There are several great beaches in Fairfield County, some even with playgrounds, but few are as all-encompassing as Jennings Beach in Fairfield. It isn't difficult to spend an entire day here, or several of them for that matter, especially if you're looking for some summer fun. For even more beach and water fun check out our CT Beach and Water Fun Guide.
Getting here might be the only hitch, if you've never done it. Accessing Jennings Beach is actually quite simple -- it's just off the Benson Rd. exit, across the Post Rd. South Benson juts a hard left at Benson Place, and winds back around to the right past the marina and Skateboard Park. That's right. Your teens can hop out here if they'd rather skate, so long as they have helmets.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the park charges either a $20 or $50 entrance fee at the gatehouse, for weekdays or weekends/holidays respectively. The lot is massive. Finding a spot halfway through allows easy access to both the beach house and the playground. We rolled up at 11am on a perfect Thursday and easily snagged a front row center spot. Not a mob scene at all.
Though I had a ton to tote with three young children along, nothing could crush the joy of cresting the dune and seeing the sun splayed on the blue, blue Sound, with dozens of sailboats dotting the horizon. The sand and surf here aren't going to win any awards, but I do quite love this beach.
Our first stop was the bathroom, which is updated, bright and relatively clean (the ladies' one, anyway). It has a diaper changing station as well. The bathrooms flank the concession area and are situated right next to outdoor showers, making everything easy.
From there, we picked a spot, and you know how to do the rest. Keep in mind, though, no boogie boards, surfboards or rafts are allowed.
After our sand castle went up, it was time to eat. The concessions here are excellent. You can get everything from fried clams and hot dogs to a lovely salad. There's ice cream, candy, even root beer floats. Prices aren't outrageous: $4.95 buys the beach version of a Happy Meal. Treating my kids to this lunch and round of ice cream prompted my first trifecta: three unprompted "Thank you, Mommy"s! Um, wow.
We headed back to our spot to swim, but if you have older kids, they may want to walk the shoreline or play volleyball. The other option, for littles, is the short walk across the parking lot to Sand Castle Playground. I like this one, because it's constructed with the slats close together, thereby reducing fears about falling, but it can be hard to spot your tyke once they enter. There are also plenty of swings here, too.
If that doesn't cap off a long enough day for you, plan to visit on one of four Sand Jam Family Fun Dance & Family Movie Nights. A DJ shows up at 6:30pm, and rocks out until dark -- when the movie rolls.
Residents of Fairfield should know there are two sessions of swimming lessons offered here in the summer. Also, dogs and even horses are allowed on the beach from October 1 - March 31. It's a beautiful thing to see them trotting along the shore!
880 South Benson Rd., Fairfield, CT
Parking fees will be collected at the gate from 10am - 8pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day, and until 9:30pm on Family Movie Nights.