When we think of taking a getaway to Connecticut, the historical and cultural epicenters of New Haven and Hartford usually come to mind -- followed by a fun road trip along the western side of the state. But what about a trip to the coast? Filled with a number of shore towns, coastal Connecticut is a great alternative to the better-known New England waterside destinations. One of our favorite towns is Old Saybrook, where we recently enjoyed a laid-back weekend. Here’s how you can do it.
Where to Stay
An online search of places to stay in Old Saybrook turns up a few ultra-budget hotels, but we prefer the full-service, luxurious Saybrook Point Inn and Spa. Overlooking the Connecticut River, the inn is home to more than 100 standard and deluxe guestrooms, suites, and villas -- none of which are quite the same and where many are outfitted with a fireplace. For a more intimate feel, check out the eight-room Three Stories and six-room Tall Tales guesthouses that are located just across the street from the main inn. Rooms in those buildings are named for individuals from the local community (including Katharine Hepburn) and prominent figures from early American history. Our favorite features of the guesthouses include the first-floor common areas that have cozy living spaces, dining areas, and full kitchens; the oversized guestrooms that are airy and incorporate pops of color alongside sophisticated neutrals; and the billiards and game rooms that are perfect for a night in. Rates at the main inn are at $229 per night, while rates for a room in the guesthouses are from $319-$329.
Where to Eat
For fresh, award-winning cuisine, locals and visitors alike head to Fresh Salt at the inn. A meal here may be a splurge, but views overlooking the water make it worth the extra bucks. The menu changes often, but during our visit we found the Sriracha-style calamari ($15), the salmon ($30), and the Swiss chard and butternut squash lasagna to be very tasty. For eats away from Saybrook Point, make a five-minute drive (the inn has a free shuttle) to Main Street, where cafés and restaurants are aplenty. The spinach-artichoke dip ($12) at Penny Lane Pub was an instant hit at our table -- just don’t bother asking for the recipe as even the servers are kept in the dark by the chefs. Caffeine lovers will love the local roasters’ coffee products at Ashlawn Farm Coffee on Boston Post Road, while those with a sweet tooth can indulge in one of their giant chocolate chip cookies ($3).
What to Do
Being that Old Saybrook is a town that sits on the water, there are your requisite littoral activities, like kayaking and boating. But there’s much to do for land lovers, too. Main Street is perfect for a leisurely stroll, where you can peruse quaint shops like SWAG and The Little Gift Shoppe for quirky odds and ends. One of the more unique shops along the thoroughfare is Southern Exposure, which sells Native American goods like home furnishings, clothing, and accessories.
For a dose of culture, head to The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (The Kate). The first floor has a museum that’s free to visit, paying homage to one of the most beloved local residents. It’s here that you can also attend regularly scheduled musical and theatrical performances. For sights near Saybrook Point Inn, head to the adjacent Fort Saybrook Monument Park and take a gander at the Connecticut Valley Railroad Roundhouse. In the opposite direction, there’s the Old Saybrook Causeway that affords views of the Long Island Sound and Katharine Hepburn’s former estate.
Top off the trip with a treatment at Saybrook Point’s Sanno Spa that offers a variety of affordable treatments. There, you can relax with massages (from $69), as well as skin therapies (also from $69), and access the property’s Health Club with saltwater pools.
From New York City, the drive along I-95 takes about two hours. Old Saybrook is also serviced by Amtrak, and Saybrook Point can arrange for a free shuttle to pick you up at the station.