This is a really fun day trip to take with your kids in CT! The trip includes an exciting drive over a swinging bridge, or a fun ferry boat ride! The destination is Gillette Castle State Park.
Once there, you can have a picnic, look for snapping turtles and tadpoles in the pond, and tour a castle! Inside the castle you’ll get to throw some change into a wishing pond, and make a very important wish. You’ll see a secret passage, discover all of the nooks the castle has to offer, learn some exciting history, and capture some breathtaking views of the river below.
If a picnic is not on the agenda, you can grab a bite to eat at the concessions area, and choose from the air conditioned inside booths, or the tables outside with the views! If you have any extra time, you can explore the little gift shop near the ticket booth. Enjoy!
Rated by mom:
I would definitely go back. We had a great morning, and were back in time for naps! All very manageable.
Your Review! Did You Have A Different Experience, Here? Please Leave A Comment, Below:
Favorite Season to Visit:
Fall would be spectacular. The views are amazing! Of course they do shut the castle down after Columbus Day.
Summer is another great season for this trip.
Activities (Things to do):
What to Pack:
Sunscreen – It is a shady park, but the deck is all on sun.
Camera – no flash photography inside. Video Camera
Cash for ferry – $3 each way for vehicles.
Credit card – $5 minimum
Usual kid stuff!
- If you don’t have your kids with you, or you don’t mind shopping with kids, Chester looks like a pretty cool little village of shops and dining.
- $5 credit card minimum
- Don’t forget $$$ for the ferry ride CASH $3 ea. way
- You can only go one way on the castle tour. Make sure you go slow to see everything.
- There are bathrooms by the ticket booth. YES!
Kid’s Thoughts On This Place:
Ella and Michael’s favorite part – The ferry ride.
Ella thought we were going on a “FAIRY” ride. 4 year olds are so cute.
Abi’s rating – (An 8 year olds take on the place) – She gives it a #8 for REALLY FUN!
Dad’s2 cents$$ – What is all of this quality time going to cost me?
Adults $6. Children 6-12 $2. Children 5 and under FREE:)
Gillette Castle State Park
67 River Rd.
East Haddam, CT
From Route 9: You have two fun choices!
Famous East Haddam Swinging Bridge
Exit 7 to the East Haddam Swinging Bridge. Follow Rt. 82 E. Follow signs to castle
Exit 6. Take Rt. 148, and follow signs to ferry.
Hours of Operation:
Memorial Day Weekend to Columbus Day. 10-5 You must purchase your ticket before 4:30
April to Late November. 7 a.m. – 6:45 p.m. weekdays. 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sat. & Sun.
More Pictures For A Better Visual:
go to https://kidfriendlythingstodo.com/2012/01/gillette-castle-state-park-pictures-a-kid-friendly-thing-to-do/
I’ve been wanting to check out this castle for a while. After checking ferry schedules, addresses, etc., I packed up the kids and took off. I had never driven onto a ferry before, but I was up for the task! The destination was William Gillette’s Castle. Now, William’s castle is taken over by the state (gotta love when the state ends up with prime real estate). An important piece of this day trip is also the ferry boat ride in Chester, CT. The view from the ferry boat is amazing, and the kids got super excited to see the castle perched high above. After I exited the ferry boat, I headed forward into Gillette Castle State Park.
The park has plenty of options for a shady picnic. We pulled up to some tables and had a short snack. After my 1 year old started showing signs of impatience, we headed to the ticket building.
After purchasing tickets, the staff told us we could see a short movie about the castle. We skipped this, as I was alone with my four kids, and did not have the energy to chase the youngest around. We checked out the little gift shop, noticed the bathrooms available, and headed over to the castle.
We were greeted by someone who cautioned us against flash photography, and the kids were off! You can only go one way on the tour. There is no backtracking. My kids were so excited to be there we completely missed the SECRET PASSAGEWAY by the stairs. Bummer! The kids were in “awe” being in a real castle, and actually seemed to enjoy the rooms. I think they were a little envious of William Gillette’s niece. When we entered the room with the wishing pond, and I felt bad that I had no change to offer the kids. No worries, a nice attendant offered the kids some pennies, and taught them the art of a proper wish! So fun!
When we were through, we headed over to the concessions building for a bite to eat, and some good humor bars. As we were leaving the park, I noticed some hiking trails, but as I was by myself with four kids under 8, I passed. We did stop at a pond to find some snapping turtles and tadpoles! A good day!
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