10 scenic drives to take in Connecticut this summer

Nutmeggers who might want to take a road trip this summer but are discouraged by the high gas prices don't have to drive far to enjoy scenic views of rivers, lakes and historical monuments.

Here are some scenic drives to take in Connecticut this summer:

Route 34
Newtown, Monroe, Derby, Shelton, New Haven

The Stevenson Dam, seen here from the west shore of the Housatonic River in Monroe, Conn. Aug. 30, 2017. Construction of the dam began in 1917,

The Stevenson Dam, seen here from the west shore of the Housatonic River in Monroe, Conn. Aug. 30, 2017. Construction of the dam began in 1917,

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

A trip on Route 34 will take explorers from one end of the state to the other, passing through locations like Newtown, Monroe, Derby, Shelton and New Haven. 

The Stevenson Dam on the route brings drivers over the Housatonic River and Lake Zoar. Created over 100 years ago, the dam is considered one of the largest in Connecticut and one of the most complicated civil engineering projects ever attempted in the state, according to the Monroe Historical Society.  It was built by the company now known as Eversource in order to generate power, not hold back flood water like most dams.

Route 202 and Route 6
Litchfield, Thomaston, Farmington, Bristol, Watertown, Southbury and Newtown

An aerial view of Lake Waramaug in New Preston on Oct. 15, 2020.

An aerial view of Lake Waramaug in New Preston on Oct. 15, 2020.

Patrick Sikes

A drive on Route 202 takes visitors through the scenic Litchfield Hills, home to Lake Waramaug and the Housatonic River. The journey will also take drivers through towns like Thomaston, Farmington and Bristol. Take a detour along East, West and North Shore Road along Lake Waramaug.

The drive back on Route 6 takes explorers past scenic views of the Mattatuck State Forest and through locations including Watertown, Southbury and Newtown. The Mattatuck State Forest was founded in 1925 after a land donation by Harley F. Roberts’ Black Rock Association and is filled with various wildlife, according to CTVisit.

Route 1
Guilford to Rhode Island border

Mystic is a village in New London County, Connecticut, in the United States. Mystic is located within the towns of Groton and Stonington. Mystic is a major New England tourist destination. The village is known for its maritime heritage, historic ship-captain's homes, excellent dining and two immense casinos

Mystic is a village in New London County, Connecticut, in the United States. Mystic is located within the towns of Groton and Stonington. 

DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Venturers who travel along Connecticut's shoreline will pass through historic towns and villages like Madison, Old Saybrook Mystic, Stonington and Griswold. Travelers will find state parks like Harkness Memorial State Park, Rocky Neck State Park and Hammonasset Beach State Park, which are brimming with nature. When hunger strikes, stop at one of the many seafood shacks for a traditional Connecticut hot buttered lobster roll.

Coastal Connecticut also overlooks Long Island Sound, which the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection calls "Connecticut’s largest and most important natural resource," since its waters are filled with diverse plant and animal life.

Route 337
New Haven

Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven.

Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven.

Peter Casolino / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

Taking Route 337 south off of I-95 in New Haven will bring drivers past views of Lighthouse Point Park, East Shore Park and Fort Nathan Hale.

Lighthouse Point Park was originally the site of a Revolutionary War battle in July 1779, according to Outdoor Project. The United States Congress ordered the building of the lighthouse in 1804, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

East Shore Park is known for its baseball, soccer and tennis facilities, according to CTVisit. It also has a walking trail bordering New Haven Harbor part of its 82 acres, Visit New Haven notes.

Fort Nathan Hale features two historic forts: one from the Revolutionary War, and one from the Civil War. The location was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Candlewood Lake
Danbury area

Candlewood Lake in Connecticut marks its 93rd birthday on Sept. 29.

Candlewood Lake in Connecticut marks its birthday on Sept. 29.

David Bevan/Contributed photo

Candlewood Lake is the largest lake in Connecticut and spans Danbury, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford and Sherman. Explorers can travel around the outskirts of the lake on Candlewood Lake Road and take in the scenic views of the water, boats, lake houses and forest in the area. On the other side of the water, Route 30 will take drivers along Squantz Pond in New Fairfield and up to Sherman.

The man-made lake was constructed in 1928 in order to produce electric power and was the first large-scale project in the United States to use a pumped-water storage facility, according to CT Humanities' Connecticut History.

Route 213
Waterford and New London

Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford.

Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford.

Caryn B. Davis

Drivers can loop around Route 213 in Waterford and New London to take in some scenic sights.

Along the route, they will find the Harkness Memorial State Park, which is home to the former mansion of the Harkness family, who purchased the estate in 1907. It was originally a 230-acre working dairy farm filled with floral gardens, vegetable gardens and fruit orchards, and the property was given to Connecticut in 1950, according to the Friends of Harkness. 

Another location explorers will pass on the route is Ocean Beach Park, which is a popular sugar sand beach destination for relaxation and weddings.

Route 136
Westport, Norwalk, Darien and Rowayton

Traveling on Route 136 will bring visitors on a journey through Darien, Westport, historic South Norwalk and the coastal village of Rowayton and its Green's Ledge Lighthouse.

The lighthouse, which was first lit in 1902, is said to have been named after a pirate named Green, who was part of Captain Kidd's crew, according to Light House Friends. The lighthouse has gone through an extensive renovation process to modernize it so it can continue to help sailors, according to The Green's Ledge Light Preservation Society

Route 5
New Haven

Photography by PETER HVIZDAK ph2104 #2279 New Haven, Connecticut- June 8, 2010: The Soldiers and Sailors Monument on East Rock Park.

Photography by PETER HVIZDAK ph2104 #2279 New Haven, Connecticut- June 8, 2010: The Soldiers and Sailors Monument on East Rock Park.

Driving on Route 5 in New Haven will bring visitors past East Rock Park, home to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Completed in 1887, the monument honors residents of New Haven who lost their lives in wars such as the Civil War and Revolutionary War.

The route also goes through locations like North Haven, Wallingford, Meridan and Berlin.  

Merritt Parkway
Fairfield County

Cars travel north and south on the Merritt Parkway under the Guinea Road Bridge in Stamford.

Cars travel north and south on the Merritt Parkway under the Guinea Road Bridge in Stamford.

Hearst Connecticut Media

The Merritt Parkway is a landmark parkway in Connecticut, offering scenic views throughout its 37-mile, tree-canopy-covered length.  The parkway was open to the public in 1938 and was built to reduce traffic congestion, according to CTVisit.

The parkway is home to 69 historic bridges like the Merwin’s Lane Bridge, Lake Avenue Bridge and the Stanwich Road Bridge, which were constructed during the 1930s and 1940s, according to research blog Knowol.

The parkway passes by locations including Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Fairfield, Trumbull and New Haven. 

William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge
Westport

Traffic on the William Cribari Memorial Bridge over the Saugatuck River during rush hour on Tuesday May 31 in Westport, Conn.

A car drives on the William Cribari Memorial Bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport, Conn.

Alex von Kleydorff/Hearst Connecticut Media

The William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge in Westport, also known as the Saugatuck River Bridge, is the oldest surviving movable bridge in the state, being constructed in 1884. Those who drive on it can catch a view of the Saugatuck River. The bridge has been recognized on the National Register of Historic Places since 1987. Take a turn onto Riverside Avenue for a route along the river.