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Top Public Beaches And Reservoirs To Spend A Summer Day In Connecticut

June 8, 2013 8:00 AM

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Building sandcastles at the beach

Soft, white sand, clean waters and friendly tides characterize Connecticut beaches. Those fringing the Long Island Sound are most popular. The natural flora, bird life and beautiful scenery make them very special. More secluded beaches border lakes and swimming holes. These are quieter though no less picturesque. Read on for a roundup of some of Connecticut’s best beaches to spend a warm summer day.

Lighthouse Point Park
2 Lighthouse Road
New Haven, CT 06512
(203) 946-8019
www.cityofnewhaven.com

When it comes to public beaches, this ranks among the best. Spanning 82 acres along the Sound in the “Elm City” of New Haven, the park is a year-round venue for activities centering around natural history and natural science. The swimming areas in summer are well populated. There are numerous hiking trails and a bird preserve. The highlights of this park are the classic, New England, octagonal-shaped lighthouse, which has a storied history, and the Carousel, which is one of the 100 antique specimens still in use. For longer stays, there is a wide choice of typical New England B&Bs to choose from.

Compo Beach and Marina
260 Compo Beach Road
Westport, CT  06880
(203) 341-5090
www.westportct.gov

This expansive beach edges the Sound and is bordered by the Saugatuck River. It is part of a 29-acre park that includes designated swimming areas, a boat launch and marina, sports and open skate areas. Ideal for those who would like to spend a weekend outdoors with a choice of activities, make a trip to Compo. Other features include a boardwalk, concessions, restrooms and lockers and lifeguards (except on South Beach).

RelatedGetaway Guide: One Tank Trip To Mystic Seaport, Mystic

Calf Pasture Beach
99 Calf Pasture Beach Road
Norwalk, CT 06855
(203) 854-7725
www.norwalk.path.com

This beach, along with neighboring Shady Park Beach, forms a large summer playground. Calf Pasture has the best facilities: a restaurant that is open all year, a picnic area and concession stands. Sand volleyball, a playground and a skate park round off the amenities. The iconic Stew Leonard’s runs a beach grill here with very reasonably priced fare and one-dollar days during specified weeks. Lifeguards patrol the beaches during swimming weather on Calf Pasture, while Shady Park is not monitored. Calf Pasture Beach attracts fewer crowds than others in Fairfield County. Fishing and boating are favorite pastimes along with wind surfing and kayaking. This is also the head for the Norwalk Islands Canoe/Kayak Trail, leading to offshore islands, some of which are public. Camping, summer movies and concerts are all part of the fun summer agenda. The aquarium, showcasing marine life in the Sound, rounds off an exciting day for all ages.

Penfield Beach
323 Fairfield Beach Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
(203) 256-3191
www.cal.fairfieldct.gov

Penfield offers multiple points of access to the water along its 3.5 acres and borders Rickards Beach. The scenic, ecological diversity of the Connecticut coast and watershed areas is on display at this spot. The largest in Fairfield, Penfield Beach has all the necessary and expected visitor facilities. Penfield Pavilion has changing rooms, lockers and concession stands. Enjoy sunbathing, swimming, view wildlife and hike the surrounding areas. There’s also a playground, picnic area and barbecue grills. Penfield Beach is a free public beach. Between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, cars must display a beach-parking sticker.

West Hartford Reservoirs
1420 Farmington Ave., Route 4
West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 278-7850
www.themdc.com

The West Hartford Reservoirs are a group of five facilities that treat water for consumption by the surrounding communities. They span 3,000-plus acres of stunning forestland, trails and picnic areas. There are pathways for runners and cyclists. Winter activities include cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Although not designated public parks, use by the public is allowed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health and monitored by MDC police. They are open year-round. Many non-profits use the venue for events to benefit charitable organizations

Related: Getaway Guru: One Tank Trip To Sherwood Island State Park, Westport

Bina Joseph, a resident of Glastonbury, CT is a freelance writer covering all things travel-related in Connecticut.
A passionate veteran of the travel industry, Bina has visited more than 40 countries, giving her a unique, global perspective. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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