5 Best Beach Towns in Connecticut (2023)
Connecticut is a beautiful state that is home to many soft and sandy beaches. This has made Connecticut a haven for those who love to relax on the beach. Known popularly as The Nutmeg State, Connecticut is usually not the first option that comes to mind when you think of a sunny beach vacation. However, rest assured that this gem of a place comes with a boatload of stunning beaches. From the private town beaches that you can use for a fee to the lush state parks that border the Long Island Sound, there are so many beautiful beaches to check out as you travel along the Connecticut coastline.
Being home to over 300 miles of shoreline on the southern side of the state, stretching from the west to Stonington in the east. There are many charming beach towns in Connecticut that are known for their unique personalities – from the historical Mystic to the upscale Westport, there are plenty of beach towns that you must explore when in Connecticut. Most of these beach towns are not only popular beach destinations, but they are also home to many historical attractions.
5 Best Beach Towns in Connecticut
Here are some of the best beach towns to visit in Connecticut.
1. New London
You can’t help but fall in love with New London. This is a beautiful seaside town that was once a busy whaling port. There is so much to amaze you in this town that you will have lots to do apart from just visiting the beach. From the elegant Capitol Theater that was built in 1921 to Bank Street’s charming buildings that date back all the way to the 1790s, this stunning town is full of historical structures that are a sight to behold.
As you visit downtown New London, you get to see the captivating U-shaped historic district that flanks the west bank of the Thames River, with its base lying on Bank Street. It is here that you will find the best shopping places in the city, as well as some of the best places to grab a bite to eat.
Of course, the main attraction of New London is the Ocean Beach Park, which is home to a beautiful and family-friendly beach that has a playground, waterslide, concessions, mini-golf, an arcade, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. This is a popular beach with families with young kids.
And when you are done visiting the beach, you can travel through the town to check out the Fort Trumbull State Park, the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, and the renowned Connecticut College Arboretum.
One of the main beach towns of Connecticut is Westport, home to three major beaches. The Sherwood Island State Park is the first state park in Connecticut that is spread out over 230 acres of land, much of which is covered in fine, golden sand. However, out of state visitors may have to pay a small fee to visit the beach, which can range from $7 to $22 per visit.
The second beach in Westport is Compo Beach, which is a more exclusive well-groomed beach. You need to pay $70 on weekends and $45 on weekdays to spend time on this beach if you are not from Westport.
The third beach is Old Mill, which is a small, crescent-shaped beach just a short walk away from Compo Beach. If you want to make a stopover here in the summer, you need to get a parking permit.
If you have relaxed enough on the beach, you can head out to explore the town, where you will find the mesmerizing Saugatuck River, the newly renovated Westport Library, or enjoy an outdoor concert at the Levitt Pavilion.
You can also take a leisurely walk along the town’s historic Main Street. You will find many shops here along with many fine-dining restaurants. You can book an outdoor table at the uber-famous Bar Taco, which is set on the shore of the river, and you get to dine on some delicious food while watching the sailboats cruising by.
The Hammonasset Beach State Park is one of the biggest draws in this beautiful town of Madison. While the beach is just two miles in length, this is one of the largest and most beautiful beaches in Connecticut. And you will find many things to do here, including kayaking, swimming in the calm waters, or just taking a walk on the sand.
Madison is a beautiful oceanfront town that takes you back to a time when you could quietly wander through the quaint streets or sip a cup of coffee while chatting with the friendly locals. And if you are a bookworm, shopping at the RJ Julia Booksellers is one of the most enjoyable activities for those who love the feel of an actual book even today.
This tiny hamlet is home to four beaches, three of which are run by the town, and one is run by the state. There is also the Meigs Point Nature Center located within the Hammonasset Beach State Park, which is a must-visit for nature lovers.
4. East Lyme
Located just 20 minutes south of the beautiful town of Mystic, the town of East Lyme is the more photogenic seashore that even has a mile-long boardwalk called the Niantic Bay Boardwalk. Non-residents who want to visit the East Lyme beach, though, have to pay a hefty fee of $40 on weekdays and $50 on the weekends and holidays. If you hit the beach late at night or early in the morning, you can access the beach for free.
East Lyme is also home to the magnificent Rocky Neck State Park. The state park is home to a half-mile, crescent-shaped beach, which is free of rocks and is perfect for swimmers of all ages.
If you want to explore the town further, there are two small villages that you must check out. Niantic in the north and Flanders on the shore. Both these villages are home to charming, cute shops and popular restaurants that will entice you into staying longer. One of the best places to check out in Niantic is Gumdrops & Lollipops, which is 1050s style candy and ice cream shop.
5. Old Saybrook
Old Saybrook is, without a doubt, one of the most charming towns in Connecticut. Located at the mouth of the spectacular Connecticut River, this is a scenic town that you must see.
The town’s Main Street is what you would imagine every small town in New England to look like as you walk past charming cafes, lovely restaurants, and eclectic antique shops where you can pick up some exciting knick-knacks. Check out the Fenwick Historic District, where you will find several shingled cottages, some of which were actually built over 100 years ago.
Harvey’s Beach in Old Saybrook is a major draw, especially for families with children, as it has calm waters. Despite its small size, the beach has a playground, bathrooms, concession stand, and changing areas. If you visit on a Friday night, you might get lucky and run into a free outdoor concert.
If you have the time, there are many other wonderful beach towns you can visit in Connecticut, including Greenwich, Stony Creek, Guilford, Old Lyme, Clinton, Norwalk, Fairfield, and Milford.