East (Destination)

February 2012


by Carolyn Blackburn

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  • /Portals/0/images/articles/ME/2012/ME_1202/Connecticut1.jpg

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Connecticut might be one of the more compact states on the map, but its geography is wonderfully varied and invites planners to arrange land-based or waterborne excursions for groups after the meeting.

From riverfront activities in Hartford and intriguing walking tours in New Haven to jaunts aboard a schooner in Fairfield County and outings to the oldest, continuously operating amusement park in North America, Connecticut’s “surf and turf” options are endless.

Following are eight great choices.

Greater Hartford
Riverfront Recapture, a nonprofit organization that’s leading the effort to reconnect metropolitan Hartford with the Connecticut River, is a great contact for planners bringing groups to the area.

On the doorsteps of the Connecticut Convention Center and many downtown Hartford and East Hartford hotels is an extensive offering of recreational and cultural opportunities for groups, says Charles Myers, director of programs and events at Riverfront Recapture.

He cites annual festivals including the Taste of the Caribbean and the Riverfront Dragon Boat & Asian Festival, as well as group activities coordinated through Riverfront Recapture’s Adventure Program.

“Whether it’s a day of dragon boating where teams learn how to paddle a 22-foot boat and then compete in a head-to-head competition, or a day of leadership training on the Riverfront Adventure Challenge Course with high ropes, a climbing wall and a zip line, groups are guaranteed a memorable experience,” he says.

Myers says the Riverfront Boathouse, which accommodates up to 1.500 people, is available for everything from a small 20-person business meeting to a large-scale New England clambake.

Another option that celebrates both land and water is Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park, an adventure sports destination that is best suited for active groups seeking a challenge.

According to Laura Loffredo, spokeswoman for Brownstone, which is framed by the Connecticut River, the seasonal park offers everything from rock climbing and cliff jumping to scuba diving, zip lining, kayaking and team-building programs for up to 1,000 people.

One, the Guts & Glory Challenge, is a Survivor-type course on land and water that pits teams of 8 to 10 people against each other, “It requires teams to strategize and work together,” Loffredo says, adding that it’s a fun, fast-paced activity that’s ideal for encouraging team spirit.

And during the Raft Building Challenge, groups will hone their communication skills, as the activity demands a teamwork while groups use ropes, planks, oars, flotation devices and plastic barrels to build a raft and win a race.

“This program is about reevaluating, rethinking and redoing; very few things in life or business are perfect the first go-around,” Loffredo says.

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