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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?