Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Stonington, Connecticut - My Favorite Corner of New England

There are a few places that really grab my soul.  Places that make me smile when I walk down the sidewalks and drive down the roads.  

Stonington Borough... it's that for me. 

I love the town in a way that's deep and devoted, in a love that's a borderline obsession.   I have so many memories here, memories that started long before I stole the zip code.  I fell in love with a new hobby here and new people.  Those lat and long coordinates at the end of the road where the pavement meets the sand. I learned the best way to spend a hot New England summer night was in the water at the Waylands Wharf or rocky walks along the jetty.  I learned the Manhattans at Noah's are absolutely lethal and that the fish and chips Friday at the Portuguese club is the best deal in town. I learned how to enjoy being home, how to garden, and how to unclog a dishwasher. I fell asleep to a foghorn on most days and woke up to the most brilliant sunrises over the water, best seen from the bathroom (the toilet to be exact).   I watched my neighborhood combine forces and joined in the plowing parties when winter storms dumped so much snow on my favorite town.

I spent many evenings at my favorite bar, earning my local status at the Dog Watch, taking in the world while drinking painkillers on the deck overlooking the water.  In the winter, we headed to the Dog Watch to enjoy their winter pasta specials while watching the icy empty docks jump around in the harbor outside.  This town made such a mark on me from those summer nights spent in scuba gear with friends.  So much so, that when I moved back from Utah, it was just about the only place I agreed to live, Mystic was the only other exception.  So the love affair continued and years later, more than 2 years after moving, I finished this post. 

 I spent two years living in this beautiful little borough and it was my version of quaint New England bliss.  Being able to walk to my favorite bar, check the menus downtown with someone I loved on a cold winter evening.  And then there were the "events" if you can even use that word in a town this small.  There's the Fourth of July parade where everyone meets in front of the Library to read the Declaration of Independence before the whole town joins in for the parade (adult kazoo band included).   There was the Blessing of the Fleet and the infamous free and amazing food at the Portuguese Club.  

After two years being landlocked, I was so excited to be back on the water, in a town I loved with family and friends nearby. We had our routine nailed down in this town. Friday fish and chips followed by a drink and dessert at Noahs. Or Father's Day lunch at the house followed by drinks at the Dog Watch. Random Tuesdays eating tacos at Milagros. Happy hour at Water Street sharing small plates at the bar. Evenings walking to the concerts at Salt Water Farm vineyards. And many, many trips to the Velvet Mill for growler fills and pints at Beer'd Brewing. We built a quaint little life in this town. I fell in love with this town, I left love in this town.

Stonington marked an end to big things and I left this town in tears. Life had different plans for me and while I loved this corner of New England, it was far from work, and plainly simple out of my budget when it came to throwing down roots and buying my first house solo. I moved an hour away and while there are certainly day trips to my favorite restaurant from time to time, it just isn't the same as owning the zipcode and living walking distance from some of your favorite things. In the years I called the borough home, I kept a running list of some of my favorite things in bullet form and my favorite photos stashed away memories and moments saved to savor with you.

Favorite Stonington Somethings 

  • Living in the borough and falling asleep to the sound of the foghorn
  • Mr. McCoy (the insanely kind older crossing guard)
  • Ospreys who call the area next to the vineyard home
  • The birdseed religiously tossed every morning to Stonington's feathery friends outside of Toms News
  • Events at LaGrua including bourbon tastings
  • Floating with the locals at Waylands Wharf - Supersized swan a must - cheers-ing to fellow boaters adrift in the harbor.
  • Stopping in for coffee and always waving to the hairdresser turned coffee shop owner
  • Visiting the lobster boats at Connecticut's last commercial fishing port
  • The honor system seafood cooler
  • The informal dog park
  • Cannon Square and cannonballs marking various walls around town
  • Markers detailing the age of the historic homes
  • Lighthouse and the lighthouse museum
  • Picking up old pottery shards at Dodge Paddock
  • Insane sunsets enjoying dinner off the dock at Breakwater and the restaurant paintings when you walk in the door
  • The Christmas tree on the boat in the middle of the harbor every December
  • Land bridges leading out to private islands
  • Churches renovated into homes
  • Guys shopping night at the Fun Company which involved bourbon and snacks
  • Paddleboarding in the harbor
  • Christmas shopping strolls with wine and drinks in all the shops
  • Wednesday night sailboat races
  • Tuesday Dogwatch and Thursday Beer'd running groups
  • Hearing the church bells every hour on the hour
  • Picking up my flowers and CSA every week at Stone Acres
  • The sunflower field at the end of the summer
  • My favorite road in the fall so wonderfully featured in Mystic Pizza
  • Diving off diving street
  • The blue house with the birch off Water Street
  • The old stone house half covered in ivy
  • The Dogwatch sandwiches
  • The desserts, dollar oysters, and local crowd at Noahs
  • One of the best breweries in the state just a rocks throw away
  • Just how beautiful the town is with a fresh coat of snow

Stonington Fun Facts

  • When I talk about Stonington, I am (generally) talking about the borough.  The reality is that Stonington includes the borough of Stonington, the villages of Pawcatuck, Lords Point, and Wequetequock, and the eastern halves of the villages of Mystic and Old Mystic (the other halves being in the town of Groton). 
  • Stonington was part of lands that had belonged to the Pequot people, who referred to the areas making up Stonington as Pawcatuck
  • Stonington took part in two British naval bombardments. One during the American Revolution in 1775 and the other was a three-day affair in 1814 during the War of 1812. 
  • In the 19th century, Stonington supported a small fishing, whaling, and sealing fleet - Stonington is the state's last commercial fishing fleet 
  • Stonington has been the home to several on-location movie shoots: Steven Spielberg's Amistad, Julia Roberts breakthrough movie, Mystic Pizza, and Hope Springs with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.

Eat - Drink - See - Swim 


Dogwatch - My favorite spot for an amazing lunch, dinner, or drink on the water - it's an amazing spot on the water, always consistent, everything is good.  During the summer, the Favorites: kale salad, nachos, and any of their sandwiches. Expect a great meal (and a strong drink) for a fair price.
Noahs - Local laid back atmosphere.  Good food and fun specials.  Favorites: dollar oyster night and amazing desserts (all made in house). 
Breakwater - Awesome spot where you can sit outside on the deck overlooking the water.  The food never blew me away but they have a great atmosphere and happy hour specials.  
Milagros: On the pricier side for Mexican but a great spot for good tacos, margaritas, and moles!
Water Street Cafe:  Charming spot with good food, also offering happy hour small plates
Portuguese Club - Seasonal Friday fish and chips - you won't find a better deal or a more laid back local atmosphere.  The club is private but they open their doors to the public during events and their fish and chips series
Zaks - It's outdated inside for sure and you won't find any water views but again, its a spot where the locals go.  The menu doesn't change but the food is always great and the prices are fair.  We love the scallops wrapped in bacon and the petite filet. 


Beer'd Brewing  - this is one of the best breweries in the state - grab a pint or beer to go 
Saltwater Farm Vineyard - Airplane hanger turned vineyard - bring a buy picnic and buy a bottle or consider a tasting 
Coffee - there are two coffee spots right in the borough.  Indulge has a cozy atmosphere and offers specialty drinks and pastries (as well as lunch).  Social offers a more of a modern flair (and it's actually a barbershop turned espresso spot) which also serves up specialty coffees and pastries. 


Lighthouse - Quaint lighthouse at the end of the point where you can tour the small museum inside for a small fee. 
Velvet Mill - A historic factory turned store/restaurant/flea market/farmer's market/brewery.  Great spot to grab a beer and stroll through a few shops 
Water Street - the Main Street down to the point - cute shops and great restaurants 
Farmer's Market - Stonington is unique in having a year-round farmer's market.  During the summer months, you can find the market down by the fishing docks.  In the winter, it moves inside to the Velvet Mill. 


Dubois Beach at Stonington Point - small scenic beach with no facilities - day pass required 
Waylan's Wharf - Spot where locals swim - no beach but a dock with a ladder, gazebo for shade 
Paddleboarding - Rent a paddleboard and enjoy the harbor at Coastline Surf and Paddle 

With our jobs and Adams family being at the other end of the state (Norwalk, Connecticut), Stonington wasn't a realistic place to buy a house and plant our roots. We keep joking it's the perfect place to retire and maybe in 20 years you can find me in the borough. For now, I'll be a frequent and happy visitor, strolling the streets on a sunny day or unloading dive gear at the point.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Let's Chat!