If you crave small-town vibes, mesmerizing ocean views, delicious food, and family-friendly adventures, look no further than Niantic, Connecticut. From its beautiful beaches to unique attractions, this breathtaking coastal town has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. In addition to its friendly surroundings, its central location puts you less than three hours away from two other major travel destinations—Boston and New York City. Other New England attractions are also close by. Are you thinking of making a trip to Niantic? Here are a few things you should check out when arriving at this piece of paradise.
In business since 1988, this place is a bookworm's dream come true. Here, you'll find 500,000 gently-used books on practically any topic you can imagine. Visitors can take a pleasant stroll through the Book Barn's peaceful, abundant gardens in the spring and summer. Benches throughout allow guests to read or relax while enjoying a complimentary snack or beverage. Remember to check out some animals, especially the friendly goats, that also call the property home.
Three Belles Outfitters is located on the scenic Smith Cove and offers direct access to the Niantic River. If you're looking for an unforgettable aquatic experience, here you'll find an array of top-of-the-line kayaks for paddlers of every skill level. The company's stand-up paddleboard rentals offer a unique way to connect with nature. Guided fishing tours, paddleboard yoga, and kid's paddle classes are also available.
Founded in 1992, the museum is perfect for letting your child's imagination run wild and free. The 5,000-square-foot facility offers hands-on play in a safe, easy-to-access community environment. Kids can get behind the wheel of a fishing boat, build masterpieces out of giant foam blocks, go on a scavenger hunt, celebrate various cultures at the museum's global village, and much more.
If you want to catch fish and have a great time, look no further than Blackhawk Sport Fishing. Considered one of the best fishing boats in the area, the crew and captain are masters at making sure bluefish, porgies, striped bass, and more bite your line so you can reel them in and celebrate your victory. A cut above the ordinary fishing boat, the Black Hawk comes equipped with side-scanning sonar and powered by 750 horse-power diesel. According to the company, you'll arrive as customers but leave as friends.
If you love history, you'll love exploring the Thomas Lee House. Built in the 1660s, it's one of the oldest wood-frame houses in Connecticut. The Lee family owned the house for 200 years until a farmer purchased it and wanted to knock it down in 1914. Fortunately, the East Lyme Historical Society saved it and opened the house as a museum a year later. Next to the Lee house, you'll find the Little Boston School, which the society oversees. The schoolhouse, which dates back to the 1730s, is believed to be the first record of a school in the area. Free, guided tours are available at both places.
If you crave a more one-on-one fishing experience and like to fish when the sun goes down, this Niantic-based fishing charter may be up your alley. The company specializes in night-striped bass fishing. To provide a more personal, tailored experience, no more than three anglers are allowed on fishing trips. You'll enjoy fishing around Long Island Sound, Block Island, and Montauk, whether a novice or an expert.
If walks along the water are your thing, a stroll along the Niantic Bay Boardwalk is a must. The mile-long, cemented boardwalk starts at Cini Memorial Park at the mouth of the Niantic River and ends at Hole-in-the-Wall Beach, part of McCook Point Park. Along your walk, enjoy relaxing views of nature and the rocky shoreline standing up or while sitting on one of the boardwalk's benches. Public restrooms are available. Dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk.
Charlie's Place prides itself on great food at a reasonable price. Located at 26 West Main St. in Niantic, the restaurant has proudly served delicious food for almost 20 years. Here, you'll have no problem finding something to sink your teeth in. Pasta, seafood, burgers, comfort food, salads—you name it. The menu here is extensive. The restaurant is open every day except for Monday for lunch and dinner.
If sweets are your thing, you'll have difficulty walking away from this charming, old-fashioned ice cream and candy shop. At Gumdrops & Lollipops, visitors can satisfy their sweet tooth with homemade ice cream, fudge, sundaes, milkshakes, chocolates, desserts, fruit slices, nostalgic candies, and much more. This place is a sugar addict's dream come true. If you're not a fan of sweet treats, fill up on hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, and onion rings instead. In business since 2008, the shop, which occupies a yellow house, sits on the corner of Hole-in-the-Wall Beach on Main Street.
This upscale bar and restaurant serves some of the finest Irish and American dishes along the Connecticut coastline. Sink your teeth into a shepherd's pie, bangers & mash, steak frites, pasta primavera, seafood risotto, and much more. All desserts are also made in-house and taste divine. If you're craving a cold one, sip on your choice of 15 draft bears. You can enjoy your drink and meal in the restaurant's cozy nook, by the fireplace, or outdoor patio. Specials are available daily.
This small, town-owned park offers a nice place to relax and soak in some sun while enjoying the beautiful beach. Located at 10 Atlantic St., the park is full of amenities. You will find picnic areas, a pavilion, a bocce court, a playground, and outdoor showrooms. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset.
Step inside Niantic Public House and Brewery, where you're greeted by colorful, hand-painted wall art and friendly faces. Located in the heart of downtown Niantic, here you'll find a great selection of beers, wines, hard seltzers, and ciders. Since 2018, the owners, Todd and Jenny Sakowski, have proudly brewed their own beer. There is a wide selection of beer and cider on tap. Soft drinks and juice are also available. The spacious taproom does not serve food, but it's surrounded by several restaurants that offer take-out or delivery.
A trip to this state park provides many fun opportunities for visitors of all ages. Situated on Long Island Sound, you'll find plenty to do here. Enjoy a day of crabbing, fishing, or sightseeing for waterfowl from its half-mile-long sandy beach. If you're outdoorsy, take advantage of the park's hiking trails or seasonal campgrounds. The park's cobblestone historic pavilion also offers the perfect spot to entertain guests for any special occasion.
If you time your trip right, you can soak in the bright sights and wonderful sounds of the town's annual light parade, held every year in early December in the heart of downtown. Featuring an impressive variety of beautiful, dazzling floats and even an appearance by Santa Claus, the parade is New England's largest holiday light parade.
The Niantic Farmers Market features a nice selection of fresh fruits and vegetables like strawberries, cabbage, carrots, squash, and more. The summer market runs from June to October. Its winter schedule lasts from January to March. In addition to fresh produce, you'll find food trucks serving delicious meals and street vendors.