For such a small state, Connecticut has a lot to see and experience. Guide books and web sites may list choices aplenty for tourists and locals seeking something fun or educational, but there are a lot of places in Connecticut that are often overlooked by those who never get past the obvious and most heavily visited spots. Connecticut has a long shore line with nature preserves and beaches, a mountainous interior with glorious parks, unique outdoor sculpture gardens and many homes and inns that are steeped in history – and some of which are even haunted. Here are just five of the top hidden destinations in Connecticut to visit.

Rocky Neck Nature Preserve
P.O. Box 676
Niantic, CT 06357
(860) 739-5471

The salt marsh at Rocky Neck near Niantic is a bird-watcher’s paradise. Although primarily a nature preserve, it also has a small and little-known area set aside for fishermen, campers and picnickers. There are only ten picnic tables outside of the tiny pavilion, and they are often occupied by scout troops, families or other groups that have booked them well in advance.

Lamentation Mountain State Park
230 Plymouth Road
Berlin, CT 06791
(860) 485-0226

Connecticut has scores of state parks, but one of the lesser known is that at Lamentation Mountain in Berlin. Members of the Connecticut Botannical Society, however, know it quite well, as in the late spring and early summer it is carpeted with many varities of wildflowers. The brilliance of that natural floral display is breathtaking, and makes Lamentation Mountain a great place for an afternoon picnic, a morning hike or an evening camp-out.

Kouros Gallery And Sculpture Garden
150 Mopos Bridge Road
Ridgefield, CT 06877
(203) 438-7636

Connecticut has many indoor art galleries, but it also has quite a few that are outdoors. The Kouros Gallery and Sculpture Garden is one such hidden treasure, with nearly four score sculptures carefully placed around the grounds, each set where the light, background and surrounding flowers, trees and shrubbery enhance the viewing experience. There is an indoor gallery as well, but the glory of the Kouros is its garden walk, where art lovers can enjoy a truly private and moving experience.

Related: Top Parks In Connecticut

The Yankee Pedlar Inn
93 Main St.
Torrington, CT 06790
(860) 489-9226

Torrington is not one of those places that rank high on the list of must-see places for tourists to visit in Connecticut, but while the old city has seen tough times, it is on the comeback trail, what with new shopping centers, the revamped Warner Theater and one of the oldest continually operating hotels in the state – The Yankee Pedlar Inn. Not only does it have a unique, historic, 19th Century charm about it, the Yankee Pedlar also has its dark and scary side. Built in the Victorian Age, the Yankee Pedlar is steeped in history – and much of that history is quite frightening. There have quite literally been hundreds of ghost sightings reported there. Room 353 is said to be haunted by the ghost of Alice Conley, wife of the man who built and first ran the inn, Frank Conley. The hotel is right across the street from The Warner, and there are many small shops, bars and restaurants within a few blocks.

Thomas Griswold House
171 Boston St.
Guilford, CT 06437
(203) 453-3176

Connecticut is one of the original 13 colonies, and as such has many places of interest to those who have a love of or just curiousity about the early days of this country. The little town of Guilford is just such a place, and while to most it is just a base for their excursions along the beaches of the Connecticut shore, it is also one of the oldest towns in the state. One of the best-kept homes of the colonial era is the Thomas Griswold House on Boston Street. Now a museum, it was a family home from 1774 until the later years of the last century. The Griswold family, who settled in Guilford in the late 1600s, were prominent members of the community, and visitors can learn about them, how they lived, as many of the clothes, furniture and other possessions used by the family during the late 18th and early 19th century are on display. The museum is open from June through October.

Related: Top Haunted Graveyard Tours In Connecticut

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