The Constitution State
Connecticut is located in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is Rhode Island's southern neighbor. Spring is short, while summers are generally hot and humid, and winters can be cold and snowy. Connecticut is home to Yale University, Mystic Seaport (Museum of America and the Sea), the restaurant and nightlife scene of downtown New Haven, the Maritime Aquarium and two major casinos. Other popular attractions include the historic ship USS Nautilus and the Submarine Museum in Groton, Thimble Islands (small islands on the Long Island Sound), the Connecticut and Housatonic River Valleys (a National Heritage Area), and the numerous resorts and communities of the Berkshires in the northwest. To travel around the state, you should book a bus or train ticket. For more information visit: www.tourism.state.ct.us.
Jump to: Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions | Arts & Culture | Sports & Recreation | Outdoor Activities | Food | Local Festivals | Housing Resources | Transportation | Health & Safety | Help Your Community
Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.
Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park is the site of a 1781 massacre led by Benedict Arnold, a former American general who infamously betrayed the American Continental Army by fighting for the British. A Revolutionary War museum and monument are now located in the state park.
Harkness Memorial State Park is home to the summer mansion of the Harkness family. Tours are available of the 42-room mansion and its gardens.
The Mark Twain House and Museum was Twain’s home for 17 years. Today, the museum exhibits many of the author’s possessions.
Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center presents the history and culture of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and other Native American tribes from the region. Interactive exhibits, programs, films, archives and archeological collections are featured throughout the museum and visitors can also enjoy tours, special exhibits and events.
Mystic Seaport is a leading maritime museum in the United States in Mystic, CT. The museum has many sailing ships and boats, a working Preservation Shipyard, a library and over 60 historic buildings.
The USS Nautilus was the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine and is now a historical museum in Groton, CT. The Submarine Force Museum has many submarine artifacts, documents and photographs and visitors can take tours throughout the year.
The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to learn more about the U.S. and its culture.
Museums and Performing Arts
The Connecticut Art Trail highlights 15 museums and historical sites throughout the state. Visitors can purchase an Art Pass to access to all 15 museums.
The Westport Arts Center is a performing and visual arts center that shares art and education programs with the community. Art exhibits, jazz music, chamber music, film screenings and educational art programs are presented throughout the year in Westport.
The Yale Center for British Art in New Haven has a collection of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and other objects from the Elizabethan period until today. Exhibitions, educational programs and special events are held throughout the year.
Other art museums and art centers in Connecticut include:
- The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield
- The Benton Museum at The University of Connecticut, Storrs-Mansfield
- Bruce Museum, Greenwich
- Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme
- Greenwich Arts Council, Greenwich
- Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington
- Housatonic Museum of Art, Bridgeport
- Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London
- Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury
- New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain
- Real Art Ways, Hartford
- Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford
- Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven
Halftime activities at The Yale-Harvard Game at the Yale Bowl, New Haven. Photo by Henry Trotter.
Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.
College Sports Teams
There are no professional sports teams in Connecticut, but international visitors can enjoy American sports by watching college teams, including the following:
- The Ivy League Yale Bulldogs have many men and women’s sports team, including basketball, baseball, football and ice hockey.
- The Connecticut Huskies of the University of Connecticut have many sports teams, including the popular men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Minor League Sports Teams
Semi-professional sports teams are a fun way to watch American sports without paying the high prices often seen at professional sports games.
The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.
From May to September, visitors can try tubing on the Farmington River in New Hartford. The 2.5-mile ride includes a river tube, life jacket and a shuttle bus back to the starting point.
Mohawk Mountain is a small ski area in Cornwall, CT and offers skiing and snowboarding, equipment rentals, beginner and group lessons and special ski events.
Snowshoe and cross-country skiing opportunities are available in many areas of Connecticut. Find cross-country ski trails here and places to snowshoe in CT here. Both activities area a great way to see the beautiful landscapes of Connecticut while staying active outdoors.
Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury has running and hiking trails and an observation tower that allows visitors to see the surrounding landscape. Learn more at the state park website.
Weir Farm is a National Historic Site dedicated to American painting. The farm is the former home of painter J. Alden Weir and it was once a summer retreat for many artists and friends of Weir. Visitors can see the Weir House, Weir and Young studios, gardens and Weir Pond. Hiking, tours, art programs and educational programs are also available.
Find a list of Connecticut state parks and forests at the CT.gov website.
One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.
Connecticut cuisine is similar to many other New England foods with roots in Native American history, colonial heritage and a focus on local produce and seafood. Connecticut is also known as the birthplace of pizza (in the United States) and it now has it’s own type of New Haven-style pizza. Visitors can also try out colonial food from the 18th century by visiting Elias Child House in Woodstock, where guests are served a feast using recipes from the 1700s.
Farmers’ Markets and Farms
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture has information on farmers’ markets in Connecticut, including holiday and winter’s markets during colder months. Pick-your-own farms and orchards can also be found throughout Connecticut.
- Mount Southington Winter Carnival, February
- Hebron Maple Festival, March
- Mystic Seaport Lobster Days, May
- Taste of Hartford, July-August
- Milford Oyster Festival, August
- A Taste of Mystic, September
- Apple Harvest Festival, September-October
For a unique and local perspective on American cultural, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.
Mystic Chowder Days are a fall festival featuring many types of seafood, autumn treats like berry pie and mulled cider, historical sites and community events. Learn more about this October event by visiting the Mystic Seaport website.
The Essex Hot Steamed Jazz Festival in June is a jazz, blues and swing music festival that also raises money for The Hole in the Wall Gang, a camp for children with cancer or blood diseases.
Westport Fine Arts Festival is a summer event held each July in Westport, CT. The festival features watercolors, oil paintings, photography, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, digital art and many other forms of visual artwork.
Over Labor Day weekend in September, the Woodstock Fair has entertainment and agricultural events and attractions, including animal exhibits, food vendors, food contests, craft stalls, art exhibits and more.
The Four Town Fair in Somers is one of the oldest fairs in Connecticut. It features agricultural exhibits, food stalls, a parade, live music, a car show, and some unusual contests like the Women’s Skillet Throw and the Frog Jumping Contest.
Skyline of Hartford, Connecticut. Photo by Elias Friedman.
Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.
It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the Internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.
General Housing Information
- Housing information for Work and Travel USA participants
- Housing information for Career Training USA interns and trainees
Connecticut Housing Resources
Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for Connecticut participants include:
- Craigslist - Connecticut
- American Homestay Agency
- Hostelling International
Metro-North Railroad train from New Haven to New York entering Stamford. Photo by Adam E. Moreira.
Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.
Visit the American Public Transportation Association website for a complete list of public transportation options in your local community.
CT Transit provides bus service throughout the Hartford, New Haven and Stamford metropolitan areas, and areas in Waterbury, New Britain & Bristol, and Meriden & Wallingford.
Bridgeport buses are available through Greater Bridgeport Transit (BGT).
Metro-North Railroad runs between New York City and various points in Connecticut.
Shore Line East is a Connecticut commuter rail serving areas like New Haven, New London and Old Saybrook, and the train connects to Metro North services for New York City destinations.
Several Amtrak routes travel through Connecticut making stops in Hartford, Mystic, Bridgeport, Stamford and many other locations.
Travel between Connecticut and Long Island, New York by ferry using the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry.
Participants in Connecticut can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:
Emergency Management Agencies
- Connecticut Department of Emergency Services
- Department of Emergency Services updates on Twitter @ctdemhs
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov
- Connecticut FEMA updates on Twitter @femaregion1
Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.
The Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA) has volunteer opportunities in many areas, including conservation, clerical work, events and mentoring.
Hands on Hartford create volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups in the Greater Hartford area.
Volunteer at the Connecticut Food Bank to help those in need. The Food Bank needs volunteers for both on-going opportunities and one-time projects.
Find a local volunteer organization in Connecticut by visiting Volunteer Connecticut.