Overlooking Long Island Sound, Connecticut may be small, but it is home to numerous beaches where you can swim, suntan and relax the day away. Whether you’re looking for the natural beauty and calm of state-park beaches or a more lively experience with games and food courts, there is something to satisfy every craving in this New England state.
This beach hasn’t been voted one of the best beaches by National Geographic for nothing. White-sand beaches, perfect for lounging, stretch for half a mile, along with a wooden boardwalk on which to stroll. The Olympic-sized freshwater swimming pool is ideal for those not looking to get salty. When exhausted from all the swimming, families can get a thrill out of the 18-hole miniature golf course, a retro video game arcade, fairground rides and a carousel. Admission is per car (or walk-in) for the beach, and there are additional fees for the other activities. Facilities include bathrooms and changing rooms.
Running along Long Island Sound for two miles, Hammonasset is the largest beach in the state, with plenty of room to spread out. Beach-goers can swim, picnic or amble along the boardwalk, admiring the beach’s rugged beauty. When tired of lounging, visitors can rent bikes or hike the trail around the beach. Facilities include a concession stand, bathrooms and showers. Non-residents pay a daily parking fee. The Meigs Point Nature Center inside the park offers daily programs and activities, such as nature walks, and is home to rescued animals including turtles, snakes and fish.
Calf Pasture gets its name from early settlers using it as grazing pasture for their livestock in the 17th century. The park has a large beach area with lifeguards on duty during the summer. Along with the beach there are a variety of games to play: beach volleyball, a skate park, bocce, basketball and a playground. When hunger strikes, there are concessions available in season, picnic spots or Ripka’s Beach Cafe. Norwalk Sailing School rents out kayaks and sailboats for those wanting to get out on the water. For non-residents, a day parking pass is required and can be purchased online; it’s cheaper after 5pm.
Set on 238 acres (96 hectares), Sherwood encompasses a beach, wetlands, woodlands, and protected sand dunes and is Connecticut’s first state park. The beach is known for its three-colored sand – a mix of tan, black and red due to certain minerals being present. The beach has a designated swimming area with lifeguards, as well as hiking trails through forest and wetlands with a viewing platform for birdwatching. The park is also home to a nature center, which is open seasonally, and Connecticut’s 9/11 living memorial. The beach has bathrooms, showers, concessions, and a picnic area, and a daily parking fee is applicable for non-residents.
Bird lovers will appreciate Silver Sands, as during low tide a sandbar connects it to Charles Island, a nature preserve where watchers can see egrets, herons and ospreys. From May 1 to August 31, the island is closed for nesting season but may be viewed from the shore. The island is also home to the ruins of a 19th-century resort and a 1930s chapel. The beach has over half a mile of shoreline and nearly a mile of an all-weather boardwalk. The 297 acres (120 hectares) of the park also have woods, salt marshes, trails and many dunes. The facilities are basic with portable toilets – but there is no fee for parking.
Popular with locals, this gold-sand beach with views of Long Island Sound offers two different experiences: during high tide, beach-goers can enjoy swimming, and at low tide, they can walk out to explore the extensive sand bars. Among the beach’s hiking trails, there is a special one just for our canine companions to utilize. The recreational facilities at Clinton Beach include basketball, volleyball, bocce, a splash pad, a covered pavilion and playgrounds. Non-residents have to pay a parking fee, which can be paid to a gatekeeper.