5 Reasons Why You Need to Visit the Gillette Castle State Park

Young couple hiking in the woods in the fall and exploring scenic places in CT


Connecticut is a treasure trove of historic places and beautiful natural settings.  Straddling the cities of Lyme and East Haddam, CT, is a state park not be overlooked. If you plan to be in this area, Gillette Castle State Park is one of those treasures that you cannot afford to miss. This newly refurbished state park includes a mansion, hiking trails, and a geological formation filled with gems.

As you look for the most incredible experiences in the state, let Stonecroft Country Inn help you plan for your warm-weather adventure.  Download our free Vacation Guide, an invaluable resource to help you plan your vacation in Connecticut when the natural beauty of the state is at one of its most stunning times of year.

5 Reasons Why You’ll Love Gillette Castle State Park

The Mansion

The piece de resistance of the state park is the mansion. Designed by famous actor/playwright/director, William Hooker Gillette, a descendent of Thomas Hooker who founded Hartford, CT, this 24-room mansion resembles a medieval stone fortress. Gillette was not only a well-known theatrical figure who performed at the Globe Theater in Boston, but also a talented and visionary architect and designer who personally supervised the design and building of his retirement home and much of its contents. After 5 years of construction, the home was completed in 1919, but Gillette continued to make refinements in the property until his death in 1937. One of the features sure to impress you is the number of doors in the home. There are 47, no two of which are alike!  Even the latches are carved from wood.

Geological Formations

Garnets, tourmaline, diopside. You know these from the jewelry store or remember them from your 5th grade study of rocks. You will see perfect crystal formations in rare black tourmaline on some of the trails throughout the property.  Located near the Honey Hill Fault, the rock formations at Gillette Castle show the “pinch and stress” of the liquid material as it cooled slowly to form the rock of this area. The steps of the castle contain local rock and gleam with mica and unusually large garnet crystals. To see the gem-embedded steps is worth the trip to the park! As a caution to rock hunters, please be aware that you are not allowed to remove the material from a state park.  

Natural Beauty

Although the historic mansion and the Hebron rock formations are major features of the state park, the actual setting of the park is breathtaking.  Located in a chain of seven major hills in this region, Gillette named his 184 acre property “The Seventh Sister.” It is here that you will enjoy the great outdoors as only Connecticut can offer during its warm season of Memorial Day through Columbus Day.  Trails wind throughout this area complete with picnic tables, places to eat and rest. This gorgeous spot is one of the best places around to admire Connecticut’s natural beauty. You will love exploring the outdoors here!

View Point Exhibit Host Site

Trails that amble along sites of natural beauty throughout this state park are also Gillette designed. Follow Gillette’s personal 3-mile narrow gauge railroad through tunnels and over trestles showcasing the beauty of the area.  This property, designed in the early 1900s which includes beautiful woodlands, trails, and vistas, also provides a look back into the 1800s with exhibits of Impressionist works of art reproduced in the landscape. A joint venture among several groups including Connecticut Commission on the Arts and the Department of Environmental Protection, each exhibit includes information about the location and artist.\

A Stay at the Stonecroft Country Inn

Beautiful Sarah Master Suite - Hammonasset Beach State ParkThe opportunity to stay in one of the most romantic inns in the state is another reason to head toward Gillette Castle State Park.  A luxurious bed and breakfast near Mystic, CT, Stonecroft Country Inn will meet all of your needs with beautifully appointed rooms and marvelous amenities.

 Start planning your trip to the Mystic/Lyme area by checking the room availability. You will be delighted you chose Stonecroft.


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