12 Free Things to do in Connecticut

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sticker shock. After spending a full year in Lithuania I couldn't get over the prices of things (mainly food and activities) while visiting Connecticut this summer. To lessen the burden on my wallet (and help the not ideal exchange rate a bit) I searched for free things to do and see in Southeastern Connecticut. Pretty much everything I was able to come up with are outdoor activities, best for a sunny day, but after such a long winter in Vilnius who can blame me to want to be outside?

1) Fort Griswold and Fort Trumbull, located in Groton and New London, are historic sites from the Revolutionary War. They are perfect for simply taking a walk in a green space, or for learning more about the history of the area. Bonus! There is a free museum at Fort Griswold!

The entrance to Fort Griswold State Park in Groton, Connecticut

2) Harkness Park is free to enter after about 6 pm in the summer. Harkness is one of my favorite local parks for picnics and walks on the beach.

3) Many State Forests, including Pachaug State Forest, are free to both enter and park. Pachaug State forest is my favorite of the bunch because of the impressive Rhododendron forest where J proposed. Be sure to visit in July for the gorgeous full display of blooms!

Rhododendron in bloom at Pachaug State Forest in Connecticut

4) Devil's Hopyard State Park has a 60 ft waterfall, hiking trails, and a covered bridge.

5) Vineyards. Connecticut has a whole wine trail made up of about 24 vineyards spread across the state. Though not 100% free if you go for a tasting or buy a bottle of wine (the tasting at Saltwater Farms was 10$), the vineyard grounds are free to enjoy.

Grape vines at Saltwater Marsh Vineyards

6) Groton Long Point has free weekly concerts at Esker Point Beach each Thursday night from 6 to 8 pm. Parking costs 10 bucks, but if you arrive early you can easily find free street parking. Bring a picnic and blanket for the ground to make a night of it.

7) The Connecticut College Arboretum is awesome! Located just a short drive from downtown New London, the arboretum is beautifully landscaped and they offer free guided tours on Saturdays.

The Connecticut College Arboretum is free to visit in Connecticut

8) Concerts in the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun are free to watch - and they get a surprisingly good musicians. I'm talking Matt Nathanson, LeAnn Rimes, and Grand Funk Railroad. Just check the schedule! Keep in mind that you need to be 21 and have a valid license to enter this area of the casino.

9) I only recently discovered Indian Leap Falls on an in search of with my Dad. It's a beautiful park with old train tracks and a crystal clear waterfall. If you happen to visit Indian Leap Falls be sure to pick up a cheesesteak from Philly's that's just down the road.

Indian Leap Falls in southeastern Connecticut

10) A visit to Buttonwood Farms Ice Cream should definitely be on your free list. Don't get your hopes up - they don't serve free ice cream, but they do plant fields and fields of sunflowers that you can wander through for free.

Buttonwood Farms Ice Cream

11) Old Town Mill in New London is another recent find in a totally unexpected location. Visiting the grounds of the Old Town Mill is free and is absolutely worth a wander if you've never been before.

The Old Town Mill in New London, Connecticut

12) Enjoy a self-guided tour of the awesome street art in downtown New London. While you are in the downtown be sure to pick up a coffee and muffin at Muddy Waters Cafe (42 Bank Street), or eat in one of the delicious restaurants (I'm dying to try Lazy Leopard at 45 Bank Street).

--> Looking for more to do in Connecticut? Check out this list of 50 things to do or click the Connecticut tab at the top of the page. <--

What free things can you do where you live? Expats - have you ever been shocked by prices when visiting home?


  1. I love those beautiful sunflowers! x

    1. Thanks, Amanda! Each year they have the most gorgeous sunflowers.

  2. This looks like so much fun! I have always wanted to go to Connecticut, and I will tell you the silly reason why: Gilmore Girls!! And we just got back to Taiwan after a month long visit home, and I have to tell you our bank account is so sad now. The US is so expensive, so free things are so important!

    1. OMG Gilmore Girls - one of my favorite shows! I know! I still can't get over the prices!

  3. These are great! I moved to Connecticut recently and we've been looking for new adventures. Thanks!

    1. I'm glad they are helpful! I'm working on a longer list as well, but probably won't be done until the summer when I'm back in CT. I'd love to hear how you like any of these places if you go :)