One of the greatest benefits of the military lifestyle is the opportunity to live in new and unique places. So we are starting a new series – One Day! Do you have friends from home or in-laws visiting for the weekend? We want to provide you with spouse-approved itineraries for your duty station. Whether you follow these itineraries exactly or you take a few ideas and run with it, we want to help take the guess work out of it!
Next up, Groton!
Where to Stay:
If you have friends or family in town and they can’t stay with you, there’s some great options in every town. Near Mystic, check out the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa, Whaler’s Inn or Hilton Mystic. Close to base, theres’s Hampton Inn Groton.
Morning: Submarine Force Museum
OK, start your day in Groton with a visit to the Submarine Force Library & Museum. Located right next to base, this museum is the quintessential tourist stop to learn about submarine life and history. Explore the different exhibits and physically tour and board an actual submarine, the USS NAUTILUS. The gift shop is a great place to grab souvenirs and trinkets. The museum is open daily except for Tuesdays, 9am to 5pm, and is donation-only. Special note: the USS NAUTILUS was moved into dry dock for repairs, but will be back in September 2022.
If you’d rather skip the museum and stay outside, I’d recommend you grab a coffee (Social Coffee Roastery is a great local spot) and head over to Bluff Point State Park. The coastal reserve is the last significant piece of undeveloped land along the Connecticut coastline. The peninsula encompasses over 800 acres of trails. If you’ve been here before, maybe try Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford.
Whether you hiked or digested the entire U.S. submarine force history, you’re probably hungry. Let’s grab lunch!
It’s a no brainer – Mystic is my favorite place to take friends and family when they visit. The “village” sits on the Mystic River and historically was a thriving seaport with more than 600 ships built over 135 years. The town is a popular tourist destination, with so many great walkable shops, restaurants, water activities and more.
For lunch, pop culture fiends would love Mystic Pizza (or at least snap a photo of the sign). Other great spots include The Mariner, Rise, Chapter One. Pop around all the little shops and boutiques and walk across the famous drawbridge.
If you need a pick-me-up, grab cofffee and sweets at Sift Bake Shop, the beloved bakery in our region. You could also grab a great lunch here, the salads and croissant sandwiches are delicious! For beer lovers, don’t miss Bank & Bridge Brewery, owned by a military veteran. For more beer recs, click here.
If your visitors are interested in nautical history, check out the Mystic Seaport Museum, the largest maritime museum in the United States. If you want more shopping, drive over to Olde Mistick Village. Next door is the beloved Mystic Aquarium, as well.
Evening: Lobster Rolls
No visit to Connecticut is complete without a lobster roll!
If your visitors have been to Groton and Mystic before, some other ideas could be:
- New London: Grab a late breakfast at Muddy Waters Cafe; Check out the shops along Bank Street and historic waterfront district; New London Waterfront Park; lobster rolls from Captain Scott’s. For more ideas, click here.
- Niantic: Grab coffee and bites at Cafe Sol; walk the boardwalk and McCook Point; for kids, don’t miss the Niantic Children’s Museum; enjoy the shops and some great local restaurants. The Niantic Farmers Market runs every Thursday thru October, with other fun pop-up events to keep an eye out for.
- Stonington, Stonington Borough: Stop by Admiral Fife Recreation Area and take a photo in front of the yellow submarine; poke around the borough and feel like you’re transported back in time; explore the Antiques Trail; The Lighthouse Museum is charming and so historic; grab lunch or dinner at BREAKWATER or Dog Watch; wine tasting at Saltwater Farm Vineyard, Stonington Vineyards or Jonathan Edwards Winery.
- Westerly/Watch Hill, Rhode Island: Grab coffee and sweets at Sift Watch Hill (open thru Labor Day) or grab brunch at The Cooked Goose; walk along the beach at Napatree Point Conversation Area; head back into Westerly and enjoy the shops along High Street; stnad in two places at once on the bridge (Connecticut, Rhode Island); don’t skip on the pretzels at Malted Barley or great beer tasting at Grey Sail Brewing.
What did we miss? What would you add to our list? Comment below and tell us!