Meriden, once a bustling hub of manufacturing, is now a city that beautifully marries its rich history with its hopeful present. Nestled between New Haven and Hartford, Meriden was once renowned for its silver works. Today, the city’s grand downtown architecture and stately residences on Broad Street are a testament to its glory days. But that’s not all – Meriden has reinvented itself as a city of natural splendor and recreational delights.
The Metacomet Ridge, a geological marvel, stretches for 100 miles from Long Island Sound to the Massachusetts-Vermont border. This narrow and steep ridge bisects Meriden. It’s a hotspot for stunning scenery, unique microclimates, and rare plant species. And Meriden itself is a city of 60,000 residents, with geological wonders, lush green spaces, and a historic downtown.
The city’s transformation is evident in its parks, trails, and cultural attractions. Downtown Meriden is home to historic buildings and structures on the National Register of Historic Places. Meriden has evolved from a manufacturing center to a city that’s found its footing by celebrating its past while embracing the future.
So, are you ready to explore the best things to do in Meriden, CT, a city that’s as rich in history as it is in natural beauty?
- Explore Meriden, CT’s rich history & attractions from Hubbard Park to Hunter Golf Club!
- Tantalize your taste buds with Ted’s steamed cheeseburgers or shop ‘til you drop at the Farmers Market.
- Take a detour and explore nearby towns
A Brief History of Meriden, CT
Nestled between the bustling cities of New Haven and Hartford, Meriden, CT, has a rich history that dates back to its manufacturing heyday.
Meriden, which was originally a part of Wallingford, was granted a separate meetinghouse in 1727 and was incorporated as a town in 1806. It was incorporated as a city in 1867, with a population of just under 9,000 people. It was proposed as the Connecticut state capital and named after Meriden, England. Solomon Goffe House, the town’s oldest house, was built in 1711 and became a museum in 1986. “Burying Ground 1720” contains the grave of Timothy Jerome. Master Jerome likely passed before he became Winston Churchill’s great-great-great maternal grandfather.
Meriden became a notable manufacturing center in the second half of the nineteenth century. Several companies formed or relocated to the city, primarily involved in the production of:
- And musical instruments
Entrepreneurs and businesses here claimed a significant number of design and technology patents.
Meriden, Connecticut, gained the name, “Silver City” for its famed silver production during the 1800s. It was home to numerous silver and cutlery firms. The most famous were the Meriden Britannia Company and the International Silver Company. The International Silver Company was already the world’s largest silverware company in 1876. And yet it grew even bigger when it won the First Place medal for plated wares at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia that year. The Buffalo Hunt sculpture, which was lost and later refound in Meriden, played a significant role in the company’s award.
The city was so important that Abraham Lincoln spoke here on March 7, 1860, seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
Walter Hubbard (of the Bradley & Hubbard company) funded Hubbard Park in the Hanging Hills for public spaces. Hubbard created the park design in collaboration with the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, America’s foremost landscape architect. Castle Craig, a peak in the park, was dedicated in 1900. The Curtis Memorial Library, located across from Meriden’s city hall, opened in 1903.
Meriden’s last big boom as an industrial center was World War II. Afterwards, like most industrial cities in the Northeast, it saw a steady decline.
But the city was able to take advantage of a few things other cities couldn’t:
- Plenty of available land for development.
- Easy access to the highways and railways passing through town.
Lately, it’s been enjoying a bit of a renaissance.
Top Things to do in Meriden, CT
Eager to delve into the best Meriden has to offer? Here are some of the top attractions in this charming city:
- Hubbard Park: a picturesque park with beautiful trails, a lake, and a stone tower
- Castle Craig: a romantic lookout point with panoramic views of the city
- Mattabesett Trail: an adventurous hiking trail with stunning views
Read on for these and more attractions and activities to enjoy on a day trip to Meriden.
Designed by the renowned Frederick Law Olmsted, Hubbard Park is a beautiful 1,800-acre playground in the Hanging Hills. The park offers picturesque landscapes, enchanting flower gardens, walking trails, and hosts the annual Daffodil Festival, which has been a local April tradition since 1978.
With a tennis court, skating rink, playground, and bandshell for special occasions, Hubbard Park is the perfect destination for a fun-filled day with family and friends.
And speaking of special occasions, Hubbard Park is a major draw for people from across Connecticut in December. Each holiday season, the park hosts a huge holiday lights display that cars line up for miles to drive through in Hubbard Park. Even Castle Craig, perched on a hill overlooking the park, is festooned with lights.
It’s a fun activity to either get into the holiday spirit, or to wind-down the celebration, and the lights display is up until early January.
Perched atop East Peak, Castle Craig is a 32-foot observation tower that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The perfect spot for a rendezvous or a peaceful walk, Castle Craig is accessible by both hiking trails and a paved driveway for those who prefer a less strenuous route.
And with its stunning views, it’s no wonder that autumn is the prime time to visit this magical tower. This beautiful place is a personal favorite in Connecticut.
The Mattabesett Trail is an unmissable destination for those who love the outdoors! This 61-mile path takes you on a journey through some of the most beautiful state forests, parks, and preserves in Connecticut.
Along the way, you’ll find:
- Historic sites
- Ski areas
- Colonial stagecoach roads
- Old cellar ruins
All waiting to be explored.
The paved trail offers a variety of outdoor activities, including walking trails for:
- trail running
- bird watching
- horseback riding
So, lace up your hiking boots and embark on an adventure along the Mattabesett Trail!
Meriden Green, a $14 million park project, is a serious recent effort to revitalize the heart of Meriden. Years of planning and redevelopment of the “Hub,” a former brownfield site centered on industrial and commercial activity, resulted in this 14-acre park.
With serpentine trails, an amphitheater, and pop-up markets, there’s always something happening at Meriden Green. Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll on the Meriden Linear Trails, attending a community event, or simply sitting back and enjoying the tranquil surroundings, this park is an oasis in the city center.
Traffic Control Tower
A visit to Meriden wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Traffic Control Tower. Showcasing Meriden’s history in traffic management, this old infrastructure features a sleek, glassy structure on a blue and white steel frame, surrounded by road signals.
This 600-acre park offers a variety of activities such as:
Giuffrida Park also provides access to Chauncey Peak, Lamentation Mountain, and Crescent Lake.
If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the city, Giuffrida Park is the perfect place to reconnect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors.
Rising 272 meters high, Higby Mountain is a stunning landform that provides breathtaking views of Meriden and the surrounding area. Accessible through Giuffrida Park, Higby Mountain is a popular spot for outdoor activities around Black Pond, such as fishing and boating.
Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail
Meriden is converting abandoned railroad beds into walking trails in order to rebrand itself as an active, nature-rich community. The most scenic trail, as of 2019, is a 1.3-mile stretch of the Meriden & Waterbury Railroad, which was laid down in 1888 along the Quinnipiac River Gorge. The trail begins on the west bank of Hanover Pond, a gorge formed by a dam built to power a Meriden Cutlery Company factory. This 1.3-mile trail along the Meriden & Waterbury Railroad is perfect for walking, jogging, and wildlife spotting.
The Hanover Pond Linear Trail runs from the north bank of Sodom Brook to Orville H. Platt High School.
Hunter Golf Club
Calling all golf enthusiasts! The Hunter Golf Club is a top public golf course in Connecticut, offering:
- Challenging holes
- Beautiful views of Castle Craig
- Immaculate 18-hole par 72 course
- Stunning scenery with every swing
Grab your clubs and tee off at this amazing golf course!
Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a newbie, Hunter Golf Club is the perfect place to test your skills on the green.
Solomon Goffe House
Step back in time and visit the Solomon Goffe House, the oldest building in Meriden. This 18th-century wooden-frame house with a gambrel roof and clapboard cladding offers a glimpse into Meriden’s past. Open for tours on the first Sunday of the month between April and November, the Solomon Goffe House is a must-see attraction for history lovers.
Don’t forget to explore the charming herb garden during your visit!
Restaurants in Meriden, CT
Exploring Meriden is likely to whet your appetite. Thankfully, Meriden is home to some delicious eateries. The most famous being Ted’s Restaurant, known for its mouth-watering steamed cheeseburgers.
But if that’s not your thing (no shame), other options include:
- Sans-Souci Restaurant, for upscale Italian among a lengthy list of local Italian restaurants
- Taino Smokehouse Prime for barbecue
- Lido’s Italian for pizza
Breakfast in Meriden, Connecticut
Like all self-respecting Connecticut towns, there are plenty of diners and breakfast eateries to enjoy in Meriden. From quaint coffee shops serving up fresh pastries and gourmet coffees, to bustling brunch venues where you can treat yourself to light and fluffy pancakes and perfectly cooked eggs benedict, Meriden has an array of options. And it’s not just about the food – these places also offer a warm, welcoming atmosphere that’s perfect for sipping your morning coffee while planning your day’s adventures in Meriden.
A few options include:
Steamed Cheeseburgers at Ted’s Restaurant
This Connecticutian has never had a steamed cheeseburger. But at this point, it seems that Connecticut has gained national reknown for being the home of steamed cheeseburgers.
So, just in case your friends asked if you had one while you’re here, when in Rome.
Since 1959, Ted’s Restaurant has been tantalizing taste buds with their award-winning steamed cheeseburgers. These steamy, flavorful cheeseburgers are a must-try when you’re in Meriden.
Settle in at Ted’s and savor a dish that has been delighting patrons for generations.
Shopping in Meriden, CT
Should you fancy some retail indulgence, Meriden is ready to accommodate. Feel free to embark on a shopping spree in Meriden, including a visit to a local Connecticut gift shop like Tesoro Unique Treasures & Gifts!
Oldani Brothers is well-known for its exquisite sterling silver and pewter designs. This family-run gift shop has over seven decades of experience and creates truly stunning pieces. Master artisans ensure that each item is of the highest quality for a city that knows a thing or two about silver.
Farmer Joe’s Gardens
For a taste of farm-fresh produce, visit Farmer Joe’s Gardens, a local farm stand serving Meriden’s community as part of a CSA program, with a standalone store for ultra-seasonal produce, treats, and provisions.
From honey and succulent cuts of meat to pickles, preserves, herbs, flowers, home-baked pies, eggs, and organic milk (including chocolate and strawberry), Farmer Joe’s Gardens is a one-stop-shop for all your fresh food needs.
Unleash your inner artist at Gallery 53, a non-profit art gallery and association offering:
- Paint parties
- Custom framing services
As the oldest continuously running art association in the state, Gallery 53 is the perfect place to explore your creative side and learn from accomplished artists and instructors at the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center.
Meriden Farmers Market
If you’re looking for fresh, local produce and unique artisan crafts, the Meriden Farmers Market is the place to be. Open every Saturday from July to October, this bustling market offers a variety of:
- delicious eats
- specialty foods
So, grab your reusable shopping bags and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Meriden Farmers Market.
Annual Festivals and Events in Meriden, Connecticut
If you need a further excuse to visit Meriden, CT, head here for the city’s cherished annual traditions!
Meriden transforms into a twinkling spectacle every December in CT for the Festival of Silver Lights. Hubbard Park adorns itself with over 350,000 twinkling white lights, turning into a winter wonderland and one of the best Christmas lights displays in CT. It’s a sight that can warm even the coldest December night.
As winter fades, Meriden welcomes spring with the Daffodil Festival on the last weekend in CT in April. The city blooms with over 600,000 daffodils, creating a sea of yellow across 61 acres of land. This refreshing sight of a spring festival in CT is like a cool spring breeze. The festival is a celebration of life, rebirth, and the joy that comes with the arrival of spring, encompassing music, food, crafts, and fireworks.
Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay in Meriden, CT
If you’d like to stick around, you’ll find all the standard chain hotels in town and nearby.
If you’d like something a little more unique, options in nearby towns include:
- Silas W Robbins House, a charming Victorian era bed and breakfast, is just a short 20-minute drive away in the historic town of Wethersfield, CT.
- The Inn at Middletown is a mere 17 minutes away, housed in a beautifully restored 19th-century building on the main street of Middletown, Connecticut.
Directions to Meriden, CT
Reaching Meriden is simple and convenient, by car, train, or bus. If you’re coming from Hartford or other northern locales, hop on I-91 South and then take I-691 W to reach Meriden.
Traveling from New Haven or points south, simply take I-91 North to reach your destination.
More Towns and Cities to Explore Near Meriden, CT
Wish to venture beyond Meriden? Numerous neighboring towns and cities await in the Meriden area. Each of these charming nearby towns offers its own unique attractions and activities, making them perfect for day trips or weekend getaways.
Why not broaden your horizons and uncover more of Connecticut’s most unique attractions and activities?
Cheshire, CT, in New Haven County, is famous for:
- being the “Bedding Plant Capital of Connecticut”
- attractions like the Barker Character Comic and Cartoon Museum, Roaring Brook Park, and Cheshire Hollow Farm
- its rich history
- Money magazine ranking it as the 28th Best Place to Live in the U.S.
It’s no wonder Cheshire is a popular destination for both visitors and residents alike.
New Britain, Connecticut
New Britain, Connecticut, just 9 miles from West Hartford, is a city famous for its vibrant arts and culture scene. The New Britain Museum of American Art, the New Britain Youth Museum, and the New Britain Industrial Museum all showcase the city’s rich history and creative spirit.
Why not dedicate a day to uncovering the art and history museums of New Britain?
If you’re looking for a city with an artsy vibe and unique culture, look no further than Middletown, CT. Located along the Connecticut River, Middletown is home to attractions like the Wadsworth Mansion, the Kidcity Children’s Museum, and the picturesque Mattabesett Trail.
With a variety of independent businesses and eateries on Main Street, Middletown is the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.
Discover the charm of Middlefield, Connecticut, a quaint town in Middlesex County. This rural town offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking trails, parks, apple orchards, and golf courses, even snow tubing in CT.
With a population of just over 4,000, Middlefield is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Nestled in Hartford County, Southington, CT, is a bustling town that takes pride in its urban-suburban mix. With attractions like the Southington Historical Society, the Southington Drive-In Theater, and the Southington Apple Harvest Festival, there’s always something happening in this lively town.
Why not immerse yourself in the vibrant charm of Southington?
Last but not least, don’t miss out on exploring the town of Hamden, Connecticut. Known as “The Land of the Sleeping Giant,” Hamden is home to the stunning Sleeping Giant State Park, the Hamden Historical Society, and the Hamden Public Library.
From its rich manufacturing history to its transformation into a thriving city, Meriden, CT, and its surrounding towns have much to offer visitors and residents alike. With a variety of parks, trails, museums, and local attractions, there’s always something new to explore and discover in this charming corner of Connecticut.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Meriden CT famous for?
Meriden, Connecticut is famous for its Silver City history, with companies like Meriden Cutlery and International Silver manufacturing cutlery and products related to it. Additionally, the Traprock Ridges that frame the city have been preserved for generations to enjoy.
Is downtown Meriden safe?
With a crime rate below the Connecticut state average and 25 crimes per thousand residents, downtown Meriden appears to be relatively safe.
What is a fun fact about Meriden CT?
Meriden, CT is a unique and special place – originally proposed as the state capital, named for an English town near Birmingham and rumored to have been home to the Merry Den Tavern. It’s also crossed by the Quinnipiac River and boasts some of New England’s finest Traprock Ridges!
Is Meriden a good town to live in?
Meriden has convenient access to nearby major cities, cultural food spots, and a diverse population – making it an ideal place for family life.
What are the top attractions to visit in Meriden, CT?
Discover the great outdoors and historical charm Meriden has to offer by visiting Hubbard Park, Castle Craig, Mattabesett Trail, Meriden Green, Giuffrida Park, Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail, Hunter Golf Club, Higby Mountain, Traffic Control Tower, and Solomon Goffe House.