One of the many benefits of living in beautiful Connecticut is the opportunity to visit a variety of beaches within just a few hours’ drive. With the abundance of sandy spots around the state, you’re sure to find beautiful shorelines filled with as much activity (or inactivity) as you desire. Here’s an overview of a few of the popular areas to help you make the best choice for your family.
Hammonasset Beach State Park
1288 Boston Post Rd. (Rte. 1) Madison, 06443
A visit to Hammonasset Beach State Park, is more than just another day at the beach. Connecticut’s largest shoreline park offers over 2 miles of beach to enjoy swimming, strolling along the boardwalk, or just relaxing in the sun and surf. Memorial Day-Labor Day, weekdays $9/CT vehicles, $15/out-of-state; weekends and holidays $13/CT vehicles, $22/out-of-state; all days after 4 p.m. $6/CT vehicles, $7/out-of-state. Mid-Apr. to Memorial Day and Labor Day-Oct., weekdays parking free; weekends discounted rates apply. Off-season free.
Rocky Neck State Park
244 W Main St Niantic, CT 06357
The beautiful, gently sloping, soft sandy beach, picnic areas, train watching, diverse trail systems and salt marsh viewing platforms make this park ideal for families. Try crabbing or fishing. Look for ospreys, cranes, and herons or other waterfowl. Rocky Neck provides something for all members of the family. Parking rates: Memorial Day-Labor Day weekdays $9/CT vehicles, $15/out-of-state vehicles; weekends and holidays $13/CT vehicles, $22/out-of-state vehicles. After 4 p.m., $6/CT vehicles, $7/out-of-state. Off-season free. Camping: $20/night CT resident, $30/night non-CT resident.
Sherwood Island State Park
Sherwood Island Connector Westport, CT 06880
Connecticut’s first state park is still one of its finest. Have a leisurely lunch in the shade of the picnic grove, swim in Long Island sound, or view marsh life from the observation platform at Sherwood Island. Memorial Day-Sept., weekdays $9/CT vehicles and $15/out-of-state vehicles; weekends and holidays $13/CT vehicles and $22/out-of-state vehicles. After 4 p.m, $6/CT vehicles, $7/out-of-state. Off-season free.
Silver Sands State Park
Could Captain Kidd really have buried his treasure on Charles Island in 1699? Visit Silver Sands for a fun-filled day in the sun and make up your own mind about this legend. Free.
Black Rock State Park
Black Rock offers excellent swimming, hiking, scenic views, and Indian legend all tucked into the scenic rolling hills of the Western Highlands. Lodging Rate: $17/night for CT residents. $27/night non-CT-residents.
Burr Pond State Park
Go swimming and have a picnic at Burr Pond, then hike the trails in search of the bronze tablet marking Connecticut’s role in the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. Weekdays $6/CT vehicles, $10/out-of-state, weekends and holidays $9/CT vehicles, $15/out-of-state; off-season free.
Chatfield Hollow State Park
Hike the trails in search of Indian caves, explore the jagged rocky ledges and recesses, relax by the cooling waters, or picnic in the soft pine woods at Chatfield Hollow State Park. Weekdays $6/CT vehicles, $10/out-of-state, weekends and holidays $9/CT vehicles, $15/out-of-state.
Enjoy a variety of activities in Connecticut’s second largest state forest. Cockaponset, named after an Indian chief who’s buried in the Ponset section of Haddam, is the second largest state forest in Connecticut. The development of this area for recreational purposes allows visitors to fully enjoy the attractiveness of the land, woods, and streams within the forest.
Day Pond State Park
Colchester, CT 06415
Visitors to Day Pond State Park will find the stone foundation reminders of the colonial era when water from the pond powered the nearby sawmill. Now stocked with trout, Day Pond is an attractive area for fishermen. The pond, which is the central feature of the park, was originally constructed by a pioneering family named Day. The water from the pond turned a large overshot waterwheel that powered the “up and down saw” of the family sawmill. Park visitors today will find only stone foundations as reminders of those colonial times. Day Pond is an attractive area for fishermen since the pond is stocked with trout. It was established as a park in 1949.
Gardner Lake State Park
Route 354 – Salem
Gardner Lake State Park is one of Connecticut’s small but important park locations in the southeastern part of the state. At only nine and three quarter acres, this park principally provides boating and recreational access to the 528 acre Gardner Lake.
Gay City State Park
209 Hebron Rd, Marlborough, CT 06447
Gay City State Park offers a glimpse into Connecticut’s industrial roots with over 1500 acres of endless opportunities for outdoor fun including the exploration of extinct mill-town ruins and stone foundations. The park is open from 8 am to sunset. Gates open for the season on the third Saturday in April. They are opened daily at 8:00 am and closed at sunset. Gates close for the season after Columbus Day weekend. Winter parking is available off-season.
Hopeville Pond State Park
193 Rode Rd Jewett City, CT 06351
Visitors can fish, swim or camp on the serene shores of Hopeville Pond. The site, which once boasted several successful mill operations, offers a fine mix of quality recreation and local history. There is a weekend/holiday admission fee and a campsite fee at Hopeville Pond State Park. The main gate opens on the third day of April, and closes on the last day in October. The recreational field area is open all year round.
Indian Well State Park
Shelton, CT 06484
The park’s scenic waterfall and brook give this park its name, Indian Well. The lovely falls, and shaded picnic grove at the water’s edge make this park a great place to spend a lazy summer day. Indian Well was so named because of the Romeo and Juliet-like Native American legend surrounding the Park’s scenic waterfalls and the splash pool at the bottom of the falls. Local Native Americans never actually used the area as a well. Although the falls are lovely, the Park’s primary attraction is its location on the western bank of the Housatonic River. The shaded picnic grove at the water’s edge is a nice spot to spend a lazy summer day. In 1928 Indian Wells was established as a state park. There are separate weekend/holiday and weekday parking fees at Indian Well State Park.
Kettletown State Park
1400 Georges Hill Rd. Southbury, 06488
The cool waters of the Housatonic River make Kettletown State Park and Lake Zoar popular recreation destinations. $17/night for CT residents. $27/night non-CT-residents.
Lake Waramaug State Park
30 Lake Waramaug Rd. New Preston, 06777
Scenically, few bodies of water in Connecticut can rival the picturesque setting of Lake Waramaug. When vivid fall foliage is mirrored in the unrippled lake surface, the park becomes a mecca for sightseers and photographers.
Waramaug is the name of an Indian chief of the Wyantenock tribe who had hunting grounds near falls on the Housatonic River, now referred to as “Lover’s Leap”, in the town of New Milford. Chief Waramaug and his followers wintered in the area now covered by Lake Lillinonah, which was later created by damming the Housatonic, and made Lake Waramaug their summer residence.
The land comprising the park, consisting of approximately 95 acres, was purchased by the State in 1920.
Mashamoquet Brook State Park
Rich with history, legend and lore, Mashamoquet Brook with its Wolf’s Den, offers hiking, camping, fishing, and swimming for the whole family. $14/night for CT residents. $24/night non-CT-residents.
Mount Tom State Park
Rte. 202 – Litchfield, 06759
Go swimming and have a picnic at Mount Tom, then hike the trail to the stone lookout tower for some memorable views. Mt. Tom is one of the oldest parks in the state park system; it is named for the mountain within its boundaries. In 1915 it was established as a state park. There is a stone tower on top of the mountain that is a favored destination among hikers. The summit of Mt. Tom is 1325 feet above sea level, 125 feet higher than its Massachusetts counterpart. The tower trail is less than one mile long and rises some 500 feet. Parking: weekdays $6/CT vehicles, $10/out-of-state; weekends and holidays $9/CT vehicles, $15/out-of-state. Off-season free.
Quaddick State Park
818 Quaddick Town Farm Rd, Thompson, CT 06277
The area which is now Quaddick State Park was once the site of Thompson’s town farm where elderly residents of the village spent their reflective years. Prior to that, it had been a fishing area of the Nipmuck Indians. The cool reservoir water and the sandy beach draw frequent crowds during the warm summer months.
Squantz Pond State Park
178 Shortwoods Rd. (Rte. 39) New Fairfield, 06812
Squantz Pond offers four season enjoyment with steep, wooded slopes, a cool, blue pond and colorful foliage to delight visitors throughout the year. Weekdays $9/CT vehicles and $15/out-of-state vehicles; weekends and holidays $13/CT vehicles and $22/out-of-state vehicles. After 4 p.m., $6/CT vehicles, $7/out-of-state. Off-season free.
Stratton Brook State Park
149 Farms Village Rd. – Rt 309 Simsbury, CT 06070
Stratton Brook is a completely wheelchair accessible park offering swimming, picnicking and interpretive programs in a beautifully wooded setting. The proximity of Stratton Brook to the Hartford metropolitan area has made it one of the better known small parks of the State. In 1949 it was designated as a state park. It was originally called Massacoe State Forest and was acquired to demonstrate forest fire control adjacent to railroads. The railroad tracks have been replaced by an impressive bike trail shaded by white pines and traveling over scenic brooks. In 1996, this park became Connecticut’s first state park that is completely accessible by wheelchair.
Wadsworth Falls State Park
721 Wadsworth Street Middlefield, CT 06455
Spend a summer day cooling off in the mist of the waterfall or an autumn day hiking or biking the varied trails of the park. Weekdays $6/CT vehicles and $10/out-of-state vehicles; weekends and holidays $9/CT vehicles and $15/out-of-state vehicles.
Wharton Brook State Park
Located on wooded, sandy knolls, Wharton Brook offers solitude for a quiet, peaceful picnic. In 1918-1920, this Park was known as a traveler’s wayside; motorists could stop to have their cars serviced and enjoy a quiet picnic lunch. The park was the forerunner of the rest areas developed by the State Department of Transportation. In 1918 Wharton Brook was established as a park.