The 203's Ultimate CT Summer Bucket List

It’s time to take back Summer, Connecticut!

Every summer has a story, and we want to help you make this one EPIC! This year more than ever before, we are all longing for fun summer adventures and activities. So we decided to do the leg work for you-- (Yeaaa, YOU'RE WELCOME). 

In an effort to help you guys make the most out of summer 2021, we’ve put together a list of legendary experiences that are not to be missed in Connecticut this year-- and we can not wait to hear what you guys think! 

As you are checking off the items on our bucket list, we want you to share your adventures with us! Use the hashtags #203BucketList and #203SummerStory on your summer adventures for a chance to win an epic basket of 203 gear! We will choose 2 winners for July and 2 winners for August! 

The 203's ULTIMATE CT Summer Bucket List... 

Sum·mer buck·et List: Unique and exceptional experiences for you to tackle in Connecticut this summer! 

Westport Paddle Club- Paddle and Play on The Saugatuck 

Westport Paddle Club

Westport Paddle Club: At Westport Paddle Club, they believe in long summer days, salty hair, clean air, and getting in the damn water! This pandemic passion project turned bustling family-owned business offers paddle boarding, kayaking, sunset river cruises, and day camps for kids of all ages. Nestled in the heart of the Saugatuck River, this place was built on a strong passion for the water. They sponsor beach cleanups, give back to the community and aim to provide good clean summer fun to anyone who wants to join them! On any given [summer] day at Westport Paddle Club, you can find happy kids kayaking, paddling, playing yard games, and… jumping off the dock! In addition to their fun summer camps, they offer hourly rentals at great rates, you don’t need to own a paddle board or kayak to experience just how great being out on the water really is.The positive vibes and high-energy atmosphere at this local marina-- turned epic paddle club will leave you feeling good and wanting to come back for more. Pro tip— don’t miss their sunset kayak paddles this summer! 

The Mind Factory- dynamic escape game experience

The Mind Factory CT 

The Mind Factory: A real-life mystery game that meets Resident Evil makes for an experience like no other. Race against the clock and decipher clues, tricks, and riddles to find your way out of the most dynamic escape game experience in CT! In Mind Factory's current game Breathless, you are transformed from your daily life and morphed into an official Mind Factory agent. When something happens inside a high-security biohazard lab, you and your fellow agents must infiltrate, figure out what happened and isolate any threat to the outside world. INTENSE. This game is no joke. With real-life features that make you feel as though you are the star of an action movie, you must complete the mission in a limited time. With Mind Factory's new game Invasion coming soon, you will never run out of missions and experiences. We cant wait to bring you more details on the top-secret new game, Invasion. Head to Mind Factory ASAP so that you don't miss out on Breathless! 

** PRO TIP: use the code THE203 for 20% off THIS MONTH. 

Invasion. Head to Mind Factory ASAP so that you don't miss out on Breathless!

The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum- Epic Zip-lining Adventures  The Adventure Park in CT

The Adventure Park: Have you ever wanted to FLY? A thrilling trip to The Adventure Park will make your wildest dreams come true! Thrill-seekers of all ages are welcome at the Adventure Park. With two legendary locations in Connecticut, each comprised of hundreds of platforms and over 31 ziplines set over 5 acres of beautiful trees— The Adventure Park is sure to be one of your most unforgettable summer memories. We love that they offer courses for all ages and skill levels, making it super easy to bring the whole gang along. A bonding experience and adrenaline rush rolled into one— it feels like you are in a different world when you're zipping around the trees at the Adventure park!

**Pro Tip—The Adventure Park is BYO-Food. With plenty of picnic tables located throughout the Park, we suggest packing a lunch and making a day out of this experience!

**Our Fave?— GLOW IN THE PARK? Head to The Adventure Park at NIGHT to ZIP through the trees amongst bright LED and fairy lights shining in the area. They will even pump your favorite tunes to give you that added party feeling. This thrilling nighttime adventure does not disappoint and is sure to be one for the books! 

Megaboard Sup - Mega sized paddle board for the squad!

MegaBoardSup

Megaboard Sup: Have you guys ever seen a paddle-board that holds up to FIVE people?? SAYY WHATT?!? This brand new Fairfield-based Bizz is changing the game with their paddle rentals, and we’re pretty sure you’re going to want to try them out this summer.

These boards are a massive (inflatable) version of a traditional paddle-board and can be enjoyed by all ages. Not only are the paddle boards at Megaboardsup supersized... they're also pet-friendly (& that’s always a win for us). When you rent a board from MegaboardSUP this summer, they will HAND-DELIVER the board to you, FREE of charge, to any lake, beach, or home within a 20-mile radius of Fairfield. We love that our friends from MegaBoardSUP also have mega values— they started this business to encourage our community to go on adventures, take a break from their busy schedules, and live life in the moment. This family-owned small business firmly believes in the pursuit of happiness, and they're working hard to spread joy and quality time throughout CT.

** Use the Code: #megasupstory on your rental for 10% off! 

Alive @ 5- Summer music series in Stamford 

Alive@Five

Alive @ 5: Alive@Five and Wednesday Night Live: Both of Stamford’s trademark summer music series are coming back with a whole new life for summer 2021— and we HYPE! A new venue and a badass lineup will make this year’s concert series bigger and better than ever. Both of the concert series will relocate to Mill River Park, which will allow for beach chairs, picnic blankets, yard games, and a laid-back atmosphere for guests. Another change for 2021’s edition of the concert series, food trucks will line the perimeter of Mill River Park, and local beer will be served (which is always a plus for us).

The two concert series will run every Wednesday and Thursday from Sept. 1 until Sept. 30. Alive@Five, which only allows guests 21 and up, will be held on Thursday nights and is set to bring in headline shows including late-night TV’s Jon Batiste, duo performances from Chelsea Cutler, a Westport native, and Jeremy Zucker, Third Eye Blind and superstar Ludacris! Wednesday Nite Live is open to people of all ages and will feature Blues Traveler, Boyz II Men, the Village People, and Jefferson Starship!

Pro Tip: This year, both shows will offer advance tickets to all the shows to help limit long lines. Starting July 6, concertgoers can buy tickets for $25 through Eventbrite and skip the line. Same-day tickets will still be available both on-site and online for $35.

Family Fun- Unforgettable activities for all ages

Family Fun in CT 

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat: The Essex Steam train and Riverboat offers a 12 mile, 2.5 hour trip through the historic Connecticut River Valley. Starting at the 1892 Essex Station this ride is perfect for both history buffs as well as those who love beautiful serene views. Cruising near the tidal wetlands of Pratt Cove and Chester Creek, you are sure to spot bountiful birds in their natural habitats. Accessible only by boat, the undeveloped Selden Neck State Park is a highlight of the trip. The Essex Steam train and Riverboat also offers a plethora of other unique experiences including a rail bike adventure, a 4 course meal aboard the Essex Clipper, a Taco and Tequila Cruise, and so much more!

Lake Compounce: Did you know that Connecticut is home to America’s OLDEST Amusement Park?! (can I get a-- WHAT, WHAT??) Located in Bristol, CT New England's premier family theme and water park is celebrating 175 years of fun. The park is home to over 45 rides and attractions including the new Venus Vortex Waterslide!

Be Chocolate: The finest authentic Belgian chocolate shop just popped up in Greenfield Hill and they love to have a good time! Serving small batches of hand crafted chocolates, waffles and… frozen hot coco (SAYYY WHATT?)! We love their open kitchen concept-- it’s so much fun to watch the chocolatiers in action. Pro Tip— swing by on Saturday mornings during the Greenfield Hill Farmers Market :) ** Frozen Hot Coco only available on Sat & Sundays

Farmington River Tubing: A scenic yet wild ride down the Farmington river? Sign me up! This is the perfect activity to go enjoy on a hot day! Soak up the hot sun while being splashed by the white water rapids! All you need to bring is your adventurous friends and family because Farmington River Tubing will provide the rest (even transportation after the ride).

Unique Experiences- Rare & Exciting Suggestions 

Unique Experiences in CT

Pine & Iron Axe Throwing: Drinks and axe throwing with your besties? Sounds like a party to us! Gather your home-ies and head to Pine & Iron Axe Throwing for an evening of adrenaline-pumping Axe Throwing this summer. Located in both Hartford and New Haven, this spot is unlike any activity you have ever done! Either head to their Hartford location for BYOB or New Haven location where there's a bar offering beer, wine, and cider! Offering options for all size groups, you can head to Pine & Iron as a fun date night or make it an event by booking their Axe Throwing Party or Base Camp Party. We love that they offer a Social Throw option— so you can head there alone and make a new friend! ** Pro tip— Pine & Iron is BYOF, so don’t forget to bring along your favorite food!

Xperiment Virtual Reality: At Xperiment VR they are all about providing the most epic yet realistic virtual reality experience for anyone and everyone! With 50+ experience options you can head to Xperiment VR to do just about anything in the virtual reality world. They offer multiplayer games, educational experiences, kidfriendly virtual reality, art and design, sports, travel and adventure, and even virtual reality that burns calories! Theres something for everyone! If you have ever wanted to hang glide or race a formula 1 car but haven't had the opportunity, go to Xperiment VR for their simulations! We can't wait to head to Xperiment VR for their truly one of a kind experience.

Fliteschool of Fairfield: This new family owned business is getting a ton of attention up and down the Long Island sound this season. After seeing these guys ‘flying’ across the water at Jennings Beach in Fairfield last summer—we needed to learn more. After further investigation, we learned that this fun summer activity is a MUST TRY experience! Fliteboard™ eFoil gives the sensation of flying over water. Carving like a snowboard in fresh powder, but with the freedom to ride anywhere, any time, without wind or waves. It’s fast, quiet, and emission free! At Fliteschool Fairfield, they offer 1.5 hour lesson/guided tours on Fairfield Beach, and Saugatuck River. They will also come to your home, your boat/yacht or your special event. Hey @FliteSchoolFairfield we wanna fly, too!

Captain John's Tiki Tours: Think… tiki bar… meets sunset booze cruise. Yea, we know— SIGN ME UP! Grab your favorite beverages and your besties and head to Stamford for the time of your life. Captain John's Tiki Tour's offers guided and crewed boat tours of the Connecticut coastline… from a floating tiki bar! Plot your course with Capt. John and decide what kind of adventure you’re craving.

Enjoy a CT LOBSTAH Roll- Hot and Buttery, Commin Right Up! 

Best Lobster Rolls In Connecticut

CT LOBSTER ROLLS-- You may or may not know that the traditional 'hot and buttery lobster roll' was born in Connecticut! So it's no surprise that CT has an impressive number of delicious lobster joints serving up the most decadent lobster rolls that we have ever tasted. This summer, we encourage you to head to one of our favorite lobster roll joints (listed on our Guide to lobster rolls in THIS PREVIOUS BLOG) . Our go-to lobster roll joins for 20201? LOBSTER CRAFT and LOBSTER LANDING

Lobster Craft: What began as a local food truck phenomenon based out of the coastal community of Norwalk, CT, Lobster Craft has morphed into a thriving brick and mortar Restaurant Group, offering their over-the-top hot and buttery lobster rolls to hungry consumers looking for their next lobster roll fix. We love that Lobster Craft was started by, Captain Mike Harden, a Coast Guard Captain and licensed Lobster fisherman! Today they have FOUR trucks and numerous regional and national awards. LobsterCraft is now embarking on its next voyage into the restaurant biz. With a location in Greenwich and two restaurants opening in Fairfield and West Hartford, no matter where you are, Lobster Craft is the place to go. Our top pick at Lobster Craft? Their award winning Coastal Roll!

Lobster Landing: If you know you know! One of the most buttery delicious lobster rolls in all of CT! Need we say more?

Breweries- Our Go To Summer Breweries For Summer 2021

Best Breweries in CT

Dockside: At Dockside, they believe in keeping things exciting – they are more than just a beer bar. Above all else, Dockside is a gathering place; a fun, local haunt that aims to bring people together. We love that Dockside's waterfront location will give you all the feel-good summer vibes. Located on the banks of the Housatonic River in Milford, CT, come lounge under the palm trees, join us by the dock, and grab a beer with us! Sip on a beer with friends, enjoy a New Haven-style pie or some tacos from their food truck, reserve a cabana, hang out at the Tiki Bar or just chill out, you'll always find sunshine and a good time there. Pro Tip-- if you have a boat (or better yet, a friend with a boat) you can pull right up to to the dock outside of the brewery! Reserve your slip by heading to the "Dockwa" app **You can find Dockside's branded IG stickers by searching for "Dockside" :)**

Two Roads: At Two Roads, they believe in Taking the Road Less Traveled! Their brewery has everything you need for an afternoon of fun. From a large tasting room to a huge outdoor beer garden there is plenty of space for your socially distant beer tasting needs.

Half Full: Half Full Brewery’s ‘Third Place’ taproom combines local brewing with an amazing modern-rustic atheistic. Their limited-edition beers and wine are accompanied by pet and family-friendly outdoor seating. Getting to see kids and dogs join in on the fun adds great energy to the trip so be sure to bring the whole team when you visit! Also, if you’re like me, flights of beer are a must for a first-time brewery visit, but ordering them can be tricky! I really appreciated that they have various flight recommendations on the menu to take the stress out of picking the perfect combo!

Vineyards- The CT Wine Trail & A Few Of Our Faves...

Best Vineyards in Connecticut

Did you know that the CT Wine Trail includes 40 unique vineyards state wide? Many of them are close together, making it super easy to bop around to several locations in one day! We encourage you to try as many of the CT Vineyards as your heart desires this summer, but to get you started, here is a list of our FAVES for Summer… 

Hopkins Vineyard: Set in the picturesque hills of Litchfield County overlooking Lake Waramaug, Hopkins Vineyard produces award-winning wines and has an ambiance like no other. Live music and community events take place on the farm every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer— making for the most special afternoon of wine, yard games, and picnicking. 

Originally a dairy farm, the property was transformed into a vineyard in the 70s and was one of the first in what has become a thriving Connecticut industry. The sprawling fields, scenic views, yard games, live music, and friendly staff are some of the things that make this CT vineyard one of our faves!

Hopkins Vineyard has a lovely tented picnic area— and the best part? It’s dog-friendly! We love that they have cheese platters and small bites available for purchase. ** Pro Tip— you are welcome to BYO-Food if you are picnicking outside! 

Crystal Ridge Winery: Nestled among the rolling hills and fruit farms lies the hidden vineyard of Crystal Ridge Winery. Crystal Ridge Winery is located on a 250-acre estate in the hills of South Glastonbury, CT and is the perfect place to experience a breathtaking view of Hartford while enjoying their top quality wines.

Ice Cream- Betchya can't have just one...

https://www.mrfrostysicecream.com/

Ice cream and Summer go together like local beers and a 203 Koozie (ha!). There are seemingly unlimited spots to enjoy a local ice cream cone, and it would be impossible for us to list ALL of our faves! For this category, we wanted to give you two suggestions with very different (but equally special) CT summer settings— Take a taste… 

Mr. Frosty's: Locals line up at this seasonal window-serve venue to enjoy an ice cream with a waterfront view! This nostalgic ice cream joint will bring you back in time and give you all the summer feels. With tons of different flavors and options including cravers (layered sundaes), milkshakes, tornadoes, fruit smoothies, and so much more Mr. Frostys has a delicious treat for everyone.

Ferris Acres Creamery: If you haven't been to Ferris Acres-- RUN, don't walk. This quaint, seasonal farm stand serves up deliciously creamy, home-made ice creams, shakes & sundaes in creative flavors. Ferris Acres Creamery is a family owned business located on Ferris Acres Farm. Enjoy your ice-cream with the cows and take in the scenery. Pro tip -- if this spot is a bit of a drive from where you are, the drive is gorgeous and the ice-cream is worth the commute.

Greenwich Polo- The Ultimate Sunday Funday 

Greenwich Polo

Greenwich Polo: Serving up the most legendary #SundayFunday situation around, Greenwich Polo offers a high-energy day of polo, food trucks, cocktails, and family-friendly fun. Nestled in the beautiful backcountry of Connecticut, Greenwich Polo Club is one of only three polo venues in the United States offering high-goal polo. The club hosts high goal polo matches throughout the summer, typically beginning in June and concluding in September.

Airbnbs- Incase you need to crashhh

Best Airbnbs in CT

While you're heading out on your summer adventures, we figured you might need a place to crash! So, naturally, we hand-picked a few picturesque AirBnB options for your convenience!  

  • MysticAirbnb: Since opening in 2019, MysticAirbnb has hosted over 250 guests. MysticAirbnb consists of two property options for their guests to choose from. The Carriage House, nestled in the center of Old Mystic, CT began welcoming guests in 2019. This home is known for its ability to host singles, couples, or even parties of up to 12 people! It is the perfect spot for wedding parties or family weekends. Their newest stay, Riverbed, opened its doors in May 2021. Seated directly on the Mystic River, and only a 30 second walk from downtown, it is the best spot for couples looking for a weekend getaway in the heart of Mystic, CT. They look forward to hosting you! DM them any questions you may have! 
  • The Great Gull Island: Mystic, Fairfield Beach, Newport (RI). 

    A charming collection of boutique airBnB’s located along the CT coastline. With gorgeous waterfront options in Mystic, Fairfield CT, and Newport (RI). The trendy decor and super friendly owner make these idilic airbnb’s an easy pick for us! 

Sunrises and Sunsets--

Best Connecticut Sunrise and Sunset

A timeless Connecticut tradition-- Catching a breathtaking Sunrise or sunset. This year, we encourage you guys to pick a special location, pack a picnic (or your fave beverage) and take it all in as the CT skyline shows off! There are endless spots to do this, but we wanted to give you a few suggestions to help get you started---

  • Hammonasset State Park, Madison CT
  • Harbor Park, Middletown CT
  • Compo Beach, Westport CT
  • Branford Point Beach, Branford CT
  • Pear Tree Point, Darien CT
  • Harvey’s Beach, Old Saybrook CT

Concert Venues- Let's dance...

Outdoor Concert Venues in Connecticut

Outdoor concerts are taking on a whole new life in 2021, and there’s no better time than Summer to enjoy a fun outdoor show with your besties! With covid encouraging more outdoor events, there are endless outdoor shows going down this summer. The state of CT has endless venues for indoor and outdoor concerts, and we encourage you to explore as many as possible. Below we are listing just a few options for outdoor entertainment venues…

  • Fairfield Theater Company, Fairfield CT 
  • Levitt Pavilion, Westport CT
  • Harbor Yard Amphitheater, Bridgeport CT
  • Parkville Market, Hartford CT
  • Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield CT

Take a HIKE- I'll bring the sunblock... 

Best Summer Hikes in Connecticut

There are endless hiking trails throughout Connecticut. With hikes of different lengths and difficulties you are sure to find a hike made just for you. While we encourage you to try them all, here is a list to get you started!

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