The old New England weather adage holds true for Connecticut: if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.
But sometimes, that rainy morning lasts all day.
In Connecticut, we don’t let a bit of bad weather interfere with enjoying our time off.
Have you planned a visit to New England and it looks like it might be wet? Don’t cancel your plans, or assume you have to sit by the fireplace in your guest room the entire trip.
There are plenty of unique things to do in Connecticut, rain or shine.
Top indoor activities in CT, throughout the state
Here are the best indoor activities in CT for a rainy day. Scroll down for our quick video introduction, our map, and the details.
Indoor activities near Greenwich, Connecticut
In this writer’s opinion, Greenwich, Connecticut really shines in fine weather. It does host one of the best beaches in Connecticut, after all.
But that doesn’t mean a rainy day removes all options to enjoy the area!
BRUCE MUSEUM, GREENWICH
This is not your everyday museum.
You’ll find an interesting mix of art, science, and natural history in this fascinating museum. You choose what suits you, either a docent-led or self-guided audio tour.
Either way, the expansive museum provides a new perspective of the world. Eclectic collections include work ranging from Childe Hassam to Alexander Calder.
The galleries are full of:
- And prints
Still more elegant displays grace the galleries as French art glass and ladies gowns.
Some of the most unique exhibitions include such interesting things as:
- Rare butterflies
- Extinct species
- Navajo jewelry
- Inuit soapstone carvings
You’re sure to discover something new, something familiar and likely something totally unexpected.
And afterwards, swing by the Flinn Gallery at the Greenwich Library. It may not take all afternoon, but it’s a nice stop, and you can hit up the cafe afterwards.
LOCKWOOD-MATHEWS MANSION MUSEUM, NORWALK
Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum was the home of LeGrand Lockwood from 1864 to 1868. This mansion is one of the most important Second Empire Style country houses in the United States.
The financier and railroad tycoon’s mansion offers stunning architecture and impeccable interiors. It’s a magnificent testament to the grandeur of the Victorian Era. Known as “Elm Park”, Lockwood lost the estate in 1872 due to a reversal of fortune.
Luckily, its later owners were just as prestigious and lived in the home until 1938.
The home was sold to the City of Norwalk a few years later.
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion is an amazing example of Victorian technology. The mansion features state-of-the-art (for then):
- Indoor hot and cold plumbing
- Central heating
- And gas lighting
The mansion stands as a historic marker of American forbearance. After all, it survived the turbulence of both the Post Civil War era and the Great Depression. Thanks to local preservationists, the mansion was brought back to its former glory. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971.
It was also used as the location for The Stepford Men’s Association building in the original 1975 film, The Stepford Wives.
The Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk
Maritime Aquarium allows you to get up close and personal with underwater creatures from sharks to seals and fish to sea turtles. The aquarium continues to change its exhibits and also includes the largest IMAX theater in Connecticut. Check their website to find out what’s playing, and more about the latest exhibits to explore.
A trip here is without question one of the most fun activities to do with kids near Greenwich, from this writer’s experience.
WEIR FARM NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, WILTON
This unique site in the town of Wilton, Connecticut, housed three generations of American artists.
America’s most well-known impressionist Julian Alden Weir purchased the farm in 1882. His daughter, painter Dorothy Weir Young, and her husband, sculptor Mahonri Young, carried on the tradition. New England landscape painters Sperry and Doris Andrews were the final owners.
Located in a picturesque spot, the property provided inspiration for artists such as Weir, Young, and Andrews creating their works of American art.
The farm includes an expansive property with both indoor and outdoor attractions. Any day is ideal for you to wander the expertly preserved home, studios, and barns in the rain. After all, this is one of the few historic sites in the country devoted to visual American history.
If the rain stops falling you can also explore the gardens, woodlands, and Weir Pond.
Top museums in Connecticut on a snowy day
Connecticut was one of the wealthiest states in the Union one hundred years ago, a reputation it retains to this day.
And those magnates of industry invested much of their vast fortune into museums scattered throughout the state.
Some Connecticut museums are world-renowned, others severely underrated. Be sure to read our guide for the full list of everything: military museums, science museums, and history museums.
Besides, who doesn’t love a good gift shop of cool stuff made in Connecticut?
YALE CENTER FOR BRITISH ART, NEW HAVEN
This hidden gem is the perfect place to spend your rainy day immersed in the world’s largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. ‘In the know’ art lovers have had a rare opportunity to discover British works throughout the ages. From the Elizabethan Age through to today, you can take a walk through time.
Awe-inspiring oil paintings by:
Are juxtaposed by the sculpture of Hepworth, or the world mapped out in 1577 through the eyes of the Francis Drake expedition.
Discover circa 1500 paintings of wildlife in the Helmingham Herbal and Bestiary, one of 35,000 rare books and manuscripts in the center.
Even the building housing the 250 sculptures and 2,000 paintings is a work of art itself designed by architect Louis I. Kahn.
This barely scratches the surface of museums in the Yale University collection.
Many other museums make both the list of top attractions, activities, and things to do in New Haven, as well as indoor activities:
- Yale University Art Gallery
- Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
- Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, encased in Vermont marble
- Yale Collection of Musical Instruments
- Cushing/Whitney Memorial Library
- Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium
RAILROAD MUSEUM OF NEW ENGLAND, THOMASTON
Don’t discount this unique experience just yet.
Sometimes it takes a little rain to shine some light on a new adventure.
If you love the idea of travel, one of the fun indoor places to go is the Railroad Museum of New England. The museum offers educational exhibits that introduce you to the history of the train. Displays include a passenger car from the 1920s and a diesel locomotive.
You can also take a trip on the Naugatuck Railroad from historic Thomaston Station or explore trains throughout the ages. A series of scenic tours are available throughout the year, allowing you to experience railroad travel firsthand. From:
- The Chocolate Decadence Tour
- Northern Lights Limited
- Seasonal CT day trips celebrating the holidays
The story of riding the rails comes to life at the Railroad Museum in the Litchfield Hills.
Connecticut Science Center, Hartford
The Connecticut Science Center is a fantastic place to spend the day in Hartford.
This museum is great for kids of all ages as one of the top children’s museums in Connecticut. Activities range from water play to science discoveries, engineering demonstrations to space travel.
At the Connecticut Science Center, both children and adults can learn while having fun. Egyptian sarcophagi, fossils, bones, gemstones, and preserved insects are among the exhibits you’ll find here.
Indoor activities for a rainy day in Mystic, CT
Fitting for the largest tourist destination in Connecticut, Mystic has plenty of attractions and activities to entertain.
Regardless of the weather, of course.
MYSTIC NOANK LIBRARY, MYSTIC
Built in 1892 by Captain Elihu Spicer the building is something to behold with its ornate brick, granite, and red sandstone. Its unexpected detailing of gold exterior, red roof and trim is second only to the gorgeous spaces inside.
Italian tile mosaic floors and lovely stained glass create an interesting backdrop to explore the collection. Be sure to peruse the books, magazines, and local history section of this intriguing library.
Listen to the rainfall on the red roof while you read a book, or look up at the impressive, vaulted oak ceiling on the second floor. The design resembles the hulls of Captain Spicer’s ships, creating a lovely space to find quiet on a rainy day.
MYSTIC AQUARIUM, MYSTIC CT
The Mystic Aquarium’s indoor gallery allows you to encounter thousands of colorful fish in a 35,000-gallon exhibit. Various habitats feature unusual creatures from pufferfish to sea slugs and one of the most diverse displays of jellies available at any aquarium.
Visitors delight in the Weird and Wonderful exhibit where the creatures live up to the exhibit’s name. Some heavy-weights of the exhibit include the Giant Pacific Octopus and Giant Japanese Spider Crabs.
The gallery also features a live coral reef ecosystem.
Board and Brush, Mystic
There’s nothing like a little rain to awaken your inner artist.
Board and Brush offer indoor activities for adults in CT with folk art workshops where you can create your own art to bring home as a memory.
Whether it is:
- A wood sign
- Terra cotta pot
- Or an artfully designed canvas pillow
It’s all about discovering your artistic side and creating rustic folk art reminiscent of simpler times. It also helps that rustic, farmhouse chic is very popular today, so your art will be something you can proudly display.
CAPTAIN NATHANIEL B. PALMER HOUSE MUSEUM, STONINGTON
Another spot inspired by the spirit of seafaring New Englanders, the Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer House Museum celebrates the discovery of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The captain made the discovery in his 47-foot sailboat when he was just 21.
He was also well-known for his clipper ship designs. Look out on the same harbor views he enjoyed from the cupola and dream of the romance of lost ships and lovers from a bygone era.
MASHANTUCKET PEQUOT MUSEUM & RESEARCH CENTER, LEDYARD
This museum offers a rare glimpse into life before the Europeans arrived.
If you want to understand Native American culture in the area, this life-sized display is literally and figuratively a walk back in time.
Enjoy hands-on demonstrations and authentic meals featuring both traditional and contemporary Native-American food. The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center is one of the best things to do in Ledyard, CT. And that’s saying something, considering Foxwoods is here.
BF CLYDE’S CIDER MILL, OLD MYSTIC
If you are visiting between September and December, BF Clyde’s Cider Mill is home to the oldest steam-powered cider press in the U.S.
The most historic of the Connecticut cider mills still uses it to extract apple cider, and you can sample their selection of hot and cold beverages.
They also specialize in autumn-inspired baked goods including their famous fresh apple cider donuts. It’s a great way to spend a few hours watching the cider pressing demonstrations and then sampling the flavors of nature’s bounty.
VELVET MILL, STONINGTON
Built in 1888 as a fabric mill, the Velvet Mill is now an impressive space where you’ll discover an eclectic collection of local art, food and plenty of shopping. Artisans display and sell their goods and food, including local brews and antiques.
MYSTIC MUSEUM OF ART, MYSTIC
This lovely gallery on the Mystic River offers a constantly changing collection of art displays.
You never know what you’ll find or what emerging artists you’ll discover.
There is also a permanent exhibit featuring the works of:
- Robert Brackman
- Beatrice Cuming
- Henry Ward Ranger
The art’s period ranges from the early twentieth century to the early 2000s.
From American Impressionism to Tonalism you will view a diverse collection of art and several different styles.
Even more indoor activities in Connecticut
In this writer’s opinion, some indoor activities like:
- Indoor ropes courses, with the largest adventure ropes course in the country in New Haven
- Axe throwing in Bridgeport, CT
- Dining by the fire
- Afternoon tea
- Rock climbing
- Roller skating
- Cooking classes
- Laser tag
- Performing arts
- Even gambling
Make for better indoor winter activities in Connecticut than just rainy day activities.
But you do you.
Indoor shopping in Connecticut
Sure, malls still exist.
A new one in South Norwalk proves that developers are still building them.
For some reason.
But there are definitely more unique places to shop indoors on a crummy day.
There are even some unique shopping spots in other parts of Norwalk, including antique malls and funky shops along Washington Street.
Check-out our list of the best Connecticut flea markets for indoor and outdoor options.
Alternatively, explore the most unique antique shops throughout Connecticut, to enjoy more perusing and less sifting through a hoarder’s nightmare.
Added benefit: you won’t be able to find your treasures anywhere online.
The CT Spirits Trail
What better way to lift your spirits on a rainy day than a jaunt along the CT Spirits Trail. You can sample some of the state’s finest craft spirits including moonshines.
You can also find top-shelf quality liquor and unique specialty liqueurs and Eau-de- vies.
Each distillery specializes in incorporating locally grown ingredients from agricultural crops as part of the local-is- better movement. You can interact with the makers, take tours of the production process, and of course, imbibe in a sample or two.
And if spirits are a little too strong for you, take a tour of the best breweries in CT, throughout the state.
While many tout outdoor seating, indoor seating is absolutely necessary in a state with as temperamental weather as ours.
Sea Tea Improv, Hartford
Let the antics of these talented improv groups and stand-up comedians chase away the little gray clouds of the day. Sea Tea Improv offers indoor activities in CT with at least six original comedy shows weekly with a good mix of improv, stand-up, and more.
The performing arts are the ideal way to let down your hair and have a good laugh.
You can even participate in courses and workshops. It is a unique theater where you can be entertained or learn how to entertain.
Between this and great museums like the Wadsworth Atheneum and Mark Twain House, there are plenty of things to do in Hartford on a rainy day.
Find more things to do in Connecticut, regardless of weather
Don’t let bad weather spoil your travel plans, with so many places to go on a rainy day in CT.
Updated and republished: September 21, 2023