Whether you’re helping raise a sail to a sea chantey, steering a wooden ship’s wheel or exploring coastal habitats on land, there is hardly a shortage of marine experiences for your sea-loving scalawags in Connecticut.
We have rounded up some of the best sailing adventures, Long Island Sound tours and shore programs across the state. For more waterfront fun, be sure to check out our Connecticut Beaches and Water Fun Guide and the best places for Canoeing and Kayaking with Kids in Connecticut.
Connecticut River Expeditions - Haddam
On this 45 minute-ish family cruise, children will use binoculars to learn about the birds seen along the cruise, they will learn about nautical terms, about the ecology of the river and other points of interest, like Gillette Castle. Kids will love traveling under the East Haddam Swing Bridge and hear the cars overhead. This cruise hopes to introduce children to the beauty of the Connecticut River. After, be sure to check out the Goodspeed Station General Store located directly across the street from the entrance to Eagle Landing State Park.
Eagle Landing State Park 1 Marine Park, Haddam 06438.
Cross Sound Ferry - New London
Fishers Island is actually part of New York and you can hop on the Cross Sound Ferry from New London to Fishers Island. The ferry carries both auto and pedestrian traffic and the island is large enough that you may want to bring your car even if you're only making a day trip. The island boasts a few shops, restaurants, and the Henry L. Ferguson Museum, which hosts nature walks every Thursday through the summer. Check out Chocomount and Isabella Beaches for two lovely, crown-free spots worth exploring.
Cross Sound Ferry 2 Ferry Street New London 06320
Downunder Kayaks & Surf Shop - Rowayton and Westport
Venture out on the Five Mile River to explore creeks and admire wildlife. If you’re up for it, head out to Long Island Sound where you can explore Darien Islands and Norwalk Islands. Or in Westport, set your worries aside as you paddle along the Saugatuck River or even make your way to the historical Sheffield Island Lighthouse.
Downunder Rowayton 157 Rowayton Ave Norwalk 06853
Downunder Westport 575 Riverside Ave Westport 06880
Mystic Whalter Cruises- New London
Sail off from City Pier for a 3-hour sailing adventure on the Mystic Whaler, a reproduction of a late 19th century coastal cargo schooner. Sail into the beautiful Fishers Island Sound, help raise sail to a sea chantey, and enjoy the thrill of having a wooden ship's wheel under hand. Children ages 5 and up can hop aboard the whaler from the Water Street dock on weekends through the summer.
Mystic Whaler Cruises 35 Water Street New London 06320
Photo courtesy of Denton Hoyer from the Mystic Whaler
Black Hall Outfitters - Old Lyme
Located right along the Great Island Estuary and the Connecticut River, this full service paddle sport center offers plenty of opportunities for fun and adventure on water. Pack a picnic and explore Griswold Point, watch osprey go diving for fish, or explore tidal pools.
Black Hall Outfitters 132 Shore Road Old Lyme 06371
Sound Waters - Stamford
Set sail on Sound Waters’ 80 foot Schooner where you’ll get a chance to raise the sails, examine the rich diversity of Long Island Sound sea life just beneath the waves, sample and test water quality, learn about hypoxia, and analyze groundwater. All passengers must be 5 years old. Total cruise time is 2.5 hours and cruises are held weekdays at 1:00pm and on weekends at 10:00am and 2:00pm.
Sound Waters 1281 Cove Road Stamford 06902
Connecticut River Museum - Essex
Climb aboard Onrust at the Connecticut River Museum for a 1.5 hour cruise on a replica of the vessel built by Adriaen Block and his crew in 1614. Cruises will be offered on Thursdays through Mondays at 1:30, 3:30, and 6PM. Onrust will be available for exploration by Museum visitors at the museum’s docks in Essex.
Connecticut River Museum 67 Main Street Essex 06426
Schooner, Inc. - New Haven
As part of the New Haven Land Trust, Schooner, Inc brings kids to the coastline to explore, learn, grow, and get their feet wet out on the water in its summer programs. Search for Long Island Sound marine life along the Long Wharf Nature Preserve or learn how to sail and skipper a small sailboat at Schooner Camp. Offering both a land based Shore Program and a Sailing Program, campers will dive into science based learning through adventure, exploration, crafts, songs, and games.
Schooner, Inc. 60 S. Water Street New Haven 06519
Port Jeff Ferry - Bridgeport
If you or your family suffer from seasickness, you may want to hop aboard a ferry. Experience Long Island Sound on a 1 hour and 15 minute ride from Bridgeport to Port Jefferson, Long Island. Once docked in Port Jeff, check out Lainie's Way, an adorable toy store chock full of educational toys, puzzles, windspinners and kites. After, head to Harbor Front Park for a small play area complete with a water sprayer and playscape.
The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company 1 Ferry Access Rd. Bridgeport 06604
Project Oceanology - Groton
Be a Marine Scientist aboard Project Oceanology’s floating classroom. Immerse your family in all of the elements of marine biology as you cruise our waters and conduct oceanographic studies. The Research Vessel Enviro-Lab will bring you out on Long Island Sound for a unique experience. The Oceanographic Cruises are available June through September for children 6 years and older and adults.
Project Oceanology 1084 Shennecossett Rd. #1 Groton 06340
Cover photo courtesy of Holly Nardini from the Mystic Whaler