History Museums in Connecticut: 4 Great Places to Spend a Day

The sheer variety of nearby museums in Connecticut can keep anyone busy for weeks, and we have the advantage of being perfectly situated between the Mystic and New Haven areas. A short drive in either direction gives you a taste of old New England or the historic bustle of a small city. Step into our time machine and embark on a historical expedition with these four diverse museums in Connecticut. Perfect for a day trip, each location is less than an hour from Saybrook Point.

Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea

Mystic Seaport - The whaler Charles W. Morgan. | History Museums In Connecticut
Flickr/Ken Mist/(CC BY 2.0)
With its 19th-century village setting, Mystic Seaport is as close as you can get to the seafaring days of old colonial Connecticut. The sight of ships docked along the water is impressive enough, but this is far from look-but-don’t-touch territory. Mystic Seaport encourages you to hop on board and explore. The most impressive vessel in their collection? The Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving wooden whaling ship built in 1841. Indoor exhibits include mystical wooden figureheads, a 50-foot model of the 1870’s Mystic River area, and a view of craftsmen at work in the Preservation Shipyard. To make the experience even more authentic, catch a demonstration from one of the many role players throughout the museum.

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Though Yale University and Old Saybrook have their own history, New Haven is home to the many Yale museums in Connecticut. If your interests don’t always line up with those of your significant other, then consider the Yale Peabody Museum, nothing short of the perfect compromise. With three floors of temporary and permanent exhibits, ranging from the “Hall of Mammalian Evolution” to “Daily Life in Ancient Egypt,” there is truly something the peak every interst. Explore at your own pace, but definitely take advantage of the free 70-minute audio tour. The extra commentary is a welcome companion for the museum’s most popular highlights.

Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center

Mashantucket Pequot Museum | History Museums In Connecticut
Flickr/Britt Reints/(CC BY 2.0)
Just minutes from Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum is unlike any history museum in Connecticut. Owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the museum preserves and shares the stories of America’s indigenous peoples. Exhibits take you through time in chronological order, starting with the last ice age. View tribal artwork and artifacts, see the impact of European settlers in the area, and get a glimpse of modern life on Native American reservations. The spotlight is definitely stolen, though, with the recreated Pequot Village. Get transported back in time as you walk among wigwams and incredibly realistic, life-cast figures.

The Shore Line Trolley Museum

The Shore Line Trolley Museum and Branford Electric Railway in East Haven, CT, offers a unique opportunity to experience an extinct method of transportation. Inside the museum, browse original photographs and documents alongside a collection of nearly 100 vintage trolley carts. The best part is, you don’t have to imagine what travel during the Trolley Era was like. Just outside you can take in the sights, smells, and sounds as you enjoy a scenic ride in one of the dozen trolley carts still in operation, like the Connecticut Company 775 built back in 1904. You’ll have a quick drive back to Saybrook Point from any of these history museums in Connecticut. Get back just in time for dinner, and reminisce over your favorite museum moments over food and drinks at Fresh Salt.