15 Best Things to Do in Glastonbury (CT)

If you had to pick one town to sum up New England, Glastonbury on the east bank of the Connecticut River would come close.

The town has beautiful colonial-era houses, some dating back to the 17th century, and its main historic district is located on a classic town green.

Heading south, you’ll find yourself in rolling hills covered with deciduous woodland, orchards and berry farms.

Every October, the Apple Harvest & Music Festival is a huge success, drawing thousands of people to the town’s Riverfront Park over three days.

Crossing the CT River is considered the oldest ferry service in the United States, running between Glastonbury and the Rocky Mountains seven months of the year.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Glastonbury:

1. Riverside Park

Glastonbury’s newest park is also one of the best, with a fantastic location on a bend in the Connecticut River.

For entertainment, Riverfront Park features lacrosse and soccer fields, as well as floodlit baseball and basketball courts.

You might prefer to hang out by the water and watch the lazy river and its traffic go by.

On the water you’ll find public boat launch pads, boat storage facilities and the elegant Glastonbury houseboat, rented out for weddings and events.

There is a fenced park for dog walkers, separate playgrounds for babies and older kids, vast open spaces, picnic areas and a shelter.

2. Glastonbury Historic District

Glastonbury Historic District

Glastonbury has five distinct historic districts, each with buildings dating back to at least the early 18th century.

On Main Street, you can’t miss the Glastonbury Historic District between Hebron Avenue and Talcott Road.

On the 128 acres, there are 23 homes built before the 1800s, including several in the 17th century.

Among the 81 buildings, styles vary, including Colonial, Greek Revival, and Queen Anne.

In Town Green, you can learn about the town’s past at the Glastonbury Historical Society, and the adjacent Green Cemetery was built in 1693 when Main Street was an Indian trail.

3. Apple Harvest & Music Festival

Apple Harvest & Music Festival

In mid-October, Glastonbury celebrated its apple harvest with a three-day festival that drew more than 23,000 people to Riverside Park.

Dating back to the 1970s, the Apple Harvest & Music Festival features three live music stages, a midway full of rides, over 100 vendors, about 25 food trucks/stalls and the much-loved Harvest Pub, now more than ever.

On Sunday, one of the main events was the Angry Orchard 5K Road Race, a fun run for the 17th year in 2019. All runners 21 and older can quench their thirst with a free pint of Angry Orchard cider at the Harvest Pub.

4. Rocky Mountain-Glastonbury Ferry

Rocky Mountain - Glastonbury Ferry

Since 1655, what is believed to be the oldest continuously operating ferry service in the United States has crossed the Connecticut River between Glastonbury and Rocky Hill. South of Connecticut Route 3, there isn’t a single crossing on the river until you get to Middletown, so the ferry remains a much-needed connection for seven months of the year, saving up to 13 miles of detours.

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You’ll board an open-bottomed gondola, the Hollister III, to be towed across the river by a tugboat.

As of July 2019, the ferry operates from 1 April to 30 November, 07:00 to 18:45 (Tuesday to Friday) and 10:30 to 17:00 on weekends.

Vehicle fares are $5, while pedestrians and cyclists can pass for $2.This is one of only two regular ferries on the Connecticut River, and in a ten-minute ride you can admire the wide river and its

oded banks, and might see an eagle overhead.

5. Glastonbury Historical Society

Glastonbury Historical Society

In the stately streetscape of Glastonbury’s historic district sits the former Town Hall, built in 1840 to serve the town for a hundred years.

It is now home to the Glastonbury Historical Society’s free museum, open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and the third Sunday of each month.

You can view a wealth of historical artifacts, starting with the pre-colonial Native Americans and continuing through the colonial period, the Civil War, and an industrial boom when shipbuilding and manufacturing dominated the local economy.

You’ll learn about the background of former Glastonbury manufacturers, such as the early 20th century aerospace giant Harriman Motors.

A fascinating exhibition tells the story of the Glastonbury Smith family (a mother and her five daughters), early champions of abolition, women’s rights and education at the turn of the 19th century.

6. Heibi Waterfall

black wall waterfall

Set on 80 acres of lush deciduous forest on the Glastonbury-Hebron town line, Blackledge Falls is an adventure with an easy stroll through the park.

On a trail that’s less than a mile long, you’ll reach the picturesque waterfall, with three different passages plunging from the rocks.

If there’s an ideal time to travel, it’s spring or after a heavy rain, as the waterfalls can be just a trickle in midsummer.

From here you can take longer excursions along the Blackledge River to Gay City State Park.

7. Wells Turner Memorial Library

Wells Turner Memorial Library

For the people of Glastonbury, this local library is a pillar of the community, especially for those with children.

Year-round, and especially during school holidays, there are book clubs, games, story times, movie screenings, and more.

The library is a lovely building, designed like a homestead, built in the early 1950s by its benefactors Harriet Welles and Sturgis P.

turner.

The library is also a handy resource for anyone new to Glastonbury, with free maps, newspapers, free Wi-Fi, computer banking and toilets.

8. Dondro Orchard

Dondro Orchard

Since 1911, Dondero Orchards has run a community-supported farming program here, providing people in the area with a basket of seasonal produce.

But you can also come and pick the fruit yourself between May and the end of October.

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In chronological order there are strawberries (greenhouse then fields), Lodi apples, pears, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, plums and nectarines.

Then in August, the apple season officially begins, and over the next eight weeks, about 12 varieties, from early Baldwin to late russet, will be ripe for picking.

Dondero Orchards also has a farm stand and bakery selling delicious pies, sauces, pickles and jams.

Every other Wednesday in the summer there is a farm dinner, a proper homemade meal al fresco, serving Italian fare (twice), steak, grill, clam roast and a fall harvest feast to round off the season.

9. Crystal Ridge Winery

Crystal Ridge Winery

South of Glastonbury, this 200-acre estate sits on rugged hills between fruit farms and woodland.

Established in 2004, Crystal Ridge Winery is family-owned and operated on a boutique scale, growing Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vignoles and Chardonnay thrives in the rocky soils of these sunny, southwest-facing slopes.

Opened in 2018, the tasting room serves well-rated varietal wines that you can indulge in as you gaze at the Hartford skyline in the distance.

Keep up to date with the latest happenings on the Crystal Ridge website as the winery hosts live music during the summer.

10. Rose’s Berry Farm

Rose's Berry Farm

In summer and fall, Roseberry Farm is also a must for fresh produce, with plenty of fruit and vegetables grown from May to October.

The main location on Matson Hill Road is open Tuesday to Sunday in summer for you to pick your own strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

In fall, the pumpkin patch is ready and the kids will have a great time on the hay cart.

On Sunday mornings from June to October, we enjoy breakfast on the farm deck overlooking the observation deck, serving berry-rich waffles, pancakes, French toast and more.

The farm also has a stand at 1200 Hebron Avenue selling seasonal produce such as berries, peaches, herbs, flowers, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, spinach, apples, pears and more, as well as homemade pies, salad dressing, salsa Sauce, tea, honey and decorations.

11. Webb-Dean-Stevens Museum

Webb-Dean-Stevens Museum

Connecticut’s largest historic district is just across the Wethersfield River.

You can travel through and back to the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, which consists of three exquisite houses from the 1700s, all lined up.

The Joseph Webb House and Silas Deane House have been restored to their mid-18th century façade with wood panelling, contemporary furniture, portraits and stucco.

Joseph Webb House was the headquarters of George Washington in 1781, and Silas Deane was the first diplomat to travel from the United States to France.

Isaac Stevens House, a middle-class leather worker’s home dating back to 1789, has remained in its original 1820s and 1830s appearance, with an upper level dedicated to childhood from this period and filled with dolls and antiques Toy.

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Another property, Buttolph Williams House (1711), is also managed by the museum, and a wealth of decorative arts from the late 17th century has been found nearby.

12. Minnesau Golf Course

Minnesaw Golf Course

This well tended nine-hole par 35 municipal course is located at the foot of the Minnesota Hills in East Glastonbury.

The round at the Minnesota Golf Course ended with two exciting challenges.

The eighth hole, a 126-yard par 3 on the island green, is believed to be the first of its kind in New England and one of the first in the United States.

The ninth hole is another relentless par 3, with only water between the tee and the green at 158 ​​yards.

Green fees for non-residents are $18 and $19 (weekends).

On the 9th hole, there is a menu from the course restaurant Giovanni’s Pizzeria, so you can call ahead and your order will be ready when you are ready.

13. Central Rock Gym

Central Rock Gym

This chain of indoor climbing centers has several locations in the Northeast, and the only one in Connecticut is in Glastonbury.

With spectacular vertical walls and overhanging blocks, Glastonbury’s Central Rock Gym boasts over 2100sqm of climbing terrain up to 12m, including 120 stops.

If you are a beginner, you can call ahead to book a one-hour conservation tutorial (after signing a waiver). After that, you can access the gym’s walls with a day pass.

To take your skills and fitness to the next level, yoga studios and fitness centers offer a range of classes, both on the wall and off the field.

14. Welles-Shipman-Ward House

Welles-Shipman-Ward House

If your interest in the area’s history continues, the Glastonbury Historical Society takes care of another beautiful house at 972 Main Street, South Glastonbury Historic District.

Welles-Shipman-Ward House, a colonial mansion built in 1755, is open for tours on Tuesdays in July and August.

A tour guide dressed in period costumes will greet you and take an indoor tour of what is believed to be the largest ancient fireplace in Connecticut.

There is also an herb garden, 300-year-old loom, spinning wheel, tobacco shed and a 19th century English bank barn filled with many interesting tools and implements.

15. Cotton Hollow Reserve

Cotton Hollow Reserve

There are 80 acres of woodland for hiking and fishing on the rugged banks of rushing Roaring Creek.

About 200 years ago, these banks were industrial hubs, with grain mills, sawmills, cotton mills and iron foundries in the creeks.

You can still make out the ruins of the cotton mill, dating back to 1814. On the downside for out-of-towners, access to the Cotton Hollow Preserve is limited to Glastonbury residents, except for fishing between the third Saturday in April and June 15.

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