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Connecticut on Ice: Great Winter Activities

By Stephen Wood
Photo: Ski Sundown, New Hartford

Don’t give the season the cold shoulder! Winter in Connecticut doesn’t need to be spent indoors, pining away for the first signs of spring. In fact, there are scores of activities all over the state for even the most winter-averse. 

Go Home for the Holidays

Sticking with the “classic” theme, there may be nothing more traditional than when the state’s historic house museums get dressed up for the holidays. Why not visit a few this winter?

  • In the beautiful town of Ridgefield, the nearly 300-year-old Keeler Tavern’s holiday celebration has become one of the top destinations in Fairfield County. The house will dazzle you with its rich architectural beauty and history, including its role in the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Ridgefield. Be sure to tromp outside through the snow to see the cannonball embedded in the wall.
  • No one can argue that Norwalk’s Lockwood-Mathews Mansion isn’t one of the grandest mansions in the state. It’s regarded as one of the earliest and most significant Second Empire Style country houses in the United States. Visit during the holidays when the opulence increases with lavish trees and traditional Victorian decorations throughout the home.
  • Down on the coast in Old Lyme, the Florence Griswold House provides December visitors a historically accurate peek into Christmastime in 1910. Visitors can enjoy Miss Florence’s Artist Trees and designer Fantasy Trees, and the entire house is decked out in Christmas finery. Christmastime Teas, special events for families, and hands-on crafts for children and adults—not to mention the world-class art collection—will brighten even the Grinchiest of spirits.
  • It looks like a medieval fortress, located in East Haddam, Gillette Castle, the former home of William Gillette is decorated in a festive holiday display.
  • From there, it’s just a short drive to the Webb-Deane-Stevens Houses. In the heart of historic Old Wethersfield, the historic trio of wooden homes harken back to a simpler time. When snow blankets the charming village, your silent footsteps will allow the holiday stories of years past to fill your imaginations.

Take a Vintage Ride

Looking for an activity that’s a little faster-paced? Whether you have kids or are just a kid at heart, Connecticut offers several special holiday train and trolley rides through some of the most beautiful scenery in southern New England.

  • There’s just something so charming about historic trolleys decked out for the season, rumbling across snowfields in winter. Both the Shore Line Trolley Museum (East Haven) and the Connecticut Trolley Museum (East Windsor) provide these transporting experiences. 
  • All aboard the Snow Clipper to see Santa and other surprises during a ride on a vintage train at the Railway Museum in Danbury.
  • In Thomaston, children and adults will enjoy the Northern Lights train ride at the Railroad Museum of New England. Leaving under the cover of nightfall, experience the magic as the lights inside and out of each car are lit, illuminating the entire train in a soft, cheerful glow.

Downhill is a Do

Of course, if you’re looking to be a bit more active, there are plenty of winter activities that fit the bill.

  • Skiing and snowboarding at Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall will allow you to enjoy perhaps the prettiest views in the entire state.
  • Mount Southington in Southington is another favorite for families and a great place to learn how to ski, at any age.
  • Another fantastic winter wonderland can be found at Ski Sundown in New Hartford. Add some thrills to your (hopefully not!) spills by challenging yourself on the 15 trails here that are lit up at night.
  • One more place to hit the slopes this winter, Powder Ridge Mountain Park, offer tubing parks in addition to skiing and snowboarding. If you think the rush of skiing down the mountains is the only downhill adventure available, you haven’t gone tubing. It’s a whole new way to have a blast, while getting blasted with snow.

Skate the Ice

Looking for some flatland fun?

  • Book a small group skate session at Danbury Ice Arena and enjoy gliding across the ice with loved ones, or go it solo!
  • What better way to enjoy the winter than skating outdoors at the Simsbury Farms Ice Rink located in Simsbury. After, stroll in the quaint New England town's downtown which offers great restaurants and shopping opportunities.
  • Most days the RoseGarden Indoor Ice Arena has public skating in the town of Norwich. On Friday nights, the arena offers Laser Skate sessions.
  • Catch a hockey game with family and friends with the Connecticut Whale in Simsbury, a professional women's team; or in Hartford with the Hartford Wolf Pack team.

Indoor Action

Not everything fun activity during the winter has to involve snow or a holiday. In fact, you can ride a waterslide, navigate a ropes course, or learn about one of the world’s most iconic candies.

  • Both the Mystic Aquarium and Norwalk’s Maritime Aquarium are open year-round. Peering in on the beluga whales at Mystic Aquarium or harbor seals at Maritime Aquarium while snow is falling is not something you can see every day or anywhere.
  • There is much more climbing to be found at Connecticut’s many indoor rock climbing, zip-lining and ropes courses. Work up a winter sweat at family favorites such as Central Rock Gym in Glastonbury and Prime Climb in Wallingford.
  • Fuel up for your climbing adventure at the Pez Museum in Orange, featuring a massive collection of Pez dispensers, and the company’s fascinating history. Discounts on the little candies are available in the well-stocked gift shop.
  • Another year-round favorite to keep the kids engaged is Connecticut Science Center in Hartford. Hands-on fun here includes interactive exhibits that explore the solar system, electricity and dinosaur bones.
  • In Montville, experience the thrill of racing in the largest indoor multi-level karting track in the world at Supercharged Powered by Mohegan Sun - Indoor Karting & Trampoline Park. The facility houses two very diverse multi-level tracks offering challenges for all ages. Also, features a trampoline park.


Stephen Wood, of West Hartford, is always at the ready all winter long with his trusty snowshoes—hoping to convince his wife and two sons to tag along one of these years.

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