Things to Do in Westbrook, CT: Top Picks

 

Sunset over the beach near local attractions like the Florence Griswold Museum, Westbrook Outlets, and the Essex Steam TrainWestbrook, Connecticut, is no ordinary coastal hamlet. It’s a place where history and nature dance a beautiful waltz, and modern comforts are never out of reach. Born in 1840, Westbrook has been a haven for shipbuilders, its chestnut and white oak forests providing the lifeblood for this industry. The world’s first submarine, The Turtle, took its maiden voyage here, thanks to the revolutionary spirit of David Bushnell.

 

In its 16-square-mile territory, Westbrook offers a cocktail of delightful amenities and natural splendors. The town Green is a hub for celebrations, a place where joy and camaraderie are as common as breathing. And if you’re thinking of spending your vacation lounging at a local Connecticut beach resort, I won’t stop you. But let me tell you, there’s so much more to Westbrook than its beautiful coastline. So, put on your explorer’s hat and venture into the heart of this charming town.

 

Read on for all the best things to do in Westbrook, CT.

 

Quick hits

  • Explore Westbrook, CT’s fascinating history and outdoor activities from Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge to West Beach!
  • Shop ‘til you drop at the outlets, festive stores and antique centers or enjoy a seafood feast with live music at Bill’s Seafood.
  • Stay in luxurious accommodations like Water’s Edge Resort & Spa or explore nearby towns such as Clinton, Madison and Old Saybrook for more adventures!

 

A Brief History of Westbrook, Connecticut

Old postcard of the Westbrook Public Library

Westbrook, a coastal gem in Connecticut, first drew settlers in 1648, who dubbed it the Oyster River Quarter of Old Saybrook. The fertile lands provided ample sustenance for the residents of Saybrook Point. In 1724, the community stretched its wings and became West Parish, complete with its own church. It then went through a series of identities, being named Pochoug, West Saybrook, and eventually settling on Westbrook in 1810. Official incorporation followed in 1840.

 

Westbrook is the birthplace of David Bushnell, a Revolutionary War patriot who the U.S. Navy credits with the invention of the submarine. Bushnell, a Westbrook native educated by Rev. John Devotion and at Yale College, crafted the “American Turtle,” a contraption that won the admiration of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

 

Westbrook has been a favored haunt of many notable individuals, including Washington, Lafayette, Vice President Charles Dawes, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt was a frequent visitor to the estate of Miss Esther Lape, which is now a federal wildlife refuge. The Westbrook Historical Society, Inc. preserves the town’s history through the old library on the Town Green, which houses numerous artifacts and information from the town’s past.

 

The Best Things to do in Westbrook, CT

Looking to uncover the treasures of Westbrook, are we? Well, prepare for a journey of discovery! Traverse the tranquil paths of Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, or lose yourself in the labyrinth of history at the Museum of Early Engineering and Technology. Fancy a dance with the sun? West and Middle Beaches are your dance floors, and some of the best beaches in Connecticut. For the sailors among us, Pier 76 Marina, Duck Island Yacht Club, and Captain Morgan’s Boat Training & Charters are your ports of call. And for those in need of a little self-indulgence, Westbrook Hunt Club and the Spa at Water’s Edge Resort & Spa are your sanctuaries. So, what are you waiting for? Westbrook is calling!

 

Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge

a field of tall grass with trees in the background near Florence Griswold Museum

Seeking a paradise for nature lovers? The Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge offers:

  • A 70-mile preserve with 10 protected habitats
  • Year-round activities
  • Historic buildings
  • Captivating interpretive tours
  • Wildlife observation platforms

 

The refuge provides an unforgettable experience for all ages.

 

Don’t miss the Salt Meadow unit, home to a fun 1.2-mile loop trail and the historic Enoch Murdock House. One of the most historic homes in Westbrook, the Enoch Murdock House is open to visitors. For the best wildlife-watching adventure, plan your visit during low tide to get an up-close view of the intertidal zone.

 

Museum of Early Engineering and Technology

Are you aware that Connecticut significantly contributed to launching the US into space? The Museum of Early Engineering and Technology showcases this fascinating history through its collection of over 1,000 artifacts, including:

  • Saturn rockets
  • Lunar module thrusters
  • Fuel tanks
  • Nuclear reactors

 

Assembled through decades of detective work, including scouring eBay listings, this museum offers a unique glimpse into the past and the state’s contributions to the US space program.

 

West Beach

West Beach, Westbrook’s largest beach, offers an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and boating. This idyllic sandy paradise is situated between Stearn’s Wharf and the Harbor, providing a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle. This sandy beach faces Long Island Sound. You can also enjoy views of the uninhabited islands off the coast of Westbrook:

  • Menunketesuck Island
  • Duck Island
  • Salt Island

 

After a day of fun in the sun, you’ll find some of Westbrook’s most popular restaurants just a hop, skip, and a jump away. So, grab your sunscreen, beach towel, and appetite – West Beach awaits!

 

Middle Beach

cute houses in downtown Westbrook, CTIf you’re looking for a more tranquil setting, Middle Beach is an excellent choice. This small roadside beach in Westbrook offers a peaceful atmosphere and breathtaking views, especially during sunset.

 

Located in a suburban neighborhood, Middle Beach features a short jetty breakwater on its left side, making it easy to find. Grab a blanket, your favorite book, and unwind by the shore as the sun dips below the horizon.

 

And, added benefit, the spa at Water’s Edge is a quick walk away.

 

Tom Odell Memorial Open Space

Tom Odell Memorial Open Space, a beautiful nature preserve, is a joy for nature enthusiasts, offering eight trails across diverse habitats. From tidal marshes to inland wetlands with boardwalks, there’s no shortage of picturesque scenery to explore.

 

The best time to visit Tom Odell Memorial Open Space is between May and October, when the beauty of the season is on full display. So, lace up your hiking boots and embark on a memorable adventure in Westbrook’s great outdoors!

 

Boating on the Westbrook, Connecticut shoreline

A marina, just a quick walk from local attractions along the CT shoreline

Of course a town with such a lengthy nautical history would have plenty of opportunities for boating.

 

Kayaking is a great way to explore the shoreline and see the various towns from a unique view. If that’s not your jam, there are plenty of other options:

 

Pier 76 Marina

For boating enthusiasts, Pier 76 Marina provides a splendid waterfront hangout in Westbrook, CT, offering 13 docks and 256 slips spread across 10.71 acres. Whether you need a boat slip rental or maintenance services, the marina’s certified and factory-trained technicians are ready to keep your vessel in tip-top shape.

 

And, if you’re looking for a bite to eat, the marina is conveniently located next to Bill’s Seafood Restaurant. So, why not dock your boat and indulge in some delicious seafood by the water?

 

Duck Island Yacht Club

Duck Island Yacht Club, the premier racing club on Long Island Sound, hosts more than 50 races each season and is a must for sailing enthusiasts. Located in Westbrook, CT, the club offers a variety of events and programs for sailing enthusiasts, including racing opportunities, social events, and educational programs.

 

So, whether you’re an experienced sailor or just getting your sea legs, Duck Island Yacht Club is the place to be!

 

You can also head over to Guilford, Connecticut, for a cruise around the Thimble Islands.

 

Westbrook Hunt Club

Horseback riding at the Westbrook Hunt Club

The Westbrook Hunt Club offers:

  • Horseback riding
  • Riding lessons
  • Clinics
  • Horse shows

 

Located in Westbrook, CT, the club provides a welcoming environment for riders of all levels and ages.

 

So, whether you’re an experienced equestrian or looking to try a new hobby, Westbrook Hunt Club is the perfect place to unleash your inner cowgirl or cowboy!

 

Spa at Water’s Edge Resort & Spa

CT shoreline near Westbrook

Following a day of exploring Westbrook’s numerous attractions, unwind at the Spa at Water’s Edge Resort & Spa. Located on the picturesque shores of Long Island Sound, this luxurious spa offers a full menu of services, including massage, facials, massages, and microblading.

 

Shopping in Westbrook, Connecticut

Some of the interesting finds from unique shops along the CT shoreline

Westbrook is a shopper’s paradise. Some of the unique shops here are local attractions in and of themselves.

 

And there is an outlet mall here, after all.

 

Pink Sleigh Christmas Shop

Enter the Pink Sleigh Christmas Shop for a magical holiday experience, located in a cozy 150-year-old barn in Westbrook, CT. This festive wonderland is filled with seasonal decorations, themed trees, and one-of-a-kind gifts that are sure to delight both the young and the young at heart.

 

So, embrace the spirit of the season and discover the enchanting world of the Pink Sleigh Christmas Shop, one of the most charming gift shops around.

 

Clinton Antique Center

Attention, antique aficionados! The Clinton Antique Center is a trove of beautiful pieces:

  • Antiques
  • Collectibles
  • Vintage items

 

Just waiting to be discovered. Located in nearby Clinton, Connecticut, this family-owned and operated Connecticut antique store spans a spacious 6,000 square feet and features over 100 top-notch dealers.

 

Westbrook Outlets

Westbrook Historical Society, one of the best things to do in Westbrook, CTWestbrook Outlets serve as a one-stop shopping destination, featuring over 40 top-notch brands and a whopping 290,000 square feet of shoppable space. In addition to retail therapy, the outlets also offer art and entertainment options to keep you entertained all day long.

 

Check out the Westbrook Marketplace for eye-catching fine art, fashion, and design from local artisans and creators. And if you’re visiting with a tour group, don’t forget to pick up a VIP Coupon Book for generous discounts on your shopping spree at these unique shops.

 

Restaurants in Westbrook, CT

Dinner plated at restaurants in-town

Westbrook, CT is a culinary delight, offering a variety of great restaurants. Kickstart your day with a hearty breakfast at a local cafe. Then, relish fresh seafood at Bill’s Seafood, or enjoy Mediterranean cuisine at Bistro Mediterranean & Tapas Bar. Westbrook’s diverse culinary scene caters to all palates.

 

Breakfast in Westbrook, CT

Breakfast

Wake up, it’s time for breakfast! Westbrook, CT, has several fantastic eateries to satisfy your morning cravings. At Cristy’s Luncheonette, you’ll find a delectable array of breakfast items like omelets, pancakes, and French toast to tantalize your taste buds.

 

If you’re in the mood for something different, Turtle Cafe offers a variety of breakfast dishes, including omelets, pancakes, waffles, and breakfast sandwiches. And for a cozy, local experience, Julie’s Cup of Joe serves up scrumptious omelets, pancakes, French toast, and breakfast burritos.

 

So, fuel up for the day ahead at one of these mouth-watering breakfast spots!

 

Bill’s Seafood

Bill’s Seafood in Westbrook, CT, is a dining destination that seafood lovers must try. Offering the freshest local offshore and inshore seafood, including mouthwatering lobster rolls, plus a fun tiki bar with live music, Bill’s Seafood is the perfect spot to indulge in delicious dishes while enjoying the laid-back, coastal atmosphere.

 

Please note that Bill’s Seafood does not take reservations and accepts cash only.

 

Bistro Mediterranean & Tapas Bar

Yearning for Mediterranean flavors? Look no further than Bistro Mediterranean & Tapas Bar in Westbrook, CT. This popular dining spot offers a tantalizing menu of Mediterranean and tapas dishes, including mouthwatering steamed mussels, succulent crab cake, and delicious seafood risotto.

 

Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely lunch or a romantic dinner, Bistro Mediterranean & Tapas Bar is sure to impress with its exquisite cuisine and inviting atmosphere.

 

Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay in Westbrook, Connecticut

Captain Stannard House is close to all the best things to do in Westbrook, CTIf you’re setting off from our Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast for a jaunt to Westbrook, CT, you’re looking at a journey of about an hour and 10 minutes. Not too shabby of a Connecticut day trip, eh?

 

But if you’re planning to linger longer than a mere afternoon in this fine town, you’ll be needing a place for the night. Fear not, for Westbrook is a town that knows how to take care of its guests. Whether you’re here for a quick weekend getaway or a long, leisurely vacation, you’ll find a cozy corner in this town that feels just like home – only with better service!

 

Westbrook Inn

For a stay that combines charm and comfort, choose Westbrook Inn Bed and Breakfast. This historic gem dates back to the 1800s, offering vintage charm, elegance, and classic New England hospitality. With private rooms, suites, and cottages available, Westbrook Inn provides cozy accommodations for every traveler.

 

Conveniently located in the heart of Westbrook, the inn is just a short distance from the town’s best attractions, restaurants, and shops. This is a delightful pick among Westbrook bed and breakfasts.

 

Captain Stannard House Bed and Breakfast Country Inn

More or less across the road from Westbrook Inn is the next entry on the list. With sleigh beds and a floor-to-ceiling hearth in the Great Room, Captain Stannard House Bed and Breakfast Country Inn is a charming and relaxing getaway. Breakfast is served at the inn and includes fresh fruit, muffins, breads, and spreads. It is a block from both the beach and the town center, and it is convenient to local attractions. Captain Elbert Stannard built the inn in 1872, and it has since evolved into several businesses, including:

  • The Menunketesuck Inn
  • St. Charles Inn
  • Olde English Tavern
  • And Holly’s Hotel & Seafood Restaurant

 

Water’s Edge Resort & Spa

Water’s Edge Resort & Spa offers the full-service resort experience in a historic New England hotel. Situated on the picturesque shores of Long Island Sound, this opulent beachfront resort offers:

  • Elegant accommodations
  • A spa
  • Four restaurants
  • Stunning beach views

 

Treat yourself to a day of relaxation and rejuvenation at the on-site spa, or take a dip in one of the resort’s indoor and outdoor pools. With private beach access and a host of amenities, Water’s Edge Resort & Spa provides the ultimate indulgent getaway.

 

Directions to Westbrook, CT

Highway to Westbrook Outlets and Gillette Castle

It’s easy to reach Westbrook, CT! If you’re driving, take Interstate 95 and exit at Exit 65, then turn right at the exit ramp and continue to the second stoplight in the town center.

 

By train, New Haven Union Station is just 30 miles away. And both Westbrook and Clinton have train stations. So getting here from New York City, NY, is easy.

 

And if you prefer to fly, Bradley International Airport (BDL) and Tweed-New Haven Airport (HVN) are about an hour and 10 minutes and 25 minutes from Westbrook, respectively.

 

Towns and Things to Do Near Westbrook, Connecticut

Looking for more adventures beyond Westbrook, CT? Whether you’re into water sports, history, or nature, there’s something for everyone. So, why not extend your stay and uncover the hidden gems along the Connecticut shoreline?

 

Clinton, CT

Seagull on the CT shoreline near Westbrook

Clinton is a CT shoreline town that sits at the crossroads of nature’s grandeur and man’s ambition. Nestled near the Hammock, Hammonasset, and Indian Rivers, it is a playground for the lovers of the sea. The town has an age-old charm, with buildings and homes that whisper tales from the 18th and 19th centuries. For adventure seekers, it offers thrilling excursions like fishing, boating, and kayaking. Or, for the more contemplative soul, one can simply watch the dance of the harbor’s smooth waters from the comfort of a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard. Clinton, CT, is a town that, like a good book, invites you to lose yourself in its pages.

 

Madison, Connecticut

Madison, Connecticut, is a charming seaside town with a rich history dating back to 1650. It offers a picturesque harbor, local museums, and outdoor activities for visitors. The southern part of the city is a stretch of warm sands near the Long Island Sound. The most famous point here is without question Hammonasset Beach State Park. Meanwhile the inland area features a commercial area with excellent restaurants and shops. The north offers vast open outdoor spaces for recreational activities.

 

Deep River, CT

Deep River, CT, is a town that wears its heart on its sleeve, a place where community is as vital as the air we breathe. She’s a beauty, with vistas that would make a poet weep and a host of outdoor pursuits that would stir the blood of the most hardened adventurer. Nestled on the bosom of the Connecticut River, this little village is a place that remembers its past, a past steeped in shipbuilding and quarrying, but always with an eye on the future. Her downtown area, a quaint tableau of tree-lined streets and beguiling shops, is a haven for those with a love for nature and a yearning for simpler times.

 

Essex, Connecticut

Essex, Connecticut, is a town steeped in the charm of the 18th and 19th centuries, a haven for art lovers and foodies. Nestled by the Connecticut River, it’s a scene straight from a postcard. Deemed “the Perfect Small American Town” in 1000 Places to See Before You Die, it’s a culinary and historical paradise, crowned the “most charming small town in Connecticut” by The Travel Channel. It’s also home to the Essex Steam Train. In short, Essex is your picture-perfect getaway.

 

Old Saybrook, CT

Sailboat puttering along the CT shoreline off the coast of Old Saybrook

Old Saybrook, Connecticut, is where the Connecticut River gives a lingering kiss to the Long Island Sound. It’s a town that’s seen more sunrises than a rooster, and each one finds it more charming than the last. This quaint hamlet, with its roots reaching back to 1635, is a living testament to the colonial spirit. It’s a place where the past and present hold hands and dance to the rhythm of the lapping waves. Here, you can sprawl on sandy beaches, dine under the open sky, and lose yourself in antique shops that smell of old books and older memories. And if you’re a fan of the silver screen, you’d be delighted to know that the town has a museum and theatre dedicated to local legend Katherine Hepburn. Old Saybrook, in essence, is a town that’s as comfortable as an old shoe and as exciting as a new love.

 

Connecticut River Valley

The Connecticut River Valley is not just a mere stop on your journey, but the grand finale. It’s a place where the wild meets the cultured, where the river’s flow whispers tales of the past and the wind carries the promise of adventure. Whether you’re a fisherman at heart, a history buff, or a lover of the arts, this place will steal your heart and keep it.

 

Here, you can find such gems as:

 

 

  • Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut

 

  • The Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT

 

Thomas Oyster Co. building in Mystic, CT

And if you’re the kind of soul who’s always looking for the next adventure, why not venture east and uncover the secrets of Mystic, CT? The road is long, and the journey is yours to make. So, why not make the most of it and discover the many faces of Eastern Connecticut?

 

Tl;dr

Westbrook, Connecticut, dear reader, is no mere dot on the map. It’s a vibrant tapestry woven with threads of history, nature, and modernity. Westbrook is a place where seagulls squawk their greetings and the ocean whispers tales of time. It’s a destination that calls to the curious, beckons the adventurous, and embraces the weary. Here, you can trace the footprints of history, lose yourself in the arms of Mother Nature, and pamper your palate with culinary delights. So, hoist your sails, chart your course, and embark on a journey of discovery to Westbrook, CT – a Connecticut shoreline gem waiting to be unearthed!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is Westbrook CT a wealthy town?

Westbrook is indeed a wealthy town – with its 2018 per capita income at $56,280, it is well-above the national average and very much upper middle class relative to other towns in Connecticut. However, this wealth is concentrated among older, white people, making it an expensive and less diverse town overall.

 

What is Westbrook CT known for?

Westbrook is known for its shipbuilding heritage, the Turtle submarine invented by a local resident, and its current popularity as a summer resort town. Outlets and the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge are also attractions of the area.

 

Is Westbrook CT a good place to live?

Westbrook, CT, offers a desirable suburban rural mix with most residents owning their homes. The public schools are highly rated, and many retirees call it home. It’s the perfect balance of nature and civilization, making it a great place to live.

 

Can anyone go to Westbrook Town Beach?

Yes, anyone can enjoy the sun and surf at Westbrook Town Beach in Connecticut; just be sure to bring $20 for parking if you’re not a local resident!

 

Does Westbrook CT have a downtown?

Westbrook definitely has a tiny downtown with an outlet mall for all your shopping needs. Whether it’s a restaurant or a shop, you can find it in downtown Westbrook! From clothing to electronics, there’s something for everyone in the downtown area. With plenty of restaurants and cafes, you can find a great place to eat or grab a cup.