The boardwalk in Niantic, Connecticut.
We originally planned to stop in Niantic, Connecticut on the drive from NYC to Boston. Imagine our surprise to find out that it is a cute little town with a cute little beach (that charges non-residents $30 to visit) and a few other things we wouldn’t mind checking out. We added another day, pushed our Boston reservation back, and set out to explore Connecticut.
We headed to the boardwalk in our swimsuits thinking that we’d walk for a bit, perhaps grab a clam fritter, and then get in the water. To our surprise, the parking attendant told us that parking and walking the boardwalk is free but heading down to the public, town beach is $30 per car for non-residents. *blank stare* I asked an older white woman if there were any free beaches in Connecticut. After thinking a bit, she said she couldn’t think of one. Oh well …..
We headed down to the boardwalk, which ended up being a concrete slab next to the ocean with no businesses, let alone eateries, of any sort. Our oldest lost it when he realized that we couldn’t get in the water so we had to find a solution quickly. On the drive from NYC I’d seen a sign about a state park so we called. It turns out that Rocky Neck State Park charges $15 per car for non-residents. Though we didn’t want to pay at all, it was a price we could live with and was only a seven minute drive from the beach we were at.
Driving past the camping part of the park was nice. There were tons of tall, green, trees but I kept wondering where the beach was. At one point we drove past some marshy bogs and I hoped that these pools of murky water weren’t what Connecticut-ians??? considered a beach. We arrive at a sign that said parking for beaches so we pulled in. I still didn’t see a beach but I saw Black families hauling coolers and chairs, so we parked and followed suit.
After passing the dressing rooms and following a dirt path that lead to a wooden bridge under a stone bridge, we came out onto a beach. A packed beach. We kept walking until we found a place to put our things and let the kids loose. They played in the water while I sat on a towel and He stood in his socks and slides. Lol He doesn’t like the beach but he does it for us.
The beach is on the other side of this bridge.
They finally got me in the water.
Eventually, I got in on the fun and walked out quite far with my oldest. There were no food stalls (though there was an ice cream truck) and no businesses that rented umbrellas, chairs, cabanas, etc. We ended up staying for three hours so I ended up with a light sunburn. It was a good day.
After driving into a neighboring small town, we visited a Goodwill and found Goodnight Connecticut children’s book for $3, then tried a lobster roll at D’Angelo’s, after realizing there weren’t too many other options (though there were two sushi places) we hopped back in the car and returned to our amazing hotel.
We stayed at the Motel 6 in Niantic originally because since we’re traveling with our 100 lb pit we have few other options in our price range but it ended up being a really good choice. It was SUPER CHEAP, the people were lovely, and the room was large, clean, and functional. Even the free internet was enough to stream Tru and the Rainbow Kingdom (aka “Wishing Tree” in our house).
On the way out, we decided to hike the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve for a bit. It’s pretty dense and there aren’t too many vistas. They do allow dogs on leashes and it was free so it was a good way to get the kids and pup some exercise before heading off to Boston.
I really enjoyed our time here. I wish I had known that Hartford was a city and was so close. There are a few things I’d like to do that I didn’t get a chance to do. Things I’d like to see next time:
Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum