Are you thinking of visiting the East Lyme or Niantic area and you’re wondering what there is to do in this town? Since East Lyme and Niantic have so many things to do, we split them into two separate areas. From breweries and beaches, and hiking to shops, there is something for everyone. we think these should definitely be on your bucket list when visiting East Lyme and Niantic, Connecticut.
Things to do in East Lyme, Connecticut
Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve Hiking Trails
Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve is a must visit for the outdoor adventurist or hiker. The Preserve, opened in 2007, contains 457 acres of preserve filled with beautiful trails. Open from sunrise to sunset, pets are welcome to accompany their owners to take in the breathtaking views.
The Preserve offers free maps at the entrance and cautions hikers to be careful with the steep sections and cliffs in the hills, and to always stay on marked trails, as there are many unmarked trails that can get you lost. Make sure to check out the new bridge built in 2019 while you take in the breathtaking views of the Niantic River to the east.
Scott’s Yankee Farmer
The perfect place for pick your own year round! Typically opened from 8 am to 12 pm year round for fruit and vegetable picking, rain permitting. Events are active all year long and range from pick your own, to corn mazes, or the operating cider mill in the fall. Check out the produce and plants for sale in their large farm store, opened daily from 9 am to 5:30 pm.
East Lyme Driving Range
Located at the entrance of I-95 on Flanders road, enjoy over 50 beautiful grass hitting spots, a chipping green, and a sand lot for you to enjoy on your day off. They also offer golf lessons and a large selection of pre-owned equipment for purchase.
Travel for your golf game and break something on the way? Enjoy club repair and re-gripping with fast service. Military veterans enjoy a discount on putting baskets.
Cedar Ridge Golf Course
After practicing at the driving range head over to the golf course, which is just about a mile and a half from the driving range (about a 5 minutes drive). Cedar Ridge Golf Course is a challenging, yet affordable public golf course.
Enjoy 18-holes that can be played in approximately 2.5 – 3 hours, the course even features several holes that are over 200 yards in length. Rent golf carts, clubs, and purchase supplies at their well stocked pro shop. Discounts are available for both senior and junior golfers.
Looking for a cheaper golf experience? Enjoy 9-holes in 90 minutes for only $15 dollars!
Rocky Neck State Park
Both a beautiful sandy beach and a spacious campground, the activities are endless at this wonderful relaxing oasis in East Lyme. Go crabbing or fishing on the beach. Grab a picture of the ospreys, cranes, and herons or other waterfowl that visit the shores of Rocky Neck.
The campground offers 160 sites in open and wooded settings. Season runs from May to September, and offers dozens of prime picnic areas and diverse trail systems. Rent campgrounds until 9 pm each evening, beach and day use areas are open at 8 am and open until dark.
Samuel Smith House
For the history buff in all of us, stop by the Samuel Smith House for a beautiful breath-taking example of a CT colonial-era homestead. This house and barn are located on 17 acres, and has since been restored and maintained to its exact state in 1685, and the original additions, added on to the house in 1735 and 1812.
Previously known as the Hurlburt House, this is now a non-profit organization that gives tours and holds frequent events, including revolutionary war reenactments and demonstrations of weaving, butter making, and other colonial activities.
White Gate Farm
A beautiful organic farm in East Lyme featuring a wonderful store to purchase organic fruits and veggies by the passer-by, and a variety of events, including cooking classes, music festivals, and farmers markets.
Travelers should also check out the wonderful inn on their property, a 7 bedroom bed and breakfast, featuring all the original splendor it had its previous years, and there are also other great options as the Crystal Springs Villa which many travelers like to enjoy.
The Thomas Lee Hous
Built in 1660, and the second museum and revolutionary home on this list, The Thomas Lee House is one of the oldest wooden-frame houses in CT, in it’s original state. Also for viewing, the Little Boston Schoolhouse, relocated to the Lee House property, dates to at least 1734, when it was run by the 2nd Ecclesiastical Society of Lyme.
On June 9th, 1915, in a ceremony featuring former President William Howard Taft as guest speaker, the Thomas Lee House was opened to the public.
The barn on the Lee House property contains several exhibits, including a collection of artifacts from the Nehantic Indians. Here you can also learn about the Turtle, the first submarine, which was designed by David Bushnell and operated by Ezra Lee (a descendant of Thomas Lee) during the American Revolution. There is also a store where colonial games, books, postcards and other items can be purchased.
Today, it continues to be owned and maintained by the East Lyme Historical Society. Tours can be arranged during the spring and fall.
Black Hawk Sport Fishing Trips
Featuring daily trips that leave port at 6 am, and affordable rates, the Black Hawk Fishing Boat is a fun and exciting adventure for anyone who loves to fish or take an adventure on the ‘high seas’. The Black Hawk is one of the fastest boats of her kind in New England and voted South Eastern Connecticuts Number one party boat, using great decoration for this, including banquet tablecloths and chair covers for every party.
Rod rentals are available and specialty trips can be arranged if you follow the river guide provided. The Blackhawk can show you what the Sound has to offer with ventures such as Seal Watches, Sunset Cruises, and more fishing ventures such as Block Island Seabass and Montauk Fluke.
ABC Shoreline Gymnastics
While offering regular classes and competition teams, ABC Shoreline Gymnastics also offers something exciting for traveling families, tumble jungle hours daily.
Tumble Jungle includes a moon bounce, a rock climbing wall, ball pit, rope climb, and a giant indoor playscape. You do not have to be a member and can attend by paying regular entrance fees. For current times, check their website for their daily available hours.
Pattagansett Lake offers a boat dock to launch kayaks and boats. This is a beautiful, small lake for spending an after on the water. The lake is the perfect place for fishing, kayaking, or cool swim after a long day.
While the property surrounding the shores are privately-owned, the water is accessible by a public boat launch located on it’s south end. The launch area is located on 290 Boston Post Road off of Route 1 and offers 15 parking spaces.
The lake always allows boats for fishing, but has a speed limit of 8 mph, except during June 15th to the first Sunday after Labor day from 11 am to 6 pm, when you can drive at higher speeds and enjoy water sports, like tubing and water skiing.
Things to do in Niantic, Connecticut
Niantic Public House and Brewery
A favorite for veterans and military visitors, always featuring discounts to those who have served their time for their country. Opened in 2019, craft beer is brewed on site, and offers a lengthy and delicious tap list, as well as a delicious and diverse menu of local craft beers.
Also make sure to check out their events calendar for special activities, like paint night, yoga, and live music (coming soon).
National Food Store
On the road and looking for gluten-free food or organic and vegan options? The Natural Food store in Niantic is where you want to be. Offering a large variety of both fresh, and packaged organic, gluten-free, and other foods, they also carry a large variety of cosmetics, soaps, and decor.
Look in store for discounts and special selections exclusively for their customers.
Niantic Cinemas is a small, local owned movie theater that runs current, first run films, for less than your average theater. Located in the center of town, for easy access, and with-in walking distance of multiple other desinations, they also offer affordable snacks, and a fun night out for the passer-by.
A local, family owned garden center and farm stand nestled in downtown Niantic. Staffed by the ‘Veggie Girls’, stop by to meet some artistic, fun-loving women who are available to give you tips to help you become a successful gardener.
They also carry a large variety of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. Make sure to check their event calendar for art classes, farmers markets, and other fun events.
Gumdrops & Lollipops
For the candy love in all of us! Offering a huge selection of candy, homemade ice cream, and an awesome menu including burgers and fries. A great place to bring children, and for the whole family to enjoy.
Sit in the 1950’s styled diner area and enjoy your food in house! Offers candy by the pound and individual treats.
Tony D’s Craft Creamery
Only open in the Summer and Fall, locals consider this a must see. Formerly Tasty Treat, it changed owners and was converted to Tony D’s Craft Creamery in 2018.
Offering food and ice cream, be sure to check out their menu for delicious local fried sea fare, and desserts that you can’t turn down.
McCook’s Point Park and Beach
Offering concerts on Wednesday and Fridays in the summer, the beach is free to the public after five. A beach pass is easily purchased for day time use, and worth every penny. Opened year round. Passes are available for purchase at the East Lyme Parks & Recreation office or at the Hole-in-the-Wall Beach.
The park includes a a bluff and two white, sandy beaches. This is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, walks on the beach, or bring your family for a quick swim. You can view Fisher’s Island, Plum Island, and Orient Point from the bluff.
Look for the Free Book Drop in the parking lot where you an “bring a book, take a book”.
Hole in the Wall Beach
Located behind Gumdrops & Lollipops, this is also the entrance to the boardwalk. Parking is free and Hole-in-the-Wall Beach is park of McCook’s Point Park and offers more white-sand beach slopes and swimming areas for visitors. During the summer time, a life guard is present, but, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, passes are required.
The beach is accessed through a short tunnel under the railroad tracks, the source of the beach’s name. To the left, as you emerge from this tunnel, you will see the western entrance to the Niantic Bay Boardwalk. In front of you is a breathtaking view of Long Island Sound. The beach is to your right.
Free and open to the public. No pets are allowed on the boardwalk. For a scenic stroll, enjoy a 1 mile walk to the beach in Waterford, or 2 miles to walk their and back. Enjoy both a traditional boardwalk and a gravel path. Closed after dark.
Offering four amazing locations (with more added all of the time), all within a mile of each other, this quirky place is perfect for single travelers, families, and local book-loving dwellers alike. Featuring over half a million books to choose from, the Book Barn is the queen of used book stores. Be sure to spend some quality time with one of their many adopted cats, or bring your family to their central location for play time in their children’s area.