Make the Most Out of Rocky Neck State Park

By Kimberly Ripley

Make the Most Out of Rocky Neck State Park

Retreat to the gorgeous wilderness of southeastern Connecticut at Rock Neck State Park. Located in East Lyme, it’s an excellent spot for family camping. From a soft sand beach, and large grassy area for playing catch, and ample spots for camp, hike, and explore, there’s something here for everyone. Light your campfire and toast your hot dogs and marshmallows, and enjoy some quality family time at Rocky Neck State Park. 

1. Rocky Neck State Park

Rocky Neck was a place of abundance for both colonists and Native Americans during the Colonial Era. Fish and wildlife were plentiful during a time when food in most areas was scarce. These days it’s a place of ample beauty. Visitors marvel at the many species of birds they see each season. Osprey, cranes and herons grace the shores. If you’ve never seen granite gneiss, you’ll find some near the large stone pavilion. Gneiss is rock that was exposed to intense heat and pressure during formation. It’s a toss-up as to whether the rocks or the sand beach provide a more stunning scenic vista. They are equally intriguing. The beach has no rocks—just soft sand. It’s a perfect place to relax in the sun or take a dip.

2. Rocky Neck State Park Campground

Camping is available at Rocky Neck State Park from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There are 160 designated sites for camping in both wooded and open settings. Make reservations as early in the season as possible, as sites fill up fast during most summer weeks.

3. Rocky Neck State Park trails

There are several miles of trails to explore for all levels of experience at Rocky Neck. The loop trail takes hikers past a brilliant watercolor of wildflowers in season. Years ago, this entire region was covered by glaciers. Examples of glacial boulders may be seen along the hiking paths. 

Beautiful day for a hike #hiking #rockyneck #campground #niantic #jessandbill

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4. Niantic Bay Boardwalk, East Lyme, CT

Stroll the Niantic Bay Boardwalk and view both Niantic Bay and Long Island Sound. Sit on the beach for a bit and pick up a few seashells. Pack a lunch and eat on one of several stone benches that line the boardwalk.

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5. Little Boston School House, East Lyme, CT

The Little Boston School House dates to 1734. It served as a one-room school house in East Lyme from 1865 to 1922. Its name is derived from its education being close to that Boston students received. Now owned by the East Lyme Historical Society, it is open for public viewing.

6. Illiano’s Grill, Niantic, CT

Known for its fabulous pizza, Illiano’s also serves excellent Greek salads and hearty meatballs with sauce. Their pasta fagioli is a favorite of their regulars. A hearty pizza with soup or salad will hold you over until breakfast the next morning.

7. The Captain Stannard Bed & Breakfast Country Inn, Westbrook, CT

After leaving Illiano’s in East Lyme, drive toward Westbrook. It’s just over eight miles away. There you’ll find the Captain Stannard Bed & Breakfast Country Inn. A short walk to the beach, this bed and breakfast is warm, comfortable, and welcoming. Spend the night in their cozy guest rooms. Enjoy coffee on the large porch when you wake up in the morning. A short while later, enjoy a home cooked two-course breakfast served in the dining room on heritage china. Even though camping is a blast, there’s nothing like sleeping and dining at a place that offers all the comforts of home—maybe even more.

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