If you are looking for day trip ideas, why not consider spending the day in Haddam, Connecticut and spend some time cruising on the Connecticut River on a Riverquest cruise. We spent a day on the Connecticut River with Riverquest, courtesy of our friends from Connecticut Audubon Society, and had a great time. We met some fun people, learned a lot about the area, saw Osprey in their nests, and spent the rest of the afternoon on the banks of the Connecticut River, took in the scenery on the banks of the River next to the Goodspeed Opera House, ate local ice cream, and ended the day at the Blue Oar for dinner. Take a look at what we did and see if you might want to spend the day in Haddam too.
We started our day trip with a RiverQuest cruise. Mark and Mindy were delightful people and kept everything running smoothly. Along our journey, they taught us about the local area, and pointed out places of interests and shared local history.
Riverquest leaves from their dock at Eagle Landing State Park in Haddam and cruises south towards the mouth of the Connecticut River. You will see the Goodspeed Opera House (located directly across the river) and the Goodspeed Airport. You may see the resident Bald Eagle if you look close enough.
Riverquest does both private charters and public cruises. Their public cruises include kids cruises, afternoon, and sunset cruise. There are also special cruises with music, pizza, osprey viewing, and more. Check their schedule for specific dates and details.
Hats were the order of the day because it was definitely hot out there on the Connecticut River. Many people brought binoculars but if you didn’t the Riverquest folks had lots to share. Bring a picnic lunch and your favorite beverage to enjoy on the cruise.
Here’s an interesting thing you might not know. There is a floating Hot Dog stand in the middle of the Connecticut River. Weiners on Water has been serving up hotdogs and other food for over 20 years. Just pull your boat along side and enjoy a chili, cheese dog while enjoying the scenic views on the Connecticut River.
All along our cruise we spotted Osprey nests. The Osprey come back every year and build their nests on specially constructed towers. They arrive in March, build the nests in April, lay their eggs and the hacklings arrive the second half of May. The Osprey chicks try out their wings mid July and by August the whole family is gone down south to spend the winter. Check out the live osprey cam of the osprey nest at Milford Point Coastal Center.
We shared the water with the Becky Thatcher, another cruiseline out of Essex. As you continue down the river, you will pass by Gillette Castle and State Park, former home to famous Actor William Gillette, the Chester/Hadlyme Ferry, the second oldest operating ferry in Connecticut and Mount Saint John’s School for Boys in Deep River.
After our wonderful cruise, we ate the picnic lunch we brought on one of the many picnic tables that dot the lawn of Eagle Landing State Park. Eagle Landing State Park is where you pick up the Riverquest cruises. It seems lots of other folks had the same idea. What a beautiful and peaceful view we had to eat our lunch.
After lunch we decided to walk around the small town of East Haddam. There are several good places to eat or get some ice cream. Try the Hillside Sweet Shoppe for some delicious ice cream. I had the Black Raspberry ice cream and it was delicious. The waffle cone was even better than Ben and Jerry’s. We heard that the La Vita is great for Italian food and the Gelston House is another local favorite. Both are conveniently located right smack in the middle of town across from the Goodspeed Opera House.
If you are looking to do a little shopping or browse for some must-have item, visit the Goodspeed’s Station Country store that is located in the train station across the “singing bridge” near Eagle Landing State Park.
We stayed awhile longer on our day trip to Haddam and sat by the Connecticut River on the lawn next to the Goodspeed Opera House. It was such a beautiful day that we wanted to linger just a bit longer. Here is where we met a local woman who told us about the Blue Oar.
We have lived in Connecticut for over 30 years and never heard about the Blue Oar. It seems we were about the only people who didn’t know about it because when we arrived the place was packed. We learned that the Blue Oar has been in business since 1997. On most Summer weekends there is a line down the road and a waiting list to get in. We were lucky this night because while it was packed we were able to find seats almost immediately. It is a seasonal outdoor restaurant, opening on Mother’s Day and closing late September. Be advised, it is “CASH ONLY”, credit or debit cards are not accepted and they do not take reservations.
The Blue Oar is a BYOB (bring your own booze) and we saw all kinds of people who setup their tables with their own tablecloths, flowers, and fancy wine glasses. We were totally jealous and vowed to bring our own “fancy smancy” setup next time.
From the outside, the Blue Oar doesn’t look like much. You actually think, why did I stop here, and then you step just inside the fence and you immediately know why it is such a popular spot. The atmosphere – and later the food. You are immediately transported to an island in the Caribbean when you step inside the fence. The Caribbean music playing in the background sets the tone and it is, after all, finally summer in Connecticut. Summer in Connecticut is the best place to be because it is warm and sometimes hot, but rarely humid. This night was just perfect for sitting outside and watching boats cruise up and down the Connecticut River. Some even stopped and docked to come and eat at the Blue Oar.
We sat under the covered deck in the small building that houses the kitchen and had a great view of the people sitting at the picnic tables below and of the dock and water. At night small twinkling lights illuminate the lower and upper decks.
Come for the atmosphere but stay for the food. There is so much to choose from at the Blue Oar. From Watermelon salad to sauteed mussels to roasted red pepper burger to Cajun Catfish to Grilled Salmon and for dessert you must try the Key Lime Cheesecake.
We started off with a light and refreshing watermelon salad with feta cheese and mint, then moved on to Cajun catfish over a black bean salsa and lightly grilled green beans and grilled salmon with pineapple sauce over rice and lightly grilled green beans. We finished the delightful meal with a Key Lime Mousse while chatting and enjoying the wonderful evening along the Connecticut River.
If you didn’t bring a bottle of wine or beer, you can grab a refreshing Stewart’s Soda.
If you still haven’t found enough to do on your day trip to Haddam, why not take in a show at the Goodspeed Opera House. We found just enough to do and our perfect day trip in Haddam, Connecticut ended with another glimpse of Riverquest taking a sunset cruise.