Friday, August 12, 2016
Found Another One of Those Unusually Fun Spots in Connecticut...New London!
I've spent my summer trying to find out more about the state that I decided to call home 24 years ago. Connecticut is a small place with a lot to do and even more to learn. My husband and I decided to take a quick overnight to the Groton and New London areas to see some parks and things. I was amazed at what we found. Let's start by talking about the Historic Waterfront District. Like a lot of other towns, New London is trying to turn their waterfront into a visitor friendly art, food and shopping district with some history thrown in. They've done a great job in New London.
New London is a business town. The port there is busy. General Dynamics still builds submarines for the base on the other side of the river in Groton. There are ferry services that run out of the harbor that go all over from Long Island to Block Island and even up the coast to Cape Cod and beyond. They have a busy shipping lane. They also have Amtrak running through their waterfront, and the Gold Star Memorial Bridge running I-95 right over it. It's busy, and making that waterfront with the Coast Guard Academy and who knows what else using it into a tourist spot is quite some trick. But they did it.
Fatboys was the place that we chose to try the cuisine along the waterfront. It comes with a bar, outside seating and a yard out back where they have live music at times. You do have a view of the waterfront, and it is a great atmosphere. The food was something that I wanted to try. It was a lot of seafood and burgers and what not. But, I must say, the food was really good. The service was great. The feel of sitting on the balcony seating was great. We also walked the historic neighborhood, and had a great time. There are a lot of shops, bohemian style. There are art galleries, taverns, restaurants, and bars. There is a maritime museum as well. There are plenty of things to keep you occupied, and the atmosphere is comfortable.
The city put in a park along the waterfront, not far from the historic district, right down the hill from Fort Trumbull. The park includes a pier that juts right out into the shipping lanes and is specially equipped to be a fishing pier. The locals put it to good use, and the views are amazing.
The views from the pier are amazing. You can see way out into Long Island Sound. You can see the bridge over I-95. The day we were there we saw the USS Virginia go by on it's way to the submarine base in Groton. You never know what you might see, but, once again, the atmosphere is fabulous.
Then there is Fort Trumbull just up the river bank from the park and city pier. This is only one fort You can see Fort Griswold across the way in Groton. These two forts were unique in their history. Fort Trumbull is the cement fort that is the newer of the two. The remains of the original single wall fort lie across the street from the later fort that was built for better protection and was never attacked. Now, in the early days, the old single wall fort was attacked and the troops ran across the river to Fort Griswold. There was no real way to protect themselves in the Fort Trumbull situation, so they joined forces with the guys on the other side of the river and still did not win the battle.
But the fort today comes with a museum, and an open atmosphere. You can wander the grounds, the fort, and even climb up to the top of the fort and get an amazing view of the area. There are exhibits around the entire fort that tell you of the history of the areas military, including a lot of history about the Coast Guard; who has an academy in New London, and the submarine base in Groton.
Still in town we have Ocean Beach Park. This is a New London institution. They have the beach, a kiddie land with rides, waterslides, an arcade, restaurants and bars, a gift shop, mini golf, a pool, a playground, a sprinkler area for the kids, and their famous boardwalk. There are a lot of things to do at Ocean Beach. If you want, they even have a gym. Each night of the week they have different live entertainment as well. We went to see the magician on a Wednesday night. The best part about going at night is that the sun is less damaging and so is the price. At Ocean Beach you pay to park and then you pay separately for activities. During the day it costs $18, but after 5 it only costs $7. Good bargain and the evenings are when the entertainment is there.
Harkness State Park is technically in Waterford, but it is the next thing up the beach. This magnificent park come with coastal walks that have amazing views, a beach, and a mansion with manicured gardens for your viewing pleasure. It's a great place to spend some time, and in the beginning of June they have what they call British By The Sea. That is the local British car club having a car show. It's a lot of fun and you see all kinds of cars there.
So, in addition to the casinos in the area at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, there are a lot of surprises in New London. The biggest surprise is that this working town is quite a tourist friendly place. There are so many things to do. There are tons of great places to eat. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. In a town that has a rich military history, lots of industry, and is full of working class folks; they've created a place that you can visit on vacation and be glad that you stopped by. So, for another one of my indepth looks at the microcosm that is Connecticut; there you have it. I was really glad that I took the time to check out New London. Enjoy!