Begin this Getaway with afternoon coffee and snack at the Stony Creek Market, overlooking Branford Harbor and the Thimble Islands. In season, take a tour of the islands and learn their fascinating stories. Be sure to drive through the streets of Stony Creek; there aren’t many of them, but they sure are charming.
If you count all the inlets and coves, there are hundreds of miles of shoreline in Connecticut. Here’s a relaxing Getaway, differing slightly by season, that will help you get the most from the coast.
Next it’s on to Downtown Madison, a historic shoreline town with boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops and one of Connecticut’s top independent bookstores. At R.J. Julia, you’ll find a book lovers’ paradise and a staff that is engaged and ready to help you find the perfect read. The shop is also host to many author readings every year.
After breakfast, it’s time to head a short distance up the coast for a brisk morning hike in Connecticut’s most popular state park. Hammonasset has a two-mile-long beach, a nature center and many picnic areas and campsites, but this morning we’re primarily interested in its 5.7 miles of hiking trails. Check the display at the trail head and go find Cedar Island Trail – you’ll wind among native trees and vegetation and come to an observation deck with excellent views of tidal marsh and Long Island Sound.
Upon leaving Hammonasset, head up U.S. Route 1, known in these parts at Boston Post Road, toward Old Saybrook. If you’re still in the mood for nature, stop at the Salt Meadow National Wildlife Refuge, also in Westbrook, where a 2.5-mile loop takes you through protected salt marsh much loved by birds of all types.
Further up the Post Road, Old Saybrook is where the Connecticut River runs into Long Island Sound. You’ll see the confluence and learn some history, if you go to Fort Saybrook Monument Park, where the Saybrook Colony began in 1635. Take a side trip down to the Borough of Fenwick to see where Katharine Hepburn and her family, among others, spent their days by the shore.