Spring Updates on Submarine Playground Near Groton

We first shared the news of Admiral Fife Recreation Area last July. Located just off Route 1 in Stonington, CT, my toddler and I were pleasantly surprised by the upgraded playground and the bright, happy yellow submarine! After sharing photos, we were even more surprised to see the big reaction we got from all of you!

A year later, we’ve been receiving a few messages about some negative experiences with a groundskeeper and confusing new rules about accessibility. Today we chatted with the folks over at MWR Sub Base New London, and have some important updates to share:

Here’s what you need to know:

The park is free and off-base…but it is a military installation.

Don’t let the submarine fool you! This park is operated by the MWR, but it is located far from base in the heart of Stonington. The exact address is 623 Stonington Rd, Stonington, CT 06378. The park is free and accessible for all DOD card holders, i.e. servicemembers, spouses, dependents, govenment contract workers, veterans, etc. Civillian guests are allowed

Civillian guests ARE allowed.

MWR did confirm with us that civillian guests ARE allowed, as long as they’re accompanied by a DOD card holder. MWR encourages a 1:1 ratio (as in you cannot bring a group of civillian friends just by yourself). They want the park to be enjoyed by military members and civillian friends and family alike. You may be asekd to show military ID, so your civillian guests need to be present with you at that time.

There is unique history here.

In 1975, Admiral James Fife, Jr. bequeathed his estate to the SUBASE to have it developed into a place of recreation. This beautiful wildlife area features 40 acres of property with a two acre pond.

You can rent the pavillion.

The pavillion is now available to rent for groups of up to 200. You can reserve the area through SUBASE swimming, call (860) 694-3562 for more information. Hiking, catch and release fishing and the playground do not need reservations. The park also offers a softball field, horseshoe pits, volleyball court and half-court baseketball courts. There are restrooms, as well!

The playground is friendly for all ages.

I brought my 19-month old toddler, and he loved it! There are two main play structures, one of which is intended for younger ages. There are also baby swings.

Dogs are allowed on hiking trails!

Since COVID, MWR has reversed their initial rule and now allow leashed dogs on the hiking trails! They are not allowed, however, on the playground or pavillion.

Bring bug spray!

The recreation area is a bit rural and in the woods, so be prepared for unpaved roads and bugs!

Have you been yet? We hope this post inspires you to go.

6 thoughts on “Spring Updates on Submarine Playground Near Groton

  1. I work for MWR Aquatics and we manage the reservations for FIFE Estate I can accurately inform everyone that this facility is NOT open to the public at any time. This facility is ONLY open to DOD Active Duty Members & their families, retires & their families and DOD Civilian employees and their immediate families. Patron’s using the facility will be asked to provide their DOD ID’s by the caretakers.

    1. Oh wow, thanks for letting us know! I’ve been several times and was never asked to show ID. I also don’t remember there being signage letting others know? Would definitely encourage MWR to get something out there.

  2. I was on the verge of tears today after the EXTREMELY rude groundkeeper told us he could call the police to let us know that this playground was not open to the public. I was there with two friends that are military families, but had invited three other families to join them here. Not only did the groundkeeper inform us that the military families “couldn’t invite the whole neighborhood” but actually proceeded to take pictures of all our license plates to make sure we did leave. So, if you’re a civilian like me – just know you’ll be treated like trash.

    1. We are so sorry to hear this! This is definitely new, I visited the park dozens of times last year and never had a single issue. We will update our story!

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