1561 Asylum Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06117
Elizabeth Park is the third largest rose garden in the United States, with 800 varieties of roses. The park is known for its gardens, roses, rose arches and greenhouse. It has become a local favorite to enjoy a peaceful, quiet atmosphere through the spring, summer and fall months. Visitors enjoy the park as a walking location and for its summer concert series. Tennis courts and baseball fields are located on site. There is no admission or parking fee, leaving this park a cost-effective and free option to enjoy the outdoor weather. The Pond House located near parking has restrooms, a restaurant and a snack bar.
Hammonasset Beach State Park
1288 Boston Post Road
Madison, CT 06443
The largest shoreline park in Connecticut is at Hammonasset Beach State Park, with two miles of beach to set up your beach towel and catch some rays. Hammonassett is one of the most popular beaches in Connecticut, with opportunities to swim, sun tan, bicycle, fish, picnic and walk along the trails. Visitors can stop by Meig’s Point Nature Center as a learning opportunity. Camping sites are available within the park from mid-May through October. Upon entering the park, there will be a fee per car and there is a camping fee.
Black Rock State Park
Watertown, CT 06795
Providing a variety of outdoor activities, Black Rock State Park is located on 439 acres in Watertown, Connecticut. Park attractions include hiking, fishing, swimming and camping. The Black Rock Campground is open April through September 30th proving 78 camping sites. The lake and pond are full of trout for fishermen or to teach your children how to fish for fun. Hiking is a popular activity, with trails along the Mattatuck Trail providing scenic views. Picnic tables and restrooms are available. The only charge is a parking fee in season, and camping fees. Pets are allowed on a leash. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset daily from Memorial Day through October 31st, and on weekends April to Memorial Day.
1329 W. Middle Turnpike
Manchester, CT 06040
Tucked away in the town of Manchester is a nature lover’s dream. Choose from seeing wildlife, sports or one of the six themed gardens. Wickham Park has an aviary with turkeys, hawks, an owl, pheasants and many more birds. Feed for the birds is available for purchase on site. There is also a bird sanctuary. The nature center has interactive exhibits and bathrooms. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the playgrounds, picnic areas, ponds and sporting facilities. Try your hand at the 18-hole disc golf course, five tennis courts, two softball fields, two volleyball courts and horseshoe pits.
999 W. Main St.
Meriden, CT 06037
The best place to feed the ducks is at Mirror Lake located in Hubbard Park. A free public park that is family friendly, Hubbard Park features a jungle gym, a public swimming pool and picnic areas. Annual featured events at the park include the Daffodil Festival and winter light display. Castle Craig Tower can be seen from surrounding towns and driving on I-691. Its home is at the top of the mountain at the park, providing views of Meriden. Hiking and biking trails are also permitted at the park.
Related: Top Playgrounds In Connecticut
Kimberly Ord is a freelance writer and lifetime resident of Connecticut. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.