12 Attractions in Meriden, Connecticut

Meriden is a small city located in central Connecticut, a few miles southwest of Hartford. With a population of around 60,000 people, Meriden offers a quieter alternative to the bustling state capital, while still providing visitors with plenty of things to see and do.

From historic attractions that offer a glimpse into Meriden’s past as a hub of silver production and innovation, to family-friendly museums, parks and trails perfect for outdoor recreation, Meriden has something for travelers of all interests. This article will highlight 12 of the top attractions that you shouldn’t miss if you find yourself in Meriden, Connecticut.

Wallingford Hometown Trail System

The Wallingford Hometown Trail System is a network of multi-use trails spanning over 11 miles across Wallingford and into neighboring Meriden. The trails were constructed along abandoned railroad beds and wind through parks, open spaces and woodlands, providing plenty of natural scenery to take in along the way. Sections of the trail system are paved, while others remain gravel, dirt or grass. Use of the trails is free and they can be accessed from various points in Wallingford and Meriden.

The trails allow for walking, jogging, biking, rollerblading and cross country skiing in the winter. Passing through the Yale Myers Forest in northern Wallingford, trail users can view forest vegetation and wildlife, including a variety of songbirds. The Rapallo Viaduct Trail segment features an impressive railroad viaduct bridge structure built in 1901.

The trails also connect to Wallingford and Meriden parks, several of which also contain additional loop trails. With varying topography and terrain and different lengths of trails to choose from, the Wallingford Hometown Trail System offers outdoor recreation for all ages and abilities.

Hubbard Park

Hubbard Park is Meriden’s crown jewel when it comes to outdoor attractions. Encompassing over 900 acres of wooded hills, green spaces and reservoirs, Hubbard Park provides visitors with plenty of opportunities for getting back to nature without leaving the city. Over 25 miles of hiking trails wind through the park, ranging from easy walking paths to challenging climbs with rewarding views from the summit. Mountain biking is permitted on certain trails, while others make for perfect picnic spots alongside Mirror Lake or other scenic overlooks.

In addition to trails, Hubbard Park contains athletic fields, playgrounds and a swimming area open during summer months. The historic Hubbard Park Tower looks out over the Reservoir and surrounding landscape – visitors can pay $5 for a pass to climb the tower’s seven stories. Various events and concerts also take place at the park during warmer months. With so much natural beauty and ways to stay active, Hubbard Park is a beloved gathering place for the Meriden community.

Caffrey’s Pond Ice Skating Rink

For winter fun, head to Caffrey’s Pond to ice skate with scenic natural views. Managed by the Meriden Parks Department, this outdoor ice rink welcomes recreational free skating, youth and adult hockey games and teams, and figure skating. The rink provides ample open ice for all to enjoy a favorite cold weather activity.

Skate rentals are available for a nominal fee, and the site includes a warming hut for taking a break out of the chill. With the pond’s woodlands as a backdrop, skaters will feel removed from the city while gliding atop the frozen surface. After working up an appetite, skaters can pay a visit to the snack bar for hot chocolate, coffee or snacks. Caffrey’s Pond Ice Skating Rink provides seasonal, affordable fun for all ages.

Silver City Galleria Mall

On a rainy day or for some indoor recreation, Silver City Galleria is Meriden’s go-to shopping and dining destination. As one of Connecticut’s largest shopping malls, the Galleria houses over 130 specialty stores ranging from big department store chains to unique boutiques. Shoppers will find fashion, footwear, accessories, gifts, housewares, electronics and more. The Galleria also contains a wide variety of casual and fine dining restaurants when visitors work up an appetite after browsing the racks. Sit-down chain restaurants are complemented by food court options for quick eats.

Special events and entertainment also take place at the Galleria on certain days. Car shows, concerts, visits from Santa at Christmas time, Easter egg hunts and other community happenings occur periodically in the common spaces. With this much variety all under one roof, Silver City Galleria offers something fun for all interests and ages.

Old Meriden Firearms Co. Factory Museum

History buffs visiting Meriden won’t want to miss this museum spotlighting Meriden’s past importance in the firearms and silver industries. Housed in a restored 19th century pistol factory, the Old Meriden Firearms Co.

Factory Museum chronicles Meriden’s rise to fame as the center of pistol and silverware manufacturing in America during the 1800s. Informational plaques, artifacts, tools, machinery displays and a 10-minute video provide insights into factory operations and economic impact on the region.

Visitors can also view a collection of Meriden-made firearms from the 1800s-1900s showcasing the craftsmanship and precision of Meriden firearms companies. Silverware exhibits feature ornate flatware and hollowware made by International Silver Co. when it called Meriden home for over 100 years. For an in-depth look into the industries and innovation that built Meriden into a thriving city, the Old Meriden Firearms Co. Factory Museum merits a visit.

Quinnipiac River State Park Trail

Stretching for over five miles between Southington and Cheshire, the Quinnipiac River State Park Trail runs alongside scenic marshes and the Quinnipiac River. The multi-use trail allows for walking, jogging and biking as it passes through forest and open meadows. Birdwatchers frequent the trail for sightings of herons, osprey, ducks, swallows and even bald eagles that make their home in the adjacent river habitat. Interpretive signs describe the surrounding ecosystem and Quinnipiac River’s importance to area wildlife. Benches are conveniently placed along the trail for resting while taking in the peaceful nature views.

As a rail trail built on a former railroad corridor, the pathway provides a fairly flat and gradually sloping route accommodating most abilities. Linking up with the Merit Club Trail in Cheshire adds even more mileage for avid hikers and bikers. With plentiful scenery and activity options perfect for the whole family, the Quinnipiac River State Park Trail shouldn’t be missed on a visit to central Connecticut.

Castle Craig

Rising 300 feet atop a traprock ridge in Hubbard Park, Castle Craig provides panoramic views and some intriguing history. Resembling the castles found along Germany’s Rhine River, Castle Craig was constructed in 1900 as a place for relaxation and reflection, in memory of Meriden native Walter Hubbard. Today, Castle Craig continues to be a destination for picnicking, admiring dramatic cliffs and vistas, and learning about the structure’s origins.

Informational plaques describe how Castle Craig was outfitted with water, electricity and even a phone line upon completion. The observation deck affords views of Meriden’s Hubbard Park reservoir below, and glimpses of distant Talcott Mountain and Sleeping Giant State Park on clear days. Eagle-eyed observers can even spot the gold State Capitol dome far off in Hartford! With commanding views and a unique backstory, the castle-like edifice caps off a visit to Hubbard Park.

Midstate Medical Center

While not exactly a standard tourist attraction, Midstate Medical Center is an point of interest as Connecticut’s first specialty hospital. Opening its doors in 1910 as Meriden’s first general hospital, Midstate has evolved into a staple for specialty care in digestive health, eye surgery, orthopedics, rehabilitation and behavioral health. Its state-of-the-art facilities, technologies and best practice models have earned Midstate accolades like the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval.

Midstate Medical Center can attribute decades of reliable patient care to Meriden’s nurturing community and support in establishing the hospital in the early 20th century. Though patients hope to avoid a hospital visit while traveling, the advanced specialty services at this small-city facility are a point of community pride.

Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas

When evening rolls around or the weather drives visitors indoors, Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas offers dinner and a movie under one roof. This modern theater located downtown shows all the latest film releases from Hollywood on eight screens that include 3D capability. Wide, cushioned seats and Dolby Atmos sound technology create an immersive movie experience.

The site also contains Cinema Bistro, an upscale restaurant serving appetizers, salads, burgers and entrees that theater patrons can order from their reserved seats. Or, a full bar offers cocktails, wine and beer to complement popcorn during the film. For everything needed for an enjoyable night at the movies without leaving downtown Meriden, Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas hits the mark.

Meriden Linear Trail

For walking, running or bicycling through the heart of Meriden, the Meriden Linear Trail spans over three miles as it winds through neighborhoods and park land. Following the path of the former Meriden-Waterbury railroad line, the paved trail stretches from Hanover Pond in western Meriden, passes downtown and Meriden Green, and ends at Red Bridge Pond.

Benches along the way provide spots for resting and watching local wildlife around the ponds. Interpretive plaques describe Meriden’s important role as a hub for early rail lines that drove industrial manufacturing. Linking some of Meriden’s pleasant parks with an easy walking and biking route, the Meriden Linear Trail tour provides an overview of local history and scenic areas.

Platt High School Nature Center

Managed by the Meriden school district, this hidden gem provides environmental programs for students while also welcoming visitors to explore its trails, gardens and wildlife. A nature center and wildlife museum have been housed on these grounds since 1966 as a hands-on educational facility. Over two miles of trails wind through the forests, meadows and wetlands of the property.

An observation platform on Mirror Lake allows for seasonal viewing of water birds, turtles and other wetland residents. Interpretive signs identify trees, plants and habitats found throughout the lush grounds. Gardening enthusiasts will appreciate the sculpture garden, Zen garden, wildflower beds and other cultivated green spaces around the center’s buildings. With welcoming access for community enjoyment, Platt High School’s Nature Center makes an enriching attraction for visitors of any age.

Meriden Museum and Historical Society

To delve deeper into Meriden’s local history, the Meriden Museum and Historical Society chronicles the city’s early days through artifacts, photographs and archives. Housed in a restored 19th century one-room schoolhouse, the museum contains rotating exhibits highlighting aspects of Meriden’s past. Topics range from prominent local families like the I.N. Hubbard’s of Hubbard Park fame, to industries such as International Silver Company and pistol manufacturing that drove innovation. Visitors can view Meriden-made silverware and handguns with intricate details showcasing skilled metal workers of the 1800s-1900s.

Additional displays spotlight Meriden’s schools through the years, the city’s noteworthy residents, and the devastating Hubbell Factory explosion in 1942 that impacted generations of families. With local high school yearbooks dating back over 100 years, former students often visit the museum to walk down memory lane. Experienced volunteers provide extra context and enjoy answering questions from visitors. For an intimate look at what shaped Meriden into the city it is today, the Meriden Museum and Historical Society merits a place on any history buff’s itinerary.


While it flies under the radar of many tourists visiting Connecticut, Meriden rewards those who take the time to uncover its hideaway attractions. From the natural beauty of its expansive park system showcasing New England forests and reservoirs, to historic sites peering into Meriden’s past local innovations, this small city provides varied points of discovery.

Family-friendly trails, activities and entertainment venues like bowling alleys and movie theaters round out Meriden’s offerings for a well-rounded visit.

By following where the locals spend their time, visitors will soon agree there is far more to uncover in Meriden than meets the eye at first glance. So whether planning a day trip or overnight stay, be sure to carve out some time to experience Meriden’s unique blend of natural, historic and cultural attractions.

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