Old Saybrook, located on the coast of Connecticut, is bursting with stunning architecture, interesting monuments, and beautiful conservation land. It's the perfect destination for sun-worshippers and seafood lovers alike. It offers a glimpse into colonial history, and its classic New England style continues to inspire Hollywood productions. Whether you're looking to soak up the sun on the beach, indulge in spa treatments, or sharpen your fishing skills, there's something for the whole family to enjoy.
Known as The Kate to locals, the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center is a non-profit performing arts center and charming 250-seat theater. As a tribute to actress Katherine Hepburn herself, the center also has a small museum in the lobby displaying rare photographs, self-portraits, and awards the actress won. Situated in the former town hall, built in 1911, the center has a stunning Doric portico and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1767 for General William, this beautiful building is part of the South Green Historic District and offers a stunning display of Georgian-era architecture. Made with a wood frame and gabled roof, it's finished with a classic Doric portico popular at the time. Inside, original features are preserved, and tours are available daily. For sunny days, visit the Heritage Gardens behind the house, too.
New England boasts many eye-catching lighthouses and Old Saybrook is no different. Lynde Point Lighthouse sits at the mouth of the Connecticut River on the Long Island Sound. Originally, the lighthouse was 35ft tall. However, in 1838, it was rebuilt to become 65ft. After several renovations in 1978, the lighthouse became fully automated and still works today.
The Preserve is a must-visit for nature lovers. This vast, 963-acre coastal forest was acquired for conversation in 2015 and became a protected environment for flower, mammal, and amphibian species. With ponds, swamps, canopied woods, and headwaters to explore, the Preserve is a full-day excursion perfect for families. The forest has around 10 miles of hiking trails suited to all levels, so see how many reptiles, birds, and other wildlife you can spot.
Those looking for a quick golf getaway can enjoy Old Saybrook's Fenwick Golf Club, Connecticut's oldest public golf course. Completed in 1896, golfers still love this nine-hole course thanks to its unique design, tricky topography, and natural greens. There's also the coastal breeze to contend with while attempting to putt the perfect ball.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, try the Reel Cast Charters fishing guide services. Those passionate about sport fishing can learn heaps from these expert anglers, who will teach you how to catch big bass with live baits and no trolling. Specializing in the Connecticut side of Long Island Sound, the Charters encourage catch-and-release sportfishing but are open to allowing guests to take their catch home.
After a busy day exploring, there's no better place to dine than Liv's Oyster Bar. This elegant restaurant is a little more upscale, serving the freshest seafood with local ingredients. With a seasonal menu, the restaurant keeps guests coming back again and again. Depending on the style of dining you'd like, you can head to the main room in the restaurant, sit at the bar, or enjoy the New England weather on the patio.
Book at the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa if you're looking for luxury. Known for its breathtaking waterfront location, the resort is the perfect place to escape after a tough week. The hotel has over 80 rooms and historic guesthouses available. The Lighthouse Suite is the most romantic place to stay locally, thanks to the stunning vista views. Alongside the resort, the Saybrook Marina offers luxury yacht services and an upscale seafood restaurant, Fresh Salt.
Ideal for a gentle Sunday stroll, Main Street is a street with quintessentially American shops, cozy cafes, and Georgian-era homes. Inspiring a myriad of Hollywood movies, the homes have the classic white picket fences and painted shutters. Also acting as the main retail hub for Old Saybrook, Main Street features several shops, and Griswold Inn stands at No. 36 Main Street, established in 1776 and remains open to this day.
Combine your love for the outdoors with a little Fort Saybrook Monument Park history. This 18-acre park, scattered with the remains of the area's past, includes pieces of a fort that honored Lord Brooke, Say, and Sele, the town's namesakes. A 1930 monument at the park remembers the fort's creator, English military engineer Lion Gardiner.
If there's one beach to visit during your stay, it's Harvey's Beach. One of the best on this shoreline, it's the perfect place for swimming and enjoying the sunshine. The water is calm and shallow, but most of the beach disappears at high tide. The nearby pavilion is a great spot for a picnic or getting out of the sun, and there are several dessert food trucks to treat yourself to before watching the sunset.
Just outside Old Saybrook is the Florence Griswold Museum, one of the biggest attractions in the area. The striking yellow Florence Griswold House sits on 12 acres of land and is a unique way to experience American Impressionist art. Originally a boarding house, the property hosted over 100 artists between 1899 and 1930, many of whom painted their designs onto the walls and doors.
The Essex Steam Train ride is a one-hour journey across the four miles between Essex Station and Old Saybrook. The train passes through Chester and Deep River and offers stunning views of the nearby Selden Neck State Park and the tidal wetlands. At certain times of year, there is also the option to ride the train in the evening, with a dinner included.
The quirky museum at the end of the Connecticut River offers a glimpse into the history of Old Saybrook and the surrounding areas. Housed in an old steamboat warehouse dating back to the 1870s, the museum has permanent exhibits charting the human and natural history of the Connecticut River up until the 19th Century. The museum also acts as a docking point for the Onrust cruise, open for weekday tours.
Rocky Neck State Park is one of Connecticut's most visited state parks, and for good reason. With white sandy beaches, salt marshes, and a tidal river, it's a great place to waste a few hours. The park has everything, whether you're looking for a sunbathing spot or an exciting hiking trail. It's also worth visiting the rustic pavilion in the park, built in the 1930s Great Depression.