Things To Do In Manchester, CT: Top 15 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn
The Manchester Town Hall, not necessarily one of the most fun things to do in Manchester, CT
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Known as Silk City, Manchester, Connecticut, owes its success to the Cheney Family’s silk mill industry. Established in 1823, Manchester is home to nearly 60,000 people.

 

The Cheney Brothers Historic District is a key attraction. Located south of Hartford, it showcases brick mills and 19th-century worker communities. Cheney Hall is a major part of the local arts scene. And the old machine shop houses the Manchester Historical Society, a nod to the town’s industrious past.

 

Nature lovers will appreciate Manchester’s parkland, including Case Mountain and Wickham Park. These areas offer stunning views of Hartford and beyond. The town is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and weekend getaways in CT.

 

Outdoor recreation options abound. Visitors can explore Case Mountain, the Laurel Marsh Trail, and Wickham Park. Each place offers its own unique experience, inviting exploration and adventure.

 

Ready to explore the best things to do in Manchester, CT? Let’s get into it:

 

Quick hits

  • Uncover Manchester’s past at Cheney Brothers Historic District and delight in family fun at Lutz Children’s Museum by exploring the beauty of Wickham Park.
  • Dive into firefighting history at The Fire Museum and enjoy outdoor activities at Charter Oak Park. Connect with nature at Oak Grove Nature Center.
  • Indulge in craft beer at 2nd Bridge Brewing Co., attend the Manchester Road Race, or choose to stay overnight in one of many hotels & inns!

A Brief History of Manchester, Connecticut

Early 1900s postcard of the Manchester Green Trolley terminal

Manchester was initially the camping grounds of the Podunk tribe. Colonists settled in the area, then known as Orford Parish, around 1673. The rivers and brooks provided power for various industries like paper, lumber, and textiles.

 

The E.E. Hilliard Company Woolen Mills, the oldest woolen mill site in the country, was founded around 1780 by Aaron Buckland. It was later sold to the Hilliard family, hence the name.

 

East Hartford branched off as a separate town in 1783, the same year that The Pitkin Glassworks began operations. It was the first successful glassworks in Connecticut until its closure in 1830. The eponymous Captain Richard Pitkin owned it. He was awarded a 25-year glass monopoly for his contribution of gunpowder during the American Revolution. The town’s historical society preserves the Pitkin Glassworks Ruin.

 

The town didn’t boom into the Industrial Age until shortly before the Civil War. The Cheney family started the world’s largest silk mill in 1838. It employed a quarter of the town’s residents and attracted a diverse range of immigrants. Nowadays, the mills, the owners’ houses, and the workers’ homes form the Cheney Brothers Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. The Cheney family has also left their mark throughout town. Their name graces many a landmark here.

 

The Best Things to do in Manchester, CT

Main Street in Downtown Manchester | John Phelan, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
John Phelan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Manchester, CT, has no shortage of run things to do in this charming New England town.

 

Some highlights among the list of attractions and activities include:

 

Cheney Brothers Historic District

Postcard of the Cheney Brothers Mill in 1920

Manchester’s rich history and architectural heritage are on display at The Cheney Brothers Historic District. This site features preserved 19th-century buildings and mansions from Manchester’s Golden Age of silk production.

 

The Cheney Brothers Historic District is a must-see for history enthusiasts or an interesting day out in Manchester, CT. The stunning and unique architecture is sure to captivate while exploring the district.

 

Historic Cheney Homestead

Cheney Hall

Get a taste of the 18th century at the Cheney Homestead in Manchester. This preserved house, complete with original furnishings, offers a peek into the town’s past. The homestead was built by Timothy Cheney and features a unique built-in wall clock, a testament to his craftsmanship.

The Cheney Homestead is open to the public on the second Sunday of each month. It provides a captivating look into the lives of Manchester’s early residents.

 

Lutz Children’s Museum

Children playing at the Lutz Children's Museum

For a memorable family outing, head to the Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester, CT. This interactive museum offers a variety of fun exhibits about plants and animals, as well as a play area for kids to explore and learn.

 

The Lutz Children’s Museum is a popular spot for families with children. It’s an ideal destination for a fun and educational day out.

 

The Fire Museum

Fire Truck at the Fire Museum, AKA the Connecticut Firemen's Historical Society

The Fire Museum provides an intriguing glimpse into the world of firefighting. It houses a fascinating collection of artifacts and equipment. Serving as the headquarters of the Connecticut Firemen’s Historical Society, the museum is both an educational and inspiring place. It showcases the camaraderie and shared passion that keep the museum alive.

 

Visitors can explore the three floors of the old firehouse and admire the large exhibit gallery on the second floor. The Fire Museum is a must-visit for history buffs and those with curious minds. It is especially appealing to those interested in history museums.

 

Manchester Historical Society

If you’re eager to delve into Manchester’s past, the Manchester Historical Society is the place to be. It offers a variety of activities such as tours, exhibitions, and lectures. These activities are designed to help you explore the city’s rich history and heritage. One key attraction is the Old Manchester Museum. Here, you can discover intriguing exhibits and artifacts. You’ll find fascinating stories about the Cheney family and their impact on the city. You can also explore the museum’s captivating collections. The Manchester Historical Society provides a comprehensive experience for history buffs and curious visitors. The city also offers guided tours of historic sites to explore the city’s past.

 

Parks and Outdoor Things to do in Manchester, CT

Park bench in Manchester, CT

While Manchester is a destination for its museums, it has plenty of spots for outdoor enthusiasts, as well. Read on for the top parks, trails, and outdoor activities in Manchester.

 

Wickham Park

Wickham Park, a must-visit attraction in Manchester, is known for its arboretum that houses over 250 labeled trees and shrubs. The park also features nine stunning gardens. Among them are a walled Irish garden, an Oriental Garden situated on a pond with a torii archway, and a quaint cabin garden.

 

The park is a popular gathering spot for families and friends, offering picnic areas and sports facilities. Whether you’re up for a romantic stroll through the gardens or a lively day of sports and games, Wickham Park can cater to your needs.

 

Charter Oak Park

Charter Oak Park, a popular spot for outdoor activities in Manchester, boasts a variety of sports facilities. These include tennis and basketball courts, along with walking trails. The park is also known for its music garden, a fantastic venue for community events and special occasions.

 

Duck on Case PondCharter Oak Park’s welcoming atmosphere and wide range of outdoor activities make it a perfect place for families and fitness enthusiasts. It provides an ideal setting to connect with nature and stay active. Make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to explore this vibrant park and enjoy all it has to offer.

 

Oak Grove Nature Center

Oak Grove Nature Center is a serene haven tucked away amidst 52 acres of beautiful scenery in Manchester, CT. With its groomed trails and picturesque views, the nature center provides a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

 

If you’re in need of tranquility or a breath of fresh air, Oak Grove Nature Center is your ideal destination. Spend a relaxing afternoon amidst nature at this serene location.

 

Case Mountain

Case Mountain dam and waterfall in Manchester, CTFor outdoor enthusiasts, Case Mountain is a must-visit destination in Manchester, CT. It offers:

 

  • 640 acres of open space
  • Variety of hiking and biking trails surrounded by a hardwood forest
  • Stunning views
  • Opportunities for wildlife spotting

 

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a casual nature lover, Case Mountain’s trails cater to all levels of fitness and expertise. Don’t miss the chance to explore this beautiful area and connect with nature at its finest.

 

Aussakita Acres Farm

Farm animals at a farm exhibit

Immerse yourself in the charming world of farm life at Aussakita Acres Farm. This delightful farm offers:

 

  • Educational tours
  • Up-close interactions with adorable farm animals
  • Petting and feeding the animals
  • Cuddling newborns
  • Trying out farm animal yoga

 

Aussakita Acres Farm offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

 

Cheney Rail Trail

Child pushing a bike along the Cheney Rail Trail

The Cheney Rail Trail, a scenic path for walking and biking, follows the South Manchester Railroad’s corridor. This trail was established by the Cheney brothers in 1869 to support their operations. As you journey along the trail, you’ll come across historic markers and lush foliage. This makes it an ideal spot for both nature lovers and history buffs.

 

Take a moment to escape the everyday hustle. Enjoy a leisurely walk or a bike ride along this charming Connecticut trail.

 

Center Springs Park

Center Springs Park, located along the banks of the Bigelow Brook, is an urban oasis in Manchester, CT. This tranquil spot is perfect for picnics, strolls, and relaxation amidst nature. The park offers a range of activities including disc golf, walking, and cycling.

 

Things to do in Manchester, Connecticut, at night

A few activities await night owls in Manchester, CT. From craft beer tasting to theatre shows, the city offers a range of fun and entertainment. For even more options, pop over to the many fun things to do in Hartford, CT, at night.

 

2nd Bridge Brewing Co.

Enjoying a flight of craft beers at 2nd Bridge Brewing Co.

For craft beer enthusiasts, 2nd Bridge Brewing Co. in Manchester, CT is an unmissable destination. This local brewery offers:

 

  • A variety of unique beers
  • Each expertly crafted to please the palate of even the most discerning beer lover
  • A welcoming atmosphere
  • A diverse selection of brews

 

2nd Bridge Brewing Co. is the perfect place to relax and indulge in the art of craft beer.

 

Its flagship IPA and seasonal specialties make 2nd Bridge Brewing Co. one of the best breweries in CT.

 

Little Theatre of Manchester at Cheney Hall

Theater performance at Little Theater of Manchester at Cheney Hall

For local performing arts, the Little Theatre of Manchester at Cheney Hall is a must-visit location. This local theater hosts a range of events, from plays and musicals to live music performances. These events showcase the incredible talent within Manchester’s community.

 

Manchester Road Race

Thanksgiving balloon at the Manchester Road Race

Manchester’s annual Road Race is a Thanksgiving Day tradition in CT that draws thousands of participants. Partakers range from professional athletes to casual joggers and walkers. This popular event, which covers a course length of 4.748 miles, benefits local charities. Whether you are a passionate runner or a cheering spectator, the Road Race promises a festive atmosphere. It’s a community event that supports a good cause and adds to the fun of the holiday season.

 

Restaurants in Manchester, CT

Restaurant table in Manchester, CT

Manchester, CT, is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide variety of dining options. Casual eateries like Market Grille serve modern, creative American cuisine. For burger enthusiasts, the Artisanal Burger Company offers handcrafted burgers made with fresh local ingredients. Chez Ben Diner offers Canadian-American staples.

 

Directions to Manchester, Connecticut, from Greenwich, CT

Snow on the side of a road to Manchester, Connecticut

Getting from our Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast to Manchester, CT is a straightforward journey that takes approximately 1 hour and 41 minutes via I-91 N. Start on either the Merritt Parkway or I-95 from Greenwich, Connecticut. Head northbound until you reach I-91 North in either Meriden, CT, or New Haven, Connecticut. Continue on I-91 N to Manchester.

 

Hotels, Inns, & Places to Stay in Manchester, CT

Unique hotel room

If you’re looking to spend more than a day trip here, you have a few unique options, aside from the standard chain hotels:

 

Wedgeway Bed & Breakfast was once the residence of Austin and Ruth Cheney. This unique abode is nestled in the heart of the Cheney Brothers National Historic Landmark District. Built in 1911, it’s the newest of the Cheney Mansions, and it’s named after its distinctive shape. Robert and Susan Shanbaum purchased the property in 2001. Over 15 years, they meticulously restored it. In 2016, a private company acquired the mansion. They converted it into dormitory-style rooms for foreign students. After a year of extensive renovations, the mansion began a new chapter as a bed and breakfast.

 

Built in 1864, the Charles Cheney Mansion graces 131 Hartford Road in Manchester, Connecticut. This English Tudor beauty is a designated National Historic Landmark. It’s one of many historic homes built by the Cheney family. These homes adorn what locals fondly call the Great Lawn.

 

Hotels in Manchester, CT

If you prefer hotels, Manchester, CT, has plenty:

  • The Hampton Inn & Suites Hartford-Manchester
  • The Manchester Inn & Suites
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton Hartford Manchester
  • Courtyard by Marriott Hartford Manchester
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Hartford Manchester

 

These hotels offer free Wi-Fi, fitness centers, swimming pools, and on-site restaurants. They are conveniently located near the city center and nearby cities. This ensures a comfortable and enjoyable stay for all visitors.

 

More Unique Inns near Manchester, Connecticut

Some more inns nearby include some of the most romantic inns in Connecticut:

 

More Nearby Cities and Towns to Explore Near Manchester, Connecticut

Section of the Wadsworth Atheneum in downtown Hartford, Connecticut

If you’re planning a weekend getaway, you might as well venture into the neighboring towns and cities in the Hartford area. Each one offers its unique Connecticut attractions and experiences, making them worthy additions to your travel itinerary.

 

Hartford, CT

Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, is just a 15-minute drive from Manchester. The list of the best things to do in Hartford, CT, is full of history, and a unique arts scene. You can check out the Mark Twain House & Museum or visit the oldest public art museum in the U.S., Wadsworth Atheneum. There’s also Bushnell Park and Hartford Stage. Hartford is known for its innovative revivals of classics and thought-provoking new plays and musicals. And if you’re a science geek, the Connecticut Science Center is a must-visit. It has over 165 hands-on exhibits, a 3D digital theater, and daily programs.

 

West Hartford, Connecticut

Dahlia blooms at the Elizabeth Park Conservancy in West Hartford

Just a 20-minute drive from Manchester, you’ll find the town of West Hartford, CT. This place has got it all – culture, outdoor activities, and great food! One of the top spots is the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden, which is the third-largest of its kind in the country. Fancy a walk or a bike ride? Head over to the West Hartford Reservoir. If you’ve got kids, they’ll love the Children’s Museum with its hands-on science exhibits, a wildlife sanctuary, and even a planetarium. Love shopping? Check out Blue Back Square with its variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. And for a bit of history, visit the Noah Webster House to learn about the life of the man behind the dictionary.

 

Wethersfield, CT

Historic homes in downtown Wethersfield, CT

Wethersfield, CT, is only a quick 15-minute drive from Manchester. There’s plenty to see and do in the charming town of Wethersfield, CT. You’ve got the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, where you can dive into 18th and 19th-century New England history. Then there’s Old Wethersfield, a trove of historic homes and sites. Fancy some fresh produce, baked goods, or handmade crafts? You’ll find all that and more at the Wethersfield Farmers’ Market. And for those who love the outdoors, Cove Park is a dream. It’s got boat launches, picnic areas, sports fields, and a playground. So, why not take a day trip to Wethersfield? You won’t be disappointed!

 

Tl;dr

Manchester, Connecticut is a place that’s got a bit of everything. It’s rich in history and natural beauty. It boasts local cuisine that will delight your taste buds. Manchester promises a memorable experience for a CT day trip or something a little longer. It caters to visitors of all ages and interests.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Manchester CT famous for?

Manchester, known as the “Silk City,” has a rich history of textile manufacturing. It is famous for housing the Cheney Brothers Mills, which was once the world’s largest silk factory complex.

 

Is Manchester CT a good area?

So, why should you consider living in Manchester? Well, it’s got a lot going for it! Think affordable homes nestled in peaceful neighborhoods, loads of shopping and dining spots, and it’s super close to other cities. Plus, it’s a safe place to live – the crime rate is pretty low.

Whether you’re starting a family, thinking about retiring, or looking to set up a business, Manchester’s got you covered. And the best part? It’s well connected to the rest of the country. How cool is that?

 

What are some must-visit attractions in Manchester, CT?

Looking for activities in Manchester, CT? Don’t miss out on Wickham Park and Charter Oak Park for outdoor fun. For a dose of history, visit the Cheney Brothers Historic District. And for a family-friendly experience, head to the Lutz Children’s Museum!

 

Are there any family-friendly activities in Manchester, CT?

Absolutely! Manchester, CT has a ton of family-friendly activities. Got kids? You can’t miss the Lutz Children’s Museum – it’s a blast! If you’re more of an outdoorsy family, Wickham Park is a great spot for a picnic or a game of frisbee. And if you’re into sports, Charter Oak Park has got you covered.

 

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