Connecticut is one of those states that tends to get overlooked by visitors outside of New England simply for its size. Let us tell you though that while it may be one of the smallest states in the country, it packs a big, powerful punch. A vacation filled with history, culture, and Northeastern charm, Connecticut is just a few hours drive New York City and Boston. Many city dwellers consider the area an understated beach destination for wholesome, family-fun. Whether you're craving a seaside escape or itching for a relaxed weekend getaway, there's plenty to do and see in the Nutmeg State.

Mystic Seaport

Like many New England states, Connecticut owes a lot of its success to overseas trading and fishing. The thriving mecca that it has become has all been recorded at Mystic Seaport, the largest maritime museum on the planet. Aside from ship blueprints and a 19th century seafaring village full of reenactments in period costume and character, the museum has countless collections of ships and boats dating back to the inception of the United States.

Mark Twain House & Museum

Most Americans don't know that one of the country's greatest writers (with a seriously sweet mustache) has strong ties to Connecticut. When he wasn't exploring Missouri and Bermuda or recounting the escapades of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, the world renown author called Redding home. Researchers say some of the happiest and most creative times of Twain's life were spent inside the Gothic-style house with his family, where he lived from 1874 until 1891, and historians have done their best to showcase his home life. The Mark Twain House and Museum has preserved original furniture and fixtures along with exclusive family photographs and previously unpublished works.

Lake Compounce

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Take a break from the rich history of New England and treat yourself to a fun at Lake Compounce, Connecticut’s top amusement and water park. Located in Southington, the area is packed full of fast rollercoasters and giant swimming pools that have delighted families for years. The Boulder Dash wooden coaster is a classic that's been voted best in the world, but it's the new coaster Phobia that has everyone talking. With speeds up to 65 miles per hour and drops of up to 150 feet, it’s an adrenaline rush to cause anyone to squeal with excitement. Family pack tickets start at $120 and children under three are free.

A photo posted by Stephen (@blackjacksimba) on

Hammonasset Beach State Park

Size isn't everything, and this is especially evident in Hammonasset Beach State Park. Two miles of uninterrupted shoreline, the park is perfect for a quiet day trip or simple overnight stay. Hammonasset is a saltwater haven for outdoor families who love fishing, biking, swimming, and hiking. In between warm afternoons lazing on the beach, early evening hikes at sunset, and late nights laughing around the campfire, the entire family will feel like they've successfully traded the real world for a laid-back paradise.

Old State House

Hartford's Old State House is believed to be the first public building designed by famed American architect Charles Bulfinch. It has been restored to its original style and is one of the most revered architectural marvels in all of New England. However, it's walls harbor more than a few secrets. Although unconfirmed, people have speculated for years that the Old State House is haunted. Some staff members claim to have experienced paranormal activity and two friendly ghosts are known to pay a visit to curious guests. If your family is up for a slightly spooky adventure, the Old State House is a must.