By Joshua PalmesThis year, July 30 is International Friendship Day, an occasion that reminds us of the importance of having good companions in our lives. Connecticut is filled with friendly people if you know where to look. Whether you are new to the state and trying to meet new people or a longtime resident who wants to expand your circle of friends, here are some of the places where you will have the best luck.

Carol Farrell School of Dancing
246 New Haven Ave.
Milford, CT 06460
(203) 377-4617

Besides being a fun way to stay active, dance lessons are a great way to introduce yourself to other people. This Milford dance school provides adult lessons in ballet, tap and jazz taught by the “two Carols”, founder Carol Farrell and her daughter. You and your spouse may also sign up for ballroom dancing, where you can meet other couples learning to tango, waltz and fox trot. If you have kids you may enroll them in the school’s classes for children, the perfect opportunity to connect with other families in the area.

Vanilla Bean Cafe
450 Deerfield Road
Pomfret, CT 06259
(860) 928-1562

It can be difficult meeting people in the sleepy northeast corner of the state. But Pomfret’s Vanilla Bean Cafe is as good a place as any to get to know the folks of Windham County. The family-owned cafe features indoor and outdoor seating and serves a variety of breakfast items, sandwiches, burgers, pastries and lattes, and has an impressive offering of beers and wines. It also is home to live music on the weekends from the region’s best talents with Open Mic Night on the first Friday of each month.

The Claypen
997 Farmington Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 233-3322

If you’re the creative-minded type you can meet others just like you at the Claypen in West Hartford Center. Join them in designing your own attractive creation for your home or to give as a gift. When you arrive for a session  you’ll get to choose your own piece of pottery and paint colors; once you’ve settled on a design you can get to work crafting your masterpiece. The Claypen also allows customers to make artwork or household items using fused glass with assistance from its staff.

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RJ Julia Booksellers
768 Boston Post Road
Madison, CT 06443
(203) 245-3959

Those who are seeking intellectual companionship will surely find it at Connecticut’s best independent book store. For the past quarter-century readers across the state have flocked here for its vast selection and recommendations from its passionate staff. RJ Julia frequently hosts acclaimed and bestselling fiction and nonfiction authors for readings and book signings (Dorothea Benton Frank and Elin Hilderbrand are among those scheduled for upcoming events). The shop also has an adjoining bistro cafe which serves light dishes, desserts and several coffees.

Chelsea Piers Connecticut
1 Blachley Road
Stamford, CT 06902
(203) 989-1000

If you’re an athlete looking for others who share your love of sports and physical fitness you can’t go wrong by visiting Chelsea Piers in Connecticut. The large indoor complex contains space for nearly every activity you can think of. There are pilates, yoga and cycling classes, personal training sessions and a 65,000 square-foot fitness center. Chelsea Piers also arranges competitive adult sports leagues for basketball, soccer, tennis and several other sports as well as a Masters Swim Team. Other amenities include batting cages, skating rinks, turf fields and rock climbing walls.

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