Winter activities in CT: 23 absolute best things to do

boat cruising through a winter harbor

When many people consider where to go to enjoy winter activities, they book faraway places, not thinking that Connecticut has endless opportunities for travelers. To them, wintry things to do are found in upstate New England or off in the Rocky Mountains.

 

The biggest misconception about Connecticut is that it’s better left for the summer months, particularly for enjoying the beaches. Even many Connecticutians assume that the best way to pass the winter is to hole up at home and wait for warmer weather.

 

But here’s the thing: You don’t have to! You can enjoy the beauty and excitement of winter in your own backyard or short drive away in CT!

 

There are endless opportunities for winter fun—all you have to do is plan what would make the best weekend for you.

 

You start by doing your research, but fear not. We took care of that part for you!

 

Winter activities in CT range from the outdoorsy: hiking, skiing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, fishing, and even sleigh rides. Add indoor winter activities like museums, indoor ropes courses, axe throwing, dining by the fire, afternoon tea, and even gambling, and you’ve got a busy winter ahead of you.

 


Map design by Stanton House Inn with elements from Flaticon

Read on for the details.

Outdoorsy Winter Activities in CT

Some argue that the only time worth going outside is when the temperature is above about 60 degrees.

But that would be preposterous in the Northeast! It’s only above 60 for about half the year—and even that estimation is generous.

You have to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, regardless of the time of year. And no, going outside to shovel your walkways doesn’t count.

Spend some time figuring out your favorite outdoor winter activities in CT. Just don’t forget to bundle-up so that you’ll be sure to look forward to getting outside!

Walks Along the Connecticut Shoreline

walking a wintry new england beach, one of the best winter activities in ct

Most people associate visiting the best beaches near Greenwich, Connecticut, with being one of the best summer activities. Here’s the thing: a winter visit is fantastic, too.

 

There are way fewer people visiting the beaches during the day, allowing you to spread out and enjoy peace and quiet alone or with your loved ones.

 

Plus, many authors have written about the quiet solitude afforded by walking along the beach on a winter day. It’s hard not to want to write some bleak poetry while walking along a windy beach on an overcast day.

 

The added benefit is that with so few people visiting the beaches, there’s no fee for non-residents to visit.

Greenwich Point Park

Be sure to explore this top Greenwich park for a walk along its beach and the walking trails. Walk to the far end of the park to witness a sweeping view of the Manhattan skyline off in the distance or see the rolling waves of the water. This is a really special park because of the different nature it offers and its solitude during the winter.

Rye Marshlands

This little park off the beaten path in nearby Rye, New York, offers a little bit of each major ecosystem along the Long Island Sound Shoreline:

  • Woods
  • Marsh
  • Coast
  • Swamp

 

Rye Marshlands even hosts a historic site: the boyhood home of Founding Father John Jay.

Sherwood Island State Park

Head up the coast to the cute town of Westport. There on Sherwood Island along the coast is one of the most-visited parks in Connecticut.

 

Sherwood Island offers an expansive beach and beautiful woods and marshes to walk along in the winter.

 

With great parking, two beaches, a pavilion with bathrooms, grilling areas, and fishing spots, you really can’t beat the versatility of this park.

Hiking Winter Connecticut Trails

On a sunny, not too cold day, wandering through the winter woods is a splendid way to pass an afternoon.

 

While the fall foliage is long gone in the winter, the bugs are all dead, so you can hike unencumbered by bug spray. And bare trees mean better views of the surrounding winter wonderland.

 

Close your eyes and picture it: you’re wrapped in a warm, comfortable coat, you hear the crunching of fresh snow under your fear with the birds chirping from the treetops overhead, you smell the sweetness of pine, and you feel the gentle breeze of winter air. Heaven, right?

 

Some of the top Connecticut hiking trails that are especially beautiful in the winter include those that pass waterfalls. If the temperatures are at or below freezing, seeing frozen waterfalls is worth the hike.

 

A few options to see frozen waterfalls include:

 

Connecticut’s hiking trails are beautiful, with or without frozen waterfalls. Some personal favorite trails include Mianus River State Park and Devil’s Den Preserve, where you can walk past creeks, hike through snowy trees, and witness the mountains.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding at Connecticut Ski Resorts

skier and chair lift on a connecticut downhill ski resort

Avid Connecticut skiers and snowboarders often demand making the trek to Upper New England, Quebec, or even Colorado to enjoy the best powder and slopes.

 

But sometimes, it’s okay to plan a less complicated (and less expensive) ski trip closer to home.

 

Some of the top downhill skiing and snowboarding mountains across the state include:

 

Because many people are off in those other touristy skiing areas, these trails are more open and less crowded. You can take as many trips up and down the mountain as you want, having to wait for far fewer people to make their pass first.

 

Just don’t be that person who uses the chairlift ride to complain to strangers about how much better the skiing is elsewhere.

Snow-tubing in Connecticut

If downhill skiing sounds too daunting, perhaps heading down the mountain in a giant inflatable sounds easier.

 

Snow-tubing often gets a bad rap for being just a family-friendly activity. However, it’s worth trying it once for yourself, at least to know if it’s for you or not.

 

Head to Powder Ridge in Middlefield to try out snow-tubing for yourself. And listen, if it wasn’t for you (or if it was and you just want to celebrate!), head inside for a glass of beer or wine to warm up next to the fireplace. 

Cross-Country Skiing Through Connecticut in the Winter

This sport takes a lot of effort for infrequent and short bursts of trips downhill.

 

It may not be the activity for everyone, but it’s certainly a thrill for some! 

 

Some options for cross-country skiing in Connecticut include:

Ice Skating in Connecticut

Ice skating in Greenwich has always been a well-known phenomenon since Dorothy Hammill left town to become an Olympic medalist.

 

In the 1990s and early 2000s, many of the biggest names in ice figure skating passed-through Greenwich. And many of them stayed with us, including Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan.

 

A few skating rinks in Greenwich and nearby include:

Winter Ice Fishing in Connecticut

You don’t need to travel to the Great White North to enjoy a little ice fishing!

 

Assuming we’ve had a couple of solid freezes that same winter you’re looking to ice fish, the activity is just as doable in Connecticut. That said, it’s typically reserved for the lakes in the north of the state, like in Litchfield County.

 

Lake Waramaug, one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire state, is a perfect place for ice fishing.

 

Check-in with a local bait shop, like at the Sportsman’s Den or Byram Bait and Tackle, and gear up before you plan your day of ice fishing.

 

Not sure how to ice fish? The Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education department offers classes!

Winter Sleigh Rides in Connecticut

The fastest way to feel like you’re in a Currier & Ives print while on your Connecticut winter vacation is to take a sleigh ride through the countryside.

 

This equestrian Connecticut winter activity is definitely one of the more unique things to do on this list.

 

Finding an area with a large-enough countryside for this activity straight out of the 1800s requires a longer car ride from Greenwich than many of the other activities on this list. But don’t let that discourage your dreams!

 

Head to Allegra Farm out in East Haddam, Connecticut, for your own real-life version of Jingle Bells.

 

Not sure how the drivers—or horses—will appreciate you singing, though.

Bald Eagle Watching

bald eagle on a wintry connecticut river bank

While many famous Connecticut birds migrate south for the winter, the bald eagles of the Connecticut River Valley settle along the banks.

 

There, they enjoy whatever food they can scrounge-up, living or dead.

 

After recovering from the DDT death spiral of the mid-1900s, bald eagles and other birds of prey have made a sizable return in our state. And you can schedule a Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruise to see them for yourself!

Learn the Art of Connecticut Maple Syrup-Making

While Vermont gets all the press for its maple syrup (and Quebec produces the most), plenty of other states produce it too.

 

On that list is Connecticut. In the late winter (mid-February to mid-March), Connecticut maple syrup farms produce massive vats of maple syrup. 

 

If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to spend an afternoon visiting any of them, sampling their goods. 

Indoor Winter Activities in Connecticut

Winter in New England is like summer in the South.

 

You spend most of your time indoors and only go out for a fun activity or two. While staying inside can be fun, it can also result in the classic case of cabin fever.

So, be sure to get out of your house and do something—even if it’s inside somewhere else!

 

Here’s a list of indoor winter activities across Connecticut.

Connecticut Museums

Plenty of the museums in Greenwich, Connecticut, and nearby are open and ready to keep you occupied while the snow falls outside.

 

The two closest to downtown Greenwich are the Bruce Museum, known for its art and natural history exhibitions, and the Greenwich Historical Society, which highlights the town’s history.

 

Farther afield, depending on which direction you take into Connecticut, are even more options:

  • The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme was home to impressionist artists at the turn of the 19th century and remains a top home for their work today.
  • Yale University’s various museums include the Art Gallery, Peabody Museum, Museum of British Art, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
  • Visiting the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is a great excuse to explore one of the cutest towns in Connecticut, Ridgefield.
  • New Britain and Hartford share more than a few great art museums between them, including Wadsworth Atheneum and New Britain Museum of American Art.
  • The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford was the writer’s home for 17 years, where he created his most famous works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

 

A few of the more unique indoor attractions and museums in Connecticut include:

  • The Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, where a bulldozer driver discovered a strip of fossilized dinosaur prints. The exposed prints and dioramas are protected by a geodesic dome, while the surrounding forests are ideal for hiking.
  • The New England Carousel Museum in Bristol is an in-depth introduction to the history of the carnival staple: the carousel.
  • The Pez Candy Factory in Orange is the home of the world’s largest collection of PEZ memorabilia, including the world’s largest PEZ dispenser and samples of the candy.

Indoor Ropes Course in New Haven, Connecticut

Housed in the same building as Jordan’s furniture store is the largest indoor ropes course in the world. Yes, the two do seem an odd combination. But if it works. I promise.

 

You can test your strength and fear of heights by scaling the walls, holding onto little rocks for dear life. Kidding. 

 

Roped-up, climbers can challenge themselves to harder courses or work on their technique on the easier routes. There’s really something for everyone if you’re even somewhat athletic. 

 

According to Mommy Poppins, this is one of the best family winter activities in Connecticut, especially compared with the next option on this list.

Axe Throwing in Connecticut

Axe throwing was all the rage with bachelor parties and has slowly been spreading across the country.

 

Blue Ox Axe Throwing introduced Connecticut to axe throwing, after the owners enjoyed it in Minnesota. The studio in nearby Bridgeport can be an intense way to blow-off some steam.

 

It can even be a great place for a Connecticut date night idea. Just depends on your vibe.

Winter High Tea in Connecticut

If axe throwing isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps something slightly more genteel-feeling would better suit?

 

As befits a state associated with all things quaint, there are Connecticut tea rooms scattered throughout the state, including:

 

Here, you can spend the afternoon chatting with friends, enjoying the wintery scenery outdoors while warming up with a hot cup of tea.

Connecticut Hockey Teams

Winter is the hockey season in the northern half of America.

 

Before or after throwing an axe or two, head over to the Webster Bank Arena to catch a game by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers

 

You can be the biggest hockey fan in the world or someone loosely interested in the sport and still have a great time. 

Dine by an Open Fire

Dining fireside is one of the wintriest of winter activities in Connecticut.

 

Dining, or even just having a drink, by an open fire is as delightful in winter as waterfront dining is in the summer.

 

Our top downtown Greenwich restaurants with fireplaces in their dining area include:

Find the Best Hot Chocolate in Connecticut

cup of hot chocolate, finding the best hot chocolate is one of the top winter activities in CT

Speaking of dining, hot chocolate seems the most appropriate pursuit in the winter months.

 

Nothing says winter quite like snow, a pair of mittens, and a cup of hot chocolate. Think of every Hallmark movie… they always have all three.

 

Luckily for you, there are a few options to get a cup of this perfection in Greenwich and Stamford:

  • Aux Delices is a family-run local chain that will customize your hot chocolate with your choice of peppermint, pumpkin, cinnamon, caramel, and much more.
  • Lorca coffee bar offers Mexican hot chocolate, dark hot chocolate, or s’mores hot chocolate. Be sure to add some of their famous churros to your order for dipping!

Discover Something a Little Stronger Throughout the State

If hot chocolate’s not your thing, there are stronger options to discover.

 

Connecticut breweries and distilleries are open throughout the winter, and their beer is just as good as in the warmer months.

 

The Connecticut wineries on the Wine Trail are open, too. The plus side is that fewer people visit in the winter, so it’s easier to take your time and enjoy what you’ve selected to taste.

Gambling Casinos in Connecticut

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Native American tribes were rather limited in what economic activity they could generate on their respective lands in eastern Connecticut.

 

So, they opened casinos in the 1990s, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, respectively.

 

My grandparents’ generation used to make a point of traveling to the casinos on an overcast winter weekend for the fun of it.

 

But even those not into gambling (including this writer) can find the casinos fascinating.

 

Like their rivals in Las Vegas, the casinos are enormous. You eventually lose track of time without visual access to the sky. But with top entertainment venues in the state, fine dining, spas, and high-end shopping, you likely won’t mind.

Go Bowling

Bowling used to be a typical evening winter activity for Connecticut teenagers. You can spend the afternoon or evening at the lanes, enjoying some pizza, trying to get the highest score, and enjoying a cold one or two.

 

This is a great option for families because it’s fun for everyone!

 

The closest bowling alley to Greenwich is Bowlmor in Norwalk.

See a Movie

Going to the movies is a standard for anyone everywhere.

 

Regardless of age or time of year, seeing a movie is one of the best things to do in Greenwich, CT, at night.

 

And just because you can see a movie at home doesn’t mean you should skip out on seeing a movie somewhere new! Who knows, you might even enjoy it more! 

Witness How Exotic Wildlife Live Through the Winter

If the only wildlife you’ve seen lately are crows, pigeons, and squirrels, it’s time to head somewhere more exotic.

 

There are some great places in CT where you can see incredible wildlife from the comfort of a closed building:

Holiday Winter Activities in CT

holiday lights at nighttime

Quaint, little Connecticut, is the ideal place for celebrating the winter holiday season.

 

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Connecticut in December for all of the best holiday attractions and activities.

 

A few top picks on the list include:

Still Not Convinced By Our List of Winter Activities in CT?

No worries! Keep exploring our state.

 

Head to our guide on romantic things to do in CT in the winter if you’re planning a more romantic visit to our state.

 

You can also check-out our guides to:

 

Stay warm!


Updated and republished: October 24, 2022