Upcoming Fall Festivals here in Mystic Country

Autumn or Fall – whichever you choose to call it, is a beautiful time to get out and about now that the colorful mums are being planted, leaves are changing to scarlet and gold, and beach umbrellas are down, summer novels are read and our tan is beginning to fade and kiss summer good-bye. We suggest that our guests get out and take a ride to some of our favorite fall locations. Here are some of our recommendations for fall adventures in shopping, celebrating and leaf-peepin’ that we think are great! Getting there is just one of the highlights of a fall getaway.

The fall is truly a time for scenic views and wonderful Fall Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals. For instance just about an hour north of our inn is the Quiet Corner, aka, Northeastern Connecticut. In this case, the journey getting there is truly one of the highlights of the destination as we send our quests up scenic Route 169, which runs north-and-south through the region. The Quiet Corner is much more rural than our inn’s southeastern CT waterfront location and is especially noted for its country/rural setting, antique shops, boutiques and restaurants. The region is also known for the many antiques shops within Putnam, Pomfret and Woodstock. Check out the following festival in Woodstock, CT:

October 15th & 16th which is the weekend after Columbus Day is the 34th Annual Roseland Cottage Fine Arts and Crafts Festival. fall-roseland-cottage-arts-festivalLocated right off of Rte. 169, Roseland Cottage in Woodstock hosts one of the leading juried fine arts and crafts shows in New England, featuring 175 local artisans and their wares: jewelry, painting printmaking, woodwork, pottery, clothing, Metalwork, and much more. Enjoy live music, a food court, and first-floor tours of Roseland Cottage. Hours are 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

As your ‘day trip’ continues to wind through the country side you will enter the antiquing capital of Connecticut! Putnam is home to the largest antiques market in the state. While perusing several floors of items you will most certainly find a treasure that you must have for your own! If you’re feeling fatigued from your travels this is the place to take a stop to refuel. Try the 85 Main Bistro, The Crossings Restaurant & Brew Pub or The Courthouse Bar & Grille where you will find some wonderful food in this small town location. Or perhaps you can plan to visit during the following festival:

October 22nd is the Great Pumpkin Festival and Foliage Train Ride in Downtown Putnam CT.
fall-pumpkin-festival-putnamArts and crafts, harvest fair, live music, pumpkin carving, pie eating contest and much more! The Town of Putnam & the Downtown Business Association proudly present this annual festival. Take a 90 minute foliage train ride excursion and you’ll wind at a leisurely pace through the Last Green Valley. All events make for a long and satisfying day!

In closing, autumn is one of the best times of the year to visit here at our inn, and for us locals “it is” our favorite time of the year. The summer crowds have come and gone, and the weather just keeps getting better. The days are sunny and warm, still perfect for walking the beaches or visiting the host of shoreline attractions. At night the cool ocean air off Niantic Bay provides the perfect excuse to light the fireplace in your guest room while you sip a glass of wine and relax after a long day exploring the southernmost New England state ~ Connecticut.

Never Wrong at Wright’s Steak House

Sure, the primary reason people come and visit with us is most things shoreline; beaches, our boardwalk, outdoor waterfront dining and fresh New England seafood. However, as we noted in our previous BLOG we also have some great local theaters and playhouses locally. And when our guest come to visit with us to catch a show at one of the theaters, we like to recommend a few specials places to grab a bite to eat before or after the show. To this end, below are some of our favorite eateries when visiting our local playhouses.

Let’s Get Fresh!

Chef Jonathan Rapp of River Tavern and OTTO Pizza in Chester – and the yearly Dinners at the Farm benefit series – has opened Wright’s Steakhouse this year in Centerbrook, taking over the former Gabrielle’s Restaurant space in the village in Essex.

Moving back to Deep River, CT after selling his two wildly successful venues in New York City, Rapp decided to try his magic locally. He introduced farm-to-table, locally-sourced dining to the Shoreline and now we’ve come to expect it. River Tavern has produced a group of restaurants on the same wave length and if his original mission was to teach us to savor the abundance of Connecticut, he has succeeded.

Wright’s Steakhouse – Centerbrook, CT

1 Sign sm 1500

As we say, you’re never wrong at Wright’s Steakhouse – One of our new go to places for beef, well steak to be exact, is Wright’s Steakhouse in Centerbrook. Located just 20 minutes from our inn and just down the street from the Essex Steam Train, Wright’s specializes in locally-raised, wood-fired meats. As is usual for a steakhouse, dishes are served a la carte. Additionally, they feature a fresh raw bar with a variety of oysters and littleneck clams, soups, salads, sandwiches, poultry and fish.

Although you’re dining in a historic Victorian era home, the décor is somewhat minimalist with pale woods and bright red accents – not at all stuffy. A nice variety of cocktails and the offering of several draft beers and a very nice wine list make this experience complete. So if you’re craving a “good fresh steak” or a good fresh anything for that matter, consider a visit to Wright’s Steakhouse during your visit here at the inn.

River Tavern – Chester, CT

River Tavern ChesterOpened in 2001 this was the first of three shoreline local restaurants master-minded by chef/owner Jonathan Rapp. River Tavern is located on Main Street in the cozy town center of Chester. Working with local farms, fishermen and cheese mongers, River Tavern takes great pride in serving innovative farm fresh cuisine in an inviting modern atmosphere. Chef Rapp is proud to be a member of and counted among the early organizers of the Department of Agriculture’s Farm-to-Chef program.

Staying true to the fresh locally farmed ingredients, the menu changes daily to focus on the current harvest of Connecticut providers and preparing them simply and thoughtfully. The cocktail, beer and wine menus change often and are influenced by current menus and the changing seasons.

OTTO – Chester, CT

They keep it simple at Otto’s Wood-Fired Pizzeria.  Otto Pizza in Chester The no-nonsense wood fired specialty pizzas, all one size are a meal fit for two. Try their award-winning Margherita pizza and add a beautiful Antipasti plate. This modern and stylish pizzeria is offering a simple and delicious menu. The menu, which can change as often as daily, features gourmet pizzas, fresh salads, a limited, but nice selection of beer and wines. They source ingredients locally whenever possible and even have a few gluten free options available. They’re open for dinner seven nights a week and for weekend lunch, too. Tables are first come, first serve and are eat in or take out. Go hungry, and bring your friends.

Finally, you do not need to be going to a play or show to experience any of the above fine restaurants.  All are within a 30 minute drive from our inn.  So if you’re interesting in visiting one of these restaurants during your next visit, please ask us for directions.

For additional information on any of the above restaurants, visit:

Wright’s Steak House – www.wrightssteak.com/

River Tavern –  www.rivertavernrestaurant.com/

Otto Pizza – www.ottochester.com/

Bravo! Bravo!
for CT Shoreline Summer Theater

Summer theater is alive and well in Connecticut!  One of the things that our vacationers and guests here at the award-winning Inn at Harbor Hill Marina might not realize is our great accessibility to some award-winning theater.  Everything from drama to musicals can be found within 30 minutes of our inn.  So if you’re considering a getaway to the Connecticut Shoreline it’s smart to book your room and buy your tickets as soon as you’ve decided on dates.  You won’t be disappointed!

Let’s take a look at what the 2016 seasons at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, the Norma Terris Theater in neighboring Chester or the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton have to offer.

Goodspeed Opera House

The Goodspeed Opera House – East Haddam, CT

The Opera House was originally built by a local merchant and banker, William Goodspeed. Construction began in 1876 and finished in 1877. Despite the name, it was not in fact an opera house, but rather a venue for presenting plays.

Goodspeed Musicals was formed in 1959 by a group of concerned citizens after the state of Connecticut had condemned the building. The state agreed to sell the building to the group for one dollar, provided they acquire enough funding to restore and maintain it. They did and the Goodspeed Opera House was rededicated on June 8, 1963. Since 1968, Goodspeed Musicals has sent 19 productions to Broadway and productions have won more than a dozen Tony Awards, while Goodspeed Musicals itself has won two special Tonys, one for outstanding contributions to American Musicals and the other for outstanding achievement by a regional theatre.  Goodspeed has produced over 250 musicals, including over 70 world premieres. Critic fellows from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT travel to the Goodspeed each summer to practice reviewing full productions.

Tours of many of the Goodspeed facilities can be scheduled in advance for a small fee. Tickets to the opera house or theatre productions should be ordered in advance as most performances in the relatively small theater sell-out quickly.

See more at:  http://www.goodspeed.org/about/all-about-goodspeed#sthash.h4XjQFMH.dpuf

Bye Bye Birdie
June 24th – Sept 4th
Bye Bye BirdiePut on a happy face! Army-bound rock star Conrad Birdie’s farewell appearance in Sweet Apple, Ohio is the talk of the town. But it’s a teenage crisis for new “steadies” Hugo and Kim: she just won the chance to give Birdie one last kiss before boot camp. Kids, parents and show folk collide in the Goodspeed debut of the hip-swiveling musical comedy set at the dawn of the sensational ’60s. – See more at: http://www.goodspeed.org/productions/2016/bye-bye-birdie#sthash.Ppo9G80b.dpuf

 

Chasing Rainbows – THE ROAD TO OZ
Sept 16th – Nov 27th
Chasing...An awkward girl with a golden voice blossoms into Judy Garland in the inspirational new musical about the bumpy road to “Oz.” The future superstar’s complicated childhood comes alive with heartbreak, hope and the music that made her famous. “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “You Made Me Love You” and “Over the Rainbow” sweeten the story of Judy striving to hold onto her family. A love letter to gifted underdogs who reach high—and how the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. –
See more at: http://www.goodspeed.org/productions/2016/chasing-rainbows#sthash.svODEEum.dpuf

The Norma Terris Theatre – Chester, CT
Norma Terris
In 1984, Goodspeed Musicals added a second performance venue—the Norma Terris Theatre—in nearby Chester, Connecticut. Dedicated in 1984, the theatre is named in honor of the actress Norma Terris, a patron and trustee of the Goodspeed Opera House during her later years. In 1987 she established

The Norma Terris Fund to develop the careers of new actors and to promote musical theatre.  While the main stage presents a mixture of revivals and new musicals as part of its 3 production season, The Norma Terris also presents three new musicals each season. Several original plays debuted here or at the opera house before going on to Broadway and winning Tony Awards.

A Sign of the Times
July 29th – Sept 4th

Sign of timesA NEW ’60’s MUSICAL – 1965. The pulse of a changing era lures Cindy from Middle America to the swirl of Manhattan. –

See more at:  http://www.goodspeed.org/productions/2016/a-sign-of-the-times#sthash.vuurWYeM.dpuf


The Ivoryton Playhouse – Ivoryton, CT

ivoryton playhouseThe original building was built in 1911 and in 1930 became the home of the Ivoryton Playhouse, believed to be the first self-supporting summer theatre in the United States.
The theater gained in prestige to the point that invitations to work there were highly prized in the theatrical profession. Established actors like Henry Hull and Norma Terris (theater named for her in Chester, CT) signed on to perform at Ivoryton, and newcomers like Katharine Hepburn and Cliff Robertson came along to help mold the Ivoryton legend. Ivoryton’s fame as one of America’s leading summer showplaces continued to grow until the outbreak of World War II, when the theatre went dark for several seasons but reopened the Playhouse after the war and presented a parade of stars such as Marlon Brando, Betty Grable, Groucho Marx, and many others.

Chicago
June 29th – July 24th, 2016
Chicago
Winner of Six 1997 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, CHICAGO has everything that makes Broadway great: a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz; one show-stopping song after another and the most astonishing dancing you’ve ever seen.
See more at: http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/chicago

Rent
August 3rd – August 28th, 2016
RENT
RENT is an inspiring musical with songs that rock and stories that resonate.  Set in the East Village of New York City, RENT is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the TONY Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, RENT has become a pop cultural phenomenon – exuberant, passionate and joyous.  See more at:
http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/rent

Man of La Mancha
September 7th – October 2nd, 2016
Man of LaMancha
One of the world’s most popular musicals, MAN OF LA MANCHA, the “Impossible Dream” musical, is based on Don Quixote, and tells of the adventures of a delusional Spanish knight who sallies forth on a quest to restore chivalry to the world, and to claim his lady love.

Winner of 5 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  See more at:
http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/man-of-la-mancha

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Story
October 26th – November 13th, 2016
Tenderly...America’s favorite girl singer comes to life on stage in this exhilarating and inspiring musical biography. TENDERLY, THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL is not a typical “juke-box musical.” It offers a fresh, remarkably personal, and poignant picture of the woman whose unparalleled talent and unbridled personality made her a legend. With her signature songs woven in and out, we learn both the story of her successes on film, radio, and TV, as well as her struggles in her personal life.
See more at:  http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/tenderly-the-rosemary-clooney-story

So, as we titled this BLOG post, Bravo!  Bravo! for our Connecticut shoreline theaters.  We love them, and are sure you would too.

Lighthouse Tours
   on the Connecticut shoreline.

The Inn at Harbor Hill Marina is located within a short distance of a number of beautiful and historic lighthouses. Did you know that people are fascinated by lighthouses? The historic naval and military review before construction, the folklore, the design and the locations all conjure up a vision of the history of the United States at sea.

When we named the rooms in our ‘Main Inn’ some years back, they were named for famous lighthouses on the southeastern portion of the Connecticut shoreline and three important lights in Long Island Sound.

Aside from history there is something mystifying about a lighthouse. I don’t know if it’s the vision of a structure standing alone out on the ocean and the apparent danger the house is constantly exposed to during storms and in protection of our harbors. Maybe it’s the countless books, movies, documentaries, and stories associated with the lighthouse. Who hasn’t seen a movie that has a wayward ship crashing up on the rocks by a lighthouse, lost at sea in a horrible storm or a soaking wet stranger arriving on the doorstep shivering and disoriented. This is the stuff books and movies are made of… mystery and adventure.

A very unique tour shoves off three times a week from New London and explores historic lighthouses in Long Island Sound. Some of “our” lighthouses and historic forts along the shoreline can be seen during wonderful lighthouse cruises that are offered by the Cross Sound Ferry (longislandferry.com). Enjoy two hour tours of history narrated by local experts while zipping aboard the SEA JET, a wave-piercing catamaran capable of cruising at speeds in excess of 30 knots (35 mph). Hit the high seas with all of the comforts and travel in air conditioned comfort with ample windows, airline seating and spacious outdoor decks.

If you’d like to strike out on your own and plan a self-guided daytrip from the inn here are our suggestions for lights of interest that are all within a half hour drive and can be seen by land. Pack a picnic and choose a waterfront stop along the way, smell the salt air and just enjoy!

Stonington Harbor Lighthouse, Stonington, CT – 1823
Stonington Lighthouse

In the early 1800’s, Stonington became a center for shipbuilding, whaling, and fishing industries, prompting the need for the current Stonington Harbor lighthouse to be built in 1823 at the entrance to the harbor. It was the first lighthouse built in Connecticut.

The lighthouse was offered for sale and the winning and only bid came from the Stonington Historical Society. In 1925 it was completely refurbished and opened it to the public as a museum. The Old Lighthouse Museum still operates today, and boasts as the only lighthouse on the Connecticut mainland that is regularly open to the public. The original whale oil light from the first Stonington light is one of the many items on display at the museum.

Mystic Seaport Lighthouse, Mystic, CT – 1966
Mystic Seaport Lighthouse

Mystic Seaport Light is a lighthouse at the south end of Mystic Seaport, 2 miles upriver from Noank, Connecticut. The light is a two-story white shingled structured topped with a glass-enclosed lantern constructed in 1966. It was formally dedicated in August 31, 1967, but remained unlit due to active navigational regulations imposed by the United States Coast Guard. The Mystic Seaport light is now an active light, but not an official aid to navigation.

The structure was used as an example of a lighthouse for Mystic Seaport visitors, but was not part of an exhibit until a 2008 renovation. The interior of the lighthouse was equipped with five LCD televisions to display two short educational films that highlight the history and architectural diversity of American lighthouses.

Morgan Point Lighthouse, Noank, CT – 1823 – Privately owned residence.
Morgan Point Lighthouse

To help mariners enter the Mystic River and the harbor, the Morgan Point lighthouse was built in 1823.

In the great New England hurricane of 1938, local residents reportedly took refuge inside the base of the tower during the hurricane, believing correctly that it was one of the safest places to be during a storm.

In 1991, a Connecticut native became the third private owner after seeing an ad for the lighthouse in the Wall Street Journal. “I had harbored the dream for 40 years of living a CT lighthouse. “When I found it, we were going to own it, that’s all there was to it.”

As a private residence, the lighthouse and the surrounding grounds are now closed to the public, although the structure is well-kept and remains an important visual landmark for maritime traffic coming into Mystic Harbor

Avery Point Lighthouse, Groton, CT – 1943
Avery Point Lighthouse

Avery Point Lighthouse is located on the east side of the Thames River entrance. You can visit the lighthouse situated on the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus. Avery Point is the last lighthouse in Connecticut to be built in 1943. The first light used consisted of eight 200-watt bulbs as a white light. In the late 1990’s some of the funding to restore the deteriorating structure came from sales of over 2000 personalized bricks from individual donors as part of a new landscaped walkway. Many of the services and materials were donated by the local townspeople to help complete the restoration in 2006.

New London Harbor Lighthouse, New London, CT – 1760, 1800
New London Harbor Lighthouse

New London Harbor Lighthouse is the fourth oldest lighthouse in the country and one of the earliest American lighthouses with a flashing light.

The original New London Harbor Lighthouse was built on the west side of the entrance to New London Harbor in 1760, before the United States was established as an independent nation.

On May 7, 1800, Congress appropriated funds to rebuild the lighthouse. It was removed in 1801 when the current stone tower was built. In 1855 a fourth-order Fresnel lens replaced the original 11 lamps with 13-inch reflectors. Illumination was converted to oil-vapor lamp in 1909 and acetylene in 1912. The light was electrified in 1930. The present keeper’s house was built in 1863.

New London Ledge “Haunted” Lighthouse, New London, CT – 1909
New London Ledge Lighthouse

This one-of-a-kind building was one of the last lighthouses built in New England, and it represents a rare case of an early 20th century offshore lighthouse that is not of cast-iron construction. By the early 1900s, New London, with its protected harbor at the mouth of the Thames River, had made the transition from whaling center to industrial city. New London Ledge Light was built because New London Harbor Light wasn’t sufficient to direct vessels around the dangerous ledges at the entrance to the harbor. When it was first lighted, the New London Day reported that the light could be seen up to 18 miles away.

The stately red brick building with its mansard roof and granite detailing makes a striking picture standing off by itself near the entrance to Connecticut’s New London Harbor, at the extreme eastern end of Long Island Sound. The lighthouse reportedly owes its distinctive French Second Empire style to the influence of the wealthy home owners on the local coast, who wanted a structure in keeping with the elegance of their own homes. Many of the large homes near the shore in the area were destroyed in the great hurricane of September 21, 1938.

Probably the best-known part of this station’s history and lore is the lighthouse’s infamous ghost, “Ernie.” It’s been claimed that in the 1920s or ’30s, a keeper learned that his wife had run off with the captain of the Block Island ferry. Distraught, the keeper jumped — or fell — from the roof of the lighthouse to his death, the story goes. Before the station was automated, the Coast Guard crew on duty reported various strange happenings: mysterious knocks on their bedroom doors in the middle of the night, doors opening and closing, the television being turned on and off repeatedly, and even having the covers pulled off the end of their bed. Falling back to sleep after being awakened by a strange noise was often a problem. If there’s any truth behind the legend, it’s elusive.

Playwright Eugene O’Neill lived in New London for many years, and his famous play Long Day’s Journey Into Night was set in the town. During one scene in the play, the characters refer to the fog signal at New London Ledge, a sound familiar to residents of New London.

New London Ledge was the last remaining manned lighthouse on Long Island Sound when it was finally de-staffed in 1987.

Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse, Old Saybrook, CT – 1886
Saybrook Breakwater Light

Saybrook Breakwater lighthouse was built in 1886 as part of a channel system that was dug to guide ships into the shallow harbor. Even though its location was close to shore, keepers would only stay there on average only a couple of years due to its constant dampness, and it was difficult with the strong currents and constant winds to row ashore for supplies. There were also no assistant keepers assigned to help the keepers until 1917.

During the hurricane of 1938, New England’s worst hurricane, most everything including a 1,500-gallon tank of kerosene was swept away except for the tower, which actually withstood the force. Keeper Gross and Assistant Keeper Bennett were able to survive in the tower and kept the light burning.

Actress Katharine Hepburn lived for many years near Lynde Point Lighthouse and Saybrook Breakwater Light.

Lynde Point Lighthouse, Old Saybrook, CT – 1803
Lynde Point Lighthouse

With increased shipping traffic and fishing, Lynde Point Lighthouse was built in 1803 to guide ships coming through Long Island Sound where the Connecticut River empties into the sound at Old Saybrook. The first wooden lighthouse with a whale-oil lantern placed on top was criticized by mariners as being too difficult to see. They complained it was too dim and too short, and the evaporation from the nearby marsh would cause a constant fog obscuring the lighthouse, even though the air would be clear out at sea.

So why choose to stay at
    a Bed and Breakfast?

When it’s time to plan for a trip, there are a number of things to consider. How will you get to your destination? Will you be going by plane, train, or automobile? You need to figure out how much and what to pack. These are important questions that often take time and effort to plan out.

In the process of planning, you might be tempted to reserve a room at a decent hotel and call it a day. It’s a strong temptation, and certainly understandable. Hotels are businesses that are specifically designed to make sure your stay is comfortable. You’ll usually get a decent bed in a nice room, at a reasonable price. However, it’s not the only option, and in fact, it’s not even the best one.

How is a Bed and Breakfast different From a Hotel?
Bed and Breakfast

A hotel may have nice amenities, it may be clean and well-tended, and it may have good customer service however, the staff is just that, staff. It’s a place where you go to stay for a few days, ignoring the world around you and often having the world ignore you right back. You may be able to use their pool, or their gym, or one of their other facilities but at no time is a hotel ever going to go out of their way to make you feel like their room could be your home. For some people, the idea of staying at a place that tries to feel like home is unnecessary. They just want a clean bed and a television, and perhaps internet access. As long as they have that, they’re fine.

But it’s always nice to have a choice and a Bed and Breakfast does exactly that by offering a warmer, more personal option. It’s much more than simply a room in which to stay, it’s actually a place that usually feels like home (minus the laundry, leaky faucet, etc.). A B&B accomplishes this with special amenities like complimentary WiFi, a glass of wine on arrival and home cooked breakfasts, local itineraries and pleasant surroundings. Though peaceful solitude is always an option you may find sitting in one of the common areas and talking with other guests or staff members is just what you need.

A Little History about Bed and Breakfast / inns…

The custom of opening one’s home to travelers dates back to Colonial America. Lodging establishments were few and far between and wayfarers relied on the kindness of strangers to provide a bed for the night. Hotels became more common with the advent of the railroad and later the automobile and most towns had at least one prominent hotel at this point in time.

Through the years there have been several steps to the evolution of today’s Bed and Breakfast Inn. In the 1980s and 1990s, B&B’s increased rapidly in numbers and evolved from homestay B&B’s with shared baths and simple furnishings to beautifully renovated homes and historic mansions with luxurious décor and amenities. By the mid-1990s, the Internet made it more affordable for innkeepers to promote their properties worldwide; it provided on-line reservation software and allowed travelers to view detailed photos, videos, and reviews.

B&B and Inn owners have been adding amenities such as wireless Internet access, free parking, spa services or nightly wine and cheese hours. To stay competitive with the rest of the lodging industry, larger bed and breakfast inns have expanded to offer wedding services, business conference facilities, and meeting spaces as well as many other services a large hotel might offer.

Innkeepers

      Sue & Dave Labrie Innkeepers ~ Inn at Harbor Hill Marina

Today there are hundreds of thousands of B&B’s throughout the world. In the United States, B&B’s are found in all states, in major cities and remote rural areas, occupying everything from modest cottages to opulent mansions and in restored structures from schools to cabooses to churches.

Check out the benefits to staying in a bed and breakfast

Staying at a bed and breakfast is a wonderful alternative to the traditional hotel stay. Gardens are often lush and offer comfortable seating, and rooms range from cozy to luxurious. Staying in a B&B can be a really unique travel experience and not one to be missed. Check out the following benefits of staying while making your decision.

  • Although B&B rooms can be priced higher than hotels, they usually offer a better value overall. More amenities are included such as breakfast and free Internet, you get much better service, and the experience tends to be more unique than an average hotel stay.
  • You’ll get more personal service. At a B&B, there are only a small group of guests, giving you a much more personal experience. Typically, your concierge is the owner and thus is invested in making sure you have a great stay.
  • Breakfast is included. It’s a wonderful amenity usually including special homemade offerings like coffee breads and cakes with everything from a continental spread to a hot breakfast with entrée.
  • You’ll encounter unexpected luxuries. B&B’s tend to offer all those special extra touches that can make your stay feel pampering. Some facilities even offer snacks and beverages (often to include wine) in the common areas for your enjoyment and convenience.
  • A B&B is the perfect romantic getaway. In fact, B&B’s have become so popular for couples that many cater to this romantic angle, offering special romantic packages. These may include pre-planned events or excursions that are included in your stay.
  • You can get a taste of the local flavor and lifestyle. B&B’s are usually established and run by locals, and tend to have their own character. Even better, B&B owners often have lots of tips concerning the best things to do and see in the local area.
  • Many B&B’s offer additional recreational activities in their regular packages. Depending on the location, you may be able to enjoy boating, biking, hiking, canoeing, golfing, or skiing.
  • Unlike hotels, B&B’s are often located in out-of-the-way areas or off the beaten path. This provides you with a great opportunity to see less traveled parts of the community that you would otherwise miss.
  • At a B&B, there are fewer people coming and going. With less going on, B&B owners tend to keep a much higher standard of security than a hotel property with a typical hotel staff.
  • You get the privacy and peace and quiet you desire. A B&B tends to be more exclusive with fewer guests and usually don’t often cater to families but are more popular among couples. If you’re looking for a place to spend a quiet weekend, a B&B may be your best bet.

So why stay at our Inn at Harbor Hill Marina B&B?

Well, here at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina we absolutely love what we do and that has been the driving force behind the inn experience that we’ve created, from the staff and team that we’ve chosen to all the little extras that we provide. We are committed to providing exactly what we value when we are traveling, and have also added important, unique items from our own traveling ‘wish list.’ At the bare minimum we all look for clean and well-appointed rooms, pleasant, accommodating and knowledgeable staff, good food and beautiful surroundings – and as you know we often don’t get them all.

However, here at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina we strive each and every day to exceed all standards and also offer our 24 hour complimentary snacks and beverages, fresh, home baked warm cookies in the evening and best of all accessibility to us, our staff and our incomparable knowledge of the Mystic Country region. We take great pride in being able to make tried and true recommendations for all things Connecticut Shoreline, providing custom itineraries of things to see and do or you can peruse our restaurant book and let us help you make those very important dining decisions. Perhaps you’re looking to spend some time at the beach, and if so, we provide you with everything that you’ll need to enjoy your day. All of these things are important to our commitment to exceptional customer service and offering you the experience of a lifetime here at our B&B.

The sign below and in our Gathering Room beautifully sums up perfectly:
Enter Strangers Leave Friends

So, if you’re planning on taking a vacation anytime soon, and if you have never stayed at a bed and breakfast before, then you just might find the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina a better choice, and a better way to stay!
We hope to see you soon.

Elopement Weddings at
 Harbor Hill on the CT Shoreline

We’ve had many guests tie the knot here at Harbor Hill over the past couple of years, and we pride ourselves in helping couples coordinate the officiants, marriage licenses, flowers and photographers. We even have recommendations for small wedding cake bakeries and hair salons. Whether you choose a simple exchange of vows on a local beach or a sand-ceremony in our gazebo, we are sure that we have what you’re looking for – memories to last a lifetime.

Gazebo Decorated for Wedding

Today, with the stress, often limited time available, balancing schedules and high costs of weddings, more and more couples are choosing to have an ‘elopement style’ wedding. Couples find that by eloping, they can have a beautiful wedding at an affordable price, within their own time frame, without all of the stress. And while anytime of the year is a perfect time of year to elope with that special someone you love, it is especially so during the spring, summer and autumn seasons here on the CT shoreline. Although we have had some lovely winter elopement weddings right here at the inn it seems that milder weather, our beautiful gardens, quiet beaches and spectacular sunsets make for the most popular setting for vows and photos. Actually, ceremonies here at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina are as we’ve been told, a photographers dream!

VinitnSherri 2014 4

The photos from our extraordinary and beautiful waterfront setting help tell the story of love and commitment. The inn is the perfect choice for stylish New England seaside elopements with our vintage-restored guest rooms or newer rooms with higher end amenities, our home-made breakfasts each morning and advice in arranging all the details for your perfect wedding. Your classic New England elopement was never easier with our casual seaside elegance that captures the relaxing feel of a day long past with wraparound porches, comfortable wicker and Adirondack chairs, beautiful flower gardens and magnificent water views.

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Although the State of Connecticut does not require witnesses to be present for your ceremony you may want to include a couple of friends to join you here. After your nuptials, we can recommend some local restaurants to go to for a simple yet romantic dinner you’ll enjoy as you reflect on your day, the ceremony and most importantly your future together. There are fine dining options, wonderful waterfront restaurants, stylish and intimate bistros all within walking distance or a short drive from the inn.

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The next morning sit down in our Bayview dining room to enjoy the perfect honeymoon breakfast as you enjoy the Inn at Harbor Hill’s classic breakfast buffet with a delightful hot entrée offered each morning while taking in the beautiful harbor view. You’ll be treated to one of many ‘Chef’s Choice” daily offerings to include our signature Pecan Baked French Toast, fluffy egg strata, ricotta or blueberry pancakes to name a few. The daily buffet includes fresh fruit salad, home baked muffins and coffee cake, fresh bagels, toast and English muffins along with juices, yogurts, cereals and our own delicious and highly acclaimed Harbor Hill Granola.

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What more can we say? If you are considering an ‘elopement’ style wedding, please check out our Sea Breeze Elopement Package because every now and then, right in the midst of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy-tale!

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Stoofer Elopement Ceremony

 

Kavedis by InnStyle

The Book Barn; the most
   unique Book Store anywhere!

You know how we all sometimes take for granted some of the true local treasures we have right in our own backyards? Well so is the case with our local “Book Barn” right here in Niantic, CT. Often, when guests come to stay here at the inn they may be thinking of venturing out to Mystic Aquarium or Seaport or maybe finding their way to one of the many vineyards located here in Southeastern CT. However, many guests are also looking for recommendations for the really unique, fun and interesting things to do locally for a morning or afternoon.

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One option that has become a bit of a New England legend is just fantastic and again is located right here in Niantic (just 1 mile from our inn). You can literally spend hours here. Take in the fresh air, take some time to relax and curl up with a book and be transported to a place away from the stresses of everyday life. Worth a trip for all ages! Explore away at The Book Barn!!

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Financial success has given owners Randi and Maureen White the freedom to also transform their store into a tool to get kids excited about reading. They believe in a make it fun while they’re young approach. It doesn’t matter whether the kids are there primarily for the playground or the animals, Randi asserts: “Deep down inside, they’re associating that good time with being at a bookstore.” The place really does have an enchanted feel to it.

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This southeastern Connecticut “book-shop” has grown over the past 2 decades and now spreads across four locations, which is understandable, given that the barn alone couldn’t handle the 500,000 plus volumes on hand. Bring a book to sell and find your next treasure among the fiction, nonfiction, children’s, and rare volumes on offer.

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What started as a room with a couch and three bookcases has grown into a sprawling complex of themed buildings. No doubt about it, this is a wonderland for book lovers. The Book Barn is spread out among five locations in Niantic, CT. At the main Book Barn (yes, a real Barn!) at 41 West Main Street there is more than enough to engage you. Everything is well-organized. Most hardcover books are available at a bargain price of $1 – $4 and there seems to be quick turnover, so this is a place where frequent visits are rewarded.

This whimsical store attracts some serious book lovers, too. It’s become a pilgrimage site for bibliophiles across the region — including anyone looking to purge their old collections and stock up on cheap paperbacks. Many even make a day of it, spreading out on the lawn for a lunchtime picnic. Owners estimate that they buy at least a thousand books a day and sell about a quarter-million a year.

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For those of us of any age, who enjoy a book on paper, you will find it here. There are folks that have visited it many times and almost always leave with a treasure. It’s just fun to visit and many return visitors to the Book Barn, plan time to come back to just hang out and read in one of the outdoor gardens in cozy seating areas. The ambience is so laid back and friendly and is conducive to simply hanging out and enjoying your books.

Quirky jokes and kitschy junk have a way of finding permanent homes at The Book Barn. This is a creative spot to visit and the water elements, decorations (whimsical and not) are just charming as you meander through the numerous buildings of books by genre. It is charming and quirky with goats, flowers, odd statues and signs, and the cats. Make sure you look for the cats! They even have a guide to find the cats on the property that boasts biographies for each feline. There is a pen holding two pygmy goats (the store’s most popular residents), Randi explains, “One day some friends just showed up with some goats in the back of their truck … That’s just the way things work here.”

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And, not least of all, the staff is helpful, very knowledgeable and pleasant.

The Book Barn, 41 West Main St., Niantic, CT. 860-739-5715; bookbarnniantic.com
2nd location: The Book Barn Downtown, 269 Main St., Niantic, CT. 860-691-8078
Open 7 days per week (but closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
Hours: daily 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Come Experience a Traditional Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride

Just hear those sleigh bells ringin’, jing-jing-jing-a-ling too ~ come on its lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you!

If you’re looking for something unique to do this winter to help celebrate your anniversary, a special birthday or simply are simply seeking a new winter adventure, let us help you. Sure, we’re known more for our summer time activities here on the Connecticut shoreline, but we must say it is every bit as beautiful and relaxing even in the winter. And, with rooms being more available with our quiet season rates in effect, it’s no wonder so many people still come to visit and stay with us. And why not, we have so many romantic and exciting ideas to make your experience unique and enjoyable – including traditional horse-drawn sleigh rides.

Whether you are looking for romance, relaxation, or a splendid taste of the New England countryside, enjoy it in an authentic horse driven sleigh or open carriage. Bring along a heart for adventure and some cozy companionship, and we’ll do the rest! There is nothing so enchanting as the sound of sleigh bells and the whisper of runners on fresh snow! Come have a “Currier and Ives” experience as you bundle up in furry lap robes and hand muffs, and let the sleigh take you from this bustling century to a more tranquil time of the past.

Now in their fourth decade, our local Allegra Farm is the largest authentic “livery stable” in Connecticut, catering solely to those who desire a unique experience with a bygone era. Located on beautiful Lake Hayward in East Haddam, Connecticut (just 35-40 minutes from our inn), Allegra Farms offers scenic romantic horse-drawn carriage rides around the lake or antique sleighs offering an invigorating ride through the New England snow.

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While it’s true the 19th century is well over 100 years behind us now, our good friend John Allegra and Allegra Farm are keeping this era alive with the restoration of vintage horse drawn carriages, sleighs, wagons and equipment. Allegra Farm is home to the Horse Drawn Carriage and Sleigh Museum of New England, and full time carriage service is their only business. From the carriages to the horses, proper attire to proper etiquette, the meticulous eye for historical detail will carry you away to the Victorian Age.

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Sue and Dave enjoying an open air horse-drawn sleigh ride

 

Virtually every carriage, in addition to being a true antique, has a history of having transported famous actors or individuals in numerous movie or television productions. Movie productions are a specialty, including Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad”, “The Time Machine”, and “Kate and Leopold.” Television appearances have included, “Sex in the City”, and “Ed”. A number of Allegra Farm’s horses and carriages are often seen at Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut, virtually year round.

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A Sleigh ride is a wonderful way to take in the sights and sounds of winter, simply relax, and chase away the winter blues. As the snow starts to fall, it’s time to enjoy an adventure in the comfort of a horse-drawn sleigh. Bring your own refreshments to warm your body and spirit and just sit back and relax as you tour the countryside the way folks have for centuries. Experience a different sort of horsepower, as the sled runners glide across the snow and the sleigh bells jingle on. And if there’s no snow, don’t worry, Allegra Farms offers horse-drawn carriage rides around the beautiful Lake Hayward. Truth be told, there have been many wedding proposals made during the rides.

DINE Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride

So if you’re looking for that unique something to do this winter, give us a call and ask about a traditional horse-drawn sleigh ride at our local Allegra Farms. As its been sung, giddy-up giddy-up giddy-up let’s go,
come look at our show, you’ll be riding in a wonderland of snow; giddy-up giddy-up giddy-up it’s grand, just holding hands in our wintery fairyland….
Alright, alright enough already. Just give us a call at (860) 739-0331 to help arrange your horse-drawn sleigh ride.

Winter Fun ~
  The Niantic Light Parade

Looking for something fun to do during this holiday season?  Come feel the excitement and anticipation in the air on a dark December night. Feel a little Jack Frost nipping at your nose! See thousands of people streaming into our normally quiet winter-clad town. Notice the chairs that have been placed in line for the best views from the sidewalks. See children riding high atop adult shoulders, mesmerized by the sights, and sounds of the holidays. The tinsel, lights and carols surround Main Street. Check out the reviewing stand erected on the town green.

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What’s happening? It’s our 27th Annual Niantic Light Parade! The Light Parade features beautifully built and lighted parade floats, dance groups and Santa himself as they parade down the beautifully decorated Main Street in Niantic. This year’s Niantic / East Lyme Light Parade will be held on Saturday night December 12th at 6:00 p.m. (with a Rain Date of Sunday, December 13th at 5:00 p.m.)

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This is a favorite for everyone! Folks come from far and wide to attend this celebrated event. There is something for everyone! Even a down right cold December night does not cause this event to be cancelled! There have been as many as seventy, beautifully built and lit floats cruising down Main Street with Marching Bands and dance groups during any number of parades. Many floats reflect current movies or themes of the times, local businesses and some floats carry non-profit service groups. The participants put forth their best ideas and creations to celebrate this important holiday event.

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Today’s Light Parade is a far cry from the original parade started in 1988 by the town and a few local businesses. In the beginning it was a parade of decorated town dump trucks and fire trucks and some local private citizens all showing the holiday spirit while bringing people out to enjoy our Main Street. As the years progressed the parade became a local tradition and continued to grow larger every year with the addition of new businesses, service organizations and non-profits, private citizens and interested groups from other area towns. Anyone wanting to enter a float can do so by completing an application and submitting with the appropriate entrance fee.

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Celebrating its 27th anniversary in 2015, the Annual East Lyme / Niantic Light Parade is the largest holiday light parade in all of New England, and maybe one of the most unique events you will find anywhere.
Come see it for yourself; you won’t be disappointed.

Dave’s Best Roasted Cranberries Recipe

Ok, for any of you who have every stayed here at our inn and enjoyed our Cranberry Scones, you probably commented on them and then had 2 or 3 more. Well, we’re revealing the “secret” behind our scones and just in time for the upcoming Thanksgiving season. The secret is what we do with the cranberries. This is not just any recipe. It has been passed on friend to friend, borrowed cook to cook far and wide and has been bequeathed from generation to generation. In our family this recipe came to us from Sue’s sister Rosanne. We do not know where she got it – and she’s not saying.

Anyway, a few years back, the “who’s-bringing-what” list was being created for our Thanksgiving family get-together which is our traditional family list of who is going to bring what for the big Turkey Day dinner. Well, one year Sue’s sister Rosanne agreed to bring the cranberries. No, not the pre-formed jellied and canned variety, but the real home-made cranberries we’ve all come to love. Being that we do love them, she always brings a super-batch around the holidays and one year, she made so many cranberries that Dave decided to try them in his scone recipe. This addition was a natural crossover and since that time our Cranberry Scones have become one of the most popular items served here at the inn.

Now, with Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, we’ve decided to share this family recipe (see below) just in time for your family’s holiday dinner. Do enjoy these, make extra to try in one of your favorite recipes, and please shoot us an email if you do try them.

Dave’s “Best-Roasted-Cranberries-Ever” Recipe:

1 (12 oz.) bag of fresh cranberries (we like Ocean Spray brand)
1 and 1/2 Cups of White Sugar
1/2 to 2/3 Cup of Apricot Brandy

Best Cranberry Recipe

                            Three Simple Ingredients

 

Place cranberries in a 9” x 13” Pyrex type glass baking dish (no need to spray dish)

Spread Cranberries evenly in dish and pick out stems, etc.

Sprinkle the Sugar and Apricot Brandy over the cranberries and mix gingerly
(note: the cranberry, sugar and brandy mixture will seem somewhat pasty, but don’t worry and don’t add more brandy than noted above)

Once complete, cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Important note; when the cranberries are done baking, DO NOT remove the aluminum foil. It is important to let the cranberries cool retaining the steam.

If you try this recipe, please shoot us an email and let us know how they came out.

Cranberry Suace in Bowl