Argia Mystic Tours
15 Holmes St.
Mystic, CT 06355
Connecticut has a long shoreline, so why not see it from the water? Better yet, see it from the deck of a replica of a 19th century sailing ship – the Schooner Argia out of Mystic. The Argia is an elegant 81-foot schooner which sails up and down the coast on public or private half-day and sunset cruises. Built in 1986, the two-masted Gaff Topsail Schooner can hold up to 49 passengers, and routinely plies Fisher Sound and the MysticRiver. Landlubbers need not worry, for the captain intentionally chooses protected, safe waters and provides life jackets for all passengers, and the Argia has a diesel engine lest she become becalmed. Group and family packages are available, as are individual tickets for public sails. In addition to her regular tours, the Argia also offers educational sailing and marine science cruises for classes of up to 40 students plus teachers and chaperones.
CT Bike Tours
75 Round Hill Road
North Haven, CT 06473
For those who want to tour the Connecticut shore without getting their feet wet, yet still want to be as close as possible to the sand, Connecticut Bike Tours (or CT Bike Tours as it is also known) offers just what it says – a guided bicycling tour of the towns, farms, forests and beaches of the Connecticut shoreline. Bring your own or let the company provide you with 24-speed “Comfort Bikes” and helmets. The tour is not a race, but a gentle ride along bike-friendly roads specifically chosen for their beauty and safety. The most popular of the rides is the Shoreline Bicycle and Boat Tour that begins at the Guilford Green, although guests at many of the B&Bs along the route can also join in by calling to arrange a “ride by.”
Connecticut State Capitol Tours
210 Capitol Ave.
Hartford, CT 06106
Hailed by those in the know as one of the best state capitol tours, the daily tours of Hartford’s golden-domed state capitol building are fun, informative and free. Held five times daily (six in July and August), the tours guide visitors through the Hall of Flags, where standards carried into battle by Connecticut regiments are proudly displayed, and on through the Hall of Fame, where pictures, artifacts and informative displays honor Connecticut residents who have distinguished themselves in many fields. Guides tell the history of the building itself and explain how the legislative process works as they walk visitors through the public galleries of the Senate and General Assembly and into the Legislative Office Building. The Capitol itself looms above Bushnell Park, with its great fountain, carousel, tree walks and monuments, chief among them the majestic arch raised to honor those from Connecticut who fought in the American Civil War.
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Darien, CT 06820
Have a big family or group of 20 or more that want to see the best of Connecticut? Then ConneCTions is the guided tour company to call. See “Katherine Hepburn’s Connecticut” or go even further back in time with the P.T. Barnum-Mark Twain Tour, which includes visits to the museum and home of the garrulous showman and the beloved author, respectively. There are River Valley and Cultural Heritage tours, as well as a Culinary or Fashion tour to choose from. For those of an historic bent, another tour follows the path of the Underground Railroad taken by slaves escaping from the South to Canada (after all John Brown was born in Torrington). There is even a ghost tour, with ConneCTions’ own “ghost hunter” Donna Kent.
Ghosts of New Haven
1070 Chapel St.
New Haven, CT 06510
Ghost tours are always a hoot, especially around Halloween, but Ghosts of New Haven takes amateur ghost hunters and visitors around all of the many supposedly haunted sites of the famous old city. From libraries and theaters to greens and, of course, graveyards, the 90-minute nighttime guided tours are packed with informative, educational and spooky details of the denizens of the dark, and the legends they have given birth to in Yale’s hometown. Customized packages from groups of two to 150 are available, and Ghosts of New Haven certifies that its guides are true “scholars” who have the “special skills” needed to deal with the supernatural.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.