The southernmost New England state lacks the big peaks and rugged Atlantic coastline of some of its neighbors, but the opportunities for outdoor recreation are endless, from pristine state parks to the beaches on Long Island Sound. Connecticut is home to a vibrant urban center in Hartford, two of the world’s largest casinos and options to excite the entire family, from active outdoor pursuits to rainy-day diversions.
There are no rivals to Mount Washington in the Nutmeg State, but there is plenty of elevation change and scenic outlooks. Mount Tom State Park — not to be confused with Massachusetts’ Mount Tom State Reservation — offers one of Connecticut’s great views and has a 34-foot stone tower at its summit. The summit of Mount Tom is 1,325 feet above sea level, 125 feet higher than its Massachusetts counterpart. The tower trail is less than one mile long and rises some 500 feet.
Heublein Tower is the crown jewel of Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury. The tower was built in 1914 as the summer home of Gilbert F. Heublein, a food and beverage magnate, and it stands atop 875-foot Talcott Mountain like a Bavarian castle. Climb to the top (through six stories of former living quarters) and you’ll have deep views in all directions.
The formation of hills at Sleeping Giant State Park does indeed look like a sleeping giant. Climb along the Tower Trail through a series of switchbacks until you get to the Norman-style tower/castle that offers great views from its 800-foot-high perch.