Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Vernon, CT

  • Published 2022/08/18

There are plenty of largely populated areas in Connecticut.

Vernon, in Tolland County, is one of the most populated towns you’ll find in the state.

This town dates back to 1808 and currently features a population of approximately 29,300.

If you visit Vernon, you can stop by the New England Civil War Museum, among other historical venues.

Some things you can check out in this town include various nature spots to find wildlife and history spots with unique features.

There is also a selection of places where you can enjoy a hearty meal, drink, and overall treat.

Vernon has something for everyone to find and enjoy.

That said, here are the best things to do in Vernon:

Explore the Belding Wildlife Management Area

The waters of Belding Wildlife Management Area

Jeff Holcombe /

Enjoy the outdoors by checking out the Belding Wildlife Management Area.

The Belding Wildlife Management Area is a nature area that features several habitats and spans 282 acres.

Some of the habitats featured in this area include wetlands and fields, to name a few.

With the variety of habitats comes several types of wildlife you can spot.

Butterly on a flower at Belding Wildlife Management Area

Jeff Holcombe /

These types of wildlife include a selection of bird species such as ground-dwelling ovenbirds.

If you want to learn more about the wildlife and greenery in the area, you can join seasonal walks.

You can find the Belding Wildlife Management Area around Bread & Milk Road.

Redwing blackbird at Belding Wildlife Management Area

Jeff Holcombe /

Meet the Chickens at the Strong Family Farm

Find plenty to do and see in one location by visiting the Strong Family Farm.

The Strong Family Farm is a local family farm established in 1878, with several events and programs for guests to check out.

If you want to meet some farm animals, the farm offers a program where you can help take care of chickens and learn about them.

The farm also offers raised garden beds you can take care of for some time.

If you are interested in the farm events, there is a harvest festival and marathon you can join.

There are also weekly events such as picnic days.

Besides events and programs, the farm has a store where you can get a variety of produce, canned products, and other items like jams.

To find the farm, you need to head to West Street.

Cycle around the Trails at Tankerhoosen Valley

The Tankerhoosen Valley, otherwise known as the Tankerhoosen River Valley, is the prime spot to go hiking or cycling in Vernon.

The alley sits near Phoenix Street and features several trails you can explore.

There are several sights to discover when exploring this valley, including historical spots and garden areas.

Depending on your trail, you can also try cycling through different terrains for fun.

Aside from hiking or cycling on different trails, you can enjoy swimming and fishing in some parts of the valley.

Visitors can enjoy plenty of sights and activities at the Tankerhoosen Valley.

Stroll around the Risley Reservoir Preserve

Risley Reservoir Preserve is one of the top spots in Vernon where you can explore nature.

The area features a trail over a mile long and takes less than 20 minutes to travel.

It is one of the more accessible trails you can hike in Vernon, but there are still many lovely sights to find.

The main sights you’ll see on this trail are a view of the lake and the forest area.

The Risley Reservoir Preserve may not be the most exciting place to explore, but it is an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts to check out.

Listen to Civil War Stories at the New England Civil War Museum

Vernon has its share of highlights, one being the New England Civil War Museum.

Since 1994, the New England Civil War Museum has welcomed visitors.

People also call it the New England Civil War Museum and Research Center.

While the museum opened in 1994, Civil War veterans in Vernon started museum efforts in 1896.

You can find the museum inside the original Grand Army of the Republic hall near Rockville.

Several Civil War artifacts are in this museum, including various photographs and documents.

The New England Civil War Museum opens on weekends.

If you want to check out the research center, you need to make an appointment.

View Local Artifacts at the Vernon Historical Society Museum

History buffs who want to learn about local history must check the Vernon Historical Society Museum.

Unfortunately, you cannot visit this museum any time you please.

It only opens on Thursdays and the second and fourth Sundays of the month.

A few artifacts displayed in this museum include a range of old photographs and paintings, among other old pieces.

If you want to visit the museum outside the public open hours, you need to make an appointment.

You can also check out museum events and take the chance to learn something new.

To locate the Vernon Historical Society Museum, you must go to Hartford Turnpike.

See Vintage Vehicles at the New England Motorcycle Museum

The New England Motorcycle Museum is a prime spot for biking enthusiasts to visit in Vernon.

Located around West Main Street, the museum opens on Fridays and weekends.

The museum also sits inside a former textile mill.

As the name indicates, this museum contains vintage motorcycles, plus other related memorabilia.

There are over 25 motorcycle brands featured in this museum.

Some motorcycles are vintage, while others are custom pieces.

Many of these custom pieces come from collectors and the Kaplan family donations.

If you are interested in owning a classic motorcycle yourself, the museum hosts online auctions.

There’s plenty for biking enthusiasts to see when visiting the New England Motorcycle Museum.

Visit the Fox Hill Tower

Daytime view of Fox Hill Tower

illstudio /

Check out the historical sites available in Vernon by seeking out the Fox Hill Tower.

The Fox Hill Tower is a 72-foot-high tower that dates back to 1939, but the land it stands on is much older.

In 1878, the town built a remnant of a wooden tower.

However, a blizzard destroyed all but the base three years later.

Then, they built the current tower.

Close view of Fox Hill Tower

Kyle Lee /

The current structure is a memorial to the veterans of all wars, featuring an octagonal Romanesque design.

You can access the tower through a promenade and enjoy a lovely view on an observation platform near the top of the building.

In addition, you can rent the Fox Hill Tower for three hours.

Check Out Local Art Pieces at Arts Center East

Arts Center East is the central place to visit in Vernon if you want to see local art.

The art center features various exhibits throughout the year.

The center doesn’t just display art pieces but also hosts other events from the visual, literary, or performing arts.

These events include poetry readings and theater performances.

Besides various art events, you can join classes and workshops to learn different crafts.

There is also a gift shop and holiday sales where you can purchase local creations that include jewelry and pottery, among other things.

You’ll find all kinds of art to appreciate when visiting the Arts Center East.

Go Rollerblading at the Ron-A-Roll Indoor Roller Skating Center

Roller skating is one of the different activities you can experience in the town of Vernon.

Bring your family or friends to skate in the Ron-A-Roll Indoor Roller Skating Center.

The skating center features different programs and facilities to cater to all levels of skaters.

If you have no experience with rollerblades, you can join classes on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

You can skate around 14,040 square feet of floor, but schedules for public skating tend to vary during the week.

Other facilities at this center include a shop for gear, an arcade, and a snack bar.

Among the different places you can visit for entertainment, the Ron-A-Roll Indoor Roller Skating Center is an ideal spot for family fun.

Have Fun with Pool and Drinks at Racks Billiards and Bar

Enjoy a meal and game by dining at the Racks Billiards and Bar.

Racks Billiards and Bar is a local pool hall and bar that offers several pool tables and a wide selection of food and drinks.

Bring your friends to this bar for a night out!

Some dishes you can enjoy at Racks Billiards and Bar include chicken kabob, quesadilla, and more.

You can enjoy the bar’s list of cocktails and beers between playing or watching games.

In addition to pool and dining facilities, there is a shop where you can get merchandise.

Racks Billiards and Bar is a prime spot to visit if you want to have fun and enjoy a drink.

Get Seafood and Steak at Elmo’s Dockside

Grab yourself a local meal by dining at Elmo’s Dockside.

Elmo’s Dockside is a local family restaurant with a selection of seafood dishes and a list of wines and other spirits to enjoy.

You can locate the restaurant around Hartford Turnpike and enjoy a hearty dinner.

Some of the dish options guests can enjoy at this restaurant include lobster dishes and clam chowder, to name a few.

Besides seafood dishes, the restaurant offers a selection of meat and pasta dishes.

Grab Breakfast and Sweets at Vernon Diner

Among the places to grab a meal in Vernon, Vernon Diner is a top spot to enjoy a hearty meal no matter the time of the day.

Vernon Diner is a local diner with a selection of New York-style dishes for all-day meals.

Some dishes you can dig into include pancakes, wraps, and more.

In addition to a variety of dishes for different meals, the diner offers a selection of cakes and other desserts you can enjoy.

You can also order from a long list of coffee and cocktails to pair with your dish.

The Vernon Diner is one of the top options to check out when you want a hearty meal in the town.

Discover Gifts and Trinkets at John Thomas Treasures

Anyone interested in the local shopping scene needs to visit John Thomas Treasures.

John Thomas Treasures is a local thrift store located around Talcotville Road.

The shop features a range of items to buy as gifts or souvenirs.

Likewise, the thrift store has no shortage of items you can discover, from collectibles to retail items and jewelry.

Besides featuring an extensive range of items, the store provides a new set of articles each week.

If you’re a fan of treasure hunting or want to check out local shops, visit the John Thomas Treasures thrift shop.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Valley Falls Park

Brook at Valley Falls Park

Jeff Holcombe /

The Valley Falls Park is a 196-acre park you can find along Valley Falls Road and features a selection of areas to enjoy different activities.

If you want to explore the area, you can check out the hiking trails and an open field.

Depending on the season, you can visit a pond and beach area for swimming and fishing.

Trees at Valley Falls Park

Jeff Holcombe /

There is also a picnic area where you can relax in outdoors.

While Valley Falls Park is one of many parks in Vernon, it is an ideal spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

You can find this place by looking around Valley Falls Road.

The grounds of Valley Falls Park

User:Magicpiano, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Vernon is a town with a range of places for visitors to explore and different activities to experience.

Whether you enjoy nature, history, or want to try something new, there is plenty for you to discover in this town.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Vernon!

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