Great Drives Along the Connecticut Coast Last Updated: June 2021

Everyone knows that busy I-95 and U.S. Route 1 follow the Connecticut shoreline from Greenwich east out to Stonington, but there are a lot of lesser-known routes that’ll give you the flavor of the coast and sometimes take you right down to the water. Here are several recommendations to get you started.

 

Route 136 – Darien to Westport

Also known as Tokeneke Road, Route 136 heads south from Exit 12 off I-95, eventually getting to the coastal section of Norwalk that’s known as Rowayton.

  • Rowayton: Here you can get an excellent meal at The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood and wander side streets down to the Sound.
  • South Norwalk: From Rowayton, continue on 136 into historic South Norwalk, where shops, restaurants and the Maritime Aquarium await.
  • Westport: Stay on 136 through East Norwalk and into Westport, where Tarry Lodge is a good place for a meal.
  • Overnight: The trip ends on Post Road East (U.S. Route 1) where you can spend the night at The Westport Inn.

Routes 337, 142 and 146 – New Haven to Guilford

At Exit 51 off I-95, take Route 337 south; you’ll pass New Haven’s East Shore Park and Fort Nathan Hale Park as you begin this tour.

  • Lighthouse Point: Here you’ll see not only a fine old lighthouse but also a carousel that’s open for rides in summer.
  • Indian Point: Follow Route 337 to 142 in Branford to 1N to 146 to Indian Point, where you can order a shore dinner at Lenny’s Indian Head.
  • Stony Creek: After 146, keep an eye out for Thimble Islands Road, which goes to charming Stony Creek and a tour of the Thimble Islands.
  • Guilford Green: Now it’s on to Guilford and the famous Guilford Green (shopping, history) then up onto Rte. 1 where a bed awaits.

Route 154 – Old Saybrook to Haddam

This trip follows both the Connecticut coast and the Connecticut River. Begin by taking Exit 66 off I-95, then Route 1 north a short way before finding 154.

  • Fenwick: Head south on 154 past Harvey’s Beach to the historic retreat of Fenwick (where Katharine Hepburn came for the salty breezes).
  • Saybrook Point: Next it’s up to Saybrook Point, where you can see Fort Saybrook Monument Park and stop for a meal at Saybrook Point Resort & Marina.
  • Old Saybrook: Now it’s north into central Old Saybrook for shopping, strolling and many good places for something to eat.
  • River Valley: Finally it’s up through the beautiful Lower Connecticut River Valley, lined with charming towns and many attractions.
     

Route 156 – Old Lyme to Niantic

This side trip heads south toward the water on Rte. 156 from Exit 70 off I-95.

  • Picnic Spot: As you head south, take a right onto Ferry Road, at the end of which is a little-known picnic area on the Connecticut River.
  • Rocky Neck: Next on 156 you can visit the funky shoreline community of Sound View Beach and then swim or hike at Rocky Neck State Park.
  • Niantic: It’s on to Niantic, where there’s a remarkably used book store called the Book Barn and a long boardwalk along the water.
  • Dinner and Room: Try The Black Sheep, Skippers Seafood, or Sunset Ribs. The Inn at Harbor Hill Marina is a good place to stay.

Route 213 – Waterford to New London

Here’s a short, simple loop off of U.S. Route 1 that brings some true waterfront pleasures.