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Governor Ned Lamont


Governor Lamont Announces Summer Tourism Season Kicks off at State Parks, Beaches, and Cultural Attractions

Visitors and Residents Can Explore Opportunities for Summer Plans Throughout Connecticut by Visiting and

(MILFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today visited Silver Sands State Park in Milford – one of Connecticut’s 110 state parks and 32 state forests – where he held an event to kick off the summer tourism season and encourage the state’s residents and visitors to consider the many outdoor recreation opportunities Connecticut has to offer.

Many of these opportunities can be explored by visiting Connecticut’s official state parks website at and by visiting Connecticut official tourism website at

“Connecticut has so many beautiful outdoor recreation opportunities, including at our 110 state parks and 32 state forests, which are among the best in the country and are a huge part of the tremendous quality of life here in our state,” Governor Lamont said. “We are proud to be ranked the number one state in the country for hiking, with more than 2,000 miles of diverse trails in our beautiful state parks. Plentiful outdoor activity combined with an array of cultural marvels and exquisite dining, which includes the honor of hosting two James Beard Award finalists, make Connecticut an ideal place to visit this summer.”

Connecticut’s shoreline and inland state parks that have swimming areas are now almost fully staffed with lifeguards, and campgrounds are now open for the season. Museums, nature centers, and other interpretive seasonal sites within the parks are also open for fun activities, including tours. Through the Passport to the Parks program, drivers that have a Connecticut-registered vehicle do not have to pay a fee to park at any state park and forest.

All of the state parks are overseen by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

“We have so many gorgeous places to play outside in our state, and so many ways to recreate, whether it’s a day at the beach, relaxing by a campfire, or fishing, boating, or hiking, there’s something for everyone to enjoy,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “I encourage all residents to visit to discover the varied experiences our parks have to offer and to build a fun summer adventure itinerary around a visit to a park using the ‘While You’re Here’ feature, which shows other fun things to do in the area of a park you may be visiting. Here’s to a safe summer parks season filled with fun adventures and memories to last a lifetime.”

New state parks website recommends local tourism attractions

Earlier this year, DEEP launched a new state parks website ( to help visitors better access Connecticut’s 110 state parks, 32 state forests, 14 campgrounds, 23 designated swimming areas, thousands of miles of trails, and hundreds of thousands of acres to enjoy. The state parks offer opportunities for hiking, camping, swimming, boating, fishing, and picnicking, among many other outdoor activities.

The innovative online platform allows residents and visitors the opportunity to search state parks by desired activity or location, reserve a campsite, find a hiking trail, or explore options to extend their stay by visiting nearby restaurants, shops, hotels and attractions.

Connecticut’s state parks are one of the state’s largest tourism attractions and fuels the outdoor recreation economy, which contributes $4.6 billion annually to the state’s economy.

Connecticut’s tourism website compliments state park opportunities

The Connecticut State Parks website is a companion to the state’s tourism website,, which had a record 9.4 million visits in 2023, up 32% from 2022, making it one of the top ten most visited state tourism websites in the nation. This impressive traffic surpasses not only its New England neighbors but even outpaces New York. The website has recently undergone enhancements to elevate the design and overall user experience, making it more convenient for visitors to discover all there is to see and do in Connecticut and find travel inspiration to help them plan a trip.

Exciting new attractions and events are available for summer 2024

Several new tourism opportunities are available for the summer of 2024. This includes:

  • Inaugural Oyster Trail: Connecticut revealed its first-ever oyster trail, which includes over a dozen oyster farms and more than 20 restaurants and stores across the state. Check it out at
  • Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven: After three years of major renovations, the museum has doubled its exhibition space, added new research facilities, and eight classrooms. It is now free and open to all.
  • The Glass House in New Canaan: Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Glass House features the newly restored Brick House, designed by Philip Johnson in 1949.
  • Soundside Music Festival (September 28-29) in Bridgeport: Formerly known as Sound on Sound, Connecticut’s largest music festival at Seaside Park has been reimagined with more experiences and site improvements. Headliners include Noah Kahan and Foo Fighters.
  • Voyage to the Deep – Underwater Adventures at Mystic Seaport Museum: This highly interactive exhibit allows visitors to climb aboard a submarine and explore marine habitats, diving equipment, and maritime archaeology.
  • Lake Compounce in Bristol: The park features enhancements including a re-tracked 97-year-old Wildcat Roller Coaster, an upgraded Boulder Dash roller coaster with more than 1,000 feet of Titan Track, and a new coffee shop offering fun coffee creations, pastries, and more.
  • Sun Patio at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville: The renovated open-air area now features fire pits, Adirondack chairs, grassy turf, and a large stage. The Sun Patio will host a weekly concert series every Friday with live music, drink specials, food trucks, and more.

ParkConneCT provides transportation to state parks and beaches

This year, Connecticut is once again expanding access to state parks and beaches through the ParkConneCT program.

Beginning Memorial Day weekend and operating on weekends through Labor Day, DEEP and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) are again partnering to provide this service, which helps residents and out-of-state visitors access certain parks and rail and connect to buses that provide services to Silver Sands State Park, Hammonasset Beach State Park, and Sleeping Giant State Park.

As DEEP and DOT expand efforts to improve equitable access to the outdoors, ParkConneCT is teaming up with the DEEP No Child Left Inside program to pilot a program that aims to provide guided bus excursions to the program’s events and other recreational opportunities.

“In its fourth season of operation, the ParkConneCT program continues to offer residents a safe and reliable transportation option to some of Connecticut’s most beautiful state parks, beaches, and campgrounds,” CTDOT Public Transportation Bureau Chief Ben Limmer said. “We look forward to future collaborations with our state partners to expand access to outdoor recreational opportunities through stress-free and environmentally friendly public transit.”

For more information on ParkConneCT, visit

Restore CT State Parks initiative is keeping infrastructure at state parks in good repair

Another way the state is supporting access to state parks is through the Restore CT State Parks initiative, an historic funding commitment led by Governor Lamont and the state legislature to address a backlog of parks infrastructure repairs.

To date, $70.7 million ($10.7 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds and $30 million of state bond fund authorizations in both FY 2024 and FY 2025) has been committed to support these important investments.

Some of the recent infrastructure improvement projects include new observation deck windows on Heublein Tower at Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury, ADA fishing access improvements at Salmon River State Forest in East Hampton, and the replacement of restroom facilities at American Legion State Forest in Barkhamsted.

For more information on Restore CT State Parks, visit

Campground reservations can be made now

All of the campgrounds at Connecticut’s state parks and forests are fully booked for Memorial Day weekend. However, there is still plenty of availability for the remainder of the summer season.

Reservations for all state campgrounds can be made online through Reserve America at or by calling 1-877-668-CAMP (2267).

Lifeguards and swimming safety

Lifeguards will begin Memorial Day weekend at five state park beaches, including Hammonasset Beach State Park, Rocky Neck State Park, Silver Sands State Park, Sherwood Island State Park, and Black Rock State Park. Lifeguard coverage will increase throughout June to include additional days per week as lifeguards finish school and become available, and the addition of guarded coverage at Burr Pond State Park and Squantz Pond State Park. DEEP anticipates guards will be staffed fully prior to the July 4 holiday.

DEEP urges all residents and visitors getting in or on the water to prioritize water safety. Water temperatures continue to be cold this time of year, despite warmer air temperatures. There is an increased danger of hypothermia for swimmers, particularly children, who enter very cold water for any extended period.

Some helpful tips for those planning to enter the water:

  • Parents and caregivers: Watch your children. It only takes seconds for a child to drown, and this can occur silently.
  • Be aware of underwater hazards: Natural swimming areas can have sudden drop-offs, holes, large rocks, or tree roots that can’t be easily seen from the surface. Diving and jumping into these waters can be dangerous.
  • Swim only in the designated areas, and swim with a buddy.
  • Take a swimming lesson: Swimming skills can help save lives. People of all ages should consider signing up for a swimming class offered at local YMCAs or municipal parks and recreation departments.
  • Drink responsibly: Excessive alcohol consumption impairs judgment and reaction ability. Even prescription drugs may impair judgment. Swim sober.
  • Know your limits, including physical fitness and medical conditions.
  • Children, inexperienced swimmers, and all boaters should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

Boating safety

DEEP manages 117 boat launches across Connecticut on ponds, lakes, rivers and Long Island Sound. Information on these facilities can be found online at

While access to all 117 state boat launches is available throughout the year, DEEP reminds boaters that late spring water temperatures are much colder than the air and can pose substantial dangers to unprepared recreational boaters. To prevent serious consequences from an unexpected cold-water immersion, paddlers should exercise caution by using proper equipment, practicing safety techniques, and avoiding dangerous situations. DEEP recommends that paddlers wear a personal floatation device all year round, but they are required by law to be worn from October 1 through May 31. Over the last five years, Connecticut families have grieved the loss of six paddlers during spring’s cold water boating season.

Some helpful tips for those planning to boat:

  • Always wear your life jacket: Connecticut law requires anyone in canoes, kayaks, rowboats, or stand-up paddleboards to wear a properly fitting life jacket between October 1 and May 31. If a boater ends up in the water, a life jacket will make someone more visible to other boaters and will keep them afloat, significantly improving their chances of survival.
  • Do not paddle alone: Always paddle with a partner, and know how to get back into the boat should someone fall overboard. When paddling with a partner, it is easier to get back into a boat or reach shore safely.
  • Dress for cold water: Paddlers should dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Water temperatures can vary greatly around the state during the spring, but all still are below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considered cold water. Cold water immersion increases the risk of cold-water shock and involuntary gasp reflex, which is a leading cause of drowning.
  • File a float plan: Make a float plan that includes your planned boating location, expected time of departure and return, and who to call in case of emergency. Provide the plan to someone at home and call them once you are back ashore safely.
  • Maintain a proper lookout: Springtime can bring higher water levels in rivers which can dislodge items like docks, pilings, and trees. These can be found floating down rivers and into Long Island Sound. Boaters should be especially vigilant this time of year when they get out on the water to look for and avoid floating debris.

Check DEEP’s social media channels before you visit a state park

Anyone planning to visit a state park or boat launch is urged to check for capacity closures before visiting. This information is routinely posted on X (formerly Twitter) at @CTStateParks and @CTBoatingInfo.

Additionally, DEEP’s Water Quality Monitoring Program is back in action this season. Water quality information is published online at

Seasonal staff opportunities at state parks still available

Multiple seasonal jobs at Connecticut’s state parks, including positions for lifeguards, park rangers, maintenance, and more remain available this summer, particularly in the northwest corner of the state. For information on these opportunities, visit

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