15 Connecticut Area Beaches That Are Great for Families

Misquamicut State Beach. Photo by Julian Colton/Flickr
Misquamicut State Beach. Photo by Julian Colton/Flickr

One of the best parts of living in Connecticut is the close proximity to water. Any town in the state is within about an hour's drive of a beach, and in the summer, with energetic children ready for adventure, the less time spent in the car, the better. We've compiled a list of 15 great Connecticut area beaches that are perfect for day trips with the family. Pack the sand toys, sunblock, and snacks, and enjoy a day of fun in the sun. For more summer fun ideas, be sure to browse our CT Summer Fun Guide.

Please click the links to the individual beaches below for the most up-to-date information. 

Connecticut Beaches

1. Rocky Neck State Beach - East Lyme 

Just under an hour from Hartford, Rocky Neck is a large, popular beach, and for good reason. Part of Connecticut's state park system, Rocky Neck offers something for everyone: a wide sandy beach, trail system for hiking, and a stone jetty for fishing blackfish or flounder. Plus, for those who want to stretch a day trip into a weekend, 160 wooded and open campsites are available. Rocky Neck fills up quickly during peak season, so it's best to get there early. For a post-beach sweet treat on the ride home, swing by the popular Tony D's Craft Creamery on Main Street.  

Enjoy a quiet moment at Silver Sands State Park. 

2. Silver Sands State Park - Milford

Located on the southern edge of Milford, Silver Sands' somewhat remote location makes for a much less crowded experience than other beaches in Connecticut. While the amenities are few, the protected, calm waters make it perfect for families with older children. Charles Island is closed between May and September to aid bird nesting. Parking is free. Just a short jaunt from the beach, grab a quick sweet bite at the Walnut Beach Creamery.

3. Harvey's Beach - Old Saybrook

At low tide, the sand never seems to end. Tucked away off Route 154 in Old Saybrook, Harvey's Beach offers families a ton of space to comb for shells, build sandcastles, and wade in the cool waters of Long Island Sound. The crowds tend to be small, and so are the waves. Hit the beach in the morning—be sure to schedule it around low tide for maximum beach frontage—then head into town for lunch. Lenny and Joe's Fishtale is a local favorite.

Ocean Beach Park boasts a wide, sandy beach.

4. Ocean Beach Park - New London

Ocean Beach's large, smooth beach provides direct access to Long Island Sound, views of lighthouses, and nature trails. For a sit-down meal after a day of fun in the sun, Fred's Shanty on Pequot Avenue is a popular spot for burgers and dogs. Or head a bit further down the road to Captain Scott's Lobster Dock for some of the freshest seafood around.

5. Hammonasset Beach State Park - Madison

2021 Update: Meigs Point Nature Center is currently closed. 

What would any list of Connecticut beaches be without including the Granddaddy of them all? Hammonasset offers a mile-long pristine beach, fishing, camping, concessions, full amenities, and much more. The Meigs Point Nature Center has interesting exhibits on display when it's open. Take a drive through town after the beach and hit Friends & Company for a fabulous, family-friendly dining experience.

6. Esker Point Park Beach - Groton

2021 update: Season passes are currently on sale. The beach opens on June 19.

Groton Long Point is a small community situated between Groton and Mystic, and almost smack in the middle is Esker Point Park. This beach offers fantastic views of the sound and Mouse Island. For fresh, local lobster, take a quick trip into the village of Noank to Abbott's Lobster in the Rough.  

Enjoy a nice day at McCook Point.

​7. McCook Point Beach - East Lyme

Just a bit down the road from the hustle and bustle of Rocky Neck, McCook Point Beach is a local favorite of East Lyme-area families. There's a large playground in addition to the small but lovely little beach. Keep watch, as McCook is known for seal sightings off in the distance. The park also hosts concerts and other events all summer. Grab a pizza from Village Pizza at the end of the day.

8. Jennings Beach - Fairfield

This 27-acre beach, the largest in Fairfield, offers great views of Long Island Sound, concessions, and bathroom facilities. Located near the Henry Rowland Memorial Playground, it is also home to an exciting playscape and a skate park. Swimming lessons are offered during the summer. Beach access is free, but parking here doesn't come cheap: $40 on weekdays and $50 on weekends and holidays. 

9. Jacobs Beach - Guilford 

A well-kept summer secret (not anymore!), Jacobs Beach offers a peaceful retreat from more popular and crowded beaches. Enjoy 25-acres of sandy shoreline and watch or join kayakers floating by. Non-residents require a daily pass, which provides access to the playground, picnic areas, grilling stations, outdoor showers, and bathroom facilities.

Eastern Point Beach. Photo courtesy of City of Groton

10. Eastern Point Beach - Groton

This small, family-friendly beach at the mouth of the Thames River is adjacent to the UCONN Avery Point campus. The water is shallow and the amenities are plentiful, which makes it popular with families. Do not miss the opportunity to have lunch, dinner, or both at Paul's Pasta

11. Sherwood Island State Park - Westport

2021 Update: The Nature Center is currently closed. 

Connecticut's oldest state park has a fantastic nature center that features wonderful (and free!) programming. There are picnic areas, bathrooms, showers, and food concessions—making it easy to spend a day here enjoying the summer breeze while looking for seashells. 

Shady beach at Calf Pasture is a great place for a BBQ.

12. Calf Pasture Beach - Norwalk

In addition to the beach at Calf Pasture, visitors can enjoy a skate park, playgrounds, splash pad, and beach volleyball. Make sure you check out Ripka's for fresh seafood, cold drinks, and delicious burgers. 

13. Cove Island Beach - Stamford 

Cove Island houses two beaches, bike paths, and a large lawn to play on. Budding naturalists will also enjoy the small salt marsh, intertidal mudflats, and prime spots to view water birds. Cove Island is also home to Sound Waters - a local non-profit organization regionally recognized for being a leader in educational programming about the Long Island Sound.

Napatree Point. Photo courtesy of Visit Rhode Island 

Rhode Island Beaches

14. Misquamicut State Beach - Westerly, RI

This beach is just over the border in Rhode Island, and it's worth the trip from anywhere in CT. Misquamicut State Beach sits directly on the Atlantic Ocean, so the waves are often large and powerful. The sand is smooth and sugary, and there's a lot of it: seven miles, to be exact. With full amenities and handicap accessibility, plus a slew of other attractions up and down Atlantic Avenue, this beach gets full fast during peak season.

15. Napatree Point - Westerly, RI

Unlike Misquamicut, Napatree sits quietly and more serenely between Narragansett Bay and Watch Hill. In addition to the beach, Napatree provides year-round habitats for a variety of species of birds and other wildlife. It's worth venturing around Watch Hill, especially for the carousel, the Watch Hill Lighthouse, and to catch a glimpse of the spectacularly stunning Ocean House.  

Originally published June 4, 2014

Top photo by Julian Colton/CC-BY-2.0 Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the Connecticut Office of Tourism 

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