Many travelers bypass Connecticut on their way to Cape Cod, Boston, New Hampshire and Maine, but those who give it the cold shoulder are missing some great opportunities for fun and adventure. Known as the “Constitution State,” the Connecticut coast offers the best of rural New England beauty.
Stamford is located on the New Haven line of Metro-North Railroad, meaning it is just a 45 minute commute to Grand Central on the express train. Due to it’s proximity to Manhattan, New York residents built summer homes on the shoreline of Stamford as far back as the early 19th century. The streets are lined with simple clapboard farmhouses as well as spacious mansions. Stamford offers many eclectic eateries and antique shops. The Stamford Museum and Nature Center is a great place to visit a working farm, and has miles of wooded walking trails. There is also a local branch of New York City’s Whitney Museum and exceptional outdoor concerts by the city’s symphony.
Rowayton is a small town on the Long Island sound just an easy hour from the city on MetroNorth. Self-guided walking tours allow you to explore the city’s lovingly restored turn-of-the-century farmhouses. The town’s low, rolling hills make an excellent biking location. (MetroNorth will let you take bikes on board). Bayley Beach offers a sheltered, buoyed swimming area perfect for children. For wildlife enthusiasts, the Farm Creek Reserve is a wonderful place to see many types of birds and butterflies. Pickney Park is home to Shakespeare on the Sound – the town’s annual free Shakespeare festival.
Heavily industrialized Bridgeport isn’t likely to be the first municipality that comes to mind when travelers consider a visit to a coastal Connecticut town, but the city in fact has some nice sights to offer, including historic districts (more than any other Connecticut municipality) and two expansive parks designed by famed landscape artist Frederick Law Olmsted. One of the nation’s oldest lighthouses is also located in Bridgeport, although its beacon is extinguished now. Seaside Park Beach is clean with very clear water and newly-constructed bathrooms. The city is marked by its attachment to its famous resident, the circus-promoter and once mayor P.T. Barnum. Barnum built three houses in the city, and housed his circus in town during winters. The Barnum Museum is an ode to Barnum as well as a record of Bridgeport’s industrial and social history. The museum was recently hit by a tornado, but many events and exhibits are still open to the public at the People’s United Bank Gallery.
261 Crown Street
New Haven, CT 06511
The urban city of New Haven is best known for Yale University and its Yale University Art Gallery house. Many of the city’s neighborhoods are well-preserved as walkable “museums” of 19th and 20th century American architecture, particularly by the New Haven Greenm where you can catch summer concerts, and Hillhouse Avenue. New Haven has many architectural landmarks dating from every important time period and architectural style in American history. New Haven’s greatest culinary claim to fame may be its pizza, which has been claimed to be among the best in the country. New-Haven-style pizza, called “apizza” made its debut at the iconic Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (known as Pepe’s) in 1925. Apizza is baked in coal- or wood-fired brick ovens, and is notable for its thin crust. A second New Haven gastronomical claim to fame is Louis’ Lunch. Located in a small brick building on Crown Street, Louis’ Lunch has been serving fast food since 1895. Though fiercely debated, the restaurant’s founder Louis Lassen is credited by the Library of Congress with inventing the hamburger and steak sandwich.
117 Pearl Street
Noank, Connecticut 06340
Cove Fish Market and Clam Shack
20 Old Stonington Road
Mystic, Conn. 06355
The small towns of Essex, Mystic, Noank and Old Saybrook dot the coastline along the southeastern shore of Connecticut. It’s relaxing just to walk around Essex, enjoying the boats, the architecture and the quiet. While you’re there, take an Essex Steam Train and Riverboat Ride in 1920s coaches pulled by a real steam locomotive. At Steamboat dock, visit the Connecticut River Museum, where you can view a replica of the Turtle, America’s first submarine. The seaside town of has several maritime exhibits at its seaport, including an interactive map room, the world’s last wooden whaling ship and tugboat exhibition. A visit to the southeast shore of Connecticut is not complete without lunch at Abbott’s in Noank or the Cove Fish Market in Mystic. Grab a shucked lobster meat sandwich drenched in melted butter, sit outside and watch the yachts go by.