15 Best Things to Do in Meriden, CT

Meriden, CT
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Meriden in New Haven County is a small community between New Haven and Hartford and home to over 60,000 residents.

The city is the perfect place for anyone wanting a change of scenery, as it offers several acres of geological features, green spaces, and other recreational areas.

At Downtown Meriden, visitors can also find historic houses, buildings, and structures, some of which are part of the National Register of Historic Places.

If you’re traveling from New Haven to Hartford or vice versa, or if you’re looking for an ideal day trip for the weekend, here are the 15 best things to do in Meriden, Connecticut:

Explore Hubbard Park

Lake fountain at Hubbard Park
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Hubbard Park is a mountainous park featuring 1,803 acres of green spaces, lakes, and natural wonders.

The park is located along the Hanging Hills, a range of trap rock ridges known for its rare plant communities and majestic cliffside views.

At Hubbard Park, visitors can enjoy various leisure activities and marvel at the natural wonders surrounding the area, which is perfect if you want to immerse yourself in nature.

Pretty flowers at Hubbard Park
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Some of the facilities in the park include a tennis court, skating rink, playground, and a bandshell for events and concerts.

For avid hikers, follow various trails for hiking, skiing, cycling, and mountain biking.

Trails have different difficulty levels, so it’s ideal for novice hikers and those looking for new terrain to conquer.

A small waterfall at Hubbard Park
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Stop by the Meriden Farmers Market

The Meriden Farmers Market is a seasonal market at Meriden Green, offering fresh farm produce, food items, and other locally made products.

Aside from promoting a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, the market also supports local farmers and growers in Connecticut, further boosting the city’s economy.

Meriden Farmers Market is also an opportunity for local artisans and craftspeople to showcase their works and introduce their brands to locals and tourists.

Shop for fresh blueberries, bell peppers, peaches, tomatoes, and other goods like fresh flowers, teabags, handmade accessories, woven bags, and more.

Halfway through your shopping trip, rest and replenish with ready-to-eat baked goods and other food items, and enjoy the live entertainment.

Hike along Mattabesett Trail

Scenic view from Mattabesett Trail's peak
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The Mattabesett Trail is a 62-mile-long trail that's part of the New England National Scenic Trail and is famous for its scenic cliffs, rugged scenery, and thick forests.

Although the trail is used for hiking, trail running, backpacking, and snowshoeing, some areas along the route are also ideal for bird watching, fishing, rock climbing, and horseback riding.

Hikers can find historic sites and other places of interest along the trail, like ski areas, colonial stagecoach roads, and old cellar ruins.

View of a lake along Mattabesett Trail
H. Morrow Long, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For avid hikers, don’t miss the chance to explore and hike at Mattabesett Trail and marvel at the lakeside views surrounded by lush greenery.

Some parts of the trail may be difficult and require passing through dangerous ridge walk sections, but the satisfaction after conquering its peak is worth the challenge.

Hang Out at Meriden Green

At the heart of the city, Meriden Green provides residents and tourists with a vast green space where they can rest and enjoy some downtime.

The 14-acre park resulted from years of planning and redevelopment of the “Hub,” a former brownfield site centered on industrial and commercial activity.

Today, everyone can enjoy a walk at the park, ride their bicycles, jog or run around the paved trails, and bring their dog for a relaxing stroll.

Meriden Green is also the site of local events like the Meriden Farmers Market and small concerts.

Stop by the park for a breather in the middle of your tour around Meriden and enjoy the pristine scenery.

Marvel at the Views From Castle Craig

Exterior of Castle Craig
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Near Hubbard Park, catch sweeping views of the surroundings at Castle Craig, a stone observation tower reminiscent of Norman watchtowers in Europe.

Some would also say that the castle was modeled and inspired by an ancient castle in Scotland.

The tower stands 32 feet high and provides visitors with a 360-degree view of Meriden’s forests and green spaces.

View from Castle Craig
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Hike the trail to Castle Craig during autumn and take snapshots of the picturesque colors of fall, where the deep green leaves and golden hues blend in perfectly.

Trails to the top of Castle Craig are well-marked, although some areas may have steep rocky inclines.

For those who prefer getting to the top of the castle less strenuously, there’s a paved driveway available.

Aerial view of Castle Craig
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Grab a Bite at Ted’s Restaurant

Perhaps one of Connecticut’s best contributions to society is its steamed cheeseburger, a unique method of cooking the well-loved cheeseburger.

Ted’s Restaurant on Broad Street started serving steamed burgers in 1959, and the family-owned and operated restaurant has since been a household name in Meriden.

The restaurant initially catered to local factory workers, opening until four in the morning, until it became a favorite of locals who wanted to try the moist and juicy burger.

At Ted’s Restaurant, enjoy the classic steamed cheeseburger and steamed cheese sandwich, served plain or with your choice of toppings.

In addition to steamed burgers, other food items at the burger joint include chicken burgers, side dishes, and specialty drinks like milkshakes and ice cream floats.

Be One with Nature at Giuffrida Park

A lake at Giuffrida Park
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For a day of outdoor fun, head to Giuffrida Park on Westfield Road, a sprawling nature park with a peaceful reservoir, wetland meadows, trap rock ridges, and hiking trails.

The park is named after Doctor Francis Giuffrida, a World War II Navy and one of Meriden's most prominent medical practitioners.

Nature trail at Giuffrida Park
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Whether you’re an experienced hiker or biker or simply want to find a relaxing spot for a walk,  is the perfect place to unwind.

Enjoy a delicious lunch at the picnic area and go for a walk on the trails, go bird watching, or take photos of your surroundings.

Since Crescent Lake is a reserve water supply, swimming, rock climbing, boating, and fishing aren’t allowed.

Wildflowers at Giuffrida Park
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Gallery 53 is a local art gallery conveniently located near Meriden Green, making art accessible to residents since 1907.

The gallery includes a pottery studio, a gift shop, and a spacious art studio overlooking Meriden Green.

Visitors can find different exhibits from homegrown artists at the gallery and attend artisan fairs and other events.

After exploring the gallery, make the most of your day at Gallery 53 and enroll in an art class, paint party, and other workshops to unleash your creativity.

Learn how to create gnome ornaments, your jar of sugar scrub, beaded earrings, crochet art, and glass jewelry.

For groups with children, kid-friendly workshops include pumpkin painting, wizard wand making, and pottery ornament-making classes.

Follow the Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail

The Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail lined with trees
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The Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail is a 1.3-mile trail that occupies the Waterbury & Connecticut River Railroad.

After being abandoned in 1929, the trail was eventually used as a recreational site and trail, offering scenic views of the river and wildlife-spotting opportunities.

Start your hike at the Lions Club Park—keep an eye on the two grand granite columns—and follow the trail along the gorge with scenic viewpoints of the Quinnipiac River.

Keep an eye on the famous “Red Bridge” near Hanover Pond, one of the few surviving lenticular truss bridges built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company.

Rated as an easy walk, the Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail is ideal for walking, jogging, and trail running and is also ideal for those on wheelchairs.

As a multi-use trail, the Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail offers other activities such as canoeing and fishing (allowed by State license).

Play a Few Rounds of Golf at Hunter Golf Club

Hailed as one of the best golf courses in the state, Hunter Golf Club is a must for golf enthusiasts.

This golf course on West Field Road offers amazing views of the trap rock ridges and Castle Craig, a motivating scenery as you move from one area to another.

It also hosted some of the state’s most esteemed competitions, proving its top-notch quality.

Visit Hunter Golf Club and play a few rounds while enjoying the view of Meriden’s natural wonders.

For novice golfers who want to up their game, 30-minute and one-hour lessons are available via a PGA Professional instructor.

After a satisfying game, head to the on-site restaurant for a hearty lunch or dinner consisting of Italian dishes.

Other Things to Do Nearby

View the Artworks at the New Britain Museum of American Art

Exterior of the New Britain Museum of American Art
Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

From Meriden, take a 20-minute drive to the New Britain Museum of American Art, one of Connecticut's best cultural sites.

It is the first museum in the country dedicated to American art, offering thousands of paintings, sculptures, and other artworks.

From American colonial and Federal-era art to still-life works, you can find them at the New Britain Museum of American Art.

Interior of the New Britain Museum of American Art
Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some artists featured in the museum include Frederic Church, Georgia O'Keeffe, Andrew Wyeth, Solon Borglum, and more.

In addition to its artworks, this museum in New Britain also offers video lessons and off-site downloadable activities like salt watercolor paintings, torn paper landscapes, and more.

Exhibit in the New Britain Museum of American Art
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Spend the Day at Wadsworth Falls State Park

Waterfall at Wadsworth Falls State Park
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Wadsworth Falls State Park is a 285-acre state park located in Middletown, a 15-minute drive from Meriden.

The park is named after Clarence C. Wadsworth, a noted scholar who settled in Middletown and became involved in a project to preserve the waterfalls in the park.

Some of the activities available at Wadsworth Falls State Park include swimming, hiking, fishing, and picnicking.

The waters of Wadsworth Falls State Park
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Take note that swimming and picnicking are only allowed in designated areas.

For those who plan to hike, follow the Wadsworth Falls Loop, a 5.8-kilometer loop trail that takes you through small streams and towering forests, perfect for a relaxing walk.

Another trail will take you to the scenic Wadsworth Falls as it cascades to the Coginchaug River.

Small covered bridge at Wadsworth Falls State Park
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Take a Trip Down Memory Lane at Barker Character Comic and Cartoon Museum

Feeling nostalgic?

Head to Barker Character Comic and Cartoon Museum in Cheshire and view its unique collection.

Located 15 minutes from Meriden, the museum showcases years of American childhood starting from the 1960s.

As such, visitors can find vintage lunch boxes, figurines, and merchandise of characters like Popeye, Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, and The Simpsons.

The museum also has memorabilia of other cultural icons like The Beatles, Godzilla, Star Wars, and more.

In partnership with the CelebriDucks creator, Barker Character Comic and Cartoon Museum is the only location worldwide where you can view every official CelebriDuck released.

Go Skiing in Mount Southington Ski Area

Night scene at Mount Southington Ski Area
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In winter, take a day trip to Mount Southington Ski Area in Plantsville for a fun day in the snow.

Located 15 minutes from Meriden, the mountain was formerly the site of a dairy farm until a group of investors purchased the farm and developed it into a ski area.

The ski area, inspired by the ones in Vermont, eventually grew and expanded with more trails and lifts and became a popular site for skiing in Connecticut.

Mount Southington Ski Area has 14 trails, two terrain parks, a man-made mini half pipe, and 51 skiable acres for everyone to enjoy.

Not an expert skier?

The establishment offers group and private lessons for skiers of all ages and abilities, so no one is left behind.

Visit Sleeping Giant State Park

The tower of Sleeping Giant State Park
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Sleeping Giant, also known as Mount Carmel, is a rugged traprock mountain located within Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden.

The mountain was named such as its mountaintop resembles a sleeping giant.

Aside from the mountain, other highlights of the state park include miles of trails and the Sleeping Giant Tower, a Romanesque-style stone observatory.

Nature trail at Sleeping Giant State Park
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At Sleeping Giant State Park, you'll enjoy hiking, stream fishing, picnicking, camping, rock climbing, and more.

The park is a popular spot for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter.

Aerial view of Sleeping Giant State Park
Craig R., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Between New Haven and Hartford, Meriden is a gorgeous city with plenty of natural wonders.

The city has sprawling green spaces, lively farmers' markets, and other establishments worth seeing.

Check out the best things to do in Meriden, Connecticut, and start planning your dream weekend getaway now!

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