Music, theater, art, history, parks, fairs, and festivals - Central Connecticut has a delightful and exciting mix of year-round activities and attractions to entertain our residents and visitors. Central Connecticut is bursting with fun-filled, educational and informative activities.
The Chambers of Commerce and City and Town Officials all work together to focus attention on the exceptional artistic, cultural, social, and entertainment venues and opportunities available to our residents and visitors. We all recognize that these are an important aspect of community life - activities designed to provide entertainment and educational opportunities for residents and encourage visitors to spend tourism dollars here. So, come to Central Connecticut, and let us entertain you!
Nutmeg Symphony Orchestra
The Nutmeg Symphony Orchestra is a professional orchestra performing classical concerts in Bristol and nearby communities. Under the leadership of music director and conductor Marshall Brown, the orchestra performs an annual concert series and educational concerts for area children.
The Great Outdoors
The Barnes Nature Center
Located in a picturesque setting on Shrub Road, The Barnes Nature Center is dedicated to increasing the public awareness and appreciation of the natural environment. Of special interest is the diorama depicting New England habitats including live reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Located on 40 wooded acres, the Center offers loop hiking trails and a trailhead of Tunxis "Blue" Trail.
The greater Bristol area is well served with the beautiful, private Chippanee Golf Club, an 18-hole, par 70 golf course featuring small, fast greens, relatively narrow wooded fairways, and holes of modest length. It offers its members a beautiful clubhouse and restaurant, a swimming pool, tennis courts, driving range, and a resident golf pro.
Pequabuck Golf Course in Terryville is a semi-private 18 hole course. The club welcomes the public to play, host tournaments or rent the facilities.
Wolcott has Farmingbury Hills, which is a 9-hole public golf course located on 85 acres on top of Southington Mountain.
Farmington's golf courses include the beautiful Tunxis Plantation, where the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce hold their annual charitable golf tournament, and Westwoods Golf Course, a well maintained municipal course.
Bloomfield is home to Wintonbury Hills Golf Course, rated the # 1 municipal golf course in New England by Golf Week; Tumblebrook Country Club, a 27 hole course with scenic views of Talcott Mountain and downtown Hartford; and Gillette Ridge Golf Course, an 18 hole public golf course which was home of the 2012 PGA Tour Travelers Championship Pre-Qualifier and 4-spot Qualifier.
Central Connecticut boasts some of the best parks in the area. Bristol has the second largest municipal park system in the state and is in the top ten of the largest municipal park systems in New England. Bloomfield is home to two gorgeous state parks located at the top of Talcott Mountain, Penwood State Park and Talcott Mountain State Park. Farmington contains miles of trails, including part of the 80 mile Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, which extends from New Haven to the Massachusetts border.
Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area/Environmental Learning Center
Sessions Woods WMA in Burlington focuses on conservation education, with facilities to bring school groups, the general public, and natural resource professionals from throughout Connecticut to participate in educational programs, demonstrations, and workshops pertaining to wildlife and natural resource management. The facilities include an education center with an exhibit area and a large meeting room, interpretive trails, habitat management demonstration areas, and a backyard wildlife habitat area.
American Clock & Watch Museum
The American Clock & Watch Museum displays one of the most extensive collections of American-made timekeepers in the world. From the earliest grandfather clocks to Eli Terry's revolutionary Pillar & Scroll shelf clock to the popular Mickey Mouse wristwatch, visitors experience Yankee ingenuity and craftsmanship in this charming, chiming atmosphere created by the many running clocks. The gateway exhibit presents the important role played by Bristol and the clock industry in the development of American manufacturing. The museum is recognized as the first museum in America to be totally devoted to horology.
The Greater Bristol Historical Society
The mission of the Bristol Historical Society is to promote an interest in local history and encourage an appreciation for its importance. The Bristol Historical Society collects, preserves, and interprets significant historical resources to enhance the present community and provide a historical context for future growth. Housed in the former Bristol High School on Federal Hill, the Historical Society has been renovating the 1890s era Romanesque style brick building to house a vibrant cultural and community center. To date, groups such as the Bristol Auto Club, Bristol Federal Hill Association, Bristol Genealogical Society, Bristol Sports Hall of Fame, Troop 9 of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Memorial Military Museum, call the Historical Society home. Plans to continue the renovations and utilize the former classrooms on the second floor are underway. The Historical Society also plans to completely replace the roof on their Summer Street building in 2014.
Hill-Stead Museum is a delightful historic home and museum nestled in the center of Farmington. Part of the Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail, the museum offers a variety of enticements for visitors. Over 850,000 adults and children have participated in Hill-Stead’s varied programs since the museum’s inception in 1947. Today, over 45,000 visitors a year enjoy tours, lectures, family festivals, poetry, and curriculum–based school activities.
Imagine Nation Museum
The Imagine Nation Museum, located in downtown Bristol, is committed to enriching the lives of children and families by providing unique interactive exhibits, programs that spark imagination, discovery and hands-on learning through play and exploration. Stand inside a giant bubble, try your skills on the climbing wall, ride in a see-through teaching elevator, role-play as anchors on ESPN's Sports Center plus explore the greenhouse, Kids Zone, Art Area and much more. An original 1940s soda fountain from Redman's Dairy, a longtime local landmark, is proudly located in the lobby where sweet treats, snacks and family entertainment are offered. The Imagine Nation Museum is a division of the Boys & Girls Club and Family Center of Bristol.
The Lock Museum of America
The Lock Museum of America was constructed by a local contractor and opened to the public in 1980. It was built on the site of the original office building of the Eagle Lock Company, which began making locks in Terryville in 1854. The museum chronicles lock-making history with displays of locks of all ages, including antique locks dating back to 1500 A.D. and one wooden Egyptian pin-tumbler lock believed to be 7,000 years old. There are also displays of hardware, door locks, chests, keys, bank and time locks, exit devices, cabinet locks, prison locks, and padlocks. More than 20,000 items in all are housed in the museum.
The Museum of Fire History
The Museum of Fire History, located at the New England Carousel Museum, offers a fascinating array of fire-fighting and fire house signaling equipment and memorabilia wonderfully displayed with alarms to pull, sirens to set off and bells to ring. The Fire Museum is available for educational programming for school groups and adults.
New England Carousel Museum
The New England Carousel Museum is one of only a few carousel museums in America. The centerpiece of a growing cultural center in downtown Bristol, the Museum brings out the child in everyone. The museum presents works of master carvers, painters and craftsmen in revolving exhibits representing one of the largest collections of antique carousel art in existence today. You can learn about the history of the carousel, take a tour, treat the children to hands-on activities and enjoy the nostalgic music of the band organ all year long. The Museums fine art galleries showcase the work of artists from throughout New England.
Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum
The Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum opened in Bristol in 1966 as a tribute to the actors and effects artists who gave us so many classic fantasy films. It is considered the longest running exhibit of its kind in the country (as stated by Entertainment Tonight). The museum features highly accurate, life-size figures of characters from classic sci-fi and horror films. The museum also features voice tracks specially recorded by Vincent Price, June Foray, John Agar and Mark Hamill.
Bristol Chrysanthemum Festival
Every fall, you can see chrysanthemums blooming around Bristol. The city's Annual Mum Festival was created in 1961 by Paul Hubbard and Alex Cummings, of Bristol Nurseries, and the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. This is a three week event that includes the Miss Chrysanthemum pageant, a parade, antique car shows, family events at local farms, bingo and Oktoberfest.
Bristol is home to ESPN, the largest cable sports network in the world. ESPN, a division of Disney Corporation, distributes programming via eight domestic 24/7 networks and nearly fifty more around the world reach 300 million viewers in 200 countries.
Nestled between a scenic lake and mountain, Lake Compounce is the nation's oldest continuously-operating amusement park. It offers spectacular rides, Crocodile Cove (Connecticut's largest water park), a lakeside beach and a large pavilion for special events. Boulder Dash- twice voted the world's best wooden roller coaster- is built into the side of a mountain with a top speed of 60 mph. During the summer you can attend special festivals and events like July 4th fireworks in addition to enjoying the park's many rides. For Halloween, the brave can tour the parks Haunted Graveyard and for Christmas enjoy the Holiday Lights as the park is lit with thousands of lights to celebrate the season.
Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center
A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center in Bristol is home to the largest Little League region in the world with over 1,950 Little League charters, 55,000 teams, 850,000 players and 250,000 adult volunteers. The Giamatti Center is also the headquarters for Little League’s Challenger Division, which allows physically and mentally handicapped children to enjoy the benefits of baseball. The Center also offers summer camps for youngsters and adult training for managers, coaches, league administrations and umpires
New Britain Rock Cats
The New Britain Rock Cats, a Double-A minor league baseball affiliate of the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball club, call Central Connecticut home. In addition to exciting ball games, they host a number of community events and activities.
For a complete listing of museums, clubs and organizations, visit our DIRECTORY.
For scheduled happenings in the central Connecticut region, check out our CALENDAR OF EVENTS and COMMUNITY CALENDAR
Questions? Email us!