Having grown up in nearby Massachusetts, as an adult I am just starting to learn that the state of Connecticut is full of all sorts of hidden treasures. There are so many cute little towns with many sights to see and I want to see as many of them as I can. One of my recent discoveries in Connecticut is New London. It’s great waterfront town that’s over 350 years old!
New London, CT is full of art, music, culture, one-of-a-kind boutiques and more than 30 eateries, all which make it a wonderful vacation destination! Here are five things not to miss on your trip to New London.1. Explore Downtown New London
Founded in 1646 by John Winthrop, Jr., New London was once among the world’s busiest whaling ports in New England. From its early shipbuilding and highly profitable trade with the West Indies, to its military prominence as the base of American naval operations during the Revolutionary War, New London has capitalized on its easy access to the Thames River and quick access to Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
One of my favorite things about downtown New London was all of the ah-mazing street art.
As soon as we got off of the highway, the first thing we noticed was all of the amazing murals on the sides of some of the buildings. It’s an impressive sight to say the least.
Once you’ve walked around and looked at all of the street art, why not enjoy some shopping in New London? Check out some of the shops on Bank Street including Sarge’s Comics, Flavours of Life, Greenlight Boutique, New London Antique Center, Spindrift Guitars and The Telegraph.
By then you’ll surely have worked up an appetite. There are lots of great dining options in downtown New London and soon I am going to share some of my favorites with you, so stay tuned.
2. Take the Heritage Park Water Taxi to Groton
The Thames River Heritage Park is a collection of national and historic sites along two shores of the Thames River, which are linked by a water taxi. The Water Taxis are refurbished from the Navy days of shuttling crew and admirals to and from the large ships of the United States Navy. They are equipped with a 6-cylinder diesel engine and have room for approximately 35 passengers on each tour.
The taxi service connects Fort Trumbull State Park in New London to the downtown New London Historic Waterfront District and Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park in Groton.
The Water Taxi runs on a hop-on hop-off hourly loop between the three stops:
At Fort Trumbull in New London the taxi departs on the hour.
At New London City Pier in the Historic Waterfront District it departs at 20 minutes after the hour .
At Thames River landing on Fort Street in Groton, it departs at 40 minutes after the hour.
The Water Taxi operates Friday – Sunday, 10AM to 9PM May 26th through September 17th and can be found at the City Pier in New London.
3. Catch a show at the Garde Arts Center
The Garde Arts is a non-profit professional performing arts center nationally recognized for its unique architecture and multi-faceted programming serving Southeastern Connecticut. Founded in 1985, the Garde is one of the pre-eminent venues in New England for both world-class cinema and live performances.
Located in the heart of downtown New London, the Garde owns and operates the historic Garde theatre, one of the few remaining historic movie palaces in Connecticut. It was built in 1926 during the golden era of the motion pictures and vaudeville theaters.
When I was in town, I had a chance to see Donovan, ‘60s legend, icon, poet and one of the world’s most enduring singer songwriters on his 50th Anniversary North American Tour. He sang all of his classic songs including ‘Sunshine Superman’, ‘Mellow Yellow’, ‘The Hurdy Gurdy Man’, ‘Jenifer Juniper’, and told many stories in between his songs.
I loved the show and was truly impressed by the restored Moroccan interior of the Garde Theatre.
The Garde Arts Center is located at 325 State Street in New London. Check out their website for upcoming events.
4. Visit the Monte Cristo Cottage
As the boyhood summer home of Eugene O’Neill, America’s only Nobel-Prize winning playwright, the Monte Cristo Cottage is named in honor of Eugene O’Neill’s father, the actor James O’Neill and his most popular role as Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo. Registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1971, the 1840’s cottage is the setting for two of O’Neill’s most notable works, Long Days Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness! Today the Cottage currently operates as a museum featuring a permanent exhibition on the life and works of Eugene O’Neill and an extensive collection of artifacts and memorabilia.
The Monto Cristo Cottage is located at 325 Pequot Ave in New London. It’s right in the middle of a neighborhood, so it will sneak up on you. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
5. Go Back in Time
When I was in New London, I came across a couple of great museums each loaded with tons of local history.
The Coast Guard Museum
This museum contains artifacts that span the 220+ year history of the United States’ premier maritime service. Right now it’s located at 15 Mohegan Avenue in New London, but a new building is being built about 5 minutes up the street by the waterfront. The museum is free, but you do need a government issued ID to enter.
New London Maritime Society
Telling the stories of New London’s waterfront, the Custom House Maritime Museum offers lighthouse tours and boat trips, an annual chowda’fest, artifacts relating to local lighthouses, US Customs and the Amistad, along with changing exhibitions and a great Museum Shop. It’s located at 150 Bank Street admission was $7 per person. If you like maritime history, you will enjoy this museum.
My husband and I had a great time in New London and can’t wait to get back again soon!