The summer season is upon us, which means that whether you are a Connecticut resident or from out of state, it is time to hit the beach. New England is littered with tons of great beaches, and Connecticut is a hot spot for a lot of locals along the East Coast. However, with so many great beaches to consider, you want to make sure that you are going to the best ones this summer.
What are the best beaches in Connecticut?
The best beaches to visit in Connecticut are:
- Ocean Beach Park
- Hole-in-the-Wall Beach
- Hammonasset Beach State Park
- Harvey’s Beach
- West Beach at Rocky Neck State Park
- Calf Pasture Beach
- Clinton Town Beach
When the outside temperature starts to rise along the East Coast, there is no better place to be than the coast.
Residents of New England that have lived in the region long enough know exactly where to go when it gets too hot for the city – with Connecticut beaches being the prime spot to spend a summer day. Connecticut has nearly 100 miles of coastline to explore and a lot of great beaches to check out.
However, some beaches are better than others. With East Coast beaches becoming more and more popular, we have been seeing an increase in parking fees, and some places even charge general admission. Furthermore, the quality of the water, the sand, and the surrounding scenery also vary in each place, which is why you want to consider all of your beach destinations carefully.
To help you find the perfect place to spend your summer days in Connecticut, we are going to take a closer look at all of the best beaches in the New England state.
After extensively researching Connecticut beaches, I have been able to gather enough information to shortlist the best options within the state. My research has indicated that each beach in Connecticut has specific qualities that make it stand out, and you should evaluate the pros and cons of each one to decide which beach is best for you.
Ocean Beach Park
There are a lot of great beaches in Connecticut, but the crowd favorite among so many locals within the region is Ocean Beach Park. This is an iconic hot spot within the Nutmeg State, and it continues to be one of the best options for a beach getaway in Connecticut to this day.
Ocean Beach Park is dynamic, beautiful, and has something for everyone. To start, the beach is prime – a white sand beach that stretches on for around half a mile – offering plenty of room for people to relax in the sun.
The water quality at Ocean Beach Park is excellent, and once the outdoor temperature gets hot enough, there is no better place to cool down on a scorching summer day.
However, if you are not up to swimming in the ocean – no problem. One of the best things about Ocean Beach Park is that it is full of other activities and even an alternative swimming area.
You will find a massive swimming pool along the beach that is about 150 feet long, a perfect place for doing laps or simply floating around.
Ocean Beach Park is also considered to be one of the most family-friendly beaches in all of Connecticut. The atmosphere is vibrant and friendly, but there are also a ton of other ways to entertain your kids other than the beach. The following activities are available at Ocean Beach Park:
- Mini Golf
- Water Slide
- Amusement Park Rides
In addition, there is a fantastic boardwalk that you can take strolls on, and it is also a common spot for scheduled events. All in all, it will be hard to get bored when spending a day at Ocean Beach Park.
Now, despite Ocean Beach Park’s shining qualities, one of the only downsides is that there is an admission fee. If you are just planning on laying out on the beach and swimming in the ocean, you only need to pay for parking.
However, if you want to use any of the additional activities and amenities at Ocean Beach Park, you will need to pay extra. Lastly, Ocean Beach Park is only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
A lot of locals prefer to hit Hole-in-the-Wall Beach over any other location in Connecticut.
This is a more low-key spot that often stays under the radar of a lot of out-of-state tourists, which makes it a great beach to go to if you want to bypass the crowds.
Hole-in-the-Wall Beach is near the town of East Lyme, which is a lovely area to stop at for a meal on your way to the beach. Once you arrive at Connecticut’s Hole-in-the-Wall Beach, you can enjoy an easy day soaking in some rays on a very casual and pristine small stretch of sand.
This is a prime spot for swimming, but beachgoers also like to take advantage of some of the other activities that Hole-in-the-Wall Beach is known for, such as kayaking and canoeing. The water here stays quite flat, which makes it a perfect place for paddling out.
If you are not in the mood for kayaking or canoeing, perhaps you will enjoy fishing instead, as Hole-in-the-Wall Beach is a popular area among local fishermen.
However, if you want to take a break from the beach altogether, one of the best features of Hole-in-the-Wall Beach is the surrounding scenery. This beach is part of McCook’s Point Park, which is a beautiful area to explore for nature lovers.
While on the beach, you are surrounded by trees, grass, and hills. A lot of people that visit Hole-in-the-Wall Beach come here to enjoy a nice hike around the park and then finish off the day by relaxing at the beach, where they can enjoy one of Connecticut’s best sunset spots.
If you are still not sold on Hole-in-the-Wall Beach, you will be if you have a dog. This is one of the top dog beaches in Connecticut, which means that you can bring your pup along for the adventure.
You should be able to get access to Hole-in-the-Wall Beach all year long, but much like with Ocean Park Beach, you will need to pay for admission if you want to visit between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Hammonasset Beach State Park
Hammonasset Beach State Park is considered to be the best of what Connecticut has to offer, according to some locals – and they are not far off. This beach may not have an amusement park or a huge variety of recreational activities, but that is actually what makes it so great.
Given that this is an official State Beach of Connecticut, it means that the ecology of the area is better preserved and the natural aesthetic of the beach is very much unchanged.
When walking around Hammonasset Beach State Park you will see much more of Connecticut’s environment – with beautiful plants and seabirds being a common sight.
There are also some incredible seaside dunes to admire along the beach, which is one of the main reasons why people visit Hammonasset Beach.
If you want to have a closer connection to the surrounding environment at this Connecticut State Beach, you can always join one of the nature programs such as the Hammonasset Safari to get more in-depth knowledge of the ecology of the area.
This is also the best beach in Connecticut to go to if you want to have an overnight stay in the great outdoors. Within Hammonasset Beach State Park there are more than 500 campsites for visitors to enjoy.
You can visit the beach, pitch a tent, and enjoy a night out camping with your family or friends. However, if you are not in the mood to sleep in a tent, there are plenty of picnic areas that you can utilize for day trips.
If you are still not sold on Hammonasset Beach State Park, this is the longest beach in the entire State of Connecticut.
When you visit this beach, you can enjoy over 2 miles of the Atlantic Ocean shoreline. No matter how busy the beach gets during the peak of the summer season, you know that you can find somewhere quiet to sunbathe at Hammonasset Beach.
In addition, unlike a lot of the popular beaches in Connecticut, the admission fees here are much more reasonable. Instead of paying an expensive fee every time that you visit, you just pay for a modestly priced seasonal pass. Given the fact that Hammonasset Beach is run by the Connecticut Park System, you know that your money is going to fund ecology programs for the local area and support park staff.
A favorite among so many Connecticut locals is Harvey’s Beach. This gorgeous stretch of Connecticut shoreline is located in Old Saybrook and it is a perfect summer getaway spot for families in particular.
However, everyone can enjoy a lovely day at Harvey’s Beach, as there is something here for everyone to enjoy.
There are some fantastic recreational activities that you can join in on at Harvey’s Beach such as seasonal movie nights, scheduled events, and even yoga. Families love to take their kids to this Connecticut beach given the fact that the water is quite shallow, which makes this a very safe place for swimming.
With that being said, there are still lifeguards on duty at Harvey’s Beach – despite the fact that this is one of the safest beaches in the state.
Harvey’s Beach is not a very long beach but that is part of its appeal. You can take casual strolls along the shorefront and make your way over to the lighthouse. The New England coast, paired with Lynde Point Lighthouse in Old Saybrook makes for a picturesque view at sunset.
A lot of people that go to Harvey’s Beach do so as a stopover on their trip to Old Saybrook, which is a quaint and historic Connecticut town with a ton of tourist attractions – including some excellent hotels for anyone who wants to have a comfortable overnight stay near the beach.
This is another great Connecticut beach for anyone who likes to take their dogs along for the ride, as this is a pet-friendly place that is perfect for a canine companion. Lastly, Harvey’s Beach is a great place for anyone who does not want to deal with expensive fees.
You can have access to Harvey’s Beach for a fraction of the price of some of Connecticut’s other hotspots.
West Beach at Rocky Neck State Park
If you are searching for a beach spot that does not get nearly as much attention as it should, you will find what you are looking for at Rocky Neck State Park. This State Park has an amazing beach and you can enjoy a day out on the coast in pristine and preserved Connecticut nature.
West Beach at Rocky Neck State Park is known for its smooth sand and calm ocean water, which makes for a very relaxing summer getaway. The calmness of the coast at West Beach makes for some incredible photo opportunities during sunset, as the reflection of color from the water is simply stunning.
Given the fact that West Beach is connected to a State Park, the natural scenery is very preserved and looked after. This is a fantastic area to spend an entire day enjoying the Connecticut coastline and even some inland hikes.
The State Park has a variety of great trails that you can hit up before or after your beach day and there are also some picnic and camping areas in case you want to have an overnight stay.
While walking around Rocky Neck State Park, you will likely see undisturbed wildlife and seabirds, which is why a lot of bird watchers visit West Beach.
However, West Beach at Rocky Neck State Park is also a popular location for anyone who wants to spend a day fishing, as there are some prime and popular spots that locals visit.
Given the fact that this Connecticut beach does not get nearly as much traffic and attention as some of the other areas around the state, you can arrive and enjoy just about all of the park’s activities and amenities without worrying about reservations beforehand.
Calf Pasture Beach
Calf Pasture Beach is a very popular beach among Connecticut locals and out-of-state tourists. This beach has a lot of qualities to offer visitors, including about a mile of beautiful shoreline and a ton of activities to take full advantage of while you are there.
The beach got its name from its historical use as a grazing spot for cows.
During the 1600s, the original settlers of the region would let their cows roam this New England coastal area to graze along the beach. The beach is by no means used in this way these days, and it is kept clean and tidy by the staff.
A lot of the locals from Norwalk, Connecticut, like to visit Calf Pasture Beach due to how accessible it is.
Tourists and locals can hop on a bus or take the metro to get to Calf Pasture Beach, which means that you can visit without even needing to drive your car. Once you arrive, you have an amazing beach for swimming, as well as other fun activities such as:
- Bocce ball
A lot of people also like to visit Calf Pasture Beach to go kayaking and sailing – making this a very dynamic Connecticut beach with a buzzing atmosphere during the summer season. However, this does mean that the beach can get quite busy during peak season.
If you want to escape the beach when it reaches its highest capacity during mid-day, you can always hit up one of the nearby hiking trails to go for a walk.
There is an entrance fee to enter Calf Pasture Beach and it can be quite pricey if you visit during peak hours and on weekends. If you want to keep costs to a minimum, we would recommend going on weekdays or after 5 pm when the prices drop.
Clinton Town Beach
Clinton Town Beach is very popular and attracts Connecticut locals, as well as out-of-state visitors. This beach offers a prime shoreline that is perfect for swimming at high tide and getting some rays during a hot summer day.
However, one of the main characteristics of Clinton Town Beach that attracts so many visitors is the extremely low tide that it is famous for. During low tide, you can take a walk out and enjoy the beautiful sandbars to get a completely different feel for the New England coastline.
In addition to the beautiful beach, you will find some great hiking trails in the area that are perfect for walks throughout the entire year.
A lot of locals like to come to Clinton Town Beach to take their dogs on walks, but you should keep in mind that pets are not allowed on the actual beach.
You can also enjoy some of the great amenities that this Connecticut beach offers visitors such as basketball, volleyball, and boche ball. If you are a Connecticut local, you can get yourself a pass from the caretaker. However, if you are visiting from out of state, there is a fee to enter Clinton Town Beach.