Connecticut has a long history, and its seaside and nautical-influenced towns remain among the state’s most beautiful. With tall ships, fishing boats and cutting-edge nuclear submarines, Connecticut’s maritime connections run deep. These are some of the top towns on the water.
A village within Groton and Stonington, Mystic is home to Mystic Seaport, a historic shipyard and museum that is an international destination for seafaring history. This pervades the quaint waterside village, which is so picturesque as to seem dreamed up by a postcard designer.
Groton and New London
While Mystic is quaint, historic and beautiful, Groton and New London are gritty, historic and beautiful. The cities, which sit on opposite banks of the Thames River, both have active working waterfronts. Groton is home to the Naval Submarine Base, a major navy site and the spot where all submarine crew are trained. New London is home to the Coast Guard Academy and the historic Fort Trumbull. To sit on the banks of the river in either town is to see the modern nautical industry in action.
With its sleek, frequently hopping downtown and the famous Silver Sands State Park, Milford is one of the more scenic seaside towns that is situated well away from the entrance to Long Island Sound. Also, the infamous pirate Captain William Kidd once visited and may have buried treasure at Silver Sands.
Situated on the Connecticut River and not the Sound, Essex still has as great a connection with the sea and sailing as any place in the state. Walking through this beautiful waterside town you’ll see plenty of reminders of seafaring. We were so enchanted after one recent visit we looked up house prices there.
Not as well known on a state level as Mystic, Stonington has every bit as much nautical charm as its more famous neighbor, and as much history. It is home to the Stonington Harbor Light, a historic 19th-century lighthouse, and the Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer House Museum (see our Connecticut Files on Palmer’s likely discovery of Antarctica on page 136).
Like its neighbor Essex, Old Saybrook runs deep with the traditions of the sea. With waterfront on both the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, Old Saybrook has everything you’d want in a seaside community: beautiful scenery, shops, restaurants and a rich sense of history.
A beloved and laid-back beach town, Madison has beautiful oceanfront houses and is home to the esteemed Madison Beach Luxury Hotel and Hammonasset Beach State Park, the state’s longest public beach. There’s nothing quite like sitting by the sea with a good book in hand, so it’s fortunate that Madison is also home to R.J. Julia Booksellers, one of Connecticut’s best-known bookstores.