Southeastern Connecticut got more warm weather last weekend. Inspired by exploring Essex’s main street, I decided to explore another main street. Niantic was my pick, the only exception is that I have been there several times. I visited the beautiful seaside village of Niantic for the first time during my first summer of living in New England. I went there for the Lions’ annual Lobsterfest and their outdoor arts & crafts show. Niantic is a village that is part of East Lyme, CT surrounded by Long Island Sound and Niantic Bay.
I started out my day at Flanders Donut and Bake Shop in East Lyme. They have the BEST donuts in this part of the state! I am constantly craving for their donuts. The shop is located close to I-95 so whenever I travel pass East Lyme, I make the effort to stop in for some donuts and bagels. You will not be disappointed! They have a variety of donuts, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches, as well offering coffee and drinks. The best part is that they have a drive-thru window for those who are short on time. Be sure to have some cash handy as they only accept cash!
After devouring the donuts, I made my way to Niantic main street where I started shopping. The main street runs parallel to the Long Island sound. It makes the perfect destination for a relaxing day on the beach, then shopping on main street, and dine in one of their restaurants. There are several choices on the main street! Niantic has a famous landmark there - the Book Barn. You can stop in on your way to the beach to buy a beach read! Some of my favorite stores includes Grace, Azalea, Past to Present Collectibles, and of course the Book Barn. Grace is a woman’s clothing store that also has jewelry, cookbooks, candles, gifts, etc. Azalea is a home goods store with a nautical touch! Past to Present Collectibles is an antique store, there’s always treasure to find. Niantic main street is very dog friendly - I had my dog with me, I was able to bring her in almost all of the shops!
The Book Barn is the iconic landmark in Niantic - it is an unique bookstore! The Book Barn has four locations, all within a mile of each other. The barn is considered to be the ‘headquarters’ location. According to their website, they have 500,000 books! The books are spread out at all four shops and organized by categories. The categorization is listed on their website so be sure to check it before you make the trip there. You will see their feline friends lounging around and their adorable two goats! It’s a very fun environment with their whimsical decor and uniqueness. The staff is SO friendly and always helpful! The Book Barn also buys books for cash see the details on their website here. I love that it’s dog-friendly place (with the exception of the Midtown location) so I don’t have to worry about leaving my dog home whenever I want to go to Book Barn!
All of the shopping that day made me hungry for lunch so luckily there’s few restaurants on main street! My go-to place always is The Black Sheep, a sister restaurant of my favorite Irish pub The Harp and Hound in Mystic. The Black Sheep is an upscale Irish pub with Irish and American cuisine. It has a very authentic Irish pub feel to the restaurant. I usually order the sandwiches and burgers which have always been good. My favorite side is the delicious poutine fries. Their Irish menu has shepherd’s pie, fish & chips, and bangers & mash are delicious as well! You can’t really go wrong with any choice. I definitely recommend checking out both locations (as well their 3rd in Westerly, RI called The Brazen Hen). The owner hails from Limerick, Ireland (my favorite part of Ireland!).
I have to admit that I don’t really give any other restaurants in Niantic a fair chance since I always go to The Black Sheep; however, I have visited Skippers Seafood Restaurant and Giuliano’s bakery at least couple times. Skippers Seafood Restaurant has a fresh seafood menu which was really good when I went there. They also have outdoor seating that overlooks Niantic Bay. The bonus is that if you ever have a seafood craving during winter, they are opened year-round! Giuliano’s bakery seemed to be a grab-and-go kind of place offering pastries, breads, grinders, sandwiches, and desserts. They also have seating outside that overlooks the main street in Niantic. Their egg sandwich and specialty brownies are highly recommended!
You can’t miss the bright yellow house on the corner sporting “ice cream” in red lettering with red and white awnings… an old fashioned Ice Cream shoppe called Gumdrops & Lollipops Candy Shoppe. I have stopped there several times for the nostalgic candies that they sell. It’s always fun to have those treats from my childhood! They have delicious ice cream which is perfect end of day snack after a day at the beach or shopping on main street. They are opened year-round too!
Right next to Gumdrops & Lollipops Candy Shoppe is the entrance to the beach and the boardwalk. The boardwalk is a mile long overlooking the Niantic Bay/Long Island sound. The Hole in the wall beach is right next to the boardwalk. There is a free parking lot and a building that has locker room/bathrooms. Unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed on the boardwalk, but they are allowed on the beach. This is where it may get confusing because there are multiple signs saying “No dogs allowed” in the parking lot. You can walk your dog through the underpass entrance to the T-intersection of the boardwalk/beach. The beach will be on your right. There is another entrance to the boardwalk at Cini Park which is located under the drawbridge on Waterford/Niantic border. Cini Park is the spot for fishing and picnic tables. There is another beautiful park next to Hole in the wall beach called McCook Park. It has many picnic tables, more beaches, and playground. It also overlooks the Niantic Bay.
Niantic definitely has the small town vibe, not much of the touristy feel to the seaside village. It’s small but still a lively main street with a variety of shops and restaurants. It’s located only 20 minutes from Mystic, CT via Interstate 95. It’s also not far from Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun casino so if you don’t feel like staying in middle of the bustle, and want a quiet getaway. Niantic has several B&B’s!
There are many, many events through out the year in Niantic. You can check out their website to attend one or a few events! As mentioned earlier, I attend their Lobsterfest and Arts & Crafts show which occurs annually in July on the Town Hall green. It’s always around 4th of July, which this year will be happening on Saturday July 6th and Sunday July 7th (2019). I have attended the Lobsterfest for 8 years now and am looking forward to this July! Will I see you there? Let me know!
If you’re in the mood for dinner, Flanders Fish Market and Restaurant is highly recommended! It’s located in East Lyme, not too far from Flanders Donut & Bake Shop. They have one of the best seafood selection in the area with a full service fish market. You can run in and grab some seafood to go or dine in the restaurant. The staff are very attentive and helpful. Definitely one of my favorite restaurants to go to!
Recommendations of places to visit in East Lyme, Connecticut:
Flanders Donut & Bake Shop 327 Flanders Rd
Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant 22 Chesterfield Rd
Recommendations of places to visit in Niantic, Connecticut:
Grace 46 Pennsylvania Ave
Azalea 301 Main Street
Book Barn 41 W Main Street
Past to Present Collectibles 488 Main Street
Black Sheep 247 Main Street
Skippers Seafood Restaurant 167 Main Street
Giuliano’s bakery 284 Main Street
Gumdrops & Lollipop Candy Shoppe 334 Main Street
This blog is not sponsored. All opinions in this blog are my own.