colonial Christmas in Connecticut.

If you run out of free things to do in Connecticut’s Mystic area, we recommend driving to nearby Stonington. It has its own charm and plenty of views of the water.


5. Visit Yale University

Address: New Haven, CT 06520


Yale University is another hotspot where there’s no shortage of stuff to do. The prestigious school features castle-like buildings, courtyards, libraries and more. You’ll feel transported somewhere else.

There are also some free museums and other attractions under the Yale banner, like the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art. These buildings also feature the incredible architecture seen throughout the campus.

You can also visit the nearby Center Church or Knights of Colombus Museum —both have free admission.


6. Read a Piece of History at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library


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Address: 121 Wall St, New Haven, CT 06511


Another attraction near the Yale bubble is the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. It is an engaging experience from the moment you arrive; the building has a commanding, out-of-place appearance — in the best way possible.

Once inside, the magic of the building continues. The windows are made from marble to reduce outside light that can damage the sensitive manuscripts inside. This creates a truly one-of-a-kind feeling. You’ll swear you stepped into someplace magical.

The actual artifacts in the library include a Gutenberg Bible from 1454, John James Audubon’s Birds of America, and the Voynich Manuscript.

Come for the rare books; stay for the incredible atmosphere!


7. Walk, Ride, and Swim at Kent Falls State Park

Address: 462 Kent Cornwall Rd, Kent, CT 06757


If you want to do something outdoorsy, your best bet is Kent Falls State Park. Largely regarded as one of the most beautiful spots in Connecticut, Kent Falls also offers a lot of free fun for everyone.

The park gets its name from the 250-foot falls feeding into the Housatonic River. The falls alone are worth the visit! You can hike to the top or enjoy the water spray at the bottom!

Kent Falls State Park also has a beautiful covered bridge worth viewing. You can find good fishing spots, pedestal grills for cooking, picnic tables, and other amenities.


8. See the Seasonal Offerings from Silverman’s Farm

Address: 451 Sport Hill Rd, Easton, CT 06612


Silverman’s Farm offers a year-round bounty of farm-fresh goods and activities for visitors. In the spring and summer, you can visit the petting zoo, browse beautiful flower arrangements or take a hayride through the apple orchard.

Once August rolls around, the season for apple picking starts. By October, Silverman’s pumpkin patch is bustling with activity. In the winter, you can browse Christmas trees or visit the country store, which magically transforms with decorations to look like Santa’s own workshop.

No matter when you visit, there’s something here to do, see, and, most importantly, eat!


9. Relax at Lighthouse Point Park

Address: 2 Lighthouse Rd, New Haven, CT 06512


Lighthouse Point Park is one of those hidden shoreline gems. It rarely makes lists of the top CT beaches, but it definitely should! There are plenty of sandy spots to claim, but, if the beach is too crowded, there are also picnic tables and grassy areas nearby. Or, you can head to the other side of the point to find a bench or rock to call your own.

The lighthouse stands near the end of the point, next to a building for weddings and other events, and offers a good backdrop for photos.

Lighthouse Point Park transforms into “Fantasy of Lights” in late November, giving holiday spiriters the chance to drive through many incredible light displays.

It’s worth noting that parking at Lighthouse Point Park may cost a little during peak months. To avoid this, park on one of the roads leading to the entrance instead. It may be a short walk, but you’ll save money!


10. Hike the Sleeping Giant

Address: 200 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT 06518


Just outside New Haven, in Hamden, is the Sleeping Giant. It’s a silly name for a group of hills that give the appearance of, as the name suggests, a sleeping giant.

While the name is worth the visit alone, Sleeping Giant State Park is also one of Connecticut’s favorite hiking spots. The trails are easy and manicured for hiker comfort. It will take you less than an hour to reach the summit.

At the top, an observation tower provides an amazing vantage point for all of your pictures and horizon gazing. It’s a great hike for any time of the year!


11. Get Your Feet Wet at Hammonasset Beach

Address: 1288 Boston Post Road, Madison, CT 06443


Hammonasset Beach is the most popular sandy spot in the state. Despite this popularity, you should have no problem finding a place to put down your beach towel because Hammonasset is nearly two miles long!

When you’re done sunning and swimming on the beach, Hammonasset offers facilities for a variety of activities, like camping, fishing, boating, bicycling and more. There’s also a nature center with hands-on programs for younger audiences.

If you’re coming during peak summer months, you may have to pay for parking or find a free spot nearby and walk. In the fall and winter months, Hammonasset Beach is still one of the best places to take a walk in CT.


12. Visit the Museum of Connecticut History

Address: 231 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT 06106


The Museum of Connecticut History is 100% free, making it a great destination for a no-cost outing. It’s also located near the State Capitol building, which is worth a look as well!

While the museum is fairly small, it does contain a few notable artifacts from Connecticut’s history, like the 1662 Royal Charter creating the colony of Connecticut and multiple versions of the State’s own Consitution.

If you love Connecticut or just want to learn more about the place you’re visiting, this history museum is a must-see. There are also exhibits that military history enthusiasts will love!


13. Experience Natural Art at Weir Farm National Historical Park


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Address: 735 Nod Hill Rd, Wilton, CT 06897


Weir Farm was the summer home of American artist Julian Alden Weir. It was the inspiration for Weir’s Impressionist artwork (along with paintings by other famous American artists). Its role in the rise of American Impressionist painting makes it a significant landmark for artists.

Today, you can explore the grounds and even tour the Weir house, gaining a full appreciation for why this site was home to so much incredible artwork.

You can even grab some free art supplies (available to visitors) and see what masterpieces you can create!


14. Window Shop on Greenwich Avenue

Address: Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT 06830


California has Rodeo Drive. Connecticut has Greenwich Avenue. This stretch of road and sidewalk is littered with stores from some of the most recognizable luxury brands out there.

Despite the high-end boutiques and department stores on either side, Greenwich Avenue maintains the charming atmosphere of most colonial towns in Connecticut.

It’s a really nice place to walk around, window shop, and watch people spend fortunes on luxury clothing and twinkling jewelry. Bring some coffee or snacks from home and park yourself on a bench to enjoy the full Greenwich Ave experience!


15. See Something Medieval at Hubbard Park

Address: 999 W Main St, Meriden, CT 06451


In the center of Meriden’s Hubbard Park is a stone structure that looks straight out of the Dark Ages. While King Arthur never visited Connecticut, Walter Hubbard did. He had the tower (named Castle Craig) and park constructed in the 20th century, donating both to the town of Meriden.

There are several trails to reach Castle Craig. You can choose what trail difficulty to use for hiking to the ancient-looking fort.

Aside from Castle Craig, Hubbard Park has all of the beauty, open space, and amenities you can expect from one of the best Connecticut parks. In the winter, you can drive through the park and see several wire statues lit up in festive string lights.


16. Take a Free Trip to the Casino

Address: 350 Trolley Line Blvd, Mashantucket, CT 06338


Going to a casino seems counterproductive when you’re trying to plan a free outing. However, both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun offer some free activities to visitors. And, it doesn’t cost anything to walk in the door!

Both locations (which are conveniently located next to one another) routinely offer free concerts and shows. You can also wander through the casinos and see incredible glass sculptures, artwork, architecture, and more.

Plus, there are stores you can window shop and plenty of people-watching to be had! Who says the house always has to win?


17. Spot Wildlife at the Connecticut Audobon Society

Address: Various locations


The Connecticut Audobon Society’s mission is to conserve natural habitats for birds and other animals in CT. Over the years, the Audobon Society has acquired land across the state for these conservation purposes and “science-based education and advocacy.”

In total, there are 8 Audobon centers across the state and several more bird sanctuaries, meaning there’s likely a site nearby where you can visit.

Most Audubon locations offer easy walking trails with ample birdwatching possibilities. Pay attention to the Audobon Society’s monthly calendar. There are always events available to learn about bird conservation in CT and take part in other unique experiences.


18. Watch a Live Farm in Action at the UConn Animal Barn

Address: 17 Manter Rd, Storrs, CT 06269


The University of Connecticut’s Department of Animal Science contains several barns and other facilities with live animals. The UConn Animal Barn invites people to visit and see the day-to-day activities at the farm.

It’s important to note that this is not a petting zoo, nor can you feed any of the animals. That said, you may be able to catch cows being milked via the robotic Voluntary Milking System. You can also see beef cows, sheep, horses, and other animals.

On your way out, don’t forget to stop at the UConn Dairy Bar for ice cream. Many visitors come just for the frozen confections.


19. Enjoy Spectacular Views at Harkness Memorial State Park

Address: 275 Great Neck Rd, Waterford, CT 06385


Harkness Memorial State Park contains the former summer home of the Harkness family. The estate is truly extravagant and has many gardens and quiet, private spaces that are open to the public.

While you can tour or participate in various events inside the estate’s residence, it is the surrounding areas and views that make the Harkness Memorial State Park a must-visit. The water-side location in Waterford provides panoramic views of Long Island Sound and the shoreline.

It’s a truly unique experience and a great location to spend a day outside!


20. Create Your Own Free Connecticut Adventure!

Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s about the journey, not the destination?” If you need something free to do in Connecticut, you can always hop in the car and make your own adventure.

Connecticut has lots of winding backroads and quaint, hidden-gem towns across the state. Follow a route at random or plan a journey to a town you’ve never been to, and see what happens.

Who knows where you’ll end up or what attractions there will be along the way, but we guarantee you’ll have fun! You may even discover your new favorite destination in CT.


Looking for more great things to do in CT? Check out our guide to the best things to do in Connecticut this weekend.

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