One of the original 13 colonies, the Constitution State offers the best of New England’s historic charm, along with unparalleled modern connectivity. The southernmost state in New England, Connecticut provides easy access to both urban centers and natural wonders in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Connecticut is the site of many American firsts — some that America might not be America without!
The first hamburger served in the United States was at Louis’ Lunch in 1895. The family-owned restaurant is still going strong in New Haven. The modern-day lollipop also made its world debut in Connecticut, thanks to Bradley Smith company, which started selling the confection in the early 1900s.
When it comes to higher education, the state of Connecticut is no slouch: Yale University, founded in New Haven in 1701, was one of the nation’s first universities.
But perhaps Connecticut’s most important first — and what gave the state its official nickname — was the January 14, 1639, adoption of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, a precursor to state constitutions that’s considered one of the first written documents of its kind.
With top schools, a competitive job market and idyllic New England scenery, why wouldn’t you want to move to Connecticut?
With lakes, mountains, and 300 miles of the Atlantic coastline, Connecticut has four seasons of attractions to explore. The spring and early summer months bring frequent thunderstorms. Snowstorms are common in the wintertime, making mid-summer to fall the best time to visit and move to Connecticut.
Springtime means flowers, and you’ll find no shortage of those at the annual Meriden Daffodil Festival, where visitors flock to see over 600,000 bulbs and enjoy musical entertainment and food from local vendors. Connecticut is also home to the famed plant seller White Flower Farm, now in its seventh decade of operation.
Connecticuters — or Nutmeggers as they’re sometimes called— have no shortage of ways to cool down during Connecticut’s steamy summers, from lakeside waterparks to forest ziplines to swimming, sailing and fishing on the Atlantic beaches. Although the weather can be hot and humid, temperatures rarely rise above 100°F.
In the fall, temperatures are cool and mild, and Connecticut’s abundant orchards offer prime pumpkin- and apple-picking — not to mention some of the best cider donuts. While you’re traveling from donut A to donut B, the state’s rolling terrain will enchant you with its colorful fall foliage.
Winter festivals and activities keep spirits bright during Connecticut’s coldest months, when temperatures often dip into the teens. Skiers, snowboarders and tubers have several snow lifts to choose from across the state. Daredevils of all ages will enjoy Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort, which offers nighttime adventures and is also the only summer mountain tubing park in New England.
Living in Connecticut
Connecticut is ideal for remote workers and New York City commuters. The average commute to New York is just 45- to-60 minutes by car via I-95, or by train via the Metro-North system, which travels the length of the coast and north, into Connecticut’s larger cities and suburbs. Popular commuter towns include Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Norwalk, Fairfield and Darien.
With an index of 116., the cost of living in Connecticut is higher than the national average but lower than some neighboring states. Housing also gives Connecticut an edge over New York City. The median housing price of a single-family home in Connecticut was $485,083 in August 2022, far less than in the Big Apple. Plus, growing families are often able to trade cramped city quarters for spacious homes and backyards.
With one of the nation’s lowest crime rates, Connecticut is a popular destination for families looking to escape the bustle of city life in New York and New Jersey.
Adding to the appeal, Connecticut’s job market is fairly strong, thanks to its 14 Fortune 500 companies, including health insurer Cigna, Charter Communications, XPO Logistics, Xerox and Otis Worldwide.
At 4.1%, Connecticut’s unemployment rate in August 2022 was lower than New York’s (6.6%) but slightly higher than neighboring Massachusetts (3.6%) and the national average (3.5%).
Another draw? Education. Connecticut’s top-ranked public school system lures families away from big-city life.
The state has the third-highest performing K-12 public schools in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. Connecticut is also well-known for its highly ranked private institutions, including boarding schools like The Hotchkiss School, Loomis Chaffee School, and Kent, and Choate Rosemary Hall, which was the inspiration for Chilton Academy, Rory’s high school in the hit TV show “The Gilmore Girls.” But sorry fans: while Stars Hollow is based on many of Connecticut’s charming small towns, it’s purely fictional.
Post-secondary education is also top-notch. Yale University is one of the country’s eight Ivy League institutions. Wesleyan University, founded in 1831 in Middletown, is also highly ranked. Both attract top students and researchers from around the world across the arts, humanities and sciences. Other highly regarded public and private colleges abound.
Best Places to Live in Connecticut
Statewide, the population of Connecticut has held steady over the last decade, inching up just .9%. If you’re considering a move to Connecticut, here are some helpful things to know about some of its most notable cities.
An easy commute from Manhattan, Stamford led the state’s population growth from 2010-2020 with an increase of 10%. In this financial hub, familiarly known as “the city that works,” key employers represent a diverse array of industries and include Stamford Health, NBC Sports Group, Gartner, Deloitte and Charter Communications.
Stamford also boasts a robust array of cultural attractions — a botanical garden, several museums and art centers, and even its own orchestra. At $532,700, median home values in Stamford are high: nearly twice the state average. Rents, too, are far above average at $1,812.
One of Connecticut’s major ports and the most populous city in the state, Bridgeport is among the largest cities in all of New England. Over the last 10 years, the city has seen a 3% increase in population. Housing prices in Bridgeport are below the state average: The median home value is $174,700 and the median rent is $1,163.
Of note, Bridgeport was the longtime home of circus showman P.T. Barnum, who served as the city’s mayor and helped develop one of Bridgeport’s main attractions, Seaside Park. Captain’s Cove offers charming boardwalk shops and restaurants, but it’s also an important site for historic ship restoration. Bridgeport high schoolers can also take advantage of unique programs in boat building, marine engineering and aquaculture at the Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture School.
Known as the “cultural capital of Connecticut,” New Haven has a thriving downtown scene with artisanal eats, dazzling music and theatre venues, and the renowned Yale Peabody Museum of natural history. The “Elm City” is also a pedestrian-friendly haven for locavores, boasting several independent grocers and markets.
As the home of Yale University, it’s not surprising that the educational services sector is a top city industry. Other key employers include Yale-New Haven Health; Assa Abloy (access and security solutions); Southern Connecticut State University; and Chubb Insurance.
New Haven’s population is one of the state’s most diverse. From 2010-2020, the city saw a 3.2% population increase. At $199,000, the median home value falls below the state average, as does the median rent of $1,196.
Located in the northern half of the state, along the winding Connecticut River, the capital city of Hartford is home to the Mark Twain House & Museum (more on that below) and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. The University of Hartford and Trinity University are also located here.
The city’s population has shrunk a bit over the last ten years, losing about 3,700 residents. A major insurance hub, key employers in the city include Hartford Hospital, Hartford Financial Services Group, The Hartford, Aetna and Travelers. The median rent in Hartford is $985, while the median home price is $165,300.
If you’re visiting Hartford, don’t miss the Connecticut Science Center, which offers more than 165 hands-on exhibits, exploring physics, geology and even forensics.
Tune in our Spotify road trip playlist when exploring the Constitution State.
Things You Can Only See and Do in Connecticut
It’s not just Connecticut’s cities and towns that make it a prime destination — the state has 101 state parks, over 2,000 miles of hiking trails, dozens of beaches and other unique attractions.
For those wanting a prehistoric trail experience, go straight to Dinosaur State Park, one of the most important dinosaur trackways in the world. You can even make your own castings of fossilized dinosaur footprints!
At Gillette Castle State Park, explore the 24-room medieval-revival mansion built by actor William Hooker Gillette. The meticulously crafted interiors feature a moveable table on tracks and hand-hewn, wooden light switches. The eccentric estate sits on 184 acres with a network of woodland trails and even a railroad station.
Bigelow Hollow State Park and Nipmuck State Forest features picturesque lakes and over 9,000 acres of unbroken forest to explore. Boating, fishing, and scuba diving are among the park’s most popular activities.
Birders will delight in the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, a wildlife sanctuary with a nature center, hiking and horseback riding trails, and a boardwalk through the wetlands where you can see snowy egrets, herons and other feathered friends.
The highest peak in the state of Connecticut is at Bear Mountain in Salisbury, part of the Taconic range that crosses into Massachusetts. Hikers willing to make the challenging trek to the top are rewarded with spectacular views (and bragging rights). Access the peak from Mt. Riga State Park.
Beachcombers flock to Connecticut’s southern shores. In Norwalk, bocce ball courts, a skate park and the tasty (and affordable) seafood at Ripka’s make Calf Pasture Beach a local favorite. There’s also a nearby aquarium and a children’s museum.
Further east, Clinton Town Beach is nestled in a town rich with historic museums and shops and flanked by the Hammock River Marsh Wildlife area.
Ocean Beach Park in New London provides a full day of New England family fun. An 18-hole mini-golf course, Olympic-size swimming pool and white, sugar-sand beaches are just a few of its attractions.
In addition to its famous pizza, Mystic, Connecticut, is a destination for aquatic enthusiasts. There’s the Mystic Aquarium, where you can see beluga whales, seals and sea lions — not to mention touch rays and sharks. Its animal rescue program has been rehabilitating marine animals since 1975. Meanwhile, the Mystic Seaport Museum is a 19-acre gem dedicated to the preservation and research of America’s maritime history. In addition to fascinating exhibits, visitors can explore a recreated New England coastal village and see over 500 historic watercrafts.
Bookish types will feel right at home in Connecticut. For one thing, a visit to the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford is a must. While in residence there from 1874 to 1891, Twain penned three of his most remarkable novels there, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
If you’re in New Haven, why not stop at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where the Gutenberg Bible and Audubon’s Birds of America are on permanent display?
If you find yourself in the bayside town of Niantic, you’ll also find that books outnumber people at least 150 to one, thanks in no small part to the 500,000-volume (and counting!) collection at the famous Book Barn.
When you’ve achieved your recommended daily allowance of reading, a stop at the Pez Factory in Orange, Connecticut, is in order.
Post-sugar rush, thrill-seekers will find endless fun at Lake Compounce, the oldest continually running amusement park in New England. The park features historic wooden coasters, like the 1927 Wildcat; a Venus flytrap-themed waterslide, where you experience weightlessness; and the exhilarating Sky Coaster, a trackless, freefall ride with a 180-foot drop. There’s also a wave pool and a trolley for those who find their thrills at slower ground speeds.
Where Connecticut Locals Eat
From “apizza” to seafood to steamed cheeseburgers, hungry residents and visitors never have to look far for fun fare across the state.
New Haven-style pizza—locally known as apizza—is a coal-fired, Neapolitan-style, thin-crust delight. Local haunts serving up the fabled pies include Sally’s APizza, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, and Zuppardi’s Appiza. The New Haven-style clam pie with white sauce, garlic and oregano is legendary. Of course, movie fans of the 1988 cult classic Mystic Pizza will love visiting the southeastern part of the state for a “slice of heaven” from the restaurant that inspired the coming-of-age tale.
If it’s seafood you’re after, Bill’s Seafood in Westbrook offers the best in casual, dockside eating — New England clam chowder (and also the Rhode Island version, with a clear broth); oyster rolls; stuffed Maine lobster; and fish and chips are just a few of the menu’s temptations.
Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale offers wild-caught calamari, clam strip rolls and a fresh sea scallop roll that will please the palates of visitors and longtime New Englanders alike.
Tucked into the rolling hills of Burlington in northwest Connecticut, you’ll also find Hogan’s Cider Mill, which has been serving up crisp pints of traditional and hard cider — and irresistible donuts — since 1912.
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