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Escape the Crowds at Connecticut Beaches

By Nigel Chiwaya | August 15, 2013 7:19am
  The dozens of beaches along the 250-mile Long Island Sound coastline offer swimming, mini-golf and more.
Connecticut Beaches
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NEW YORK CITY — While New York boasts nine exceptional beaches, the Big Apple doesn't hold a candle to its Tri-State sibling. 

Connecticut features more than 250 miles of coastline along the Long Island Sound, and the state's beaches offer swimming and sunbathing to boating, miniature golf and more.

"There are many beautiful beaches across Connecticut," said Elizabeth Taggart, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut Tourism Division. "It’s hard to pick just a few."

Several of the state's beaches are easily accessible via Metro North railroad, meaning that New Yorkers need only head to Grand Central Station in order to start their getaway.

Here are a few of the standout beaches in the state of Connecticut.

Jennings Beach
880 South Benson Rd, Fairfield
At 27 acres, Jennings is the largest of the six beaches in the town of Fairfield. The sandy beach, (which is also dog-friendly in the off-season between Oct. 1 and Mar. 31), offers views of the Long Island Sound and includes a concession stand, bathrooms and volleyball poles.

Jennings also sits next to a skate park and sand castle playground. Outdoor movie screenings and bonfires are also common during the summer months.

Admission: Jennings Beach is free to the public, but drivers will need to pay for a beach sticker in order to use the parking lot between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Sticker prices are $15 on weekdays and $25 on weekends.

Getting There: Jennings Beach is just over an hour and a half away from Grand Central, meaning Jennings might be one of the easiest beaches to reach from Manhattan.  

"New Yorkers can easily hop on a train and get off at the Fairfield station and get into a 10-minute cab ride to get to the beach," Taggart said.

Round-trip Metro North tickets will cost about $23.50 during weekends and off-peak hours.

Cove Island Park
1281 Cove Rd., Stamford
Stamford's municipal website calls Cove Island a "first-rate shoreline park" that "offers an excellent viewpoint for those looking for a place view the [Long Island] Sound." The park offers several spaces for activities. In addition to featuring two sandy beaches, Stamford's Cove Island Park features a mile-long walking trail, a salt marsh, a children's play area, a bike path and lawns for kite flying.

Admission: Cove Island is open to the public, but drivers will need to pay $20 for a parking pass.

Getting There: Cove Island is about 90 minutes from Grand Central and is accessible entirely by mass transit. Commuters can take the Metro North to Stamford followed by the CT Transit 43 Bus toward Cove Island Park. Train tickets cost about $20.50 round trip during off-peak hours.

Calf Pasture Beach
44 Calf Pasture Beach Rd., Norwalk
Calf Pasture Beach is part of the larger Shady Beach Park — a 33 acre beach site that also features miniature golf, ball fields, volleyball courts and boat rentals.

Admissions: Car parking fees before 5 p.m. at Calf Pasture are $20 on weekdays and $25 on weekends. However, the price drops to just $5 after 5 p.m.

Getting There: Travel times from Grand Central Station vary between 90 minutes and two hours. The park is accessible entirely via mass transit via the Metro North to East Norwalk and the CTTransit 8 Bus toward Pulse Point. Off peak round trip train tickets cost $21.50.

Ocean Beach Park
98 Neptune Ave., New London
The farthest beach on this list is also one of the most popular. Ocean Beach features a half-mile of soft sand, making it a popular spot for sunbathers and swimmers. In addition the beach, the area offers water slides, a full arcade, a miniature golf course and a 50-meter Olympic swimming pool.

Admissions: Admission for those traveling without cars is just $5. Those with cars will pay a fee of $15 on weekdays, $20 on weekends and $5 on weeknights. Miniature golf, poll and arcade access are not included in the admissions fee.

Getting there: Driving is probably the best way to get there. Ocean Beach Park is 2 hours and 20 minutes away via I-95 to exit 83 for New London.