Have you ever noticed those brown signs on the highway that list seemingly random local oddities and attractions? Have you ever been able to pull over and check the attractions out, or did you just pass them by and wistfully think that maybe someday you’d be able to take a side trip? Maybe it’s time to make the side trip the main trip and spend a day on The Brown Sign Tour.
Connecticut’s Recreational or Cultural Interest signs (aka “The Brown Signs”) list attractions for tourists to visit while passing through our lovely state. If you’re looking to finally “play tourist” in your own state, I recommend heading North out of Meriden.
Start your adventure going on I-91N, toward the Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill. Upon arrival, it’s clear the park makes for an amazing outdoor adventure based on the size, upkeep, and dino-decor. Here guests are greeted by a timeline etched into the sidewalk that offers a look into the region’s natural history, and leads guests to the park’s Nature Trials. These trails span over two miles, and are home to a wide variety of fauna and flora for visitors of all ages to enjoy. If you look closely, you can even see some remnants of the once-flowing lava that has settled into basaltic rock. Enjoying natural history from 200 million years ago and a lovely wooded stroll never came so easily! The ground also offers a designated picnic area complete with picnic benches, grills for public use, and a pavilion that’s open to the public!
After the park, hop back on the highway and keep heading North to The Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry, the oldest continuously operating ferry in the nation. This offers not only a historic state landmark with an incredible view of the Connecticut River, but also an on-property lunch spot for a mid-day meal! The ferry will be open to the public April 1st. Mark your calendars!
To finish off the North-bound tour, conclude your day at the Wadsworth Atheneum. With metropolitan Hartford as the backdrop, this hidden gem hosts artwork from greats including Andy Warhol, Georgia O'keeffe, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí. Boasting three floors of culture, this is the perfect final stop for your adventure.
After you’ve hit these three spots, see how many other Brown Signs catch your eye. They’re scattered all along our highways and interstates highlighting attractions waiting to be explored.
Francesca Fontánez is a Meriden-based journalist, educator, and creative. A graduate of both the University of New Haven and the University of Bridgeport, she is happy to be back in Meriden writing about the city she loves. When she's not helping out in the English department at Maloney High School, she's either exploring the Eastern seaboard for her lifestyle blog (@east_side_vibes_ on Instagram) or working on music for her band, Cessa and The Zach . Email Francesca at firstname.lastname@example.org with tips on what you want to read about next, or just to say hi!