Connecticut area beaches are the place to be when summer rolls around! We've compiled a list of the 17 top area beaches that are perfect for day trips. When you live in Connecticut, you are always within an hour of a great place to dip your toes. We've looked for the best amenities besides a salty sea and pristine sand, like playgrounds, snack stations, changing rooms and on-site rest rooms. So, pack the sand toys, sunblock, and snacks (or just keep it simple) and enjoy a day of fun in the sun.
For more summer fun ideas, be sure to browse our CT Summer Fun Guide or peruse our list of 21 Best Family Beach Vacations for Summer Travel.
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.
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
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.
Come see what Connecticut area beaches have to offer. Ocean Beach Park boasts a wide, sandy beach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sand castles—and mud castles—are a summer tradition! Jennings Beach photo courtesy of Mommy Poppins
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 play-scape 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.
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 is one of Connecticut's top summer spots. Eastern Point Beach. Photo courtesy of City of Groton
2023 update: starting this year an annual or daily pass will be required.
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 Eastern Point Beach popular with families. Do not miss the opportunity to have lunch, dinner, or both at Paul's Pasta.
Connecticut's oldest state park has a fantastic nature center that features wonderful (and free!) programming. There are picnic areas, bathrooms, showers, and food concession. It's easy to spend a day here enjoying the summer breeze while looking for seashells.
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.
Cove Island features 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. After your time at the beach, make sure to stop at Cups n' Cones in Old Greenwich.
Don't forget to take the beach toys to Connecticut's beaches! Dubois Beach photo courtesy of the Stonington Community Center
Located in beautiful and quaint Stonington, Dubois Beach is operated by the COMO in Southington. The Dubois has beachfront to play on, inlets to go looking for crabs, and a shaded gazebo to sit in. Parking is free and day passes are available.
Waterford Beach opens Memorial Day Weekend and offers great views and tidal marshes for exploring nature. This beach is great for little explorers. There are restrooms, walkways, and picnic areas.
Rhode Island's top beaches are just over the border. Misquamicut State Beach. Photo by Julian Colton/Flickr
Connecticut Area Beaches: Rhode Island Beaches
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. Don't forget to check out their drive-in movies too!
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 a glimpse of the spectacularly stunning Ocean House.
Originally published June 4, 2014. Updated June 2023.