A good place to spend the night, interesting choices for meals, absorbing or entertaining things to do—these are the three basics we all seek when we travel. Here are some itineraries where the “threes” are wild.
(page 1 of 8)
Madison: On the Beach
One of Connecticut’s greatest natural gifts is its shoreline. It takes only one visit to the rocky coast in any season to experience its magnetism and appreciate its beauty. The communities that surround the state’s coast, some of the earliest settlements in the country, embrace the region’s maritime history. As far as seaside communities go, Madison places at the top of the list as a perfect destination for a shoreline triple play.
The town has a breezy New England character about it and has managed to dodge the trend of lining its streets with strip malls filled with chain stores and chain restaurants and, instead, maintains a traditional downtown that bustles with shoppers who park their cars at storefronts and stroll from shop to shop. RJ Julia Booksellers has been a staple in town for 18 years. Meet an author, browse the stacks or take a break in the store’s café (try one of the best cupcakes around). The Madison Art Cinemas screen first-run independent and foreign films as well as current domestic movies. Other shops include Khaki and Black for clothing and the Susan Powell Fine Art gallery. After a day of shopping, head down the road to The Savvy Tea Gourmet for a soothing cup of over 250 different kinds of tea. A formal afternoon tea and tea tastings are also on offer.
By the shore, Hammonasset Beach State Park occupies a two-mile stretch of the coastline here. Treat yourself to a walk along the boardwalk and get a glimpse of hundreds of shore birds hidden in the coves, marshlands and sea grass, or investigate tidal pools as well as the observation deck and nature center at the Meig’s Point end of the park.
Since a day at the beach was in order during our visit, we chose one of the town jewels as our home base—the Madison Beach Hotel. This quiet waterfront retreat is one of the few hotels in the state that is situated directly on Long Island Sound. The clapboard resort has been here for almost 200 years, and its magnificent views of the Sound (and the Faulkner Island lighthouse), unassuming charm and friendly service draw a loyal following that returns year after year for a dose of relaxation. Our unhurried interlude included a morning walk out on the jetty, followed by reading and sunning on comfy chaise longues. An affable attendant occasionally came by to ask if we needed anything. Drinks? Lunch? Towels? Well, you get the picture.
Later on, we celebrated a spectacular sunset from our balcony, then mulled over our dinner choices—a quiet table at The Wharf, the hotel restaurant where executive chef Brendan Treyball prepares local seafood, or a traditional clambake on the lawn. In the spirit of the upcoming season we opted for the latter—clam chowder, steamers, lobsters, potatoes and corn on the cob prepared over an open fire. The evening’s activities ended with a roaring bonfire and s’mores made to order, as waves lapped gently upon the shore. This is the last season to enjoy the historic building. On Oct. 31 the structure will be razed and a new Madison Beach Hotel erected on the site. The new hotel is expected to open in September 2010 and will remain open year-round.
For more information on the Madison Beach Hotel, call (203) 245-1404 or visit madisonbeachhotel.com.