Connecticut, also known as The Nutmeg State, is a small state in the New England region in northeastern part of the United States. Although a part of New England, it is considered a part of the ‘Tristate area’ along with New York and New Jersey because of its proximity to both.
The state is known for its rustic beauty, brilliant history, amazing landscape, and of course the Yale University.
Aside from its many forests and state parks, the ‘Land of Steady Habits’ is home to several gorgeous beaches and beach parks that keep the atmosphere of the state lively and vibrant throughout the year. While some beaches are known for their natural beauty, others are famous for the attractions that surround them.
Find below a list of the best beaches in Connecticut:
1. Calf Pasture Beach
Located in Norwalk, Connecticut, Calf Pasture Beach derives its name from the city’s history from the 17th century when the surrounding land was used by the early residents of the US as a grazing land for their cows.
Calf Pasture is not only a historically momentous beach but also a park and is conveniently reachable by road. There is a metro station one mile north of the beach and the Norwalk Transit Bus also caters to the area.
The Beach area has a huge safely-guarded beach, a shaded playground, a small boat ramp, a fishing pier, a restaurant, and several sports facilities such as sand volleyball courts, a skateboard park, and a baseball ground with night-lighting. There are common restrooms for public usage.
Visitors can rent sailboats and kayaks from the in-house Norwalk Sailing School. The Beach is a significant landmark on the Norwalk Island Canoe and Kayak Trail.
The Beach also holds the 4th of July Norwalk celebrations every year.
2. Clinton Town Beach
Another popular beach location for the residents of Connecticut as well as outside visitors, Clinton Town Beach offers amazing sunbathing and swimming options during high tide. During low tide, beachgoers can walk out to the sandbars for a very distinctive experience altogether.
The Beach features a designated dog-walking trail while the rest of the beach area remains prohibited for the canines.
Also called the Town Beach, access here during the summer, i.e. the official season, is restricted to Beach Pass Holders only. These passes can be bought at the gatekeeping counter. For non-residential visitors, they must pay a parking fee to access the beach.
Clinton Town Beach features a lot of amenities such as picnic area equipped with picnic tables, a playground, restrooms, snack bars, a walking trail, and sports corners such as a basketball court, a bocce court, volleyball courts, and a splash pad.
3. Ocean Beach Park
Voted as one of the best beaches by National Geographic, Ocean Beach Park is an all-in-one recreational spot for visitors from all around the world.
Imagine a sugar white beach, a 50-meter long freshwater swimming pool, an 18-hole miniature golf course, a separate section for carousels and joy rides, a video game arcade, and a fully-functional food court all packed into one 50-acre park!
If all the above is not enough for you and your family, the Mammoth Beach Park hosts special events such as Classic Car Cruises on Mondays, movie screenings for kids on Tuesdays, live magic shows on Wednesdays, so on and so forth.
The Nature Walk at the Ocean Beach Park offers a spectacular bird-watching pavilion.
Ocean Beach Park opens each year from Memorial Day until Labor Day
4. Hammonasset Beach State Park
Situated in Madison, Connecticut, Hammonasset Beach Park is not your usual day-in-the-park beach experience. With over a 2-mile-long shoreline, Hammonasset is the largest coastline in Connecticut and attracts over a million visitors annually.
The beach waters offer various recreational activities here such as swimming, sunbathing, or simply enjoying the boardwalk. There is also a hiking trail around the beach area and fishing is a widely-enjoyed sport here.
Hammonasset Beach Park is also highly popular among campers and offers more than 500 primitive and electric camping sites.
The Beach State Park is operated by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The 4,000 square feet exhibit of Meigs Point Nature Centre which replaced the state park’s original farmhouse in 2016 features several interesting displays such as live turtles, a touch tank, crabs, fish, snakes, and amphibians.
5. Harvey’s Beach
Tucked away in Old Saybrook, Harvey’s Beach is considered by many as one of the most amazing beach sides of Connecticut.
With a 100-yard-long shoreline, Harvey’s is highly admired by the visitors for its dazzling white sand and mesmerizing sunsets.
The beach offers a stunning coastline, a playground for kids, public restrooms, a concession stand, shower facilities, and activities such as beach yoga and kite lessons during peak season. There is a lifeguard on-site between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Harvey’s Beach is idyllic for beachcombing, swimming, building sand castles, and paddling. The footfall at the beach is very limited so finding a secluded spot here is not such a hassle. The town offers a variety of eateries and cafes.
6. Hole-in-the-Wall Beach
Hole-in-the-Wall Beach is a part of the 62-acre McCook’s Point Park in the town of East Lyme. McCook’s Point, furthermore, is a part of Quinnipiac University’s Connecticut DEEP program.
The beach offers endless opportunities for swimmers, kayakers, canoes, fishing and crabbing enthusiasts. You must acquire a boat launch pass if you wish to use the beach as a beginning point for kayaking or canoeing.
You can also enjoy hikes and walks around the beach area. If you want a more laid-back, relaxed experience, enjoy a perfect beach day at the sandy, white Hole-in-the-Wall beach and see one of the gorgeous sunsets that Connecticut has to offer.
During summer, the beach has lifeguards patrolling the area for visitor safety. If you are visiting between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you would need a pass to access the beach.
Hole-in-the-Wall allows dogs on the beach provided you have them on a leash.
7. Jacobs Beach
Known as Connecticut’s best-kept summer secret, Jacobs Beach is one of the very few locations in the US state which offers you peace and tranquility away from the usual summer crowd that takes over almost all the other beaches during the peak season.
Unknown to many, and hence, almost uninhabited, Jacobs Beach is tucked quietly on Seaside Avenue, Guilford. For a small fee, it allows you access to a 25 acres stretch of sandy shoreline which is an amazing location for kayakers.
Residents can get season passes to access the beach while non-residents must buy a daily pass.
Jacobs Beach has several amenities to offer to its visitors, some of which are a playground, picnic areas, grilling stations, bathroom facilities, and boat racks.
8. Jennings Beach
Located in Fairfield, Connecticut, Jennings Beach offers 27-acres of dazzling, golden sand and a striking view of Long Island Sand. The famous Henry Rowland Memorial Playground is just next to the parking lot and the nearby Ash Creek Open Space is idyllic for launching boats.
Jennings Beach has plenty of tourist facilities to cater to all its visitors. Some of those useful amenities include restroom facilities, a concession stand, lifeguards, a volleyball court, and boat racks.
During the summer, swimming lessons are available on the beach.
With a skating park and a huge ‘sand castle’ playground adjoining the parking space, Jennings Beach is a popular choice for families with children.
9. Pear Tree Point Beach
Disputably one of the best beach locations in Fairfield County, Connecticut, Pear Tree Point Beach is an 8-acre expanse of two combined beaches which gifts its visitors with a perfect beach vacation or day trip.
The adjoined beaches are equipped with a lot of facilities to cater to their tourists, some of which include a bathing area, public restrooms, a shaded picnic area with picnic tables and grilling sections, a fully-functional concession stand, a beautiful pavilion, and lifeguards.
Pear Tree Point Beach has a boat launch and beach rock jetty.
The beach floor is a mix of sand and pebbles and the water is rarely wild. Light watercrafts and kayaks are allowed.
The beach also houses the Darien Boat Club which is most suitable for visitors to begin their day out boating in the surrounding waters.
10. Rocky Neck State Park
Located on Long Island Sound, Rocky Neck State Park comprises around 708 acres of land and water which includes rocky shores, white sandy beaches, a tidal river, a broad salt marsh, and the Ellie Mitchell Pavilion – a big stone gazebo that dates to the 1930s. The State Park is operated by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The Beach at the State Park offers various tourist activities such as swimming, fishing, and crabbing. The Park itself offers a picnic area, salt marsh observation platforms, and an opportunity to spot various coastal birds such as cranes, herons, ospreys, mute swans, and waterfowl. Hiking trails around the park take the visitors around the Shipyard and Baker’s Cave.
Public facilities near the beach include a parking space, dining options, concession stands, and bathing facilities.
Rocky Neck State Park also offers 160 camping sites which are open from May to the end of September.
Lifeguards patrol the area from Wednesday through Sunday.
11. Shady Beach Park
Located within a short distance from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Connecticut, Shady Beach Park is a picturesque stretch of sandy beach and like its counterpart, the beach offers spectacular beach views to the visitors along with several public facilities.
The Beach Park offers ample picnic tables and shaded areas for a perfect beach picnic. The beach floor is a combination of sand, pebbles, and grass. Shady Beach Park shares the same softball fields, splash pads, volleyball and basketball courts, and the playground with Calf Pasture Beach.
There are supervised and unsupervised swimming options available during the summer months. Several concession stands and makeshift food stalls appear around the beach areas in the season.
Showers and restrooms are scattered around the area for public use. A variety of accommodation options are also available around Shady Beach park.
12. Sherwood Island State Park
Set in Fairfield County, Sherwood Island State Park is the first state park in Connecticut and is a recreational area on the shore of Long Island Sound. The 238-acre expanse of the State Park comprises a beach, wetlands, a protected Sand dune area, and woodlands.
The Park is bounded by the Sherwood Mill in the west and is detached from the mainland by coves and ditches. The beaches run over a mile and are a combination of red, black, and white sand – a one-of-its-kind in the state.
Additionally, the State Park houses Connecticut’s September 11 Living Memorial and the NYC skyline can be spotted from here on a clear sky day, and many claim to have seen smoke rise from World Trade Centre after the massive disaster.
The Sherwood Nature Centre, which is open during summer, offers several close-up experiences with wild animals and a line-up of educational programs.
Amenities at the Beach and the Park include but aren’t limited to picnicking, bird watching, scuba diving, fishing, hiking, and sports fields.
Bathhouses, restrooms, drinking fountains, a first-aid station, and concessions are some of the public facilities available within the area.
13. Silver Sands State Park
Another amazing Connecticut jewel maintained by Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Silver Sands State Park is a 297-acres of a massive recreation area that is home to many dunes, restored salt marsh, open areas, woodlands, a beach, and the bird sanctuary at Charles Island.
Additionally, Silver Sands State Park offers various public amenities like trails, swimming, picnicking, boardwalks, and birdwatching opportunities.
During low tide, visitors can walk across to Charles Island via the sand and gravel bar – avoid this during high tide as it can be extremely dangerous.
The State Park is connected to Walnut Beach Park by a mile-long boardwalk.
Coastal birds such as ospreys and egrets are commonly spotted in the area. Silver Sands State Park is also the wintering ground for rough-legged hawks, short-eared owls, and the snowy owls.
14. Waterford Beach Park
One of the only natural beaches in Connecticut, Waterford Beach Park, with its ¼- mile-long beach, offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience an unspoiled beach with astonishing views of Long Island Sound.
The Beach is known for its intact dune systems, sandy hills, and tidal marshes.
At the Beach, there are several public facilities such as restrooms, picnic areas, fishing permits and areas, tennis courts, walkways, and swimming under the supervision of lifeguards.
Daily parking passes are available for purchase to non-residents at the gate. Seasonal Passes can be obtained through the Parks and Recreation Department. The Beach Park has limited parking and it can get slightly busy during weekends and public holidays so arrive early to secure your spot.
15. McCook Point Beach and Park
Located in Niantic village in East Lyme, McCook Point Beach and Park is a public park which is separated by a remarkable bluff from the adjoining Hole-in-the-Wall beach, also situated within McCook Point Park.
Overlooking the Niantic Bay, McCook Point Beach offers a walking trail, boardwalks, restrooms, and a picnic area.
Additionally, the Park has an enclosed pavilion available to rent and reserve, a restroom near the pavilion, playground facilities, and parking by the bluff as well as the beach.
From McCook Point, you can see Plum Island, Fisher’s Island, and Orient Point. Wigwam Rock sits nearby. Fishing and sailing boats, seals, and resident birds bring liveliness to the beach area throughout the year.
Swimming and sunbathing are very popular at McCook Point Beach. The surrounding area is known to host a lot of summer concerts and dances.
Entry to the beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day is restricted to the usage of an entrance pass.