Local Spots

Things to Do in New London Connecticut

Discover the vibrant charm of New London, Connecticut with our guide to the best activities and attractions this scenic coastal town has to offer, from historic sites to cultural landmarks. Get ready for an unforgettable experience filled with hidden gems and local treasures.

Illustrate an image representing the essence of New London, Connecticut, without any text or human figures. Picture a serene landscape which captures some of the city's key features like its picturesque harbor filled with sailboats and a sunset glowing over the ocean. Highlight nature aspects such as a charming park with autumn-colored trees, a historic lighthouse standing alone in distance, and the historic architecture without revealing any distinctive brand names or logos. Please ensure no people are present in this tranquil scenery.

Explore Historic Waterfront District

New London’s Historic Waterfront District is a must-visit area teeming with charming shops, cozy cafes, and delightful eateries. This part of town provides a picturesque view of the Thames River and is perfect for a leisurely day out.

The Waterfront Park and Pier are notable highlights. It’s said that visitors love strolling along the park, soaking in the panoramic river views. You might find your perfect spot to sit and watch the boats pass by, making it an ideal location for a serene escape.

For art lovers, the Hygienic Art Gallery located in the district offers a glimpse into the local art scene. It’s an artist-run arts organization providing a range of programs and exhibits. Past visitors highlight its unique exhibits and the sense of community it fosters.

Dive into Maritime History at The Custom House Maritime Museum

If you have an interest in maritime history, then the Custom House Maritime Museum is a must-visit. This museum offers a deep dive into New London’s rich maritime heritage through a variety of exhibits.

The museum houses a range of artifacts, including navigational tools, ship models, and a comprehensive history of the local ports. According to many, it gives a fascinating insight into the maritime world. The friendly and knowledgeable staff are frequently praised for bringing the exhibits to life.

Moreover, the museum often hosts events and educational programs, making it a great stop for families. It’s a perfect blend of learning and entertainment for everyone.

Feast at Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock

Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock is a local favorite when it comes to seafood dining. This casual eatery is renowned for its fresh and flavorful lobster rolls. According to numerous diners, the quality of the seafood is unmatched, making it a go-to spot for a hearty meal.

The restaurant’s open-air seating offers a great view of the harbor, making your dining experience even more enjoyable. Many people suggest going during the evening to catch the beautiful sunset as you enjoy your meal.

If you love seafood, you might want to give Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock a try. It’s often busy during the weekends, so heading there on a weekday might be a good idea for a more relaxed experience.

Discover Local Culture at Garde Arts Center

The Garde Arts Center is a hub for performing arts in New London. This beautifully restored theater boasts an array of shows, including concerts, films, and live performances. It’s a cultural gem in the heart of the city.

Patrons often rave about the venue’s stunning architecture and excellent acoustics. Whether you’re into theater, music, or films, the Garde Arts Center offers a rich program that’s sure to have something of interest.

It’s advised to check their schedule in advance and book your tickets early, especially for popular shows. Locals mention the center as a go-to place for a delightful night out filled with arts and entertainment.

Relax at Ocean Beach Park

Ocean Beach Park is more than just a beach; it’s a complete package for family fun. Visitors love this spot for its pristine sandy shores, boardwalk, Olympic-sized swimming pool, and mini-golf course.

The park is a perfect getaway during the hot summer months. The clean, wide beach makes it great for swimming, sunbathing, or just relaxing with a good book. People often highlight the beautiful sunrises and sunsets as a park staple.

There’s also a small amusement park within Ocean Beach Park, making it an exciting destination for children. Don’t forget to check out the events calendar as the park often hosts classic car shows, live music, and festivals, adding more reasons to visit this lovely spot.

Stroll Through Connecticut College Arboretum

A trip to the Connecticut College Arboretum offers a tranquil escape into nature. The arboretum spans over 750 acres and features diverse plant collections, native meadows, and stunning landscapes.

Nature enthusiasts frequently mention this spot for its serene walking trails, which provide scenic views year-round. It’s a perfect place to unwind and connect with nature, whether you’re alone or with family.

Additionally, many people appreciate the educational programs and workshops held here, making it a great place to learn about botany and environmental conservation. It’s a peaceful retreat that you may find both relaxing and educational.

Enjoy the Mystic Whaler Cruises

For an unforgettable maritime experience, consider embarking on a Mystic Whaler Cruise. These cruises offer a unique way to explore the scenic coastline and learn about Connecticut’s maritime heritage.

Many visitors praise the friendly crew and the well-maintained vintage vessel. You might find it fascinating to sail on a traditional tall ship while enjoying spectacular views and the refreshing sea breeze.

The Mystic Whaler offers several types of cruises, including sunset sails, lobster dinner cruises, and even extended voyages. People often recommend these cruises for their informative and enjoyable narration about the local history and marine life.

It’s said that booking in advance, especially during the summer months, ensures a spot on this popular attraction. The personalized attention and intriguing stories make it a memorable experience for all ages.

Check Out the New London Ledge Light

The New London Ledge Light is an iconic lighthouse located at the entrance of New London Harbor. This historical structure stands out due to its distinct architecture and intriguing lore.

Visitors are often captivated by its history, and some even mention tales of the lighthouse being haunted. If you’re interested in a bit of local folklore, this spot might just pique your curiosity.

Although the lighthouse itself is only accessible via boat, there are various tours that provide a close-up view and educated insights into its history. You might find it fascinating to hear the stories from knowledgeable guides who bring the history to life.

Photography enthusiasts frequently mention that the lighthouse provides excellent opportunities for unique, picturesque shots. It’s said that capturing the lighthouse at sunset offers particularly stunning visuals.

Explore the Submarine Force Museum and USS Nautilus

A visit to the Submarine Force Museum and USS Nautilus offers a deep dive into the world of undersea military warfare. This museum houses an impressive collection of submarine artifacts, and the highlight is definitely a tour of the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine.

Many visitors rave about the interactive exhibits and the opportunity to explore the interior of a real submarine. It’s said that this museum offers an educational and thrilling experience, making it a hit among families, history buffs, and naval enthusiasts.

The museum staff are often praised for their informative and engaging tours. You might find their stories and explanations add depth and context to the exhibits, making your visit even more enriching.

You should plan your visit to avoid peak hours if you prefer a more relaxed exploration. The museum also frequently hosts educational programs and special events which can enhance your visit.

Feast at the Caffe NV

Caffe NV is an inviting spot known for its Mediterranean-inspired menu and cozy atmosphere. Nestled in the heart of New London, this gem is touted for its fresh ingredients and delectable dishes.

People often highlight the café’s friendly service and relaxing environment. You might enjoy the variety of foods from hearty breakfast items to flavorful lunch options, all crafted with a Mediterranean twist.

One dish that is frequently mentioned is their delicious falafel plate, often noted for its rich flavors and substantial portion size. The outdoor seating area is also popular, especially during the warmer months.

If you love trying new foods, Caffe NV is a highly recommended stop. It’s said that their Greek salad and baklava are also must-tries, according to past visitors who rave about the authentic taste and quality.

Immerse Yourself in Nature at Harkness Memorial State Park

Harkness Memorial State Park is a picturesque location offering beautiful gardens, scenic views, and a historic mansion. It’s a fantastic spot for a relaxing day outdoors with nature.

Many people praise the park’s well-maintained gardens and lush landscapes. You might find it a perfect place for a peaceful walk or a picnic with family and friends.

The Eolia Mansion, situated within the park, adds a touch of history and elegance to the visit. It’s open for tours, and guests often speak highly of its stunning architecture and historical significance.

It’s said that the beach here is less crowded and provides a serene escape from city life. The park also hosts several events throughout the year, including outdoor concerts and weddings, making it a vibrant community space.

Sample Local Brews at the Thames River Heritage Park

The Thames River Heritage Park is not only a beautiful location but also a great place to sample local brews. The park connects various attractions along the Thames River Shoreline through its water taxi service.

Visiting the local breweries that dot the shoreline is a unique way to experience the local culture. Places like the beer garden at the Heritage Park often receive commendations for their diverse selection and relaxed ambiance.

You might enjoy hopping between the waterfront breweries and tasting different craft beers while taking in the scenic river views. It’s said that the water taxi ride itself is an enjoyable experience, providing a different perspective of the picturesque shoreline.

Many visitors mention the fun and educational aspect of combining sightseeing with brewery visits. It could be an excellent way to spend an afternoon, especially if you love discovering new local brews.

Uncover History at Fort Trumbull State Park

Fort Trumbull State Park is a historical treasure located on the banks of the Thames River. The fort itself dates back to the early 19th century and has been meticulously restored to provide a fascinating glimpse into New London’s military history.

Visitors often mention the intriguing exhibits and well-maintained grounds. You might enjoy the self-guided tours that offer a wealth of information about the fort’s role in American history.

The park also offers beautiful waterfront views, which many find perfect for picnicking or simply relaxing. It’s said that the blend of historical education and scenic beauty makes it a worthwhile visit for both history buffs and nature lovers.

Don’t forget to check out the Visitor Center, where you can find additional exhibits and knowledgeable staff to answer any questions you might have. The interactive displays add extra depth to your visit.

Experience Local Flavors at Muddy Waters Cafe

Muddy Waters Cafe is a beloved local spot known for its warm atmosphere and delicious, freshly made food. It’s a great place to grab a coffee or enjoy a casual meal.

People often highlight the cafe’s eclectic decor and friendly service. You might appreciate the variety of options on their menu, from hearty sandwiches to refreshing salads.

One highly recommended item is their signature coffee, which many say is the best in town. The cozy environment makes it an ideal spot to relax or catch up with friends.

If you’re a fan of desserts, their freshly baked pastries frequently receive rave reviews. The outdoor seating area is especially popular during the warmer months for enjoying your meal with a view of the water.

Stroll Through Mitchell College Beach

Mitchell College Beach is a small but beautiful beach that’s part of Mitchell College. It’s a hidden gem that offers a quieter alternative to some of the busier beaches in New London.

Visitors often praise the clean, sandy shores and serene atmosphere. You might find it a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, or just unwinding with a good book.

The beach is easily accessible and provides a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Many people mention how peaceful and well-maintained it is, making it a favorite for those seeking relaxation.

Don’t forget to check out the nearby walking trails, which offer additional scenic views and make for a pleasant stroll. It’s a great place for a quiet day out in nature.

Get Thrilled at the New England Science and Sailing Foundation

If you’re interested in watersports or marine science, the New England Science and Sailing Foundation (NESS) offers a range of programs and activities. It’s an excellent place for both learning and adventure.

Many visitors highlight the friendly and knowledgeable instructors. You might enjoy the various classes they offer, from sailing and kayaking to marine biology and oceanography.

It’s said that the hands-on experiences make NESS a hit with families and school groups. The programs are designed to be both fun and educational, providing a unique way to connect with the marine environment.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced sailor, NESS offers something for everyone. The well-maintained equipment and stunning coastal location add to the overall experience.

Wine and Dine at the Hot Rod Cafe

Hot Rod Cafe is a popular spot in New London known for its delicious wings and vibrant atmosphere. It’s a great place to enjoy a meal and unwind after a day of exploring the city.

People often rave about the extensive menu and generous portions. You might find their wide variety of wing flavors especially enticing, with something to suit every palate.

The lively ambiance and friendly service make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. It’s said that the outdoor deck is an ideal spot to enjoy your meal, offering great views of the waterfront.

If you love craft beer, the Hot Rod Cafe’s selection is impressive. Many guests mention the great pairing options, making it a go-to destination for a relaxed and enjoyable dining experience.

View Art at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum

The Lyman Allyn Art Museum offers a rich collection of American and European art, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts. The museum features over 15,000 objects, ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary artworks.

Visitors often highlight the diverse exhibits and welcoming atmosphere. You might appreciate the museum’s efforts to engage the community through special events and educational programs.

The museum’s grounds are equally impressive, with beautiful gardens and sculptures that provide a tranquil setting for a leisurely stroll. It’s said that the Lyman Allyn Art Museum offers a perfect blend of art, history, and nature.

Many guests recommend keeping an eye on their rotating exhibits, as the museum frequently updates its displays to offer fresh and intriguing experiences. It’s a cultural gem that you might find both enriching and inspiring.

Tour the Hempstead Houses

The Hempstead Houses are among the oldest buildings in New London, offering a unique glimpse into the city’s colonial past. The site includes the Joshua Hempstead House and the Nathaniel Hempstead House, both of which are beautifully preserved.

Many visitors praise the guided tours for their detailed insights into the lives of the Hempstead family and the history of the area. You might find the historical anecdotes and well-preserved artifacts particularly fascinating.

The houses are also set in lovely grounds, making it a pleasant place to explore. It’s said that the combination of history and scenic beauty makes the Hempstead Houses a great destination for history buffs and casual visitors alike.

Don’t forget to check the schedule for special events and educational programs. These activities provide even more depth to your visit, making it a memorable and informative experience.

Discover Treasures at the Fiddleheads Food Co-op

Fiddleheads Food Co-op is a community-run grocery store that offers a wide variety of organic and locally sourced products. It’s a fantastic place to shop for healthy and sustainable foods.

People often highlight the store’s friendly atmosphere and knowledgeable staff. You might find the selection of fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and specialty foods particularly appealing.

Many visitors mention the co-op’s commitment to supporting local farmers and producers. It’s said that shopping here feels like a way to contribute to the community while finding high-quality products.

If you’re into health and wellness, Fiddleheads also offers a range of supplements and natural personal care items. The store often hosts workshops and events that focus on healthy living, making it a great resource for the community.

Experience Nature at Bluff Point State Park

Bluff Point State Park is a scenic coastal reserve that offers a variety of outdoor activities. It’s a perfect destination for hiking, biking, and bird watching.

Visitors often praise the park’s well-maintained trails and breathtaking views. You might enjoy the mix of wooded areas, sandy shores, and tidal wetlands, which provide diverse habitats for wildlife.

The 3.6-mile loop trail is particularly popular for its stunning vistas and relatively easy terrain. It’s said that the sunset views from the bluff are spectacular and well worth the visit.

Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the park offers plenty of picturesque spots for photography. Whether you’re an avid outdoor enthusiast or just looking for a peaceful escape, Bluff Point State Park has something to offer.

Join Workshops at Spark Makerspace

Spark Makerspace is a community-focused space where people can collaborate and create. It offers various workshops and classes, from woodworking and metalworking to digital fabrication and arts and crafts.

Many visitors highlight the welcoming community and the wealth of creative resources available. You might find it an excellent place to learn new skills or work on personal projects.

The space is equipped with state-of-the-art tools and materials, making it a fantastic resource for makers of all levels. It’s said that the friendly staff and collaborative environment make workshops at Spark Makerspace both enjoyable and educational.

If you’re interested in hands-on learning and creativity, Spark Makerspace is a place you might not want to miss. The variety of classes and open studio hours provide ample opportunities to get involved and explore your creative side.

Catch a Game at Dodd Stadium

Dodd Stadium is home to the Connecticut Tigers, a minor league baseball team. It’s a great place to catch a game and enjoy a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.

People often praise the stadium’s clean facilities and affordable ticket prices. You might enjoy the lively game-day experience, complete with enthusiastic fans and engaging entertainment between innings.

The stadium also offers various concessions, with many visitors mentioning the quality and variety of food options. It’s said that the hot dogs and nachos are particularly popular.

If you’re a sports fan or just looking for a fun day out, attending a game at Dodd Stadium could be a great choice. The relaxed atmosphere and exciting games make it a hit with both locals and visitors.

Indulge at Francesca’s Italian Bistro

Francesca’s Italian Bistro is a charming restaurant known for its authentic Italian cuisine and warm ambiance. It’s a perfect spot for a romantic dinner or a family meal.

People often mention the restaurant’s delectable pasta dishes and mouthwatering desserts. You might find the homemade lasagna and tiramisu especially delightful.

The cozy, intimate setting and attentive service add to the overall dining experience. It’s said that the wine selection is also impressive, with a variety of Italian wines to complement your meal.

If you’re a fan of Italian food, Francesca’s Italian Bistro is definitely worth a visit. The authentic flavors and welcoming atmosphere make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Get Around New London on a Bike

Exploring New London by bike is a fantastic way to see the city at your own pace. The city’s bike-friendly infrastructure and scenic routes make it an accessible and enjoyable option for all ages.

You might enjoy the freedom of cycling through the charming streets and along the waterfront. Many people highlight the convenience and fun of renting bikes from local shops like Mystic Bike Rentals.

If you’re interested in a guided experience, you can join one of the city’s organized bike tours. It’s said that these tours provide great insights into local history and culture while ensuring you don’t miss any hidden gems.

Biking is also an eco-friendly way to explore, making it a popular choice for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a casual rider, biking around New London can be a delightful experience.

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Explore the Whaling City Walking Tour

The Whaling City Walking Tour is an engaging way to learn about New London’s rich maritime history. The self-guided tour takes you through various historical sites and landmarks related to the city’s whaling past.

Visitors often highlight the informative plaques and markers that provide interesting facts and stories. You might appreciate the opportunity to explore at your own pace while soaking in the historical significance of each stop.

The tour covers key sites such as the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse and the Custom House Maritime Museum. It’s said that the combination of history and scenic views make the walking tour a favorite among tourists and locals alike.

If you enjoy walking and learning about local history, the Whaling City Walking Tour is a must-do. The well-mapped route and engaging content make it both educational and enjoyable.

Visit the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center is a renowned destination for theater enthusiasts. Named after the famous playwright, the center offers a variety of programs, including plays, readings, and workshops.

Many visitors praise the quality of the productions and the beautiful campus. You might find the summer programs particularly interesting, as they often feature up-and-coming playwrights and actors.

The center also hosts the National Puppetry Conference and the Cabaret & Performance Conference. It’s said that these events attract talented artists from around the world, making it a vibrant hub for the performing arts.

If you’re passionate about theater, a visit to the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center could be a highlight of your trip. The range of performances and educational programs offer something for everyone.

Shop at New London Farmers Market

The New London Farmers Market is a wonderful place to find fresh, locally sourced produce and artisanal goods. Held seasonally, the market provides a great opportunity to support local farmers and vendors.

People often mention the vibrant atmosphere and friendly vendors. You might enjoy browsing the wide variety of stalls, which offer everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to handmade crafts and baked goods.

The market is a community favorite, attracting both locals and visitors alike. It’s said that the quality and freshness of the products make it a worthwhile stop for food enthusiasts and anyone looking to taste the flavors of New London.

Don’t forget to bring reusable bags and arrive early for the best selection. The New London Farmers Market not only supports local agriculture but also offers a fun and engaging shopping experience.

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Stop by the New London Public Library

The New London Public Library is more than just a place to borrow books. It’s a community hub that offers a variety of resources and programs for all ages.

Visitors often highlight the welcoming environment and helpful staff. You might find the library’s collection of books, magazines, and digital resources particularly impressive.

The library also hosts various events, including author readings, workshops, and children’s programs. It’s said that these activities make the library a vibrant and engaging place to visit.

If you’re looking for a quiet place to read or work, the New London Public Library offers plenty of comfortable seating and study areas. The free Wi-Fi and public computers add to the convenience for visitors.

Marvel at the Views from Pequot Chapel

Pequot Chapel is a beautiful historic chapel located near Montauk Avenue. Built in the Gothic Revival style, the chapel offers stunning architecture and serene surroundings.

Many visitors praise the chapel’s peaceful atmosphere and picturesque setting. You might enjoy a quiet moment of reflection or simply admire the intricate design and stained glass windows.

The chapel is often used for weddings and special events, adding to its charm and significance within the community. It’s said that the views from the chapel grounds are simply breathtaking, offering a lovely backdrop for photography.

If you appreciate historic buildings and tranquil settings, a visit to Pequot Chapel could be a highlight of your trip. The blend of history and beauty makes it a special place in New London.

Catch a Show at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, often referred to as “The Kate,” is a premier venue for live performances. Named after the iconic actress, the center offers a diverse array of shows, including music, theater, and film.

People often highlight the intimate setting and high-quality productions. You might enjoy the chance to see both local and national artists in a beautiful, historic venue.

The Kate also hosts special events and film screenings, making it a cultural centerpiece in New London. It’s said that the friendly staff and excellent acoustics enhance the overall experience.

If you’re a fan of the performing arts, catching a show at The Kate could be a memorable part of your visit. The variety of programs ensures there’s something for everyone, making it a must-visit destination.

Explore the United States Coast Guard Academy

The United States Coast Guard Academy is an esteemed institution located in New London. While it’s primarily a training facility, the academy offers various tours and events that are open to the public.

Visitors often highlight the campus’s beautiful grounds and impressive facilities. You might enjoy a guided tour that provides insights into the academy’s history and the rigorous training of future Coast Guard officers.

The academy also houses the Coast Guard Museum, which features exhibits on maritime history and the role of the Coast Guard. It’s said that the museum offers an educational and inspiring experience for visitors of all ages.

If you’re interested in military history or maritime services, exploring the United States Coast Guard Academy could be a fascinating addition to your New London itinerary. The combination of history, education, and scenic beauty makes it a standout destination.

Avery Ingram

Avery Ingram


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