Things To Do In Niantic CT: Top 17 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn

The welcome sign to the village of Niantic, Connecticut, part of East Lyme, CT

There’s a certain charm to Niantic, Connecticut, that’s hard to deny. It’s a quaint little town, situated exactly midway between the bustling metropolises of Boston and New York. With a small population of 3,114, Niantic serves up a tranquil retreat for locals and tourists.

The atmosphere in Niantic is relaxed and inviting. The beach village is a hub for culinary delights and shopping. Main street is dotted with a range of restaurants and specialty shops. Plus, the town is a magnet for water sports enthusiasts.

Niantic’s rich history and vibrant culture make it an attractive destination. It’s an ideal spot for a weekend getaway or a day trip. This Connecticut beach town offers a memorable escape from the daily grind.

Ready to check out the best things to do in Niantic, CT? Let’s get into it:

Quick hits

  • Niantic is an adventurer’s paradise, whether you’re on a romantic stroll, a fishing trip, or a family fun day
  • Treat your taste buds to delicious dining options. Plus, with unique shopping experiences around every corner, you’re sure to find something special
  • Expand your horizons and explore the charming towns of East Lyme, Old Lyme, Waterford, and others

things to do in niantic ct map Things to Do in Niantic CT: Top 17 Most Unique Spots
Map design by Stanton House Inn

A Brief History of Niantic, Connecticut

Old postcard of the Pennsylvania Avenue trolley

Niantic, established in 1839, has charmed visitors for nearly two centuries with its coastal allure and vibrant history. The village’s name honors the Niantic or Nehantic people, the original inhabitants of the land from Wecapaug Brook to the Connecticut River. That said, the ambitious Pequots had invaded shortly before Europeans’ arrival, claiming half of the land. So, the name wasn’t entirely accurate, but the Pequot name is used a lot in the area, so Niantic is at least a little more unique.

 

The railroad’s arrival in 1851 drew people to the shoreline, then known as “The Bank.” This was the beginning of Niantic’s long run as a seaside vacation destination. And yet, even then, locals affectionately referred to it by variations of the name, Niantic.

 

Old postcard of Main Street, looking East

Today, Niantic is a collection of distinct beach communities. For a full history of the Niantic, CT, village, head over to East Lyme, Connecticut, of which Niantic, CT, is a borough.

 

The Best Things to do in Niantic CT

Niantic Bay Boardwalk view of Long Island Sound

Niantic is a maritime haven that promises an adventurous summer getaway in New England. Enjoy peaceful strolls along the Niantic Bay Boardwalk. For thrill-seekers, exhilarating fishing trips with Striper Snax Fishing Charters await. The town’s main street hums with regional businesses, from seafood restaurants to unique shops. And don’t forget Rocky Neck State Park, a paradise for campers, swimmers, and picnickers.

 

Niantic Bay Boardwalk

Niantic Bay view

The Niantic Bay Boardwalk is a 1.1-mile-long path that bridges Hole-In-The-Wall Beach at McCook Point Park and Cini Memorial Park on the other end of town. It’s a haven for stunning shoreline views, leisurely walks, and brisk jogs. Park benches and designated picnic areas adorn the boardwalk. And the walk offers a lovely panorama of the surroundings. It’s an ideal spot to watch boats on the water or simply soak in the surroundings. Not a ton of shade, though. The boardwalk was first opened to the public in 2005.

 

Niantic Children’s Museum

Perched in East Lyme, Connecticut, the Niantic Children’s Museum is a hotspot for family fun. Offering hands-on learning and play, it’s a dreamland for children up to ten years old. Housed in East Lyme’s original public library, the 5,000 square foot space is a cradle of creativity. It sparks curiosity and fuels imagination. This CT museum boasts exhibits on science, art, and world cultures. Favorites include the Discovery Room, Imaginative Play, and Toddler Land. Outdoor activities abound, too. Kids can climb walls, play in tree houses, perform on stage, or zip line.

 

Thomas Lee House

On the Niantic scene since 1660, the Thomas Lee House is a time capsule. This wooden edifice is one of Connecticut’s oldest. Renovated twice, once in the early 1700s and again in 1765, it’s as sturdy as ever. Inside, rooms are filled with period furniture. The house doubles as an art museum, offering a peek into bygone days. It’s a must-visit for history buffs and those intrigued by the olden times.

 

McCook Point Beach and Park

McCook's Point Park, looking towards the McCook Point Park Beach

Acquired in 1953 by the Town of East Lyme, McCook Point Beach and Park is a picturesque playground. It boasts sandy beaches, picnic pavilions, and stunning views of Niantic Bay. The park, once the summer residence of the McCook family, includes a large scenic bluff. The bluff separates two white-sand beaches, perfect for walking, swimming, and sunbathing. The bluff also features a shaded lawn area, a picnic area with a pavilion, and a band shell for summer concerts. The park provides restrooms, pavilion hire, a play area, bocce courts, and free Wi-Fi during the summer season. Pack a picnic for an evening visit to fully appreciate the breathtaking scenery.

 

Rocky Neck State Park

Rocky Neck State Park boasts a gently sloping beach, ideal for families with children. This CT state park is also home to a network of intriguing hiking trails. Clear waters and a stone-free beach provide a perfect setting for a family day out. For waterfront camping, the park offers 160 scenic campsites. Whether you seek tranquility or adventure, Rocky Neck State Park has it all.

 

Hole in the Wall Beach

Hole in the Wall Beach on an early summer morning

There’s an open secret tucked away in Niantic: Hole in the Wall Beach. Guarded by a stone jetty, this beach is a canvas of white sand that dances with the waves. It’s a sanctuary from the world’s hustle and bustle. You can dive into the sea, emerge renewed, and leave your worries at the shoreline. Lifeguards are always on duty in the summer months, ensuring a safe swimming area. Bring your beach gear and surrender to the rhythm of the sea at one of the best beaches in CT. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try paddle boarding.

 

Black Hawk Sport Fishing

Sunset view from a Black Hawk fishing boat, hunting striped bass

Black Hawk Sport Fishing, located at 11 Main Street in Niantic, operates the Black Hawk Fishing Boat. They offer guided tours that turn novices into seasoned anglers. The experienced crew provides top-notch equipment for an unforgettable fishing experience. At the helm is Captain Greg Dubrule. His boat has been voted Number One Party Boat in Southeastern Connecticut. This custom-built party boat is fast and impeccably maintained. In addition to regular trips, they offer specialty experiences like offshore trips, night fishing, sunset cruises, and marine animal sightings.

 

Striper Snax Fishing Charters

A local competitor, Striper Snax Fishing Charters offers personalized fishing trips for all skill levels. They are masters of night-striped bass fishing and provide top-tier equipment. Their guides boast extensive knowledge of various species including striper and sea bass. Seasonal tours are available for cod, bluefish, sea bass, fluke, blackfish, and porgy. Best of all, guests are not required to have a fishing license. Striper Snax supplies everything: rods, reels, bait, and tackle, even gear for the night trip. The experienced crew is always eager to share their tried-and-true fishing techniques with newcomers.

 

Shopping in Niantic, Connecticut

A view of the Book Barn on Main Street in Niantic, Connecticut, with its wide selection of books

You’ll find a variety of unique shopping spots in Niantic. Each shop in these charming coastal villages offers a unique experience. Thanks to its unique CT gift shops, Niantic is an ideal destination to search for something special.

 

The Book Barn

The Book Barn on Main St is a fantastic spot, and one of the most fun things to do in Niantic, CT

The Book Barn in Niantic is a bibliophile’s paradise, boasting a staggering collection of over 350,000 books. Spread across multiple locations, it offers a diverse range of genres. These include illustrated children’s books, fictional novels, autobiographies, and cookbooks.

 

The Barn, open 363 days a year, is a hub for book enthusiasts. Knowledgeable staff can assist you in finding specific titles. They often unearth rare books that mainstream stores overlook. This writer prefers to get lots in the stacks at one of the most unique spots in Connecticut. As a bonus, the Barn offers complimentary beverages and snacks. These include tea, coffee, cocoa, cookies, and crackers.

 

Three Belles Outfitters

Black Hawk fishing boat

Three Belles Outfitters, established in 2010, has become a sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s the largest hobby kayak store on the eastern seaboard. This store offers a wide range of water sports equipment, including kayaks as well as paddleboards. It also houses a dedicated fishing team. You can consult with professionals and browse the store before making your purchase. The store’s popular programs include stand-up paddling yoga, kayaking, and guided paddle tours on the Niantic River. Catering to all ages and skill levels, Three Belles Outfitters is a top choice among outdoor enthusiasts.

 

Anna Pearl’s Curiosities

Unearth the unique and the vintage at Anna Pearl’s Curiosities in Niantic. This shop is a trove of singular finds, from jewelry and clothing to decor and accessories. Seeking a special gift? Looking for a statement piece for your home? Your quest ends at Anna Pearl’s Curiosities.

 

Restaurants in Niantic, CT

A view of The Black Sheep restaurant in Niantic, Connecticut, with its cozy atmosphere

When a day of Niantic exploration leaves your stomach rumbling, it’s time to dine. Choose from the town’s top eateries along Main St.

 

Bon appétit!

 

The Black Sheep

The Black Sheep is an exceptional Irish bar and restaurant. You’ll find hearty dishes like Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers & Mash, and Steak Frites. Its decor, style, and music are a tribute to traditional Irish pubs. But the intrigue doesn’t stop there. The Black Sheep also hosts live music, pub quiz nights, and sporting events. And if you’re brave enough, there’s karaoke.

 

Sláinte!

 

Charlie’s Place Restaurant & Lounge

Charlie’s Place Restaurant & Lounge is a hidden gem in Niantic. Charlie, an immigrant who arrived in America in 1972, owned the restaurant for years. His passion for fresh ingredients and years of experience made each dining experience memorable. The menu is a feast of pastas, steaks, seafood, and barbecue. Signature dishes include dry rub smoked wings and parmesan truffle fries. The restaurant has recently changed hands, ensuring that it remains open for its local loyal following.

 

Gumdrops & Lollipops Candy & Ice Cream

Gumdrops & Lollipops Candy & Ice Cream is a 1950s-style diner in a charming historic building on Main Street. It’s famed for its homemade candies, chocolates, pies, and desserts. Open all year, the diner is a magnet for those with a sweet tooth. Its premium offerings include ginger ice cream, raspberry smoothies, strawberry rhubarb pie, and root beer floats.

 

Niantic Public House and Brewery

When beach activities have parched your throat, Niantic Public House and Brewery on Main Street is your go-to for a refreshment. Established in 2018 by Todd Sakowski, a former home-brewer, this place has grown exponentially into one of the best breweries in Connecticut. Upon entering the Tap Room, you are greeted by vibrant ocean-themed paintings by local artist Jacob Cullers. The tap offers a minimum of 20 exceptional craft beers. The pub also serves cider, wine, and soft drinks if you’re not a craft beer fan. Food trucks often park nearby, but bringing your own food is also welcome.

 

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

View from a deck at an inn in southeastern Connecticut

If you’re planning a day trip from our Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast, the drive would take about an hour and 25 minutes. It’s one of the most charming day trips in CT. That said, if you’re considering a longer stay, Niantic offers a variety of cozy spots that will feel like a home away from home. After a day of exploring this picturesque coastal village, it’s the perfect place to rest and recharge.

 

Inn at Harbor Hill Marina

Marina

The Inn at Harbor Hill Marina is a luxurious bed and breakfast in Niantic. It offers 16 elegant guest rooms, each furnished in Victorian style and equipped with modern amenities. Each room boasts stunning waterfront views, making this one of the most romantic inns in CT. A complimentary buffet breakfast with freshly brewed coffee is served daily. Guests on romantic getaways in CT can enjoy the nearby beach and loaner kayaks at their leisure. The inn is surrounded by a garden, which features a picnic area and a lovely view of the bay. Conveniently located, the hotel is walking distance from local shops and restaurants.

 

The Niantic Inn

The Niantic Inn is a cozy haven offering snug accommodations. It also boasts an on-site restaurant that serves mouthwatering dishes. Quench your thirst at the stylish bar. Stay fit using the state-of-the-art fitness center. Refresh yourself in the serene pool. The Niantic Inn is perfectly situated on the town’s main drag. It’s just a short walk from downtown shops, enticing restaurants, and a private beach.

 

Directions to Niantic, CT, from Greenwich, CT

Are you mapping out a journey from Greenwich, CT, to Niantic? The quickest path lies along the I-95 South. This route spans 77.9 miles and typically takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes by car. I would recommend heading to the Merritt Parkway for a more scenic route, though, on your way to discover the coastal charm of Niantic, Connecticut!

 

More Towns to Explore Near Niantic, Connecticut

Shoreline in East Lyme, in southeastern Connecticut

Planning to extend your journey around Connecticut? You’re in luck! A variety of quaint coastal towns are within reach. Each offers its unique spin on Connecticut attractions and experiences. They are perfect spots for day trips or weekend getaways in CT. So, stay a while longer and discover more of what Connecticut has to offer.

 

East Lyme, CT

It seems unfair to highlight Niantic without mentioning the rest of the town of East Lyme, Connecticut. This captivating town is a hive of activity for the whole family. Nehantic State Forest is a prime attraction. Here, you can hike, boat, or simply savor a picnic amidst nature. East Lyme is a treasure chest of attractions and beautiful parks.

 

Old Lyme, Connecticut

Exploring top attractions in the surrounding area on a guided tour

Or check out the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut. It’s a place steeped in history and blessed with picturesque beauty. You’ll find treasures like the Florence Griswold Museum, foundation of the town’s artistic heritage. Then there are the Sculpture Grounds, a haven for the imagination. And don’t forget Ferry Landing Park for a gorgeous walk along the Connecticut River.

 

Waterford, CT

Waterford, CT, is a delightful town on the eastern side of Niantic. You can visit the stunning Harkness Memorial State Park or relish a beach day at Waterford Beach Park. For the theatre enthusiasts, don’t miss the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

 

New London, Connecticut

New London, another great place to spend time exploring an art museum and local museums

New London is the maritime city in southeastern Connecticut along the Long Island Sound. Brimming with history, you’ll find a ton of unique attractions in New London, CT. You could spend a day at Ocean Beach Park, or embark on a voyage with Cross Sound Ferry Lighthouse Cruises. Fort Trumbull State Park tells of American fears of coastal invasions that never happened.

 

Uncasville, CT

Uncasville, CT, is another gemstone in Connecticut’s treasure chest. Here, the thrill of the game meets the echoes of history at the Mohegan Sun, a world-class casino. Yet, Uncasville isn’t all glitz and glamour. It also treasures its rich Native American past, showcased at the Tantaquidgeon Museum. The list of the best things to do in Uncasville, CT, includes more than just gambling.

 

Tl;dr

Exploring top attractions in Niantic and the surrounding area on a guided tour

Niantic, Connecticut, is an extraordinary place where the everyday can be enchanting. The Niantic Bay Boardwalk dances with the rhythm of the waves. The Book Barn hums with a silent symphony of stories. So, why not embark on a journey to this coastal Connecticut gem?

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is Niantic CT worth visiting?

Unravel the charm of Niantic, Connecticut, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. With its historic Niantic Bay Boardwalk, lively Children’s Museum, and the hidden gem that is Hole in the Wall Beach, Niantic is a must-see. It’s a destination for adventurers and nature-lovers alike.

 

How much does it cost to go to Niantic Bay Boardwalk?

Embark on the Niantic Bay Boardwalk without spending a dime. Be warned, though – parking spaces during peak season are elusive.

 

Is Niantic CT the same as East Lyme CT?

Niantic, CT is a village within the town of East Lyme, CT.

 

What are some must-visit attractions in Niantic, CT?

Unleash your inner explorer on the Niantic Bay Boardwalk. Set sail on the high seas from Three Belles Marina. Let your curiosity run wild at the Niantic Children’s Museum. Soak in the raw beauty of Rocky Neck State Park. These are the undisputed champions of Niantic’s attractions!

 

What are the best restaurants in Niantic, CT?

Embark on a culinary journey in Niantic. Start at The Black Sheep, where authentic Irish fare awaits. Next, discover Charlie’s Place Restaurant & Lounge, a hidden gem with a diverse menu. Finally, satisfy your sweet tooth at Gumdrops & Lollipops Candy & Ice Cream.

 

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