Sand, scenery, exercise — and always running into someone you know. Those are the big draws for Karen Pasacreta Sessler, a lifelong Milford resident, at Silver Sands State Park. The mom of three girls, ages 15, three and one, loves walking along the boardwalk from one beach to the other. That boardwalk has become “a social hub for Milford. It’s truly one of the city’s best features,” she said, adding that it “needs to be respected and treasured for everyone to enjoy.”
Looking for a stroll by the sea without getting sand in the toes? One of Connecticut’s boardwalks is the perfect summer excursion. Here’s where to head.
Silver Sands State Park, East Broadway (off Meadowside Road.), Milford, 203-735-4311. Free parking, but closes at sunset. There’s much for kids to enjoy along the nearly-new, three-quarter-mile boardwalk connecting this state park to Walnut Beach — from counting the distance with the 1/10th-mile markers to looking out for deer, heron and egrets. A few ramps along the way allow for easy beach access. Gaze out at Charles Island and share the legend of Captain Kidd and the treasure he buried there in 1699. While the seaside boardwalk is a bit of a hike from the parking area, the park’s original boardwalk, which cuts through the marsh, is an adventure in itself.
Bradley Point Park, Captain Thomas Boulevard, West Haven. A $10 daily parking fee for non-residents ($5 after 4 p.m.). Along a 1.7-mile walkway, expect spectacular views of Long Island Sound to one side and volleyball players and kite flyers to the other. Pedestrians, bicyclists and roller-bladers can take a break or take in the scene — which includes the beach below and rocky areas ideal for exploring — from park benches along the way. Oh, and bring Fido or Rover along: the boardwalk even has a canine water fountain.
Niantic Bay Boardwalk, Main Street at Niantic River Bridge, East Lyme, nianticboardwalk.org. Free parking. This 1.1-mile boardwalk stretches from Cini Park to Hole-in-the-Wall beach and is walking distance from shops and restaurants along Niantic’s Main Street. One half, a true boardwalk, passes over dunes and offers access to a white-sand beach. The other half is a wide gravel path built on a rock foundation right on the water so that waves are lapping against those rocks. Seal spotting is also a possibility! Benches and interpretive signs offer the chance to chill out and learn something about the coastal environment and its history.
Captain’s Cove Seaport, 1 Bostwick Avenue, Bridgeport, 203-335-1433, captainscoveseaport.com. Free parking. On one end of Captain Cove’s short boardwalk is the marina at Historic Black Rock Harbor and a casual indoor/outdoor restaurant featuring a giant fish tank. Besides several boats and other vehicles for kids to climb aboard, there’s a stockade picture spot, and harbor cruise tours are available on weekends. The other side of the boardwalk is for strolling past adorable miniature shops built in Colonial and Victorian architectural styles. Adults will stop in for the handcrafts, artwork and jewelry, but don’t expect the kids to pass by the candies or ice cream shops.
Saint Mary’s by the Sea, Eames Boulevard (via Gilman St.), Bridgeport, lisrc.uconn.edu/coastalaccess (search for Bridgeport). On-street parking. Located in a Black Rock neighborhood of beautiful homes with both harbor and Long Island Sound views, this half-mile walkway is partially on street level and partially below it. Binoculars will help in checking out the birds (be on the lookout for parrots if you wander inland a bit). BYO bucket if you want to try out some clamming, or bring a fishing pole and fish right from the walkway. The camera is a good idea, too.