What to do in the local area

Our family has summered in the area since 1948. Here are our favorite things to do. — updated May, 2019.

* Quick links to


Circle Beach Walks

Beach Walks map There are 2 easy beach walks that begin at the cottage. Download the map.

Look on our bookshelves at the cottage for guide books about day trips and hiking in the local area.


Local points of interest

Download our family's map with points of interest (Acrobat PDF 233k)

Links to Connecticut tourism sites

* Connecticut department of tourism:
www.ctvisit.com has the best summary of things to do all over the state, but especially along the shoreline. The www.ctvisit.com/thisweekend page lists upcoming weekend events. Check out the links for:

Or visit DiscoverOurTown.com for Connecticut towns:

* Events in Madison and Guilford:
Many weekend and weekday events are held on the greens in downtown Madison and Guilford. Check their calendars for details.

Our favorite restaurants:

Best pizza joints: Bufalina (top-rated by NY Times), Pasta Avest, Anthony's, Bradley & Wall, and Pepe's in New Haven (rated #1 in the country)

Best deli: Pasta Avest

Best white-linen-tablecloth restaurants: Friends & Co., Cafe Allegra, and Chamard Vineyards (tie)

Best Sunday brunch: Elizabeth's Cafe

Best breakfast: Shoreline Diner

Best BBQ north of the Mason-Dixon line: Chester's Bargecue

Best seafood: Lenny's at Indian Neck in Branford (close second is the more famous Lenny & Joe's Fishtale in Madison, Westbook, and New Haven)

Best lobster roll: Lenny & Joe's, Madison

Best lobster:
Abbott's (Noank) and the Loster Pound (Guilford Harbor)

Best ice cream when you're with the kids: any of the Ashley's from New Haven to Old Saybrook

Best Irish bar & burgers: Augur's Irish Pub

Best sports/music bar: Donahue's

Best local music venue: Donahue's

Best Asian cuisine: Som Thai

Best view: Guilford Mooring at the harbor

Best comfy cafe: Guilford Bistro

Best vegetarian entrees: Shoreline Diner and Vegetarian Enclave

Best bargain: Nick's Restaurant

Best family restaurants: Shoreline Diner & Vegetarian Enclave, and The Brownstone Restaurant (tie)

Best gluten-free / Paleo: Shoreline Diner, What's Cookin Deli


Our family's recommendations

* = Chagnon family favorite

Local movie theaters

Madison Arts Cinema
main street, downtown Madison, next to Post Office
(203) 245-3456 (local phone call)

Regal (Hoyts) Cinema Humumgeous Stadium Megaplex
Rt 1, East Main St, Branford (exit 55 off I-95, right one mile on Rt 1)
(203) 481-2711 (toll call)


* Abbott's Lobster in the Rough Seafood Shack, Noank
Authentic NE style enclosed shack on Mystic River, open June-August.
Clams, chicken, hot dogs, and other entres
117 Pearl St, Noank, CT 06340
(860) 536-7719

* Anthony's of Guilford
Great brick-oven Italian food, restaurant and carry-out
2392 Boston Post Road, Guilford, CT, 06437
(203) 453-4121

* Ashley's Ice Cream, Guilford
942 Boston Post Road, Guilford, CT, 06437
Next to Big Y / Wal-Mart plaza
(203) 458-3040

* Ashley's Ice Cream, Madison
724 Boston Post Road, Madison, CT 06443
downtown Madison in the "alley"
(203) 245-1113

Augur's Irish Pub, Guilford
Good selection of beer, open 7 days a week
29 Water Street, Guilford, CT
Southwest of the green on Rt. 146
(203) 453-4936

Bradley and Wall Gourmet Foods & Pizza, Madison
96 Wall St, (one block north of downtown Madison)
Pizza and Italian carryout. Excellent.
(203) 318-0300

The Brownstone House of Guilford
961 Boston Post Road, Guilford,  CT   06437
Across from Wal*Mart and Big Y
Very good famlily style restaurant with something for everyone
7 days a week, 6:30 am - 10 pm
(203) 458-1238

* Bufalina Pizza, Guilford
1070 Boston Post Rd, Guilford, CT 06437
Incredible pizza and authentic Italian dishes. Incredible story of the owners, too!
4:30 pm - 9:30 pm, Tuesday-Saturday, no reservations.
(203) 458-1377

* Chester's Bargeque, downtown Clinton
10 West Main St., Clinton, CT
Excellent, authentic BBQ. Locally smoked. Brisket is the best. Outdoor dining. Open 7 days a week. Lunch specials.
(860) 669-6868

Cafe Allegre, downtown Madison
725 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443
Excellent Italian cuisine by reknown Chef Silvio.
(203) 245-7773

Cilantro Specialty Foods & Coffee Roasters, Guilford
On the Green at 85 Whitfield St.
Deli food and coffee. FREE WiFi.
(203) 458-2555

* Chamard Vineyards Bistro, Clinton
115 Cow Hill Rd., Clinton CT 06413
A few minutes north of I-95. One of CT's best farm-to-table restaurants in a gorgeous vineyard setting. Reservations suggested for the restaurant, but not for the bar. Check calendar for wine tastings and events.
(860) 664-0299

Chowder Pot, Branford
Just off I-95. Classic and reknown seafood restaurant. Reservations required.
(203) 481-2356

Copper Beach Inn, Ivoryton/Essex
Classic American cuisine in an historic inn.
(860) 767-0330 (toll call)

* Donahue's Madison Beach Grill, Madison
Good burger and brew pub, plus seafood and dinner entrees. Live music some nights. Sports bar on one side, full-server restaurant on the other side.
1320 Boston Post Road, Madison, CT 06443 (east side of town across from Lenny & Joe's)
(203) 318-8362

* Elizabeth's Cafe & Perfect Parties, Madison
885 Boston Post Road
Lunch, dinner. Make reservations for Sunday Brunch
(203) 245-0250

* Friends & Company, Madison
11 Boston Post Road (just before East River line with Guilford)
New American cuisine and Sunday brunch. Reservations recommended for Sunday brunch.
(203) 245-0462

Griswold Inn, Essex
36 Main St.
Traditional American and continental in an historic inn. Wonderful place for a special event or family outing.
(860) 767-1776 (toll call)

Guilford Bistro & Grille, Guilford
1016 Boston Post Road
(203) 453-0736

* Guilford Mooring, Guilford
505 Whitfield Street, Guilford, CT, 06437
Seafood restaurant overlooking Guilford Harbor
CHECK THEIR WEBSITE for coupons. Live music Fri & Sat
(203) 458-2921

* Ice Cream at 23 Water Street, Guilford
23 Water St (on the Green)
(203) 453-1153

* Lenny's at Indian Neck, Branford (Indian Neck)
205 S. Montowese St. (Rt. 146), Branford, CT 06405
Don't confuse this local haunt with Lenny & Joe's below. Better seafood, better ambiance, better chowders and bisques, better beer selection, and many more landlubber dishes. Check their website for specials, hours, and directions. For a scenic drive, take Rt. 146 westward from the Guilford green (Water St. on the Green's south side) and wind along the coast roads until you reach Indian Neck and Lenny's. The Indian Neck Farmer's Market is across the street.
(203) 488-1500

* Lenny & Joe's Fishtale, Madison & Westbook
Classic New England clamshack and restaurant. Seafood, lobsters, and landlubbers dishes, too. Madison restaurant is cafeteria-style, while the Westbrook location is a sit-down restaurant.
—Madison, Rt. 1 near Hammonassette, (203) 245-7289
—Westbook, Rt. 1, (860) 669-0767 (toll call)

* Little Italy, New Haven
Cruise down Wooster Street and take your pick of some of the best Italian cuisine in New England.
—Pepe's Pizza, where pizza was invented! Authentic brick ovens.
—Tony & Lucille's, where calzonne was invented!

* Lobster Pound, Guilford Harbor
Captain Bart brings in a fresh catch every morning and opens the outdoor restaurant for lunch and dinner on the docks. Closes by sunset.
505a Whitfield St., Guilford Harbor
(203) 453-6122

Mad Gourmet Bistro to Go, Guilford
33 Water St., Guilford, CT 06437 (behind the green)
Great little bakery, deli, and take-out pizza joint. Has gluten-free breads and pizza, and several vegan entres. Closed Tuesdays (but open on Mondays!)
(203) 747-5553

Nick's Place, Madison (East River)
200 Boston Post Road (just east of the railroad overpass)
Closest restaurant to the cottage. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
(203) 245-0433

* Pasta Avest, Guilford
680 Boston Post Road
One of our familiy's favorite eateries.

* Pepe's Pizzeria, Little Italy, New Haven
The birthplace of American pizza, rated #1 in the country.
Go for lunch to avoid the long lines in the evening.
157 Wooster St, New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 865-5762

Red Tomato Pizza, Madison
37 Boston Post Road
(Warning: good pizza, but sometimes they can't keep up with the traffic)
(203) 245-6948

Rocky's Aqua, Clinton harbor
34 Riverside Drive, Clinton CT 06413
Excellent seafood, family friendly. Overlooks Clinton marina. Live music.
(860) 664-3788

Sea House, downtown Madison
765 Boston Post Road, Madison, CT 06443
Upscale American and seafood. From sandwiches and burgers to full entres..
(203) 421-2459

* Shoreline Diner & Vegetarian Enclave, Guilford
345 Boston Post Road
Right next to the water tower on Rt. 1.
Great breakfasts and dinners, reasonable prices, good for famlies. Also has vegetarian and gluten-free fare.
(203) 458-7380

* Som Siam Thai Restaurant , Guilford
63 Whitfield St (own an alley off Whitfield Street on the Guilford Green)
Excellent Thai cuisine. Reservations required.
(203) 458-0228

* Stone House Restaurant, Guilford
506 Whitfield Street, Guilford, CT, 06437
Seafood restaurant overlooking Guilford Harbor
(203) 458-3700

Village Pizza, Madison
738 Boston Post Road (downtown Madison).
(Get dessert at Ashley's Ice Cream around the corner, down the alley)
(203) 245-9428

What's Cookin', Madison
Take-out deli and main courses. Some gluten-free and Paleo items available.
78 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443
(203) 245-1771

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Farm Markets

* Bishop's Orchard and Pick-Your-Own, Guilford
Our family's favorite. Gab with the fam while you pick and eat. Check their website or call The Pick Line to see what's pickin' this week, (203) 458-PICK. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, peaches, pears, and pumpkins. And the year-round farm market store is just down the street, too. Full-service grocery market with wine, baked goods, cheeses, and prepared to-go dinners. And there's a corn maize in the fall.

Bishop's Pick Your Own:
(203) 458-PICK
Pick map at www.bishopsorchards.com/pick-your-own/locations Look for signs along Rt 1 for directions to the picking orchards.

Bishop's Farm Market Store: 1355 Boston Post Rd (Rt. 1), Guilford
Open every day, 8 am - 7 pm (10 am - 6 pm on Sundays)

* The Dudley Farm Farmers' Market, Guilford
Thurs-Sat, 10 am - 2:00 pm; Sun 1-4 pm
Located on the historic Dudley Farm Museum on Rt. 77, just north of Rt. 80. Vendors sell seasonal produce, baked goods, eggs, meats, maple syrup, jams/jellies, body care products, handicrafts, and art. Special family events and children's corner are listed on their website.
2351 Durham Road, Guilford
(203) 457-0770
Farmers' Market:   www.dudleyfarm.com/farmers-market
Museum: www.dudleyfarm.com

* Lakeside Farm Stand, North Guilford
Ice cream from local daries, homemade pizza, fresh eggs and meats, farm-style milk, fresh-picked produce, a llama zoo, and family activiites all rolled into one fun afternoon trip to North Guilford. (And it's a beautiful drive through rural Guilford to get there!) See their website for events and current offerings.
33 Lake Drive (Off Rt. 77), Guilford
(203) 457-0152  www,lakesidefarmstand.com

Lyman's Orchards, Middlefield
Just north of historic Durham on Rt 147, the Lyman "complex" has a year-round market store (The Apple Barrel) with produce, backed goods, and deli; a corn maize in the fall; a golf course and club house; and Pick Your Own berries and fruit. Check their website for upcoming events, all centered around food, or course! Saturday and Sunday brunch on the Apple Barrel's outdoor deck are awewome! Still family owned since 1741. Makes a great half-day outing for the family.

The Apple Barrel: 32 Reeds Gap Rd (off Rt 147), Middlefield
(860) 756-5377
Open daily, 9 am - 6 pm

Lymans Pick Your Own
(860) 349-6015
Hours are seasonal

Madison Farmers' Market, Madison Green
Friday's, 3-6 pm on the church green
Vendors sell produce, dairy, meats, seafood, baked goods, eggs, flowers, bedding plants, handcrafted soaps.

* Medlyn Farms, Branford
Farm fresh eggs year-round. Produce, flowers, and bedding plants are seasonal. Family owned since 1880, this is a great little working farm where our family buys its eggs every week. Beautiful drive west of the Guilford green takes you along the historic, rural coast to the farm stand.
710 Leetes Island Rd (Rt 146), Branford
(203) 488-3578   www.facebook.com/pages/category/Grocery-Store/Medlyns-Farm-283268568402714



* Bishop's Orchard and Pick-Your-Own, Guilford
Our family is a regular customer throughout the summer, feasting on strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, pears and raspberries. Call ahead for picking times and availability.
(203) 453-6424, picking info 203 458-PICK

* Block Island Ferry, New London
Year-round ferry for passengers and cars. Reservations required for cars. Operated by Nelseco Navigation.
(860) 442-7891, www.blockislandferry.com

Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut, Niantic
Interactive museum covers science, arts, and history.
(860) 691-1111, www.childrensmuseumsect.org

Connecticut Children's Museum, New Haven
Exhibits and activities are geared toward children under seven.
(203) 562-KIDS

Connecticut Amaizeing Maze / Buds and Blossoms, Middletown
4-acre cornfield maze, hayrides, and picnic area open weekends summer and fall. In the spring, greenhouses are open to the public.
(860) 346-3360, www.CTmaze.com and www.CTplants.com.

* Town of Durham, Durham
Durham's large green hosts events all year round, including one of the best agricultural fairs in the state, along with concerts, craftshows, and antique shows. The town has many historic homes, and Lyman's Orchard [860-349-1793] and Lyman Golf Course/Restaurant [888-995-9626] are nearby.

Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme
This historic federal mansion was the home of the Lyme Art Colony, which was the center of American impressionism. It now houses some of our country's most prized impressionist paintings.
(860) 434-5542, www.flogris.org

* Village of Essex, Essex
This is just a beautiful, working fishing village. Nice place to spend the day browsing its shops and small museums, and sampling its regional restaurants.

* Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Ride, Essex
The round-trip train ride leaves from the depot just north of Essex and takes you along the scenic Connecticut River to Chester. At that point, the optional riverboat ride continues up the river to the Goodspeed Opera House. Call ahead for information about special events, dinner cruises and brunch.
1-800-767-0105, www.essexsteamtrain.com

Garde Arts Center, New London
Presents national and international touring companies, Broadway, music, dance, and theatre. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
(888) ON-GARDE, www.gardearts.org

Gillette Castle State Park, East Haddam
Located on a bluff high above the Connecticut River, this historic castle makes a delightful day trip. This excentric castle was built in 1920's by actor William Gillette and features a minature railroad. To get there, take scenic Rt. 9 north from Essex for a spectacular car ride.
(860) 526-2336, www.externalharddrive.com/virtualtours/gillettes-castle.html
and www.friendsctstateparks.net/parks/gillette_castle.htm

Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam/Chester
Live musical theater in an historic opera house on the Connecticut River.
(860) 873-8668, www.goodspeed.org

* Town of Guilford, Guilford
This is the most beautiful New England village there is, and you can sea it's harbor from our cottage. There a lots of festivals and activities on the green (art, handicrafts, antiques, music, carnivals, and more), and many of the historic colonial homes are restored museums, including the Henry Whitfield State Museum and the Thomas Griswold House.
— (203) 453-2457, www.hbgraphics.com/whitfieldmuseum
— (203) 453-3176 www.thomasgriswoldhouse.com

* Grass Island Cruises
Grass Island Boat Tours.Short boat tours operated by a neighbor. You'll see his boat in the Neck River behind us and along the Sound out front. Tours depart from Guilford Harbor.
505A Whitfield Street, Guilford, CT 06437
(203) 245-7208

Guilford Riding School, Guilford
Horseback riding.
(203) 453-8768, www.guilfordridingschool.com

Ivoryton Playhouse, Ivoryton/Essex
Concerts, off-Broadway theater, and children's events.
(860) 767-8348, http://essex.com/playhouse

Lake Compouince Family Theme Park, near New Britain
New England's oldest operating amusement park with the "World's Best Wooden Coaster." Exit 31 from I-84.
(860) 583-3300, www.lakecompounce.com

Lakeside Farm Stand, North Guilford
Ice cream from local daries, homemade pizza, fresh eggs and meats, farm-style milk, fresh-picked produce, a llama zoo, and family activiites all rolled into one fun afternoon trip to North Guilford. See their website for events and current offerings.
33 Lake Drive (Off Rt. 77), Guilford
(203) 457-0152  www,lakesidefarmstand.com

Lyman Allyn Dolls & Toys, New London
This oversized dollhouse is enchanting. Features the history of SE Connecticut and active play areas with dolls and toys.
(860) 437-1947

Lyman Allyn Museum of Art, New London
Features contemporary American art, American Impressionist paintings, and 18th- and 19th-century decorative arts.
(860) 443-2545

Town of Madison
One of Connecticut's wealthiest towns, Madison boasts up-scale restaurants, as well as a large green (with lots of free events) and a small arts theater, Madison Arts Cinema.

* Mystic Seaport, Mystic
Take a walking tour of this beautiful, historic seaport which is the nation's largest maritime museum. Exhibits and museums recreate life at the whaling village during the 19th-century. Call ahead for special events and dockage.
1-888-9SEAPORT , www.mysticseaport.org

* Mystic Marinelife Acquarium, Mystic
Connecticut's acquarium has over 3500 types of sea life, including whales, dolphins and sea lions.
(860) 572-5955, www.mysticaquarium.org

Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale, New Haven
One of the country's oldest and largest natural history museums. Ongoing exhibits and special day-long programs on animals and natural history topics. Excellent.
(203) 432-5050, www.peabody.yale.edu

* Pequot Museum & Research Center at Foxwoods, Ledyard
This award-winning museum about the history of the Pequot tribe is excellent. From computer-based interactive exhibits to a life-size re-created 16th-century village, the museum is one of our family's favorite day-trips.
1-800-441-9671, www.mashantucket.com

Science Center of Connecticut, West Hartford
Planetarian, hands-on exhibits, and live animals. Frequent special events and exhibits.
(860) 231-2824, www.sciencecenterct.org

* Shoreline Trolley Museum, East Haven
A delightful museum with a 3-mile ride along the shoreline.
(203) 467-6927, www.bera.org

* Thimble Islands, Branford
This assortment of rock outcroppings is just down the coast from us at Stoney Creek. Loaded with lots of lore of pirates and more, the harbor has several companies that give delightful boat tours.
—Stolen Glimpses of the Thimble Islands, www.outtakes.com/thimble/thimblestne.html
—Captain Bob's Cruises, www.thimbleislands.com
—Sea Mist Curises also has bird and seal watching cruises, www.seamistcruises.com

USS Nautilus & Submarine Force Museum, Groton
Take a tour of the first nuclear-powered submarine at the sub capital of the world.
1-800-343-0079, www.ussnautilus.org

Westport Country Playhouse, Westport
Local playhouse who's artistic direction is Academy award winning actress Joanne Woodward. Also has a summer children series.
(203) 227-4177, www.westportplayhouse.com

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Historic Houses

View Guilford CT Map in a larger map

Decon John Grave House (1685)
581 Boston Post Rd., Madison CT 06443
(203) 245-4798

* Henry Whitfield House (1639)
248 Old Whitfield St., Guilford, CT 06437
(on the road to Guilford Harbor)
(203) 453-2457

Hyland House (1690)
84 Boston St. , Guilford, CT 06437
(off the Guilford green)

Thomas Griswold House (1690)
171 Boston St., Guilford, CT 06437
(off the Guilford green)
(203) 453-3176

Allis-Bushnell House and Museum
853 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443
(203) 245-4567

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Boats, Kayaks, Bikes, Outfitters, and Sports Equipment Rental

Action Sports
Rents bikes and other sports equipment
324 West Main St, Brandford (2 towns west)
(203) 481-5511

Thomson Bike Tours
Rents pro bikes, conducts international bike tours
181 Dunk Rock Road, Guilford (1 town west)
(888) 446-5502, info@thomsonbkiketours.com

Indian River MarinaRents Kayaks
58 Commerce Street, Clinton, CT (1 town east of us about 10 miles away)
(860) 664.3704

Black Hall Outfitters
Rents Kayaks, sells bait, has marina services, outtings
132 Shore Road, Old Lyme, CT 06371
(860) 434-9680

Connecticut Outdoors
Rents Kayaks, outtings
20 Main Street (Route 73), Oakville, CT 06779 (north Waterbury)
(860) 274-6213, or toll free (855) 285-2925
Email: 4CTOutdoors@gmail.com

No. American Whitewater Expeditions, Madison
Offers whitewater rafting on the Housatonic River.
1-800-RAPIDS-9, www.adventuresports.com/wwraft/naw/conn.htm

East River MarineMarine services, repairs
5A Old Post Rd., Madison CT
(203) 430-9002

Guilford Town Marina, Guilford harbor
(203) 453-8092, Dockmaster's office

Marinas in Connecticut, statewide listing

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Bait, Tackle, Fishing & Sailing Charters

Captain Morgan's Bait & Tackle, Madison
21 Boston Post Raod (between Red Tomato Pizza and Friends restaurants)
(from Neck Road, turn left on Rt 1 heading west toward Guilford) .
Fishing licenses, bait, tackle.
(203) 245-8665
Open 8-5, 7 days a week

Hammonasset Tackle Co, Clinton
142 Commerce St.
(Off Rt 1, one mlle past Hammonasset State Park. Turn right at Commerce St to the end.)
(860) 669-7448‎

Fisherman's Paradise Bait and Tackle, Branford
195 South Montowese St., Branford CT 06405
(203) 488-3474

Master Bait and Tackle, East Haven
439 Main St., East Haven, CT 06512
(203) 467-2248

Voyager Windjammer Cruises, Mystic
Half-day sailing cruises aboard the schooner Argia. Sunset cruises and private charters are also available.
(860) 536-0416, www.voyagermystic.com

Benmar Custom Charters, Mystic
Fishing and touring excursions for groups up to six people. Beginner fishermen welcome.
(860) 521-3168, www.happpycaptain.com

Islander, Old Saybrook
Clark Street, Saybrook Marine Service
(860) 399-2268

Priority One, Clinton
Cedar Island marina
(860) 826-7661

Scavenger, Old Saybrook
Ragged Rock Marina
(860) 388-4969

Seahawk III, Westbook
Pilot's Point Marina
(860) 269-1956

Sea Sprite, Old Saybrook
Saybrook Point Marina
(860) 669-9613