Weekend Guide to Beachy Madison, CT

Weekend Guide to Beachy Madison, CT

Weekend Guide to Madison, CT

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There is just something about Madison, Connecticut. This seaside town about 2 ½ hours north of New York City seems to have it all – pretty beaches, good restaurants, a cute downtown, beautiful waterfront estates, and bucolic countryside. For a beach town just a couple of hours away from the big city, it makes for the perfect weekend or overnight trip.

I suppose “perfect” is a matter of opinion. As picturesque and beachy as it is, Madison is not located on the ocean – it’s on the northern part of the Long Island Sound, where you have smaller stretches of beach and calmer waters. Some people prefer the ocean.  In my opinion, though, this is exactly what makes it so charming – the quaint and scenic feel of a small beach town on a gorgeous part of the Sound.


Madison is like a little slice of Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard, only in Connecticut. That’s what I love about it. Its Cape Cod style houses, tall beach grass, manicured streets, gorgeous flowered gardens, village green and cute main street make it seem like a summer-only destination. But it’s not. This is a year-round community (with of course those with summer homes) with great schools and year-round businesses. You can’t help but wonder what it would be like to live there.

Madison CT Long Island Sound

There are four main beaches in Madison: Surf Club beach, West Wharf beach, East Wharf beach and Hammonasset state park. Surf Club is the main and largest beach right in town. There’s a snack bar, playground, green grass, grills, and restrooms. This is a family beach where you want to take the kids, for all of its amenities. Note there are no lifeguards, however.

Surf Club beach in Madison CT

Surf Club beach

My favorite beach is West Wharf, which is much smaller, but so pretty. This is where the Madison Beach Hotel is – the amazing hotel and spa located right on the beach and overlooking the water. Everyone loves the Madison hotel. It has a great restaurant with outdoor seating, fun bar scene, and Adirondack chairs leading up to the beach. It’s for all types of visitors, but is especially nice for a girls or couples trip. Sitting at the hotel with cocktail in hand during sunset hour is pretty much all you need!


West Wharf Beach at the Madison Beach Hotel

Like West Wharf, East Wharf beach is small as well, but with its own charm. The one beach I have not been to yet is the one at Hammonnasset state park, located just outside of town. But I hear from all accounts it’s beautiful and big and a wonderful spot to go for both beach and nature time. It’s also perfect for families, with all of its state park amenities.

It should be pointed out that if you’re not a resident of Madison, there are parking fees for each beach. At the time of writing this post, Hammonassett state park costs $20 to enter, while Surf Club and the Wharf beaches have parking lots with attendants that cost $10 an hour, which you pay on an app called Passport Parking. A bit steep, considering the town beaches don’t have lifeguards. If you can find municipal or street parking, which is difficult, that’s the way to go. Also, if you stay at the Madison Beach Hotel, then the parking is already accounted for, at West Wharf beach.

Madison Connecticut boats in the Long Island Sound

Madison Connecticut beach

Madison is known for its excellent food, from its restaurants to its farmers market on the town green. We had a delicious brunch at Elizabeth’s on the main street in town, in an adorable setting with homestyle fare. Christy’s, a block away from the Madison Beach Hotel, was perfect for lunch. Their quesadilla is one of the best I’ve had. And speaking of the Madison Beach Hotel, definitely dine here on a nice evening for dinner. Try to eat outside on the deck, overlooking the Sound – the setting is lovely. For excellent French head to Bar Bouchee – I didn’t go, but wish I had. There are a plethora of other really good restaurants as well.

If the weather isn’t cooperating, or you need a break from the sun, stroll Madison’s downtown, with its boutiques, artisan stores and book shops. It’s small, but quaint. In general, Madison is pretty much a beach town with a nice downtown and nature preserves to explore as well. It’s all about the outdoors here. Beach walks, street walks, biking, boating. There is a peacefulness to this town that won me over.

Bookstore in Madison CT

Shopping in downtown Madison CT

I remember taking a walk along one of the roads by the water, with beachy homes and beautiful land and gardens to my left, and the Sound to my right, and being passed by groups of kids after kids on their bikes cruising around, and thinking to myself, this must be an amazing place to grow up.

Madison Connecticut field

I’m looking forward to going back on my next visit, this time possibly off-season, for Madison is a wonderful spot to visit in the autumn and spring as well. I may not go for a swim, but the serenity and tranquility of the area can be enjoyed all year round.


Madison CT weekend guide



  1. Jean
    October 4, 2019 / 9:27 pm


  2. Wilbur
    October 10, 2019 / 4:43 am

    Looks very appealing and a good balance to the fast pace of NYC. Is it accessible by public transport? Those parking fees look hefty! Wilbur #farawayfiles

    • October 16, 2019 / 11:47 am

      I know. I believe a train stops nearby!

  3. October 10, 2019 / 7:26 am

    Madison seems like my kind of place. I love exploring charming beachfront towns. #farawayfiles

  4. October 10, 2019 / 9:49 am

    I could definitely imagine living here too. I love small, pretty seaside towns anywhere in the world and there’s a real charm to this place. I bet it’s wonderful outside of the summertime as well. #farawayfiles

    • October 16, 2019 / 11:48 am

      I love beach towns year round. I have a friend who has to go to the “water” every week during winter just so she can see it and be reminded of it.

  5. Rhonda Albom
    October 11, 2019 / 6:58 am

    Madison does look like a good beach getaway. I can see myself in one of those houses just across from the water.

    • October 16, 2019 / 11:48 am

      Me too. I need to start playing the lottery ;).

  6. October 11, 2019 / 4:15 pm

    It looks so beautiful, it’s somewhere I have always wanted to visit! I will need to add it to one of my future US roadtrips! 🙂

    • October 16, 2019 / 11:49 am

      Yes! It’s a great addition to a New England trip!

  7. A real bookstore! Wouldn’t it be great if instead of charging for parking you paid for vouchers to spend at the stores in the village (or donate as you wished). A direct contribution to the life of the community. i love the sound of children out and about on their bikes.

    • October 16, 2019 / 11:50 am

      Haha – if only the world worked that way! Love it!

  8. October 12, 2019 / 9:22 am

    It must be a great place to grow up! And a lovely idea as a weekend break after a few days in NYC too. I’d like to visit for a day at the beach. #farawayfiles

    • October 16, 2019 / 11:51 am

      Especially a city like New York, which requires routine getaways for sanity reasons!

  9. October 14, 2019 / 4:12 pm

    This is not a part of the world I know very well at all but it always sounds quite intriguing. It looks like an idyllic little seaside town, somewhere you’d go to settle down and write your memoirs! Thanks for introducing us to Madison, I’ve pinned this one. Definitely like to explore this area. #farawayfiles

    • October 16, 2019 / 11:52 am

      Actually – that seems to be exactly what it is! A plethora of famous people from New York have moved there to retire and reflect :).

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