If you’ve read my posts on Mystic, CT, Watch Hill, RI and Newport, RI, then you know I’m a huge fan of New England seaside towns. What’s not to love. Two little towns near Mystic that sometimes get overlooked are the towns of Noank and Stonington in Connecticut. We’ve visited them when both traveling to Mystic as well as Rhode Island, for they’re near the border of CT and RI. Talk about charming New England! If you have the time, especially if you are on an overnight or weekend get-away, it is definitely worth a visit to these two darling towns.
Noank is tiny, but with its marinas and hill top views, it is a neat little village to cruise around. We love to drive around towns, particularly if there’s not much to really do, but to see. Noank has curvy, beachy streets that take you in and out of snippets of views of the water. And if you love lobster, this is your place! The famed Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough is here, located right on the Mystic River. Known for their lobster rolls and full seafood menu, it also serves things like lobster deviled eggs and shrimp and corn chowder. For an informal, picturesque spot with picnic tables, this low key joint is right up our alley. The kids enjoy it too, as they like the picnic seating and being able to watch all the boats.
There is also the smaller and lesser well-known lobster shack called Ford’s Lobsters, and not to be missed! It is a gem of a spot, located on the Mystic River as well. I’m not going to get into which restaurant is better – as people like to argue, being the two lobster places in town – but Ford’s is more intimate if you’re looking for a smaller spot. They’re both fun places with excellent views (and FYI both are BYOB). Noank is one of those towns that if you weren’t lured in by these lobster shacks – like we were – you might not ever know it existed. But that’s what we love about it.
We have been visiting Stonington, CT for years and it is one of our favorite places on the East Coast. It is a small seaside town, and the only place in Connecticut that faces the Atlantic Ocean. Stonington’s main street, Water Street, is filled with restaurants, cafes and shops. There is some very good food in Stonington, our favorite being the Water St. Café, so don’t let the small town vibe fool you – there is delicious, sophisticated food to be had. With its historic homes and general old-town whaling feel, and somewhat off the beaten path location, Stonington is all charm.
If you head down Water Street all the way to the end you will find panoramic views of the sea and nearby islands. Our favorite spot is duBois Beach, a little strip of beach so small and secret you might not ever see it if you didn’t know about it. It’s privately owned, and you have to pay a fee ($5 or $10 per family), but there is a lifeguard on duty and it’s as hectic-free of a beach as they come. If you’re looking for a big Jersey Shore style beach this is not it! It’s teeny tiny…but great for the little ones. On a recent day when we were there it was stormy and blustery, but sometimes those days are amazing. We fleeced up and climbed the rocks, and later I properly got a Dark and Stormy at Water St. Café. There is also the Old Lighthouse Museum nearby for a little culture. We haven’t spent the night there in years, but we used to love the The Inn at Stonington.
Noank and Stonington are scenic, quiet towns. If you want bustling and lots of action, these are not them. But for some quintessential New England feel, with good food, they are totally worth a trip.