When I had my first baby last December, I was an emotional mess during my last night in the hospital. I will never forget my fairy-godmother-of-a-nurse who could sense my nervousness. She gave me the best advice and said “I know you have a winter baby, but don’t be afraid to bundle him up and get outside. The fresh air will do so much for you.”
And here we are 11 months later, a little older and a little wiser, but emotional for different reasons.
We are nine months into this global pandemic, and the no-end-in-sight anxiety is very real. For my fellow submarine spouses, HPCON Charlie restrictions, PCS orders and other uncertainties only add to our stress.
But as these cold months sit before us, I encourage you to still get outside. Bundle up your little ones and go for a walk. The fresh air is so necessary, and thankfully there are some beautiful outdoor spaces that make it easy to socially distance and enjoy the beauty of New England.
Here are four stroller-friendly parks to bookmark:
UCONN Avery Point Campus
Located next to Eastern Point Beach in Groton, the UCONN Avery Point campus is my favorite go-to with a stroller. The campus offers panoramic views of Long Island Sound, as its walkway hugs the coastline. This summer the campus offered a unique pop-up art gallery. The centerpiece of the campus is the Branford House, a 31-room mansion built in the 19th century, modeled off of the Newport mansions. The modest summer cottage belonged to Morton Freeman Plant, a wealthy businessman and playboy.
Harkness Memorial State Park
Harkness Memorial State Park is a popular destination in Waterford, which also comes with a history all its own. The park sits on 230 seaside acres of sweeping lawns, stately trees and spectacular gardens, the home of Eolia, the elegant summer mansion of the Harkness family. As heirs to substantial investments in John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, the family estate was eventually turned over to the state of Connecticut in the 1950s. Today families enjoy picnicking, kite flying, beach combing and other outdoor activities. Harkness offers some great paved walkways for strollers, though not at the beach.
The Niantic Bay Boardwalk is a great park tucked away in East Lyme. As one of the nicest waterfront walkways in the entire state, the boardwalk offers 1.1 miles of scenic views of the Long Island Sound. With COVID-19 precautions in place, the boardwalk currently operates as a one-way direction. The eastern half is a true “boardwalk” crossing over dunes, while the western half is a wide gravel path. Parking is complimentary on both sides!
I recently stumbled upon Mohegan Park in Norwich, and it was a happy surprise. The park offers picnic tables, playscapes, swimming, fishing and plenty of open space. The stroller-friendly paved trail weaves around Spaulding Pond, nearly one mile long. If your stroller is made for off-roading, explore the other trails that snake through the woods. I made a mental note to come back in the summer, to experience their blooming rose garden.
For a detailed trail map, click here.
Did I miss any trails or parks? Share below!