Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Exploring Connecticut

There are days when the claustrophobia of New York skyscraper canyons and underground subway tunnels get too much for me, and on those days, I have to escape the city. Yesterday was one of those days, so we hopped in the car and set off to explore Connecticut. Our goal was Mystic, a place I'd always imagined to be a quaint, historic port town. Upon arrival, however, my expectations proved a little larger than life.

True, I could see some old sailing ships across the water in $15-per-person Mystic Seaport (we chose to waste our money in other ways, as you'll read below), and we spent some time in some fun crafts shops—but it was no Annapolis. We did manage to live the cliche, having lunch at Mystic Pizza (of Julia Roberts filmography fame).

More picturesque was the little town of Guilford, off the beaten path between New Haven and New London. Guilford was settled way back in 1639, and features the oldest house in the state. Also scenic was Westerly, Rhode Island, just over the state line. With lots of old buildings, as well as shops and bars galore, the place seemed to have plenty of day and night life. We didn't spend much time in either place, but if you go, I'd recommend passing Mystic right on by and visiting one of these towns.

At the end of the day, we circled by what Cassie called a "ghost town": Watch Hill, Rhode Island, a hibernating New England beach resort. For someone like me who grew up on southern California's coastline, it was strange to see snow on the beach. The bay's numerous moorings all bobbed in the water, empty. The cabanas sat behind chain link fence, boarded up. The many shops along the main strip were all closed. No tumbleweeds rolled by, but the wind did whistle in our ears. As desolate as it was, I can only imagine the crowds six months from now.

On our return to the city, I exhibited poor judgment and suggested a stop at Foxwoods Casino. The place was impressive—Wikipedia just told me it's the largest casino in the world in terms of square footage for gambling, and they're expanding this summer—but their slot machines were stingy. We got plenty of exercise walking through the resort's 4.7 million square feet, but it was our wallets that lost weight.

Gambling losses and high expectations aside, we had a fun day of exploration. And I can now cross off two more of our United States from the list of states I have not yet visited.



Anonymous usamctwo said...

If you are ever by Mystic again in the warmer months, go to Abbott's Lobster in the Rough. Picnic tables and lobster. Cannot think of too much better than that. Just watch out for the seagulls!

February 25, 2008 2:21 PM  

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