Picturesque historical villages blend with urban centers, rolling hills, stone walls, graceful shorelines, spectacular fall foliage and diverse attractions to make Southeastern Connecticut a wonderful place to live.
Colonial Settlements Thrive On the Thames
Long before the American Revolution, colonialists were already settling along the same Atlantic coastline, brought by tall sailing ships that are once again on display in historic towns first settled in the 1600s. One inviting spot for these new settlers was a tidal estuary and short river that they named “Pequot” for the Indians who lived in the area.
On the western shore, John Winthrop the Younger laid out a settlement in 1646 which he also named after the Pequot Indians. Perhaps yearning for their British heritage, the citizens renamed the settlement “City of London” in 1658; and the river was renamed the “Thames,” after its European counterpart. The city was later renamed and incorporated as “New London” in 1784.
Across the river, another settlement was building up in 1650 as a part of the “City of London,” at the site of what is now “Groton.” That settlement was incorporated as a separate town in 1705, and was finally incorporated as the city of Groton in 1964.
Other colonial settlements were also springing up around the same period throughout Southeastern Connecticut. Waterford was first settled in 1635 and incorporated as a separate town from New London in 1801. Ledyard was settled in 1635, organized as a parish of North Groton in 1725, and incorporated as a town in 1836. Montville was originally an Indian reservation and was settled by Samuel Rogers from New London in 1670. Stonington was originally settled in 1649 by a company led by William Chesebrough from the Plymouth Colony. Both Connecticut and Massachusetts claimed the town as part of a boundary dispute that was not finally resolved until 1662.
New London is now the county seat for an area encompassing 666 square miles, 21 school districts and nearly 270,000 people in Southeastern Connecticut. Included are villages with a few hundred people, and urban areas such as Groton - the largest city in New London County - with a population of more than 41,000 residents.
Although only 15 miles long, the Thames River is still the economic heart of the area, serving as a gateway for a Navy submarine base; one of the world’s largest shipyards; the U.S. Coast Guard Academy; and commercial harbors.
Southeastern Connecticut is truly a microcosm of New England. Its industry ranges from large employers such as Electric Boat Corporation (Groton) and Pfizer (Groton and New London), to small, single-employee enterprises. Yet, it has miles of beautiful coastline and acres of wooded retreats.
The area offers a wide variety of events throughout the year. Summer brings carnivals, fairs, town picnics, and fireworks displays, to mention a few. In the fall, there are food festivals and Octoberfests. During the holidays, lantern light tours of the Seaport and historic homes add to the festive atmosphere. Spring brings parades, concerts, and the Lobsterfest.
The Garde Arts Center, located in New London, has hosted such renowned performances as Tony Bennett, Itzhak Perleman and Bob Dylan, as well as touring Broadway productions. The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford sponsors a wide variety of artistic venues. Each summer, the region is treated to a musical jubilee by the renewal of Summer Music at Harkness State Park in Waterford.
Norwich’s Dodd Stadium is home to the Connecticut Defenders, the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The Mohegan Sun Arena is home for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, a professional women’s basketball team. Waterford’s Speedbowl hosts modified and mini-stock classes of NASCAR racing. There are sporting activities available for every interest.
For the children - and children-at-heart - nearby amusement parks include Six Flags Over New England and Lake Compounce Family Theme Park. Dinosaur Crossing offers a 50-acre setting for more than 25 life-sized dinosaurs; and Strawberry Park offers a 77-acre campground nestled in a region of lakes, streams and ocean beaches. Additional information on local events, and discounted tickets for many area attractions, is available from the Information, Tickets, and Travel Office on SUBASE.
Groton, with nearly 16,000 households, is the largest municipality between New Haven, Connecticut, and Providence, Rhode Island. Framed by the Thames River and the Mystic River, Groton is notable for its 40 miles of coastline on Long Island Sound. Both state and municipal parks provide abundant access and views of the water. Groton shares with New London one of the finest natural harbors on the Eastern seaboard.
The three major employers in Groton are the Naval Submarine Base New London; the submarine construction facilities of the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics; and the Global Research and Development campus of Pfizer, Inc. Other industries in town range from traditional fishing boat fleet to advanced medical supply manufacturing. The recent completion of the University of Connecticut Marine Sciences Center at Avery Point gives Groton a unique place among centers of science and learning. Nearly 49 percent of Groton’s employment is in the government sector.
A conning tower, located on Thames Street, commemorates the 52 submarines lost during World War II that are now “On Eternal Patrol.” Every month, the flags of the boats lost during that month are flown from the tower. It is also the site of the National Submarine Memorial Wall of Honor that contains all of the names of submariners who were lost at sea.
New London’s newly constructed Waterfront Park, located on the Thames River and Long Island Sound, is recognized as a destination point for tall ships and luxury cruise lines, and gives visitors hours of pleasure strolling and taking in the breezes and sun of Southeastern Connecticut.
It is also home to important historic landmarks such as the 1833 U.S. Custom House and Maritime Museum, and acres of public parks. Festivals and special events sponsored by the city are enjoyed by thousands of citizens in each season of the year. The city is presently in the midst of a period of economic revitalization with significant development initiatives underway in the State Pier, the downtown and the Fort Trumbull areas. The most notable result of these efforts is the recent completion of Pfizer, Inc.’s, $300 million Global Research and Development Headquarters on the city’s waterfront.
The historic waterfront is probably best known as home for America’s Tall Ship, the Barque Eagle, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The academy is unique among the service academies in that it educates the leaders of a humanitarian force - the oldest life-saving service in the world. With a beautiful campus on the Thames River in New London, the academy provides a four-year bachelor of science program with a full scholarship for each individual. The academy is home port for the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, the training ship for future Coast Guard officers.
Mystic, a picturesque seaport that draws thousands of visitors every summer, is truly “a state of mind” that represents historic New England. Mystic is technically a part of Groton and Stonington and, as such, has no government or services of its own. But it does have a 19th century village replica filled with unique shops, a seaport with historic ships, a world-famous indoor and outdoor maritime museum, and a marine aquarium that features more than 6,000 living specimens in 49 exhibits.
Located at the mouth of the Mystic River, the settlement was originally a highly profitable whaling and fishing center that still provides opportunities for commercial and sports fishing to this day. Captain John Mason settled this area, located on a salt water estuary fed by fresh water streams, in 1634. By 1750, shipyards were operating up and down the Mystic River, and it became a major shipbuilding center catering to the whaling and fishing industries.From 1850 to 1870, Mystic produced a greater tonnage of ships than any other port of equal size in America. But, by the turn of the 20th century, the clipper ship era and wooden boat building ended.
Today, visitors are able to stroll through historic downtown Mystic to shop; explore its side streets and the eclectic architecture of sea captains’ homes; and walk along the Mystic River, where large wooden sailing vessels were launched that ruled the oceans of the world.
Despite New England’s reputation for rugged climate, the weather in Southeast Connecticut is quite mild. On average, there are only three days a year when the temperature goes above 90 degrees, and only one day when it falls to 0 degrees or below. Appreciable precipitation, averaging 44 inches per year, can be expected approximately 125 days a year, evenly spread over the months. Summer temperatures can reach 80-90 degrees and winter temperatures average from 20-30 degrees. Snowfall, averaging 34 inches per year, usually occurs between January and March.
Month High Low Humidity
January 31.3 13.3 83.77
February 32.8 15.8 83.43
March 44.7 28.5 76.45
April 58.2 40.2 61.80
May 63.9 46.2 63.39
June 75.9 59.4 68.60
July 82.4 67.7 67.32
August 77.3 61.0 65.16
September 70.5 55.9 62.00
October 61.8 42.3 52.26
November 55.9 38.9 55.13
December 46.3 29.0 58.13
Most cities and towns throughout Southeastern Connecticut operate their own public schools, keeping the system responsive to local needs. As a result, New London County alone has 21 separate school districts, with Groton School District being the largest.
With nearly 6,000 students, Groton has 11 public schools, including seven elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. Elementary schools teach kindergarten through fifth grade, middle schools teach sixth through eighth grade, and high schools teach ninth through 12th grade. Groton also has three private schools: Pfizer Kids, Sacred Heart School, and Stonington Institute.
Where you live usually determines where your children will attend school. Military families living in Public Private Venture housing near the base are served by four nearby Groton elementary schools - Charles Barnum, Catherine Kolnaski, Mary Morrisson, and Pleasant Valley - as well as Fitch Middle School and Fitch High School. Information on the entire Groton Public School system is available at the following Web site: http://www.groton.k12.ct.us. The Web site includes information and forms necessary to register children into the Groton School District. The school district can also be contacted by phone at (860) 572-2100.
The following documents are needed to enroll children in Connecticut public schools: (1) school records; (2) most recent report cards; (3) medical records; (4) immunization records; (5) birth certificates; and (6) a completed physical form. (The Physical Form can be obtained from the Fleet and Family Support Center or the Pediatrics Clinic on base.)
Public school immunization requirements include:
(1) Diphtheria: Minimum of four doses required for all children 18 months and older. For children 5 years or older, the last dose must have been given no sooner than the 4th birthday.
(2) Measles Vaccine: PreK must have one dose after the first birthday. Grades K-12 all must have two doses.
(3) Hepatitis B: Three doses of Hepatitis B Vaccine are needed before school entry for children born January 1, 1994 or later.
(4) Hemophilus Influenza Type B: Children entering at less than 5 years of age must have received at least one dose of HIB Vaccine.
(5) Polio: At least three doses of Polio Vaccine.
(6) Varicella: One dose on or after the first birthday for PreK - 12. All students are required to show proof of immunity to Varicella (Chicken Pox) for entry into 7th grade or beyond.
Connecticut public school enrollment climbed to approximately 577,400 students in 2004, but declined slightly later. The Connecticut State Board of Education is committed to ensuring that all of the state’s preschool-age children, including children with disabilities, are afforded an opportunity to participate in a high-quality preschool program. Such an experience fosters a child’s overall development, including literacy and readiness for the public school kindergarten curriculum.
Another major initiative by the Connecticut State Board of Education is to increase the number of computers available to all students. In 1994-95, the ratio of students per instructional computer was 9.4 at all levels statewide. By 2004-05, that figure had dropped to 3.6 students per computer for all levels.
As a minimum, Connecticut law requires high school students to complete for graduation at least four years of English, three years each of mathematics and social studies, two years of science, and one year of both physical education and art or vocational education. Many high schools require credits beyond the state minimum. In addition to advanced placement courses, many high schools also offer courses that provide college credit in such subjects as English, science, history, social sciences, world languages, and the arts.
Within the Groton School District, more than 85 percent of the teachers have master’s degrees or above, and they average 17.3 years instructing in Connecticut. Class size is normally 20 or fewer students. Standard Aptitude Test (SAT) scores for the 2004-2005 class averaged 504 in mathematics and 511 in verbal. More than 80 percent of that class went on to higher education after graduating, while 17 percent joined the military.
In 2005, the Groton Public School District and New London Naval Submarine Base received a special award for their ongoing commitment to working together for the future of every child in Groton.
One decade earlier, a local committee consisting of military and school officials was formed to enhance communication on academic and military issues. This successful endeavor led to the organization of the first regional education conference for military and school personnel, which was held in Connecticut in 1996. This quickly grew into a national movement with an international conference taking place in Virginia in 1998.
Local efforts which led to the award in 2005 included a Navy seminar for new teachers, orienting them to the issues of military life and transitions affecting school-age children; an annual volunteer breakfast honoring military personnel who serve in local schools; and the development of partnerships between Groton schools and military personnel.
The award exemplifies the strong ties that exist between the Groton public schools and military community. Partnerships and bonds have been developed for the benefit of the children that will continue to expand long into the future.
Higher education opportunities also abound in the area, ranging from two year institutions such as Mitchell College (New London) and Three Rivers Community Technical College (Norwich), to the University of New Haven (New Haven and several off-site locations), the University of Connecticut (Storrs and Groton) and Connecticut College (New London). Active duty members are encouraged to visit the Navy College on base to learn more about college and tuition assistance programs available to military personnel.
Spouse Employment Opportunities
With a labor force of nearly 35,000 people, and many of the largest employers in Southeastern Connecticut, Groton provides excellent employment opportunities for spouses of Sailors working at the submarine base. More than 48 percent of Groton’s jobs are in the government sector, while the majority of the remaining positions are in manufacturing, services, and trade industries.
Military spouses are welcome to do career exploration and receive job search assistance through the Spouse Employment Assistance Program at the Fleet and Family Support Center in Building 83 on base. The employment assistance manager offers services such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, resume development and critique, interview training, networking contacts, and the Military Spouse Virtual Assistance program. Job fairs and current job postings are also available in the FFSC’s Career Resource Center.
Military spouses who relocate with their sponsor under permanent change of station orders are eligible for increased employment assistance through the military spouse preference program. This program provides hiring preference for military spouses to DoD jobs and Non-Appropriated Fund jobs such as in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation office and Navy Exchange.
Many local government contractors and sub-contractors are also looking for workers in facilities and grounds maintenance, security guards, clerks, food service, and building custodial services. Pay is excellent and job openings are competitive. Base contractors often post their job vacancy announcements in the FFSC Career Development Resource Center.
Other area government contractors such as Electric Boat (General Dynamics), Lockheed Martin Aerospace Corporation, and BAE Systems choose not to list job vacancy announcement at the Fleet and Family Support Center, but direct job seekers to their respective Web sites. They often provide employment in technical, industrial, medical and administrative career fields.
The Department of Defense has actively engaged private partners and other government agencies to enhance employment and career opportunities for military spouses. As a result of a partnership with Monster.com, the virtual Military Spouse Career Center, http://www.military.com/spouse, was created to provide career networking services and employment information to military spouses.
Our goal through these many programs is to help military spouses find productive, rewarding career opportunities while living in our community.
A number of area attractions highlight the historic culture of the area, and provide special educational programs for both adults and children. One of the finest exhibits is the Submarine Force Museum and Historical Ship Nautilus Tour, highlighted on page 40 of this guide.
Other historic attractions highlight early Native American history in the area, colonial and maritime living along the New England coast, the American struggle for independence, and steam locomotive and riverboat travel. Since nearly all of the attractions offer special events throughout the year, rotating exhibits, and educational programs, you are encouraged to call or visit their Web site to find out the latest information.
Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center
110 Pequot Trail (Route 214), Mashantucket Reservation
The world’s largest and most comprehensive Native American museum and research center offers an array of engaging experiences for young and old, from life-size walk-through dioramas that transport visitors into the past, to changing exhibits and live performances of contemporary arts and cultures.
Four full acres of permanent exhibits depict 18,000 years of Native and natural history in thoroughly researched detail, while two libraries, including one for children, offer a diverse selection of materials on the histories and cultures of all Native peoples of the United States and Canada.
Exhibits let you experience life as it was for Native Americans before and after arrival of early colonialists. By the early 17th century, just prior to European contact, the Pequots had approximately 8,000 members who inhabited 250 square miles around what is now New London County. However, the Pequot War (1636-1638) - the first major conflict between colonists and an indigenous New England people -had a devastating impact on the tribe.
When the Pequot War formally ended, many tribal members had been killed while others were placed in slavery or under the control of other tribes. Those placed under the rule of the Mohegans eventually became know as the Mashantucket (Western) Pequots. By the early 1800s, there were only 30-40 Pequots remaining on the ever shrinking Mashantucket reservation but, by the 1970s, tribal members began moving back hoping to restore their land base and community, develop economic self-sufficiency, and revitalize tribal culture.
The ceremonial groundbreaking for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center took place in 1993, in a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of federal recognition of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal National. The new facility opened in 1998 and is located on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation - one of the oldest, continuously occupied Indian reservations in North America - where many tribal members continue to live.
The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years and the day before each of those holidays. Last admission is at 3 p.m. Call (800) 411-9671 for additional information, or visit the museum’s Web site at: http://www.pequotmuseum.org.
Route 27, Mystic (exit 90 off I-95)
Founded in 1929, Mystic Seaport is our nation’s leading maritime museum, housing the world’s largest collection of historic ships including the Charles W. Morgan - the last surviving wooden whaler in the world. Wander a re-created 19th-century seafaring village which is alive with the sights, sounds and smells of maritime America.
You’ll be able to see sailor’s working aloft on a square rigger, hear tales of fishing the North Atlantic, enjoy a performance featuring the African heritage of maritime music, and watch a whaleboat demonstration.
At preservation shipyard, skilled crews use traditional tools and techniques to preserve the museum’s unparalleled collection of historic wooden vessels.
Village exhibits, representing the 1800s and early 1900s, include a boat shed, marine railway, print shop, cooperage, drug store, tavern, school house, church, and many other shops found along the Atlantic coast. Signal flags outside many of these exhibits indicate they are staffed by professional educators of Mystic Seaport who will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Other exhibits take you on a remarkable journey through seafaring lives, past and present; provide a spectacular scale model of the Mystic harbor between 1850 and 1870; and allow you to explore a shipsmith shop - the only manufactory of whaling industry ironwork known to have survived from the 19th-century.
Mystic Seaport is open daily, year-round, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Summer hours (April to October) are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and winter hours (November to March) are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Demonstrations and exhibits change with the season, so it’s worthwhile to scan their Web site for details at http://www.mysticseaport.org.
Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration
55 Coogan Blvd., Mystic (Exit 90 off I-95)
Mystic Aquarium provides a wonderful variety of sea life, ranging from coastal estuaries to Amazon rivers, beluga whales to Steller sea lions and penguins, but what really makes this aquarium unique is its documentation of undersea exploration being performed by Dr. Robert Ballard and his team of scientists and explorers with the Institute for Exploration.
Films and exhibits document Dr. Ballard’s efforts to improve submersible technology in order to explore the remains of the Titanic, as well as ancient Phoenician vessels that sailed the Mediterranean Ocean thousands of years ago. Uniting world-class deep-ocean engineers and oceanographers with renown archaeologists and geologists, the institute has pioneered the emerging fields of deep-sea archaeology and deep-sea geology. Their team has already emerged as a leader in design and development of deep-submergence vehicles for scientific exploration.
As a research institute, the aquarium offers a wide-range of age-specific educational programs and tours for students of all ages. For college-level students, it offers a one-of-a-kind, hands-on internship program and a renowned veterinary program.
Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration is open daily, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. From March thru November it is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. From December thru February it is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Learn more about the aquarium and its education programs at: http://www.mysticaquarium.org.
Essex Steam Train & Riverboat
Railroad Avenue, Essex (Exit 69 of I-95 to Essex)
Return to the glory days of steam from the comfort of a restored vintage rail car, and get an unobstructed view of the unspoiled beauty of the Connecticut River Valley from aboard a three-deck riverboat.
Operated by the Valley Railroad Company, visitors have an opportunity to view the New England countryside by steam locomotive and riverboat from May through October, with varying hours throughout the rest of the year. Special events include fall foliage trips, Santa Specials with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, direct from the North Pole; and the North Pole Express - nighttime steam train rides with live readings of Christmas stories, sing-alongs, and holiday surprises.
Other events sponsored by the Valley Railroad Company include a guest engineer program, where you get an opportunity to get your hand on the throttle of an 80-ton, coal burning steam engine for an 8-mile, scenic excursion through the Connecticut River Valley; Caboose Weekend, when Friends of the Valley Railroad bring out their bright red caboose for a special fund-raiser; and a three-day “Hot Steam Jazz Festival.” The three-deck riverboat Becky Thatcher is also available for evening charters from May through October.
Details and a schedule of activities can be obtained by calling (860) 767-0103 or going to their Web site at: http://www.essexsteamtrain.com.
Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut
409 Main Street, Niantic (Exit 72 off I-95 2.5 miles)
The Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut is an interactive, hands-on, educational opportunity for children up through fifth grade. It is designed to engage, encourage, and challenge children in the arts, sciences, safety, health, culture, and history.
Let your kids climb into a clubhouse in a literary exhibit with mythical beasts, legends and heroes. Don’t miss Nursery Rhyme Land for toddlers and the Global Village, a celebration of diverse cultural heritage. The museum has live critters, arts and crafts, a pipe organ, a real two-person research submarine, and many exhibits that change regularly for your enjoyment.
The Children’s Museum offers a variety of hands-on, educational programs for children and families. Both on-site and off-site programs are available. On-site programs are scheduled year-round and are created for specific age groups. Off-site programs are held at schools, child-care centers and libraries. The museum also holds Teacher Development Workshops.
The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays until 8 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Easter, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. For more information on specific program topics, fees, and dates, call the museum at (860) 691-1111 or visit its Web site at: http://www.childrensmuseumsect.org.
State Parks and State Forests
Eight state parks and two state forests, located in New London County, provide outdoorsmen and women a wide range of activities, including hiking, camping, picnicking, salt and fresh water fishing, swimming, boating, horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. Two of the parks also have historic forts while one offers tours of a historic mansion.
The Connecticut State Parks’ Web site provides extensive information on every park site to include activities available, facilities, history, directions, and fees. The Web site is: http://dep.state.ct.us/stateparks/.
Three state parks are located in Groton:
Bluff Point State Park is the last remaining significant piece of undeveloped land along the Connecticut coastline. Jutting out into the waters of Long Island Sound this wooded peninsula, measuring one and one-half miles long by one mile wide, encompasses more than 800 acres. It offers hiking, saltwater fishing, shell fishing and mountain biking, and has a boat launching facility. Parking at the park is free, but because of its Coastal Reserve designation, access to the bluff is by foot or non-motorized vehicle only.
Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park adds a touch of reality to your Revolutionary War history lesson. This is the historic site where, on September 6, 1781, British Forces, commanded by the infamous Benedict Arnold, captured the fort and massacred 88 of the 165 defenders stationed there. The Ebenezer Avery House, which sheltered the wounded after the battle, has been restored. A Revolutionary War museum also depicts the era.
Haley Farm State Park, a 198-acre state reserve, provides hiking, biking and jogging trails through a scenic old shoreline farm. The Haley Farm Bike Trail, which is wheelchair accessible, is part of a 7 1/2 mile town-owned bikeway routed from Mystic to Groton on local roadways. There is no parking fee at the park.
Fort Trumbull State Park, located in New London, offers tours of an 1800s fort, a walking trail, and spectacular fishing opportunities from a one-of-a-kind fishing pier boasting over 500 feet of shore-based access to the major game fish of Long Island Sound. Saltwater anglers will find a unique combination of sport fish, including striped bass, bluefish, and weakfish as they feed on a variety of baitfish found at the mouth of the Thames River. In addition to 24-hour access, the pier offers bright lighting and individual pole holders for angler comfort. Fort Trumbull and its visitor center are open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 21 through Columbus Day. There are no fees for parking or visiting the park grounds. A per person charge applies for the visitor center exhibit and fort tour.
Rocky Neck State Park, located in East Lyme, offers 160 camping sites in both open and wooded settings, saltwater fishing and swimming, picnicking, and hiking. The camping season runs from May 1 to Sept. 30. Clear waters and stone-free beaches with expanses of white sand make it ideal for swimming. Bounded on the west by a tidal river and the east by a broad salt marsh, Rocky Neck was known to both Indians and colonists as a place with abundant fish and wildlife. Today, the osprey is a frequent early summer visitor. In the fall, cranes, herons and mute swans wade among cattails and rose mallow. Seasonal changes provide opportunities to fish for mackerel, striped bass, blackfish and flounder. There are separate weekend/holiday and weekday parking fees, as well as camping fees, at the park.
Harkness Memorial State Park, located in Waterford, offers tours of an early 1900s mansion, set on 230 seaside acres along Long Island Sound. The Roman Renaissance Classical Revival-style mansion has 42 rooms, along with carriage house. Lush gardens flank the mansion on both the east and west lawns, and an Alpine rock garden adds to the beauty and splendor of the seaside panorama. The mansion is open for tours weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. The first tour of the day starts at 10 a.m. and the last at 2:15 p.m. There are separate weekend/holiday and weekday parking fees at the park.
Hopeville Pond State Park, located in Griswold, provides 80 camp sites, along with freshwater pond fishing, swimming, hiking and bicycling. The camping season begins in mid-April and ends Sept. 30. Facilities include boat launch, picnic tables and bathrooms. The park is located along the Pachaug River that was once a major fishing ground for the Mohegan Indians. Later colonialists build a sawmill, gristmill, and woolen mill at the site. There is a weekend/holiday admission fee and a campsite fee at the park.
Day Pond State Park, located in Colchester, offers trout fishing in a stocked pond, swimming, hiking, and picnicking. The pond, which is the central feature of the park, was originally constructed by a pioneering family to turn a large waterwheel that powered the family sawmill. Park visitors today will find only stone foundations as reminders of those colonial times. There is a weekend/holiday parking fee at the park.
Pachaug State Forest, located in Voluntown, is the largest state forest in Connecticut, encompassing 24,000 acres that are open for camping, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, boating, and winter sports such as cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The Pachaug River, running from Beach Pond to the Quinebaug River, runs through the center of the forest. Old cellar holes and miles of stone fence winding through the woods give evidence that the entire forest was once farmed or pastured.
There are two main recreational areas in the Pachaug State Forest. The Chapman Area offers year-round activities, and includes off-road camp sites, backpack camp sites, and horse camp sites, all available on a first come, first served basis. Three separate trail sections pass through this area. Beachdale Pond, located in this area, is stocked with trout and has natural bass, pickerel and bullhead fishing. The Green Falls Area has 18 wooded campsites that are available from the third Friday of April until Sept. 30. Four hiking trails pass through this area that also offers freshwater fishing, picnicking, and hunting. Picnic areas and boat launch sites are available at both areas. Camp site fees are charged at both locations.
Nehantic State Forest, located in Lyme, is the first state forest in New London County. Purchased in 1925, the land is mostly covered with a second growth of hardwoods with a number of good trout streams in the forest. The state forest is open from 8 a.m. to sunset and offers hiking, swimming, and picnicking. A boat launch is available. There are no fees at Nehantic State Forest.