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A good ecosystem of nightlife is a difficult thing to create out of thin air. It takes time to develop the network of bars, clubs, restaurants and entertainment that has people coming back weekend after weekend. Bars and clubs should have character and characters.

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Firehouse 12, New Haven

New Haven

Though the Elm City has lost some great bars over the years — The Anchor, Richter’s and Anna Liffey’s most recently — there is still a wide variety of watering holes to venture into. The legendary Toad’s Place and the upstart College Street Music Hall both bring through considerable touring talent. Firehouse 12 has jazz and so much more. The Crown Street club scene is often absolute pandemonium on a Friday and Saturday. Head there if that’s your thing, and if not, stay far away.

Hartford

The downtown club district in Hartford along Allyn Street appears to be fading with only a handful of bars left, but as the Hartford Courant reported in October, the scheduled opening of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield railroad should bring an influx of people into the capital city. Black-Eyed Sally’s hosts some of the best jazz and blues music in the state. Hartford is also easily the center of live sports in the state, with the Yard Goats, Wolf Pack and UConn Huskies all calling the city home at various times of the year.

Bridgeport

The strip of bars and clubs along Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport’s Black Rock section is teeming with life. Watering holes and restaurants abound. You can see some live local music at the Acoustic, or get a pizza and some beers at Fire Engine Pizza Co.

New London

Bank Street has one of the most vibrant, diverse and lively nightlife scenes in the state. If you haven’t gone bar hopping on Bank, you need to. The Oasis has live music, the Brass Rail dancing and the Telegraph more music. The Hygienic Arts Gallery cuts a broad swath of visual art. It goes on and on. Catch big touring acts at the Garde Theater.

The Casinos

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are multimillion-dollar monuments to the very idea of nightlife. The selection of restaurants, bars and entertainment options at the two casinos are somewhat staggering. Mohegan has some seven bars and clubs, ranging from Irish pubs to comedy clubs, from dance clubs to tiki bars. There’s also a 10,000-seat arena which hosts some of the biggest touring acts around. Foxwoods, too, has a range of bars, clubs and concert venues hosting all variety of activities. If you want your nightlife under one roof, the casinos are the place to go.

Stamford

With a mix of high-end dining, sleek bars and nightclubs, Stamford delivers plenty in the way of big-city nightlife. During July and August, downtown is hopping on Thursday nights for the Alive@Five concert series (next year’s acts have not been announced but this past summer’s performers included Ziggy Marley and CeeLo Green). Year-round visitors can enjoy clubs and bars including Cask Republic and Tiernan’s Bar & Restaurant.

More Terrific Towns