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Connecticut Shoreline Travel Guide

The western shore is Connecticut's Gold Coast, the eastern shore genteel Southeastern Connecticut—with casinos. In between is a rich stretch of Connecticut history and a wealth of natural beauty.

Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, Connecticut
Mystic Seaport takes you back in time.

The Connecticut shoreline extends from posh, exclusive Greenwich just northeast of New York City in the west to charming, historic Stonington on the Rhode Island state line in the east (map).

Frequent train service makes these Connecticut towns outlying suburbs of New York City, but these coastal cities still boast beautiful beaches for a refreshing swim in summer.

Western Shoreline

The western extent of the shore, from Greenwich to New Haven, is heavily urban, with the commercial and industrial centers of Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport, Connecticut's second-largest city.


Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company ferries depart Bridgeport carrying cars and passengers to Port Jefferson, NY, on Long Island. More...

New Haven

Harkness Tower, Yale University
Harkness Tower rises on the campus of Yale University in New Haven.

New Haven was founded in 1638, but its lasting fame comes from 1718 when Connecticut's Collegiate School was established here, and later became Yale University. Now an industrial and commercial city as well, Yale is still the main reason visitors come to the city. The university's several fine museums, famous theater programs, and musical offerings make it a good place to stop. More...

Central Shoreline

East of New Haven, the shoreline changes, softens, and turns to a landscape of small towns and inland farms.

Branford/Stony Creek

Head for Stony Creek in Branford if you'd like to take a small-boat cruise of the Thimble Islands.


Town Green, Guilford CT
Guilford's Town Green—a perfect New England common.

Some of the towns are plain workaday places, but many are beautiful, graceful, historic and delightful, like Guilford, home of the oldest house in Connecticut and one of New England's finest town greens. Walk its residential streets to admire the variety of architectural styles in the houses.

Hammonasset Beach

Hammonassett Beach, Madison CT

Hammonasset Beach State Park, in Madison, east of Guilford, is a favorite resort in the heat of summer with its fine long sand beach on the (relatively) warm waters of Long Island Sound.

Vineyards & Wineries

Speaking of Long Island Sound, its benign moderating influence on climate makes the Connecticut shoreline a good place for vineyards and wineries. Chamard, in Clinton CT, just east of Madison, is a good place to start.

Chamard Vineyards, Winery & Bistro, Clinton CT
Chamard Vineyards, Winery & Bistro, Clinton CT.

Connecticut River

The broad Connecticut River has always been a water highway to inland Connecticut. Dutch, followed by English, settlers founded settlements near the mouth of the river in the early 1600, making this one of the state's most historic districts.

Old Saybrook

Fort Saybrook CT
Fort Saybrook (1635).

Founded in 1635, Old Saybrook prime location has made it a magnet for settlers right up to our own times. Katharine Hepburn, the actress, lived for years in the town, which now has a cultural center dedicated to her life and work.

Old Lyme

Florence Griswold House, Old Lyme CT
Florence Griswold house, sometime home to many innovative American Impressionist painters.

One of this town's graceful mansions served as a cradle of American Impressionist painting in the late 1800s, and art is still one of Old Lyme's strong points. Don't miss the collections at Florence Griswold Museum.

Essex & Ivoryton

Main Street, Essex CT
Main Street, Essex CT.

Wealth from shipbuilding built beautiful houses in this pretty riverside town, a delightful place for a walk, a visit to the Connecticut River Museum, a meal, or an overnight at the Griswold Inn.

Nearby Ivoryton boasts an excursion steam train, a historic riverboat for cruising, and a history of making witch hazel and ivory tops for piano keys.

Eastern Shoreline

New London & Groton

City of New London sign

East of the Connecticut River's mouth, New London and Groton prospered by making helicopters and submarines, and by being the seat of the United States Coast Guard Academy.

Also, New London is a port for car-and-paasenger ferries to Orient Point NY at the northern tip of Long Island; and for fast passenger ferries to Block Island RI. More...


Near the shoreline's eastern boundary, Mystic was a famous seaport in colonial and early American times, and is now famous for Mystic Seaport Museum, a living museum of Connecticut maritime history. Oh, and there's that 1988 Julia Roberts movie, Mystic Pizza.


Next, very near the border with Rhode Island, is Stonington, the farthest Connecticut shoreline town from New York City. Stonington has kept much of its historic charm and seaside serenity as towns to its west along the shoreline have grown and spread.

Gambling Casinos

But today even these famous, historic towns are overshadowed by the runaway success of the glittering gambling casinos established a few miles to the north on the tribal reservations of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes. More...