Looking for the best beaches in Connecticut?
Connecticut is known for its charming coastal towns, rustic landscapes, and stunning fall foliage. While Connecticut’s beaches are often overlooked for the coastline in Cape Cod or the Hamptons, Connecticut has over 100 miles of shoreline with calm, swimmable waters. Connecticut’s shoreline faces the Long Island Sound- creating smaller waves, but soft sands. Perfect for a family day on the beach!
Connecticut is unique in which all of its beaches that belong to a city or state must be public; Great news for Connecticut residents! Out-of-resident visitors will be charged higher fees but still have access to all of Connecticut’s sandy shores. Connecticut’s beaches have a large number of amenities and close proximity to entertainment and dining for families and visitors.
Grab your beach towel, sunblock, and get ready for a great beach day in Connecticut!
Map of Best Beaches in Connecticut
1. Ocean Beach Park, New London
Ocean Beach Park is the epitome of a fun summer day! Ocean Beach has soft sands and calm water but stands apart due to its availability of entertainment for the entire family. Voted by National Geographic as one of the best beaches in the U.S., Ocean Beach is a top all-in-one beach and recreation destination!
In the 50-acre park you will find a triple waterslide and spray park, Olympic-sized swimming pool, playground, games arcade, and 18-hole mini-golf course. There are seasonal events along the boardwalk including dance shows, talent competitions, car shows, and live music. A kid’s summer dream!
The amenities are also impressive including restrooms, changing areas, coin-operated day lockers, a food court, and multiple food vendors. For those who just want to enjoy the beach and escape the carnival fanfare, there is a boardwalk and nature trail through the marshes that offer peace and quiet. Bring your binoculars because the trail is known for great birdwatching.
Parking costs $25 on weekdays, and $30 on weekends in season (but $40 on the Fourth of July!). Pedestrians pay $8 to enter. Keep in mind that the parking fee only includes admission to the beach, boardwalk, nature trail, and free playground/splash area. All other activities- the pool, mini golf course, and water slides, will cost about $10 extra per person per activity.
2. Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison
Connecticut’s Hammonasset Beach State Park is the most visited beach in the state. While the beach gets over 2 million yearly visitors, it extends for over two miles with plenty of room to spread out. Come to have a classic beach experience to swim, fish, and sunbathe, or come to camp, bike or explore the many trails in the Hammonasset Natural Area Preserve. Hammonasset Beach State Park has activities for everyone!
The beach is great for swimming, saltwater fishing, and beach combing (the shells are beautiful!) and has several designated swimming areas. The boardwalk stretches across a large portion of the coast and has a concession stand with a shady picnic area. Dogs are welcome in the picnic area but not on the beach.
Be sure to visit the Meigs Point Nature Center, an environmental education center with over 50 interactive exhibits and activities. In the summer months, the center offers guided nature walks, presentations about local wildlife as well as canoe excursions. Additionally, the park has over 550 grassy camping spots, as well as a shower and changing areas. Bring your own kayak, or rent one on-site!
In the summer parking is $9 for locals, $15 for non-residents on weekdays, and $13 for locals, and $22 for non-residents on weekends or holidays.
3. Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk
Calf Pasture Beach is a perfect destination for recreation by the seaside. The beach offers great views of the Long Island Sound as well as many shaded areas and sports activities.
While the beach isn’t known for its ideal swimming conditions (at times the water quality isn’t rated the best), it offers lots of activities along the shore with bocce ball courts, volleyball nets and full baseball and basketball courts. There are seasonal events as well including car shows, live music as well as a full service fast casual restaurant and a cafe.
If you get bored of sports on the beach, there are over 23 islands off the coast that can be explored via kayak. Go to Shea and Grassy Islands which are public islands with shaded picnic areas. Expect to see many birds from neighboring bird sanctuaries! You can rent sailboats or kayaks from the Norwalk Boating School.
Calf Pasture Beach is easily accessible by train or car. There is a metro station one mile from the beach as well as a bus station. The park is free for Norwalk residents with a pass or $25 for non-residents weekday or $30 for non-residents weekends.
4. Harvey’s Beach, Old Saybrook
While Harvey’s is a small beach about the size of a football field, it offers beautiful white sands and tidal pools. The beach offers a gradual decline to the ocean which makes the beach great for kids.
In addition to a great coastline, it offers many amenities that larger beaches have like playgrounds, restrooms, a concession stand, and showers. The local recreation department puts on many activities during the summer season such as beachside yoga or movie nights. The town of Old Saybrook is historic and charming and offers many nearby restaurants and cafes. You can also charter boats to sail off the coast.
For non-residents it costs $20 weekdays to park at Harvey’s Beach, and $30 on weekends.
5. Jennings Beach, Fairfield
Jennings Beach is a 27-acre beach of soft sands with plenty of kid-friendly activities. Besides the sand and surf, the beach offers a skateboard park, volleyball courts, and swimming lessons. The biggest draw- Jennings Beach has a giant playground shaped like a sandcastle!
The beach has classic amenities like bathrooms, concession stands and lifeguards during the summer months. You can launch your own boat at the Ash Creek Open Space near the beach.
Don’t feel like jumping in the water? The beach offers a jetty walk (which is wheelchair accessible) that offers great views of the ocean. There is also a pavilion with events such as live music or movie nights.
Heads up- parking can be a bit steep, especially on weekends. Parking is $20 weekdays and $50 weekends for non-residents.
6. Sherwood Island State Park, Westport
Sherwood Island State Park is a 238-acre recreational area and beach on the Long Island Sound with soft sands, wetlands, dunes and woodland trails. The beach spans a mile and a half and is comprised of white, red and black sands in colorful stripes on the shore. Rumor has it you can see the NYC skyline on a clear day!
The west side of the park has shaded picnic tables with walking trails and marshy observation decks as well as rocky shores (wear water shoes!). The east side beach area has opportunities for lifeguarded swimming, boating, and fishing (only outside of the swimming areas). Stop by the Sherwood Nature Center for interactive ecological exhibits and educational programs during the summertime.
The beach has all classic amenities including picnic tables, restrooms and concessions. It is also the site of the Connecticut 9/11 Memorial.
7. Silver Sands State Park, Milford
Silver Sands State Park is great for nature lovers due to its tidal pools, salt marshes and abundance of birds! The beach itself offers peaceful waves and a mile long boardwalk that leads to scenic Walnut Beach. There are walking trails to Charles Island, a beautiful nature preserve, during low tide.
Charles Island is a unique draw to Silver Sands State Park. It is rumored that Charles Island is where Captain Kidd buried his treasure before his capture in Boston! It is now a nesting spot for many bird species including herons and egrets. However, it is closed May through August to protect the nests.
Can you believe Silver Sands State Park is free? Perfect for a day of tranquility along the water.
8. West Beach at Rocky Neck State Park, Niantic
Rocky Neck State Park is a perfect combination of soft sand beaches, rocky shores and nature trails. Located a half hour from Connecticut’s capital Hartford, Rocky Neck’s 700 acres is a popular summer choice. A great location for paddling, off-shore fishing, and swimming, Rocky Neck State Park also offers camping or birdwatching.
There is a boardwalk along the beach with several amenities along the West Beach area including concessions, restrooms and showers. Check out the cobblestone Pavilion that was built in the 1930s. Hardly any seaweed, and soft sand underfoot makes for a great beach destination!
Escape the crowds and explore the nature trails throughout the marsh that offer great views of ospreys, herons and migratory birds.
Weekdays are $9 for residents, $15 for non-residents and weekends are $13 for residents and $22 for non-residents. Arrive early because the parking lot will fill up!
9. Clinton Town Beach, Clinton
Clinton Town Beach offers two distinctive experiences for guests at high tide and low tide. At high tide, the beach is perfect for sunbathing and swimming, while low tide creates opportunities to walk out to the sand bars.
There is a boat ramp area for kayaks as well as fishing spots. Eat at one of the covered picnic areas, and explore the hiking trails. There is a designated dog-friendly trail, however, dogs are not allowed on the beach itself on-season. Families would enjoy Clinton Town Beach as there are plenty of recreation areas including a playground, basketball court, volleyball courts and splash pads.
Residents cost $10 and non-residents cost $20.
10. Hole in the Wall Beach at McCook’s Point Park, Niantic
McCook Point Beach and Park is a 62-acre beach and recreation area with a gorgeous bluff leading to Hole in the Wall Beach. McCook Park overlooks Niantic Bay and is known for its seal and bird sightings. McCook Beach has walking trails, picnic areas to rent, and playgrounds.
Head across the bluff to reach the smaller Hole in the Wall Beach which is still within McCook Point Park. The beach is great for swimmers, kayakers, crabbers or dog walkers. Dogs even are allowed on the beach on leash which is rare for Connecticut’s beaches. Just remember to get an additional boat permit if you will be bringing your boat!
It costs residents $15 per day or $45 for the summer while non-residents are met with a higher price tag of $40 per weekday pass or $50 per weekend pass.
11. Waterford Beach Park, Waterford
Waterford Beach is a beautiful quarter-mile-long natural beach comprised of sand dunes and tidal marshes. One of the rare natural beaches with sand dunes in Connecticut, Waterford Beach is tranquil and has untouched views of the Long Island Sound.
Visitors can find lifeguards in-season as well as restrooms and picnic areas. Stretch your legs on the nearby Tennis Courts or launch your kayak on the boat ramp. Check out the Harkness Memorial State Park nearby which does not allow swimming but is great for kite flying, relaxing on the beach, and hiking.
Waterford Park Beach is rather affordable for residents with $2 entry on weekdays and $5 on weekends. Non-residents will be hit with higher fees of $20 on weekdays or $30 on weekends. Parking is limited so arrive early!
12. Dubois Beach, Stonington
Dubois Beach is one of Connecticut’s best secret beaches! Rated by the Boston Globe, and Southern Living as one of New England’s best beaches, Dubois is family friendly with sandy shores and gentle waves.
Spend the day in the sun, or rest in the shade of one of the gazebos. The beach has great views of the ocean and remains undisturbed by tourists.
Bring your kayak for a peaceful ride on the water!
13. Sound View Beach, Old Lyme
While a mere 100 feet across, Sound View Beach is a tiny slice of coastal heaven that attracts lots of summer visitors. The beach may be small but it is full of energy including local events such as bird watching, movie nights, and amenities such as beachfront restaurants and an antique carousel.
This is a neighborhood-style beach and does not have lifeguards or other recreational activities. No dogs are allowed.
Residents park for free in nearby lots and streets, while non-residents pay the metered fees.
14. Jacob’s Beach, Guilford
Another of Connecticut’s secret beach gems, Jacob’s Beach is an off-the-beaten-path 25-acre beach that offers a peaceful beach day away from the crowds. It is known as a great location for kayakers.
The beach still has great facilities including showers, restrooms as well as a boardwalk, a volleyball court, a half basketball court, and a playground.
Residents have the option to buy an affordable season pass while non-residents will have to purchase a $ 20-day pass.
15. Misquamicut Beach, Westerly RI
With over a half mile of soft sands and gentle waves, Misquamicut is technically in Rhode Island but is popular for both Connecticut and Rhode Island residents as it is right on the CT/RI border.
A great beginner swimmer beach with plenty of amenities, Misquamicut is known for its summer activities including fireworks or live music. Check out the antique carousel in Westerly Town Beach or visit Westerly Water Wiz across the street for go-carts, mini-golf, or splash areas.
Perfect for families, the beach has restrooms, changing rooms, outdoor showers, a playground, shady lunch areas, pavilion access, and concession stands. Check out the fairs in the autumn.
Parking for non-seasonal pass holders costs $12 on weekdays and $30 on weekends but seasonal passes can be purchased online. The beach has wheelchair accessibility and lifeguards will be present from 9-6 on-season. No dogs or camping is permitted at Misquamicut.
Wrap-up: Best Beaches in Connecticut
While often underrated to Massachusetts or Rhode Island’s shores, Connecticut has beautiful beaches full of unique shells, soft sands, and an abundance of nature. Connecticut’s beaches are absolutely worth a trip to southern New England! Its beaches are clean, family-friendly, and easily accessible to the public. There is such a great variety on Connecticut’s shore from sand dunes and gentle waves to bird sanctuaries and carnival-like fun!
No matter your goal- building sand castles, reading a book on the shore, kayaking, or bird watching- you will be a perfect fit on one of Connecticut’s beaches!