Best Connecticut beach towns: 15 of the most beautiful you need to experience now

Connecticut is full of great beaches that are perfect for anyone to enjoy. Today, you will learn about the best Connecticut beach towns that will not disappoint.

From private town beaches to the Long Island sound, there are options for everyone’s interests.

Whether you are from the East Coast or are looking for a new summer destination, this list will give you ideas on what area to experience first.

In this post you will learn:

  • The best coastal towns in Connecticut
  • Parking permit, restrictions, and non-resident info
  • What to do in these charming beach towns
  • Beautiful beaches
  • lots more!

So if you are ready to plan your Connecticut trip well informed, keep on reading!

Make sure you add this to your East Coast bucket list. The state of Connecticut is known to be the nutmeg state and is a special place for beach lovers.

Connecticut beach towns

connecitcut beach towns

Connecticut Coastal towns are incredibly peaceful. Why? Because most of the towns have a city center apart from the beach. That means you won’t find tons of crowded boardwalks and loads of shops at every beach destination.

This is perfect for the quiet beachgoer who doesn’t want noisy distractions. Instead, you can find the ambiance in the downtown area and enjoy the beach apart, peacefully.

Milford Connecticut: A great Connecticut beach town for the family

Milford is located in New Haven County and is the sixth eldest town in the state of Connecticut. This cute cozy area is known to be one of the best charming beach towns in Connecticut.

It is one of the best beach towns because it has lots of outdoor activities. You can easily choose from 5 of their beaches, there’s Walnut Beach, Middle Beach, Anchor beach, Gulf beach, and Woodmont beach.

Walnut beach is almost like a crescent shaped beach and is pretty. There are some rocks though.

Milford’s coastline is about an impressive 17 miles. These beaches border the infamous Long Island Sound.

This area is perfect for chill beach lovers as it has a very laid-back vibe. After all, the Long Island sound is insanely popular during the summer. If you are traveling to Milford with kids, make sure you add Silver Sands State Park and Eisenhower park to the list.

Silver Sands state park has a parking permit fee of $22 for non-residents. The park has walking areas, biking areas, boardwalk areas, and swimming areas. Milford has the longest boardwalk.

At Eisenhower park, you can find a tennis court, playground, and a splash pad. Perfect place for the whole family!

Charles Island

Another fun activity is to visit Charles Island. This is a 14-acre island right next to Milford. The good news is you can walk, you just have to make sure the tide is low. It’s only 0.5 miles from the coast of Milford.

Charles Island is pretty and a great activity to do if you are in the Milford area.

If your traveling party enjoys wildlife, make sure you add Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point too, this is a great place to view wildlife and birds from the center’s deck.

In addition to outdoor activities, Milford has good restaurants, one of the award winning is named Bin 100. It is the best in town and has a tasty Mediterranean menu. For adult drinks, make sure you go to Dockside which is a waterside pub & brewery with a nice view of the Housatonic River.

And if you are not a drinker, it’s a cute place to hang out by the water for a soda or some appetizers.

Other popular restaurants in Milford include Seven Seas and The Corner restaurant.

One of the most upscale Connecticut beach towns – New London

connecticut beach towns close to nyc

New London, CT, is an upscale seaside town.

It is located on the Thames River and was first settled in 1651. The town has been home to many wealthy people throughout its history because it served as the site for many colonial trading ports.

The climate in New London is typically temperate with four seasons that are usually cool or cold with hot summers and cold winters. The best main attractions in New London are Ocean beach park, Fort Trumbull State Park, and Lyman Allyn Art Museum.

At Ocean beach park, you’ll find a beach, a miniature golf course, an Olympic sized swimming pool, waterslides, and more. Parking permits are 20$ on weekdays and $25 on weekends. It’s home to beautiful beaches.

New London is also home to one of the most popular beach destinations in Connecticut.

Ocean Beach Park is a hit for families so if you have kids, you can put this at the top of your list.

At Fort Trumbull State Park, you can take in views of the Thames River, fish, or enjoy the boardwalk. The park is free to enter.

If you are looking for art and culture, make sure you make a stop at Lyman Allyn Art Museum. The collection has over 17,000 pieces of art from all over the world.

Fairfield: A beautiful Connecticut beach town

Fairfield Connecticut is absolutely beautiful and has lots to do for a fun-filled weekend with friends or family. In Fairfield, they really utilize the 5 miles of Connecticut coastline the area has.

Along Fairfield’s coast, you’ll find 5 pretty beaches, these are South Pine Creek, Southport, Sasco, Penfield, and lastly Jennings Beach which is the most well-known and has a rockier shore. During the summer there is also a family movie night.

If you are in Fairfield Connecticut during the weekend, make sure you stop at the local Fairfield Farmers Market. The market takes place every Saturday from June – to October and offers homemade kombucha to incredibly fresh produce.

Adding on to where to shop, make sure you visit Snappy Gator for beachwear and Glitter & Grime for kidswear.

Fairfield area doesn’t disappoint with top-notch food either. Some popular restaurants in Fairfield Connecticut include Colony Grill and Saugatuck Sweets.

Parking in the area can be a little pricy, for non-residents it’s $40 on weekdays, and $50 on weekends.

Fairfield is one of the best beach towns in Connecticut with its activities, calm waters, and prime location. The town sits between Stamford and Bridgeport.

Stamford might sound familiar as it’s home to Chelsea Piers and a 50 meter Olympic sized swimming pool in the area.

Norwalk

norwalk connecticut - quaint coastal towns in connecticut

No one can deny the pier at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk is absolutely stunning! Calf Pasture is definitely the most popular beach in the area with lots to do right on-premise. The area used to be extremely popular for oysters and making hats back in the 19th century.

You can rent a boat for the day or visit a nearby popular restaurant such as Ripka’s beach cafe. In addition to that, if you are traveling with family you can entertain the kids with activities such as baseball, skateboarding, or the traditional playground.

You can also play mini golf at the infamous Norwalk cove Marina mini golf. The views at the mini golf course are the gorgeous Long Island sound.

This is one of the cutest beach towns in Connecticut because it’s very homey. Norwalk also has beautiful beaches for different kinds of travelers.

Parking permits for non-residents in Norwalk has a similar rate to other nearby charming beach towns. Weekdays are $40 and $65 for holidays and weekends.

While in the area, make sure you visit South Norwalk (aka SoNo) which is known for housing good restaurants in town.

The most popular restaurants in Norwalk include Pontos Taverna, Osteria Romana, Valencia Luncheria, and Brasitas. Make sure you check them out! They all range from $$-$$$.

If you’d like to shop, there is now Soho Collection which is Norwalk’s newest mall.

Whether you’re a family, a couple, or even a solo traveler, Norwalk has something for everyone.

Madison

Madison Connecticut has some of the most relaxing vibes in the whole state and that’s thanks to Hammonasset Beach State Park. It’s also home to the biggest beach in the state since it expands to 2 miles.

Meigs Point Nature Center is located within the Hammonasset Beach State Park, this is an absolute must-visit for nature lovers. You might be wondering what to do at Meigs Point Nature Center, there are more than 50 species of local wildlife on display in various exhibits and greatly maintained nature trails.

Hammonasset Beach State Park is easily what attracts the majority of people to the area.

Believe it or not, Madison Connecticut usually averages out a million visitors yearly with a resident count of 18,000. That’s a lot of people but not to fret, the 2-mile beach ensures there’s plenty of room for everyone.

In Hammonasset Beach State Park, you’ll find beach water that’s well maintained and a great place to catch a sunset. If you want to cozy up and catch a sunset, make sure bring a blanket.

At Hammonasset Beach State Park you can easily enjoy long walks on the beach, paddleboard, or kayak. As noticed in the name, Hammonasset Beach State Park is owned by the state of CT.

For free and easy transportation to Hammonasset Beach State Park, Fort Trumbull State Park, and Sherwood Island State Park check out ParkConneCT for more information.

Madison Connecticut important information

In town, there are 3 other beaches that are considered town beaches. These are East Wharf, West Wharf, and Surf Club.

Madison Connecticut is an insanely beautiful seaside town that has a warm charm to it. It’s hard not to fall in love, even with people too! Don’t be surprised if you start talking to warm residents in coffee shops or bookstores. Madison folks are known to be friendly.

Outside of the coziness, Madison is one of the best beach towns in Connecticut because of its charm.

The most popular restaurants are Bar Bouchee, The Clam Castle, and Lenny & Joe’s Fish tale. Bar Bouchee offers great steak. The Clam Castle offers great lobster rolls. Lenny & Joe’s Fish tale offers great quick seafood eats.

If you like arts & culture, make sure you look into events at the Madison Arts Barn and Madison Art Cinemas. These are 2 different venues that are well known to have top-notch shows the whole year.

There is also a super famous book store RJ Julia Booksellers. It’s a charming place that is located near the Connecticut shore.

Madison is definitely one of the artsy towns in Connecticut.

Old Saybrook

best vacation towns in connecticut

If you are into history or are looking for a romantic getaway, Old Saybrook CT is calling your name. This historical Connecticut coastal town goes all the way back to 1635, when it was first settled.

It’s one of Connecticut’s oldest towns that sits right at the mouth of the Connecticut river. Though it is old, that doesn’t mean the aesthetic compromises. Parking rates are $12 on weekdays and $25 on weekends.

For the best sunset views, make sure you stop at the Breakwater lighthouse. This sunset view will make for a perfect picture, or maybe even a postcard? It’s that pretty. Old Saybrook is home to beautiful beaches and is a perfect option for a sunny beach vacation.

Saybrook point resort is one of the most popular hotels in the area and is highly reviewed.

Old Saybrook has 2 popular beaches that are Harvey’s beach and Indiantown beach. Harvey’s Beach, offers warm, shallow waters and 300 feet of shoreline, making it popular among families.

Not only is Harvey’s Beach one of the most beautiful beaches in the state, but you’ll find great amenities and calm, shallow waters that are perfect for wading in as you take in the lovely coastal view.

The non-resident parking fee at town-owned Harvey’s Beach in Old Saybrook is a small price to pay for access to this pretty patch of sand. 

Conveniently near the beaches, you’ll find Main street. This area has a major New England feel to it, small but it’s incredibly charming. It’s a charming seaside town.

On Main street, you’ll find delicious restaurants/cafes and noble antique shops. Next, head over to the infamous Fenwick Historic district. Fenwick is home to the cutest (and some of the oldest) cottages that were built more than 100 years ago.

Adding on to history, feel free to stop at “The Kate,” which was named after Katherine Hepburn and is now the performing arts center for shows. Old Saybrook is hands down one of the best Connecticut towns to visit.

East Lyme

East Lyme Connecticut is known for Rocky Neck State Park and its mile-long Niantic Bay Boardwalk. Within East Lyme are 2 areas: Niantic and Flanders which are also known as villages.

In Niantic, you have the Niantic bay, Niantic River, and the Long Island Sound. These activities are what have caused Niantic to become more popular. Locals call Niantic a “shoreline secret,” so if you are looking for a hidden gem, definitely put Niantic on your list.

As mentioned previously, the Long Island Sound is a local favorite.

Adding on, if you like sweets, make sure you stop at the 1950’s style candy and ice cream store Gumdrops & Lollipops in Niantic. They also now serve breakfast now.

Next within East Lyme is the Flanders Fishmarket. If you like seafood, this is a must-stop. It’s an award winning restaurant and seafood market. LOTS of fresh fish!!

Rocky Neck State Park is in East Lyme and has a specific crescent-sized beach that goes out for .5 mile long. East Lyme parking fees for non-residents are $40 weekdays and $50 weekends and holidays.

Last but certainly not least, the infamous hole-in-the-wall beach is a must-see. This beach is only attainable through a tunnel that is located under railroad tracks. Hence the name of the beach :).

No denying it’s a pretty beach with white fine sand. It’s quirky, cool, and a unique way to enjoy a beach. At the hole-in-wall beach, you have the Niantic Connecticut boardwalk nearby and the McCook Point Park. That’s more options for things to do!

Westport

coastal ct towns to visit - westport

Westport, Connecticut is a beautiful oceanfront town that overlooks the Saugatuck River. It has 3 beaches in the area that are Compo Beach, Old Mill, and Sherwood Island State Park.

One of the best things to do in Westport is to stroll the theme gardens at Gilbertie’s Herb Garden, the largest herb grower on the east coast.

Stay for one of their demonstrations or workshops, and seasonal events. Stop at the favorite “joint” in town, Black Duck Cafe for lunch or dinner, which is located on the scenic Saugatuck River. Saugatuck River offers a boardwalk and multiple athletic facilities.

Compo Beach

Compo Beach is the town beach and is known to be clean and well kept. This is a cute local option to enjoy. Parking runs similar to the other charming beach towns that are on this list.

Sherwood Island State Park

If you’re looking for a beautiful and natural place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, look no further than Sherwood Island State Park. This park is located in Westport, Connecticut, and offers stunning views of Long Island Sound.

Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, or simply relaxing on the beach. There’s something for everyone at Sherwood Island State Park!

From May 1st – To September 30th, non-residents will pay $45 for weekdays and $70 for weekends.

Just a short walk away from Compo beach is Old Mill. Old Mill is another small beach with a unique shape. During the summer you will need a parking pass to access it.

Did you know this park is one of the first state parks in Connecticut? It was built in 1914 and wasn’t opened to the general public until 2000.

The best restaurants in Westport Connecticut are Finalmente Trattoria, Via Sforza Trattoria, and The Spotted Horse Tavern. Make sure you make a stop at these insanely delicious restaurants while visiting Westport! You will not regret it.

When you are not enjoying the outdoors, head down to Main street in Westport where you’ll find tons of shops. Nearby is the renovated Westport Library that beautifully faces the Saugatuck River.

For more culture and entertainment, look into the Levitt Pavilion where they offer free concerts from time to time.

Greenwich is one of the Connecticut beach towns close to NYC

Greenwich Connecticut is a very prestigious area, when most people think of it, they don’t really think of a beach town. They usually think of upscale art galleries, luxury stores, and superb restaurants.

However, don’t get things confused. Greenwich Connecticut is a beautiful beach town. It’s also one of the Connecticut beaches that’s near NYC.

This area is often called a New York commuter town considering it’s only an hour away by train from Grand Central. A lot of people who live in Greenwich work in New York City.

Make sure you visit Greenwich Point Park which has a beach with impressive cityscape views of Manhattan. You’ll need a pass from the civic center to enter. In this gorgeous area, you can also take the seasonal ferry to Island beach.

Another popular siting in Greenwich is Greenwich harbor. It’s a great place to catch the sunset and go for a walk.

Island beach is owned by Greenwich town and offers a 3.9-acre island. It’s a great way to spend the day, you will need ferry tickets and beach passes to go.

The centers are only open on weekdays so make sure you prepare your trip ahead of time. The fee to park is $35 per car with an add-on of $7 for any individual that’s over 5 years old.

Stony Creek – One of the most epic Connecticut beach towns

best beach towns in connecticut - bradford

Stony Creek beach is in the cute town of Bradford Connecticut. The beach might be small but it sure is cute, locals and visitors alike enjoy Stony.

It is known to have clean water and nice fine sand. By Madera Park, you can find a space to bring kayaks, canoes, and boats out.

Many people head to Stony Creek beach to go on a cruise to Thimble Islands. Thimble Islands is a very beautiful archipelago with some houses. The houses on the island are known to be beautiful summer Victorian houses. Stony creek is one of the best Connecticut shores.

If you can definitely take a trip, it’s a beautiful thing to view, everyone loves it. Rates for the Thimble island cruise as of 2020 are $13 for adults, $6 for children, and $12 for seniors.

You also can do 2-hour private boat tour that’s $450 on weekdays and $500 on weekends.

Mystic

People visit Mystic Connecticut to experience authentic New England culture. It’s one of the best towns in Connecticut in regards to authenticity.

The town itself is a major hot spot, and tons of people have been moving in over the years. It’s beautiful and was once home to one of the major ports in the state.

If you enjoy marine history, definitely make a stop at the town’s seaport museum. Close by there is also another museum of ships.

At Williams Beach park, you’ll find Mystic’s beach. However, if you would like more beach options, there are tons of beaches a few miles away.

Mystic is known for the beachy vibe and its famous port. Today, the port is still booming and you’ll find boats all along the area. Feel free to go on a boat and enjoy the city’s beautiful seaside views.

Guilford: An old historical Connecticut beach town

connecticut coastal towns

Like some of the other beach towns on this list, Guilford is very old and has a historical vibe. A lot of the homes in Guilford was built from the 17-19th century.

These houses border other important streets in town, such as the Town Green which is a small village that runs about 12 miles long and 5 miles wide.

Head to Jacobs beach for water activities such as swimming and kayaking. Non-residents have to pay for a daily visit. Residents are $35, non residents are $70. Due to COVID-19, it´s not clear if there are lifeguards on duty.

Outside of the beach, check out Guilford’s culture scene. In town, there are small but charming museums that are Thomas Griswold house, Henry Whitfield State Museum, and Hyland house.

In addition to culture, Guilford has a ton of cute stores and ambience to check out. Stores in the area range from art galleries, boutiques, antique shops, and restaurants. All around lots of green trees that border the streets. Really pretty!

Putnam

Putnam Connecticut is another one of the best towns to visit in Connecticut. It’s full of culture, beauty, nature, and things to do! The town is located by the Quinebaug River and is very green and lights up with foliage during the fall.

Though Putnam doesn’t have a beach exactly, many go to the Putnam river trail to swim, bike, and hike. It’s pretty and is friendly with pets too.

Outside of nature and recreation, Putnam is buzzing with culture. Just walk through the quaint streets of Putnam, and you’ll easily love the charm. Check in with the Complex Performing & Creative Arts Centre and the Bradley Playhouse to see what events are going on prior to your trip.

Old Lyme: One of the best Connecticut coastal towns

Old Lyme Connecticut

Old Lyme is one of the most popular Coastal towns in Connecticut. Once Memorial Day weekend hits, many people head over to Old Lyme to get settled in their beach rentals and start their summer.

The town has a beautiful landscape with a colonial aesthetic.

If you happen to be on the list of renters, you’ll get access to Old Lyme’s private town beaches. On the other hand, Sound view beach grants public access all summer long.

The other beach that’s accessible is, White Sands. It is open to the public for non-residents and residents but after Labor day. White sands, unfortunately, doesn’t offer parking during the summer for visitors.

Don’t miss the Old Lyme ice cream shoppe & cafe if you like dessert! It’s one of the best ice cream shops in the area.

Other fun things to do in Old Lyme Connecticut involve exploring the Florence Griswald museum and exploring its neighbor, Old Saybrook.

Clinton: An artsy Connecticut beach town

Clinton Connecticut screams tranquility. National Register of Historic Places recently added Eastern Clinton to their list. It’s absolutely breathtaking. If you are traveling with kids, they will love Clinton!

For water activities, head to Clinton town beach. You can go swimming or paddleboarding there.

There are tons of family-friendly activities in the area, especially the Cedar Island marina. At Cedar island, you’ll find an oceanfront restaurant, a heated pool, leisure areas, and even free transportation with the shuttle bus.

In addition to that, there is Clinton art gallery. This offers art pieces from over 30 creators. Similar to other areas on this list, the parking fee for non-residents is $50 on weekdays and $75 on weekends (includes Fridays).

It’s a beautiful place for the family to enjoy the day in the sun. For places to eat, consider Lobster landing or Chamard Vineyards Bistro.

Most affordable Connecticut beach towns

connecticut coast

The most affordable Connecticut beach town is Westport, Connecticut. In fact, in 2018, NBC did a survey and found West Port Connecticut to be the cheapest beach town in all of America in regards to housing, taxes, and more.

Next up are East Lyme and Norwalk in terms of affordability and property taxes. The majority of homes in this area are below 1 million.

Beaches in Connecticut with boardwalk

When you think of a beach in America, many people think of a boardwalk too. Here are the best beaches in Connecticut with a boardwalk:

New London Ocean beach park

If you don’t want to walk a lot, keep it short and sweet with this boardwalk. It’s only half a mile long.

Milford Silver Sands State park

The boardwalk goes all the way from the beach back to the parking lot. Enjoy the views along the way. It’s a nice walk.

Niantic Bay

This is known to be a quieter boardwalk, so if you are looking for fewer crowds, definitely consider this boardwalk. It’s also right near the train station.

Milford Walnut beach

The Connecticut boardwalk at Walnut beach offers great ocean views or a comfortable place to walk for a short distance.

Bridgeport Captains Cove

This boardwalk isn’t as quiet as the rest since there are shops and restaurants all over. Perfectf or the busy bees who want something to do on the boardwalk.

Milford Audobon Center

Milford has a thing for boardwalks, at the Audobon center enjoy the views while trying to view wildlife.

Norwalk Calf Pasture beach

People love Norwalk and they love the boardwalk and port in this Connecticut area too. It’s simply beautiful.

Mystic boardwalk and port

Simply beautiful. Mystic Connecticut is epic so if you can check out the boardwalk and port, you’ll be in good shape.

Connecticut beach towns close to NYC

As previously mentioned, Greenwich is one of the best Connecticut beach towns close to NYC. The commute is under 1 hour with the train leaving you in Grand Central in 45 minutes. In addition to Greenwich, Norwalk is also very close to NYC.

Greenwich is one of the beach towns in Connecticut that has a lot of aesthetics. It’s beautiful, the houses are gorgeous, and people love living there due to its proximity to the city.

From Norwalk to NYC it takes about 1 hour and 2 minutes by train.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed learning about the best beach towns in the state of Connecticut. There are 15 rock-solid options on this list. If you are from the East Coast, you have more than a reason to visit. Proximity!

Today you learned about the best Connecticut coastal towns, the most affordable beach towns in Connecticut, beaches in Connecticut with a boardwalk, and lots more.

I also shared parking and non-resident info so you know what prices to expect.

If you look for beautiful places to visit in the USA, Connecticut should be top of your list. You’ll learn you don’t always have to go travel far to find gems 🙂

Have you ever heard of any of these Connecticut beach towns, would you ever visit one?

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