The State of Connecticut recently ran a “Fan Favorite” campaign for residents and visitors to vote for their favorite town in Connecticut. The winner was the charming town of Niantic, a coastal village of East Lyme. I had never been to the Connecticut shore, so just had to see what everyone was raving about.
My visit just so happened to coincide with a visit by Governor Malloy who was presenting the town with a promotional video and celebrating Niantic’s status as Fan Favorite. It had all actually started with a video that the town submitted to the Fan Favorite contest, have a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM0tROLWfVY . After spending one day in Niantic I knew exactly why this wonderful community was voted Connecticut’s favorite town.
My first stop was at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina, a cozy 16 room inn situated right on the harbor.
This inn offers spectacular views of the harbor and the two balcony rooms with direct ocean views book quickly. The grounds are beautifully manicured with plenty of places to sit and take in the water views. Upon entering the inn there’s a sign that says it all, “You come as strangers and leave as friends”. The staff is friendly and helpful with local recommendations. They get you settled in, and in no time you’ll feel right at home. Guests have been returning year after year, reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones. Breakfast is a real treat with bountiful fruit, breads, yogurt, cereals and a special hot entrée prepared every morning.
In addition to 9 rooms in the inn, two years ago they built a second building (The Captain Clark House) which added 7 large luxury rooms to the property. Luxury is an understatement; the rooms have all the amenities you would expect in a 5 star hotel; large soaking tubs and rain showers, gas fireplaces and a large flat screen TV. These rooms offer indirect water views. The website pictures do not do justice to these luxury rooms, they are really lovely and the Captain Clark House has a private entrance from the street.
As an extra treat for guests, the innkeepers have prepared detailed guided day-trip itineraries for guests to venture off to Block Island, Newport, The Vineyard, Mystic Seaport and casinos, as well as more local activities. The restaurant book is filled with menus and suggestions in town an a short distance away. But everything you need for a great vacation is within walking distance of the Inn, Nothing could be better than beginning your day with a stroll on the boardwalk which provides breathtaking views of Niantic Bay and Long Island Sound. Looking to the right you can see McCook Point and Beach which require beach passes which are provided by the Inn.
Exploring the Village
A stroll into town takes you past the Main Street Grille, with a vast menu including lots of fresh seafood selections. The wait staff is friendly and attentive, and the food was outstanding. I had a lobster roll for lunch but returned for dinner to have their muscles appetizer which was the best I have ever tasted. The sauce had a hint of cream, but definitely not creamy. The seasonings were perfect and it was a good thing the rolls were gone or I would have sopped up every bit of the sauce!
If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, try White Gate Farm which is a truly organic farm, which hosts “Dinners at the Farm” . Created in 2007 by Chef Owner Jonathan Rapp, River Tavern Restaurant in Chester CT, oversees the menus and preparation of these uniquely prepared meals. The farm dinners are the event of the season bringing guest from near and far.
And what would a seaside town be with a penny candy store? Gumdrops And Lollipops takes you back in time with penny candy and ice cream flavors like Purple Sable, Cappachino Fudge Crunch and Birthday Cake. Inside you find candy and homemade fudge just waiting for your tasting. It is a fun place for big and little kids.
I discovered Grace, a seashore boutique , full of unique clothing and beach items. My new straw hat is both stylish and keeps the shore sun out of my eyes. I could have spent hours in this adorable boutique, guess I will just have to return.
Niantic is not just a summer vacation spot for visitors, many guests return for fall foliage and winter getaways. The Inn’s “Fall In Love” package includes an Essex Steam Train and Riverboat trip providing breathtaking foliage views.
The Fan Favorite campaign message was “Niantic’s Got That One Thing”, but I found that they have so much more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKmEWbw_Vfc&feature=youtu.be,
Niantic is definitely an excursion you should consider. I personally loved my trip to Niantic and absolutely plan to return. If you get there before me, tell Dave and Sue at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina that I send my best.