Connecticut strives to stand out in New England


BOSTON -- Connecticut has emerged from the shadow of its neighbors to the north to establish an identity of its own, according to Joyce Fredericks, manager of national and international tourism sales programs for the state.

"Connecticut is no longer looked at as a drive-through state. We have gained visibility through promotional efforts but also through coordinating efforts with the other New England states," Fredericks said.

One of Connecticut's draws, she said, is its diversity, with attractions designed to appeal to active travelers, oceanographers, romantics, families and history buffs.

"We don't claim to keep people here for three weeks, but we have a nice combination of niches that will serve to satisfy our clients in all four seasons."

One of the biggest new attractions available year-round, according to Fredericks, is the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Mashantucket.

Open for a year, the tribally owned and operated center serves as a resource for the history and culture of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation as well as other tribes.

Located some seven miles from Mystic, the 308,000-square-foot project cost $193.4 million and features permanent exhibitions that tell the story of the area from the Ice Age to the present day.

Interactive exhibits include archaeological collections, dioramas and videos as well as a walk-through 16th century Pequot village, 17th century fort and 18th century farmstead.

Following is a sampling of what else is new for the upcoming season. Individual contact information is listed where available; otherwise, contact the state office of tourism.

  • The Mark Twain House and the adjacent Carriage House in Hartford have undergone an extensive renovation. An exhibition of original Tiffany designs will run through June 1, 2000, at the Mark Twain House.
  • The construction of a $1.4 million, 28,000-square-foot visitor and education center is in the works, with a targeted completion date of 2001. The opening of the center was timed to coincide with the debut of an upcoming Ken Burns PBS documentary on Twain's life.

    Phone: (860) 247-0998

  • "Mark Twain's America," an IMAX film, will run daily at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk Oct. 22 to Dec. 24.
  • Phone: (203) 852-0070


  • Mystic Aquarium is adding an outdoor beluga whale exhibit this year and is opening the new, interactive Institute for Exploration's Challenge of the Deep.
  • Phone: (888) 9SEAPORT


  • The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport will feature the 20th International Marine Art Exhibition through Nov. 7, with more than 100 artists from around the world.
  • "In Style on the Nile: Boats of the Pharaohs" will run through February 2000 at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
  • The exhibition is offered in conjunction with the new IMAX film "Mysteries of Egypt," which opens Oct. 22 at the Maritime Aquarium.

    Phone: (203) 852-0700


  • The American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol has been renovated and added new exhibits.
  • In Litchfield, renovations have taken place at the Tapping Reeve House and First Law School as well as at the White Memorial Conservation Center Museum, located in a 4,000-acre state park.
  • In New Haven, the Yale Boathouse in Derby will be relocated to Long Wharf and converted to a museum about the Amistad schooner.
  • The ship, made famous by Steven Spielberg's recent film of the same name, is under construction at Mystic Seaport and will be moored at Long Wharf from March 2000.

  • The Yale Center for British Art in New Haven was renovated and has reopened.
  • The Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport has added tigers to its inhabitants and has opened a new restaurant.
  • Harkness Mansion, located in Harkness Memorial State Park, has been renovated and now is open to the public. The 42-room estate, which overlooks Long Island Sound, features picnic areas and formal gardens.
  • The WPA stone picnic pavilion, which dates from 1935, reopened after a two-year renovation. Located in Rocky Neck State Park, the pavilion can accommodate some 400 people; the second floor is available for rent by groups.
  • Kid City in Middletown recently opened, offering hands-on exhibits for children 12 and under. Exhibits include a TV station, a ship, a farmyard, a Main Street and a diner.
  • The Stepping Stones Museum in Matthews Park in Norwalk, designed for kids up to age 10, is set to open this fall. The museum offers interactive play in a variety of disciplines, including art, science and technology.
  • Timexpo, a watch museum sponsored by Timex Corp., will open in Waterbury in 2000.
  • Winter celebrations in Connecticut include tree lighting celebrations and holiday bazaars in early December in Stamford, Mystic, Avon, Norwalk, New Britain, East Hartford, Southington, Bethlehem, Hartford, Milford and Cheshire, just to name a few.
  • The 11th annual Saybrook Stroll, set for Dec. 3, will feature such New England fare as hay rides, live entertainment and a visit from Santa. The event will take place from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Phone: (860) 388-6188

  • Stamford will ring in the new millennium with a fireworks display by the Grucci company.
  • Phone: (800) 866-7925


  • The 22nd annual Lantern Light Tours will take place in Mystic Seaport from Dec. 3 to 20.
  • Phone: (860) 572-5315, (888) 9-SEAPORT

  • The third annual Trashy Winter Wonderland at the Children's Garbage Museum in Stratford offers a holiday exhibit from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $2.50 per person; $5 per group of four and up.
  • Phone: (800) 455-9571

  • The 32nd annual Gingerbread Village & Bazaar in Middlebury will run Dec. 4 to 11.
  • Phone: (203) 758-2165

  • The 12th annual Festival of Lights in Olde Mistick Village in Mystic is set for Dec. 17. The event will feature more than 4,000 luminaria as well as holiday music and costumed revelers.
  • Phone: (860) 536-4941

  • The 11th annual First Night Danbury on New Year's Eve will feature some 80 performances at 20 locations in the city as well as fireworks and children's performances. Admission is $10 for adults; $7 for children.
  • Phone: (203) 792-5095

  • The 11th annual First Night Hartford 2000 will be celebrated throughout downtown Hartford.
  • Phone: (860) 728-3089

  • The sixth annual First Night Westport/Weston 2000 will feature more than 200 performers and fireworks.
  • Phone: (203) 454-6699

    The Connecticut Office of Tourism

    Phone: (800) CT BOUND, (800) 282-6863


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