Connecticut is a small New England state well-known for its history, beautiful nature, and the famous Ivy League school, Yale University.
You may not think of Connecticut when you’re thinking of fantastic white sand beaches, but with a little over 600 miles of coastline, it’s home to some of the United States’ most stunning beaches.
While the winters are cold in Connecticut, the summers are warm. And, the best way to spend the day is at the sandy shoreline. Let’s take a look at 15 of the best beaches in Connecticut!
1. Hammonasset Beach State Park
If you’re looking to spend some time at one of the most famous beaches in Connecticut, Hammonasset Beach State Park is a must-visit. Located in Madison, Hammonasset offers approximately two miles of shoreline, the most in the state.
Hammonasset State Park is more than your traditional beach day experience. Of course, you can settle into your beach chair and soak up the sun’s rays all day while cooling off in the water. But, there’s also much more to enjoy.
The state park has hiking trails that you can walk, bike, or jog on. There are also picnic areas and camping facilities. Some days, you can even catch some beach yoga.
The beach offers fantastic views from the boardwalk, which is also a great place to hang out during the off-season. Children and adults love the nature center where you can observe wildlife and participate in educational activities.
Lifeguards are on duty at Hammonasset Beach State Park. After sunset, only campers and fishermen can enter the park. There are entrance fees for out-of-state visitors and no fees for locals.
2. Jennings Beach
One of the best beaches in Connecticut for families is Jennings Beach. You’ll find this beach off of South Benson Road in Fairfield. The beach is smaller than Hammonasset Beach but just as inviting.
Families enjoy bringing their kids to Jennings Beach because it has plenty of things for everyone to do. The kids can play on the playground while the adults watch from the sand. There’s also a snack bar for when you need a bite to eat.
Jennings Beach is handicap accessible, making it welcoming to all. If you don’t want to sit and read a book, enjoy beach volleyball courts where you can get active and meet other beachgoers.
Lifeguards are on duty during the summer, but if you plan to visit in the off-season, use caution while in the water. Another unique thing about Jennings Beach is that they offer swimming lessons in the summer.
During the off-season (October – March), dogs and horses are allowed on the beach. During this time, you can also visit Jennings Beach for free. From Memorial Day until Labor Day, you need a paid-for beach sticker to park.
3. Compo Beach
If you’re in Westport or close by, Compo Beach is one of the best beaches in the area and state. This beach is part of a 29-acre park with much more than a sandy beach and access to the Long Island Sound.
Compo Beach is one of the most handicap accessible beaches in the state. They provide ADA-approved beach wheelchairs for those who need assistance getting to the beach in comfort.
Other than spending your time at the shore, there’s a boardwalk and several pavilions with tables. There’s also a concession stand serving drinks and snacks, a playground, and bathrooms with lockers.
Even though many people flock to Compo Beach to play in the sand and water, you’ll often see visitors at the park for non-beach activities. There are two well-lit basketball courts, volleyball courts, and a small skate park that people are regularly hanging out at.
You can bring your furry friend with you during the off-season, which runs from October to March, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. As for parking, it’s free most of the year.
4. Rocky Neck State Park
Rocky Neck State Park is an impressive park and beach in Niantic, Connecticut. It encompasses about 708 acres of land and water, making it one of the larger parks on the coast. It has salt marshes, a white sand beach, nature trails, and more.
Rocky Neck Beach is a popular birding spot where you can see herons, cranes, and other water birds. People also love crabbing and fishing here.
If you’re looking for a beach getaway, there are over 100 camping sites within the park you can use. For extra convenience, there are also food and snacks throughout the park.
Lifeguards are on duty from Wednesdays to Sundays, so be sure to use extra caution if you’re visiting on Monday or Tuesday. There is a parking fee for non-residents.
5. Harvey’s Beach
In Old Saybrook, you’ll find Harvey’s Beach, a popular spot for residents and tourists. People love spending time at Harvey’s Beach because of its white sand and perfect beachcombing conditions. There are also stunning sunset views you can catch from the shore.
Since this beach is smaller, it’s ideal for those with young children or people who want to be away from the larger beach crowds. Lifeguards are on duty every day, even though the waves tend to be smaller here.
There are bathrooms, a feet rinsing station, a picnic area, and various food vendors that are contracted out. There’s even a playground if your kids need a break from the water.
Unlike some of the other beaches in the state that are open year-round, Harvey’s Beach isn’t. If you want to take advantage of everything this beach has to offer, you’ll need to visit between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a pet-friendly beach. On the upside, parking rates tend to be lower for non-residents than at other beaches.
6. Ocean Beach Park
Most of the beaches in Connecticut have several activities aside from sun-bathing and swimming. Ocean Beach Park is another one of those! Whether it be hiking, bird watching, fishing, there are plenty of experiences for you to enjoy.
You spend the day at the ocean, but you can also swim in the swimming pool or play mini-golf on the boardwalk. Enjoy views from the bird-watching observation deck. There’s also a video game arcade, amusement park rides, and more at Ocean Beach Park.
The dining options on the boardwalk offer more than your traditional beach. You’re still more than welcome to bring snacks and lunch with you, but there are also popular cafes that serve all your summer favorites.
There are parking fees at Ocean Beach Park and some beach activities are an extra cost.
7. Waterford Beach Park
Waterford Beach Park is one of the only natural beaches in the state which is why it’s one of our favorites. This beach showcases the natural beauty of the Connecticut coastline and the Long Island Sound.
At Waterford, you’ll see plenty of sand dunes, marshes, and sandy hills. The beach is a quarter-mile long and gives a peaceful beach experience.
You’ll have all the basic beach amenities like bathrooms, areas to walk around, and tables. Lifeguards are also on duty during the summer.
Something to keep in mind if you’re planning to visit Waterford Beach Park is that the parking lot is fairly small. While this isn’t a massive deal on the weekdays, it can get pretty crowded on weekends. You’ll want to get there early to make sure you get a parking spot.
Residents must have a beach sticker to park or they’ll need to pay the non-resident price, which is $20 on weekdays and $30 on weekends.
8. Sherwood Island State Park
There are over 130 state parks in Connecticut, but Sherwood Island State Park is the first one in the state. Sherwood became the state’s first state park in 1914. Inside the park, you’ll find a beach, woodlands, wetlands, and sand dunes.
People love the Beach at Sherwood because you can see the New York City Skyline when the sky is clear. Since you can often see the skyline, they’ve dedicated a September 11th memorial within the park.
You can lounge on the beach or swim in the Sound. If you plan to get into the water, many people say wearing water shoes is a good idea. There tend to be sharp or uncomfortable shells and rocks on the seafloor.
They have standard facilities like a bathroom and an area for rinsing off sand after your beach day. There’s also a large field where you can lounge or play sports.
We love that Sherwood Island State Park features a nature center that’s open during the summer if you need a break from the sun.
9. McCook Point Beach
You’ll find McCook Point Park in the Niantic village in East Lyme. Within the park’s boundaries, there are two different beaches you can visit. There’s a hole-in-the-wall beach and the McCook Point Beach, which tends to be the favorite of the two.
The park has boardwalks that are perfect for taking a stroll and getting an incredible view of Niantic Bay. McCook Point Beach is a public beach that’s a favorite among the locals due to the smaller setting and playground for the kids.
You can use picnic pavilions as long as someone hasn’t rented them out for the day, but sunbathing and swimming in the Bay are the most popular activities here. Since you can rent the pavilions, this is a great place to host a birthday or other event.
If you’re visiting McCook Point, you may be in for a treat. Seals are known to be swimming in the Bay and you may be lucky enough to see one. We love the possibility of seeing these majestic creatures in the wild!
McCook regularly hosts concerts during the summer, offering a fun way to spend the evening or day. You’ll need a beach access pass to enter the beach.
10. Jacob’s Beach
Jacob’s Beach is the perfect spot for those looking for a low-key beach that’s situated away from popular beach destinations. For now, Jacob’s Beach is one of the lesser-known beaches and many call it Connecticut’s best-kept secret.
Furry family members are welcomed, too. Dogs are allowed as long as they’re on a leash and not disrupting others.
Jacob’s beach has 25 acres of shoreline and is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Even though it’s a smaller beach area, there’s still plenty to do.
Aside from traditional beach things, you can also prepare food at the on-site grills and enjoy a meal at the picnic area. There are also bathroom facilities.
Residents of the area can use a season pass to gain access to Jacob’s Beach. If you’re not a resident, there’s a parking fee. A day pass costs $20 for non-residents.
11. Silver Sands State Park
Another of our favorite state parks in Connecticut that has a beach is Silver Sands State Park. Silver Sands State Park is almost 300 acres with beach access. Take in the beauty of the dunes, woodlands, and salt marsh.
The beach features a great view of Charles Island, which houses a bird sanctuary. When you’re at the park, you can walk the trails, go for a picnic, or swim in the water. You can also take a journey on the boardwalk which connects to Walnut Beach Park.
One of the best things to do at Silver Sands State Park is to visit at low tide and walk to Charles Island. When the tide goes out, the sandbar makes this very easy. However, don’t try to attempt this during high tide because it can be dangerous.
There aren’t as many amenities here as other Connecticut beaches, but there are still your standard conveniences. There’s access to bathrooms and picnic areas. Even though there isn’t an abundance of amenities, the calm waters and laid-back atmosphere make this an attractive beach.
Silver Sands State Park is also a popular beach for fishing and bird watching. You can see several species of birds here during the warmer months before they leave for the winter.
Parking is the same as other state parks. You’ll pay $22 on the weekends and $15 on the weekdays.
12. Pear Tree Point Beach
Pear Tree Point Beach is located in Darien, Connecticut. While it’s only eight acres, it offers an excellent place for people to spend some time in the sun or to swim in the water.
Pear Tree Point combines two beaches, giving residents and visitors access to amenities the other may be lacking. Some of these include a full-service concession stand, lifeguards on duty, an area to grill, and a picnic area to sit back and relax or enjoy a meal.
The seafloor at Pear Tree consists of mostly sand with some pebbles making it comfortable for most to swim and walk around without water shoes. People also enjoy kayaking and paddleboarding in the waters here since they’re relatively calm.
Not all beaches in the state have a boat ramp, but Pear Tree Point Beach does. Launch your boat to spend time on the water or fish off the shore.
Unfortunately, if you were looking for a beach to bring your dog with you, this isn’t it. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach unless you’re going to the Darien Boat Club.
While Pear Tree Point Beach may be one of the best beaches in the state, it’s a little more costly than the others. With that said, we love it because of the attractive area and various activities.
13. Calf Pasture Beach
For those living in or visiting Norwalk, Calf Pasture Beach is fan-favorite when it’s warm out. The name Calf Pasture is rooted in Norwalk’s history. In the 17th century, this area was primarily used for raising cows, hence the phrase calf pasture.
This historic beach provides visitors easy access from Calf Pasture Beach Road and there’s a metro station about a mile from the north end of the beach.
Calf Pasture Beach is a great place for watersports such as kayaking, swimming, and boating. If you want to spend the day on a boat but don’t have one, you can rent a Sailboat and other water vehicles from the Norwalk Sailing School.
One of the reasons people love kayaking the waters off Calf Pasture Beach is because it’s on Norwalk Island Canoe the Norwalk Island Canoe and Kayak Trail’s list of landmarks. Enjoy a game of beach volleyball or baseball in the fields. Fishermen also enjoy the fishing pier.
They have public restrooms you can use while you’re visiting, as well as a concession stand and full-service restaurant where you can continue to take in the beautiful views while you eat.
We love this beach because parking fees are more affordable than some other beaches for residents and non-residents alike.
Lifeguards aren’t always on duty at Calf Pasture Beach, but you can check their website to see what dates and times they will be.
14. East Haven Town Beach
In East Haven, you’ll find a relatively small but charming public beach called East Haven Town Beach. This lovely little beach is one of our favorites and for locals, too. It’s easy to get to and small enough that hundreds of visitors don’t crowd the beach.
Since it’s a smaller beach, the amenities are basic. However, this may be the one for you if you’re looking for a no-frills beach. They have pavilions with covered picnic tables and restrooms for visitors, but that’s about it.
Something different about East Haven Town Beach is that it’s open 24 hours a day. Many beaches don’t open until a set time, primarily because they belong within a state park, but not this one.
Since you can go to East Haven Town Beach whenever you want, it’s a great place to catch the sunrise if you’re an early riser. Since the sun rises in the east, you won’t want to miss the sunrise from here. It’s well worth it.
You’ll need a special permit to park near the beach since parking is limited and the beach is small. Residents are encouraged to purchase these permits so they can visit whenever they want.
15. Clinton Town Beach
Located in Clinton, Connecticut, Clinton Town Beach is the place to be during the summer months. Locals simply call this the Town Beach since it’s the most popular one for the town. This beach offers beachgoers a fun day near the water, whether high tide or low tide.
When the tide is high, swimming and other water activities are popular. When low tide comes, people love walking further from the shore and onto the extensive sand bars. This is a great time to find unique shells!
You can bring your dog to Clinton Town Beach, but only in a designated area. They have a walking trail that allows dogs, but they won’t be allowed to curl up next to you while you’re lying in the sand.
As with most beaches on this list, you’ll find plenty of picnic tables and bathrooms within walking distance from the sand. They also have a walking trail if you want to exercise before basking in the sun for the rest of the day.
Athletic people appreciate the basketball, bocce, and volleyball court to show off their skills. Even though playing in the sand and water is usually entertaining enough for kids, there’s also a playground on the beach many children love playing at.
There’s more to the best beaches in Connecticut than meets the eye. You’ll find plenty of public beaches, state parks, and private beaches to lounge in the sand or swim in the water. Hiking trails, water activities, and beach sports are also found at many beaches.
We hope you find the perfect beach in Connecticut no matter the experience you’re looking for!