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!

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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.

MichellenChris in Gazebo

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!

MikeFran 39

 

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.

Book Barn 001

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.

Allegra 002

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.

Light Parade 2015 logo

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

 

Come visit the Oldest Steam Powered Cider Mill in the US

Clyde's Cider Mill in Mystic CT

   Clyde’s Cider Mill in Mystic CT

Let’s face it, autumn or fall conjure up thoughts of New England highways and byways surrounded with beautiful vistas of trees decked out in spectacular, colorful foliage. Is there a more beautiful place to be in autumn than in New England? Many folks forget about Connecticut (and Rhode Island) when they think about taking a fall getaway to New England. Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and even Massachusetts are most popular when planning those New England leaf-peeping escapes. However, we’re here to tell you that all of the magnificent beauty and charm of autumn can be found right here in southeastern Connecticut.

Clydes Cider Mill 007

The oldest steam-powered Apple Press in the entire US.

For instance, we have B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Old Mystic. A visit to Clyde’s Cider Mill is like stepping back in time. If you come you will see the only steam powered cider mill in the U.S. in production with scheduled apple-pressing demonstrations.
Clydes Cider Mill 007a

There are locals that have been going to Clyde’s for so long that they remember getting cider and donuts and the only option for eating them was in the car! This cider mill has grown so much through the years but it hasn’t lost its’ historic New England charm. We think of Fall and we think of all things apple- Delicious pies, tarts, breads and cider served here every day. They start in September with a nice selection of Apple wines and hard ciders, jams, jellies, local honey, maple syrup, fudge, and what many people call “The best sweet cider on Earth!” Also available in the Fall are pumpkin bread, gourds, Indian corn, pumpkins, candy apples, kettle corn and apple cider donuts. A real favorite is the cider slushes, warm melt in your mouth cider donuts and the apple Dumplings. Also, let’s not forget the wonderful non-apple offerings of condiments and preserves. There are other areas at Clyde’s such as The Grist Mill which is a smaller shop with Christmas ornaments, tee-shirts, gifts, etc., a popcorn stand where they make fresh kettle corn, and tasting stations– for hard ciders and for apple cider wine.
Apple Cider Doughnuts

When you visit there are usually some tables from local vendors—perhaps selling cheeses and other products made from goats’ milk, and another selling honey and beeswax candles or offering local wines for tasting. They also have some colorful Adirondack chairs on the porch where you might be lucky enough to snag a seat and enjoy your cider and donuts.
Cinnamon Donuts with Sugar Daddy

This is a great stop for a historical/educational/tasting & shopping tour. You won’t be disappointed even though it can get crowded on weekends – it is worth parking on the road (if necessary) and taking a walk. The air perfumed with freshly pressed apples, and then the knowledgeable and kind staff, are just a bonus! So take a break from the ordinary and come visit a National Historic Landmark and see the 6th generation of the Clyde family making cider just like B.F. Clyde did in 1881.

OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK FROM SEPTEMBER UNTIL LATE DECEMBER
SEPT. – OCT. 9AM – 6PM
NOV. – DEC. 9AM – 5PM

CIDER MAKING DEMONSTRATIONS:
Saturdays & Sundays
October – 11am, 1pm, 3pm
November – 11am, 1pm Weather permitting

For additional information about Clyde’s Cider Mill, visit: www.bfclydescidermill.com

It’s Autumn and time to experience the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

As summer gives way to the beautiful and popular “Autumnal season” here in southern New England, many quests look for that quintessential New England leaf-peeping experience. You know what we’re talking about; places to see beautiful colored trees, visits to apple orchards and harvest festivals, corn-mazes and country drives to witness all of nature’s beauty. However, if you’re looking for a truly unique New England Experience, look no further than our local Essex Steam Train and Riverboat excursions.
Essex Station

The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat is just a short 30 minute ride from our inn, and provides a sightseeing journey through the beautiful Connecticut River Valley. This 2-1/2 hour nature excursion blasting with nature’s colors is guaranteed to reawaken all of your senses. Relax and soak up the colorful sights while gently rolling through the countryside aboard vintage train coaches. From the open decks of the Becky Thatcher Riverboat, you’ll revel in stunning views of the hills breathtaking Fall Foliage reflecting on the river water.
Essex Steam Train

Imagine traveling through one of the “last great places on earth” in Living Color! Now, board the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat for the ultimate Fall Foliage journey through the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley. Your journey begins in Essex station. There you board vintage train coaches and travel north along the banks of the scenic CT River passing by such notable historic icons as Gillette Castle, the Goodspeed Opera House, and the Haddam Swing Bridge. And, the train travels near the tidal wetlands of Pratt Cove and Chester Creek – – bountiful, natural habitats for birds. Among those typically spotted are Cormorants, Ducks, Swans, Greenland Geese, Blue Heron, Egrets, and Red-winged Blackbirds. You might catch a glimpse of an eagle or two as this area is noted for occasional eagle sightings at this time of year. Then, you will depart the steam train to board the triple-deck Mississippi-style Riverboat “Becky Thatcher” taking in breathtaking views of the color-bursting classic New England foliage. Upon Becky’s return to Deep River Landing, the steam train welcomes passengers for the return trip to Essex Station.
Becky Thatcher Riverboat

In closing, autumn here at our inn is one of the best times of the year to visit, and for us locals this is truly a favorite time of the year. The summer vacation crowds have come and gone, and the days are as lazy or as active as you’d like them to be. 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 sip a glass of wine and relax after a long day exploring the southernmost New England state ~ Connecticut.
Essex Steam Train and Riverboat

Want to see more, view our Fall “Inn” Love Getaway Package video

Our Best Clam Shacks, Lobster Rolls and Outdoor Dining

It’s summer again here on the CT shoreline! Two of the most common questions we are asked here at the inn are “who has the best Lobster Roll” and “where is there a great place to eat outside”. If we were visiting the area for the first time we’d be asking the same questions. So, below is our take on some of our favorites and the area’s most popular choices for lobster rolls, clam shacks and outdoor dining.

When it comes to lobster, you’ll find they do things a bit differently in Connecticut. This state’s claim to fame is not a traditional cold lobster-salad sandwich, but a hot lobster roll overflowing with warm lobster meat and oozing with butter. We think it’s finger-lickin’ good!

Right around the corner are two of our favorite outdoor clam shacks and both serve great fried clams, lobster rolls, clam chowder, fresh fish and chips and much, much more.

Right here in our very own Village of Niantic we have:

Skipper’s Restaurant – Niantic, CT
Skippers Restaurant in Niantic
This is one of the busiest places in the area, and rightfully so. Beautiful views, great lightly-battered fried seafood, and in our opinion, one of the best Fried Fish sandwiches in the entire area. Skipper’s is open all year around, serving lunch and dinner daily. They serve a large variety of the freshest seafood including fried whole belly clams, lobster rolls, excellent fish and chips, and award winning clam chowder, as well as chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. Skipper’s offers plenty of indoor seating and outdoor dining overlooking the Niantic Bay. Come enjoy the warm, casual atmosphere of Skippers.

Dad’s Restaurant – Niantic, CT
Dads Restaurant in Niantic
Dad’s has been a local favorite serving seasonally since 1963. Located in the charming Village of Niantic, you will be able to take in the amazing views of Long Island Sound at Niantic Bay. It’s the perfect setting for everything from date night to family dinner. You will find a great selection of seafood, burgers, fries and if you’re looking for a foot-long hotdog – this is the place! You can also walk right over for that special treat of gourmet ice cream at Dad’s Restaurant!

Stepping outside our village of Niantic, we also like the following:

Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock – New London, CT
Captain Scott's Lobster Dock
You’ll find at Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock, a quaint fish market and lobster shack on Shaw’s Cove in New London. Named for Captain Thomas A. Scott, who arrived in New London in 1871 to build the Race Rock Lighthouse, the restaurant’s signature lobster roll comes on a toasted split bun, full of hot, buttery pieces of lobster meat, topped off simply with sliced lemon. Grab a picnic table and a view of the water, and you’ll need little else. Hard to find (we have printed directions), but well worth the trip.

Ford’s Lobster – Groton, CT
Ford's Lobster
While many who visit the area know Abbott’s Lobster in Noank we’re here to tell you about a really awesome lobster spot called Ford’s Lobster. It’s not easy to find. It’s down by the water, just two small seaside shacks covered in lobster buoys and a deck overlooking a beautiful water view. This BYOB ‘shack’ is creative with their full menu plus they have a lobster bisque lobster roll option in addition to the usual hot with butter and cold with mayo. All YUMMY! Ford’s uses large chunks of tail and claw and in addition to the above options, they also make a ‘lobster bomb’ which is a bread bowl filled with lobster. The chowders here are fantastic, the New England chowder (creamy) and the Noank chowder (clear clam broth) are both winners!

The Back Porch – Old Saybrook
The Back Porch Old Saybrook
Dave loves the blackened Salmon over Caesar Salad, but they have a fair share of lobster dishes as well. One dish/sandwich in particular is their “Lobster Grilled Cheese”. Yes, you read right! If you have never had a lobster grilled cheese sandwich, this might be one of the best places to try one – to die for! With outdoor waterfront dining and New England American Cuisine, The Back Porch Restaurant is a favorite summer dining destination overlooking the boats at the mouth of the Connecticut River. Happy Hour six days a week and live entertainment Wednesdays through Sundays.

Dog Watch Café – Stonington, CT
Dog Watch Cafe Stonington, CT
The Dog Watch Cafe is located in beautiful Stonington Borough, on the marina directly overlooking Dodson Boatyard. A casual seaside atmosphere that’s perfect for kicking back with a cocktail or dining while enjoying beautiful harbor sunsets. We recommend the white wine steamed mussels – a favorite! Special events throughout the year guarantee a great time.

S&P Oyster Company – Mystic, CT
SnP Oyster
Looking to have some lunch or dinner while visiting Mystic? S&P is located right on the Mystic River by the historic bascule drawbridge. You can choose to set outside or in and have beautiful views of the boats passing through the bridge. To name a couple of favorites, the stuffing on the Seafood Ambrosia is decadent, and the tuna on the Grilled Sampler is excellent. The consistency of the food and service at S&P is what brings folks back every time. We HIGHLY recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants a water view and some refreshingly tasty good food!!

Sea Swirl of Mystic – Mystic, CT
Sea Swirl
Come to Sea Swirl of Mystic for some of the best dining in the area. Sea Swirl was visited by Rachael Ray for her show ‘$40 A Day’ on the Food Network and received a great review. They serve a menu of expertly fried local seafood, including scallops, shrimp and fish and have perhaps one of the most beautiful sunsets on the horizon. For an alternative to seafood, there are hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, sandwiches and much more in this casual clam shack atmosphere. Oh, and don’t forget the ice cream!

Sunset Ribs – Waterford, CT
Sunset Ribs Waterfrod, CT
Sunset Ribs is one of those seasonal ‘beach-bars’ frequented by locals, vacationers and Sunday bikers. Sit on the deck and sip a cocktail, have a bite to eat and watch the sunset behind our inn. Situated on a vista overlooking the Long Island Sound and located right across the Niantic River from our inn, Sunset Ribs offers great BBQ and other offerings including steak, pasta and seasonal seafood dishes. On warm evenings dine outdoors on the patio and enjoy beautiful scenery and live entertainment with your meal.

We love sharing all of the places to grab some great seafood whether they are steps away from the inn or in little out of the way places north and south of the inn. What’s more perfect than coming to the Connecticut shoreline and indulging yourself with fresh seafood and beautiful water views!

Our Top 10 Things To Do in Mystic Country this Summer

The weather has warmed, our inn is looking amazing and we are ready for the busy summer season here in Niantic, CT. If you’re still looking to make summer vacation plans and wondering what there is to do in the area, we put together a list of popular summertime things to do in our Mystic Country region. So, without further ado, our Top 10 Things To Do while visiting the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina are:

# 1 – Visit Mystic Seaport
Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport — The Museum of America and the Sea — is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Explore American maritime history first-hand as you climb aboard historic tall ships, stroll through a re-created 19th-century coastal village or watch a working preservation shipyard in action.

Yes, Mystic has so much to see and do and we find that most of our guests who have never visited the area are very interested in visiting Mystic Seaport. And why not, it is truly one of New England’s most cherished treasures.

Click here to read more about Mystic Seaport

# 2 – Take a Day Trip to Block Island
Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

Thousands of years ago, a glacier left rolling hills and ponds behind, forming what is now known as Block Island.
Block Island features 17 miles of pristine beaches, protected by lighthouses and spectacular bluffs, and surrounded by rolling roads and winding paths.

If you have never been to Block Island and enjoy outdoor activities and exploring new places, then Block Island beckons. You’ll find that ‘Block’ is a special destination in so many ways. You’ll take a high speed ferry and find that this little island is a terrific place to explore. Whether you enjoy a laid-back beach day, a vigorous bike ride or a simple day of shopping and lunch, it’s all just a short walk from the Ferry dock. Consider visiting the iconic and beautiful southeast Lighthouse and breathtaking bluffs.

Getting out to ‘Block’ is so easy and affordable! The high speed ferry leaves several times a day from the New London Ferry dock which is just 15 minutes away from the inn!

Click here to read more about Block Island

# 3 – Visit and Picnic at one of our local Wineries
Wineries

If you enjoy unique wines, tranquil settings and an overall relaxing day, we recommend visiting one of the several local wineries on the southeastern CT shoreline. We also recommend that you take a lovely picnic to enjoy at the winery. We can’t begin to tell you just how many of our guests enjoy this recommendation. Most of the local wineries are within a 30 minute drive from our inn, and some of them offer entertainment.

Click here to read our BLOG post about Connecticut Wineries

# 4 – Visit Watch Hill and “The Ocean House”
Ocean House Rhose Island

This charming village is nestled along the shore of Block Island Sound in the southwest corner of Washington County, Rhode Island. Watch Hill is situated on a peninsula that is nearly surrounded by ocean, further adding to its awe inspiring beauty. Outdoor activities in the area include rowing, swimming, ocean sailing, fishing and hiking. Additionally, local shopping and fine restaurants combine to make this a favored resort area. Did you know that this is where Taylor Swift chooses to make her summer getaway?

Click here to read more about Watch Hill

Perched high on the bluffs of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, Ocean House is an iconic New England seaside resort. Ocean House welcomed guests for 135 years, but as with many historic hotels, over time, neglect took its toll. The Ocean House was closed in 2003 when it was deemed beyond feasible repair. In 2004 a new structure replicating the original exterior design was conceived. Today, this much-loved beach hotel has been recreated to convey the romance of its storied past and the rich character of Watch Hill, Rhode Island.

Click here to read more about the Ocean House

# 5 – Take a Sailboat Cruise aboard the 81′ Schooner Argia
Mystic Schooner Argia

We can’t begin to tell you just how special it is to take a sailboat cruise aboard the 81′ Schooner “Argia”. Step aboard the traditional sailing ship ARGIA for a relaxing sightseeing cruise. Enjoy a leisurely cruise down the Mystic River and smooth sailing in Fishers Island Sound. Beautiful views of lighthouses, islands, and historic homes await you as the gentle lapping of the water and the smell of salt air surround you. Day cruises are available for 2 ½ hours at morning, afternoon or sunset and are very reasonably priced.

Click here to read more about the Argia

# 6 – Bike through our local Beach Communities
Bike Riding along the Beach

So, who doesn’t like a bike ride along beautiful coastline and looking at everything from beaches, beautiful birds, boats, waterfront estates, houses and bungalows. Here in Niantic we have some beautiful seaside bike routes as well many others fit for every kind of biker. Whether leisurely or intense we have ideas to share with you here at the inn.

Click here to read more about our ‘Bike-inn’ by the Sea package 

# 7 – Spend a day at our local Beach!!!
CT shoreline beaches

Overlooking Niantic Bay is McCook’s Point Park. The park consists of a beautiful bluff between two white, sandy beaches. On the bluff, there is a green lawn shaded by copper beeches, perfect for picnics, games or quiet contemplation.

From the Point, you can see Fisher’s Island, Plum Island, and Orient Point across Long Island Sound. McCook’s Point beach, on the west side of the bluff, and Hole-in-the-Wall beach, to the east, provide plenty of room for sunbathing and swimming.

Here at the inn we provide beach passes and all of the beach gear you could possibly need for a day of fun in the sun.

Click here to read more about Niantic Beaches

# 8 – Visit one of our favorite outdoor dining spots
Lobster in the Rough

Outdoor dining is on everyone’s mind during summer on the CT shoreline when the sun comes out and temperatures warm. Visitors and locals alike scramble to occupy every breezy patio and waterfront restaurant in sight. To help you score the most coveted alfresco tables, we’ve identified some of our guest favorite restaurants with outdoor seating. Below are just some of the favorite outdoor/waterfront dining spots.  Please feel free to call us (860.739.0331) or email us (info@innharborhill.com) with anyquestions about these or other restaurants in the region:

The Back Porch
Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock
Skipper’s Seafood
Ford’s Lobster
S&P Oyster Co.
Main Street Grille
The Black Sheep

# 9 – Explore the areas Antique & Boutique shops
Antique Shops

Is your “inner collector” eager to scout out vintage artifacts?
Antique shops can be a treasure trove of undiscovered delights, whether your passion is industrial art, 19th century glassware, estate silver or nautical kitsch.

Browse Mystic Country’s array of antique dealers, quaint gift shops, general stores, bookstores, art galleries and specialty boutiques, many of which can be found in CT’s Coastline and Countryside village centers.

FYI: Bargain shoppers will love our numerous outlet stores…

Pack comfy shoes to ensure you’ll have fun every step of the way…
so explore, shop… and come away with that perfect find!

Click here to read more about the Mystic Antiques Trail

#10 – Last, but not least, Relax here at our Inn
Relaxing at Bed and Breakfast

With so much to see and do in the area some of our guests forget why they wanted to getaway in the first place. To relax! But we have found that both exploring the area and relaxing here at the inn can be accomplished all in one trip. So come enjoy the beauty and quaintness of our inn and you won’t be disappointed.

Click here to read more about relaxing at the inn

In closing, we hope that our ‘Top 10′ list gives you some idea of the many things there are to see and do while staying with us. And also note, we have much more info and directions for each and everyone one of these adventures right here at the inn, as well as many other suggestions for things to do. We hope you find our Top 10 Things To Do list helpful in considering a getaway to our inn.
Below are some additional helpful links:

Click here to check “Room Availability”

Click here to view our “Specials & Packages”