Great Drives Along the Connecticut Coast
Everyone knows that busy I-95 and U.S. Route 1 follow the Connecticut shoreline from Greenwich east out to Stonington, but there are a lot of lesser known routes that’ll give you the flavor of the coast and sometimes take you right down to the water. Here are several recommendations to get you started.
Route 136 – Darien to Westport
Also known as Tokeneke Road, Route 136 heads south from Exit 12 off I-95, eventually getting to the coastal section of Norwalk that’s known as Rowayton.
- Rowayton: Here you can get an excellent meal at The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood and wander side streets down to the Sound.
- South Norwalk: From Rowayton, continue on 136 into historic South Norwalk, where shops, restaurants and the Maritime Aquarium await.
- Westport: Stay on 136 through East Norwalk and into Westport, where Tarry Lodge is a good place for a meal.
- Overnight: The trip ends on Post Road East (U.S. Route 1) where you can spend the night at The Westport Inn.
Routes 337, 142 and 146 – New Haven to Guilford
At Exit 51 off I-95, take Route 337 south; you’ll pass New Haven’s East Shore Park and Fort Hale Park as you begin this tour.
- Lighthouse Point: Here you’ll see not only a fine old lighthouse but also a carousel that’s open for rides in summer.
- Indian Point: Follow Route 337 to 142 in Branford to 1N to 146 to Indian Point, where you can order a shore dinner at Lenny’s Indian Head Inn.
- Stony Creek: After 146, keep an eye out for Thimble Islands Road, which goes to charming Stony Creek and a tour of the Thimble Islands.
- Guilford Green: Now it’s on to Guilford and the famous Guilford Green (shopping, history) then up onto Rte. 1 where a bed awaits.
Route 154 – Old Saybrook to Haddam
This trip follows both the Connecticut coast and the Connecticut River. Begin by taking Exit 66 off I-95, then Route 1 north a short way before finding 154.
- Fenwick: Head south on 154 past Harvey’s Beach to the historic retreat of Fenwick (where Katharine Hepburn came for the salty breezes).
- Saybrook Point:Next it’s up to Saybrook Point, where you can see Fort Saybrook Monument Park and stop for a meal at Saybrook Point Inn.
- Old Saybrook: Now it’s north into central Old Saybrook for shopping, strolling and many good places for something to eat.
- River Valley: Finally it’s up through the beautiful Lower Connecticut River Valley, lined with charming towns and many attractions.
Route 156 – Old Lyme to Niantic
This side trip heads south toward the water on Rte. 156 from Exit 70 off I-95.
- Picnic Spot: As you head south, take a right onto Ferry Road, at the end of which is a little-known picnic area on the Connecticut River.
- Rocky Neck:Next on 156 you can visit the funky shoreline community of Sound View Beach and then swim or hike at Rocky Neck State Park.
- Niantic: It’s on to Niantic, where there’s a remarkable used book store called the Book Barn and a long boardwalk along the water.
- Dinner and Room: Try The Black Sheep, Skippers Seafood or Sunset Ribs. The Inn at Harbor Hill Marina is a good place to stay.
Route 213 – Waterford to New London
Here’s a short, simple loop off of U.S. Route 1 that brings some true waterfront pleasures.
- Harkness Memorial: Take 213 south from Route 1 to Harkness Memorial State Park, formerly a magnificent 230-acre summer estate.
- O’Neill Theatre:Practically next door is the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theatre Center. If you’re a fan of theatre, check out the offerings.
- Ocean Beach Park: Take 213 to Ocean Avenue in New London, then go south to Ocean Beach Park for a sandy beach, rides and a boardwalk.