Do you have a short stint in Groton coming up? Submariners may be sent to the “Submarine Capital of the World” for various reasons. Groton is home to the A and C schools, which are less than a year and most young sailors live in the barracks. If they’re officers, they might continue on in the future to SOAC (Submarine Officer’s Advanced Course) to prepare to be a Department Head or SCC (Submarine Command Course) to prepare to be an Executive Officer.
For whatever reason you find yourself in Groton for a short period of time, here’s our quick hit list:
Mystic is, by far, my most frequently visited area since arriving here in Groton. There are so many great spots to explore, such as the unique venues in Olde Mistick Village. This village sports a variety of stores from European and early American lore. One of my favorites is a fantasy store called Cloak and Wand with a potion bar where you can order custom potions to drink! Whether you are dining on German food from The Jealous Monk or finding authentic Scandinavian goods, Mistick Village is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon with your children or on a date. Next door is the Mystic Aquarium. The aquarium features a large number of animal attractions, as well as numerous age-specific programs for your children to enjoy. Weekend after weekend can easily be spent in the village area without running out of something new and fun to do!
Just south of the village is the coastal community of downtown Mystic. Excellent restaurants and bakeries are nestled along the road that follows the coast around the Mystic River, crossing the river on the historic Mystic River Bascule Bridge. The tourist seasons can make this a very busy part of Connecticut, and for good reason. The lovely salt-box shops house delicious restaurants such as the Mariner, Sift Bake Shop, and the Engine Room. The local community sponsors fun (and family friendly) events such as having Santa Clause disembark from a tug or trick-or-treat parades. Just outside of downtown are gems like Nana’s Bakery & Pizza which has amazing baked goods. An absolute must is Kitchen Little. Located just south of downtown Mystic on Masons Island, Kitchen Little features a very warm and welcoming atmosphere with lovely coastal views.
Visit Submarine Force Museum & USS Nautilus
This museum is a must-see for anyone with an interest in naval history or submarines. The museum is located on the Thames River, adjacent to the US Navy Submarine Base New London and offers visitors a unique glimpse into the history of submarines and the sailors who served on them. The museum also features the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, which visitors can board and explore. Other large scale models are present alongside vignettes, informative displays, and mock-ups that can be traversed and manipulated by veteran and visitor alike! Your submariner will love being able to explain some of the rich history of the silent service to family or friends.
Check Out The Casinos
Eastern Connecticut has two major casinos that are close to Naval Submarine Base New London: Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. In fact, the Foxwoods casino is the second largest casino in the United States! However, the casinos here in Connecticut are so much more than just a place to gamble. There are fun restaurants, tons of places to shop, spas, an ice rink, golf, bowling, and so much more. Look for other events such as concerts and comedy clubs as well.
Here in The Fall? Apple Ciders & Apple Cider Donuts
In my humble opinion, Groton looks its prettiest when wearing its fall colors. There are several orchards and cider mills to visit, most notably B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Mystic. It’s open seasonally starting September 1st. Their shop sells a large variety of baked goods, gourmet cheeses, and other delicacies. You must stop by at least once for a cider slushie and donut combo! For a full fall list of things to do, click here.
Here in The Summer? Lobster Rolls
Every part of America has their own food, or take on a particular dish, that they are most proud of. For Connecticut, that is pizza or lobster rolls. For the latter, there is definitely a debate on the best place in the area. Some will tell you Ford’s. Others will tell you Abbot’s Lobster in the Rough or Costello’s. My philosophy is to try all of them and make up your own opinion. While everyone has their own preference, the only way to really go wrong is to not ask for extra melted butter. Be sure to pair your lobster roll with some delicious Fishers Island Lemonade.
If You’re a Swiftie, Go See Taylor Swift’s House in Watch Hill
The famed ‘Holiday House’ is only about 30 minutes away from base and easy to see from the E Beach Access. While you are there, check out some of Taylor’s favorite restaurants in the area including Ella’s Fine Food and Drink where she famously took a cooking class with Lorde and learned how to make tuna tartare tacos–one of the restaurant’s most popular appetizers. There is also Olympia Tea Room where you can have Taylor’s favorite dessert, the Avondale Swan pastry with whipped cream and fudge.
Take a Weekend Getaway Nearby
One of the biggest perks of living in the Northeast is having quick access to so many different destinations within only a few hours (as someone who is originally from Texas, being so close to so many places is a novelty). For ideas on weekend road trips check out this article on 10 places you must visit while stationed in Groton. Some ideas include New York City, Boston, Newport and more! We visited White Mountain National Forest in the Fall and were blown away by the incredible vistas. Whether you enjoy hiking, sight-seeing, historical tours, boating, or big city hustle and bustle, New England has amazing options to fill your free time!
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