Spend a free afternoon this spring at one of these fun locations in New London County
By Gillian McMahon
Conn College Arboretum
Once the weather finally decides to warm up and the trees and plants start to bloom, taking a peaceful walk through the 750-acre Connecticut College Arboretum will be the perfect way to spend a spring day. There is a combination of landscaped grounds, plant collections, managed grounds, and natural areas. While it is mostly used by the biological sciences departments at Conn, the park is also open to the public daily from dusk to dawn. Spending a couple of hours outdoors at the Arboretum will be a great opportunity to get some fresh air. The Arboretum is located at 270 Mohegan Avenue in New London, about 15 minutes from East Lyme.
Gillette’s Castle and Chester- Hadlyme Ferry
The extravagant Gillette’s Castle is a 24-room medieval style mansion that was built in 1919 by famous playwright William Hooker Gillette located in East Haddam overlooking the Connecticut River. The castle will be opening for tours beginning Memorial Day weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. While it is free to park and visit the grounds, there are fees for the tours: $6 for ages 13+, $2 for ages 6 through 12, and ages 5 and under are free. Getting to the castle is about a 30-minute drive or you can drive and take a quick trip on the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, which is $5 per vehicle or $6 on weekends.
Bluff Point State Park
If you’re interested in outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, saltwater fishing, shellfishing, boating, horseback riding, or picnicking, Bluff Point State Park, located in Groton, is a great walk year round and especially nice in the warmer months. This park is located between the Poquonnock River and Mumford Cove on Long Island Sound. The 806 acres encompass the beach area, rocky cliffs, wetlands, and wooded sections. The trail which is a 3.6 mile loop is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and is located about 20 minutes from East Lyme at 55 Depot Rd.
Cross Sound Ferry Lighthouse Tours
Ever been curious to see southeastern Connecticut from a different perspective? The Cross Sound Ferry Lighthouse Cruises offer this opportunity in two forms: the classic lighthouse cruise and the lights and sights cruise. The two different cruises sail to different areas including New London Harbor, Long Island, Watch Hill, RI, and Fishers Island for viewing of lighthouses, mansions, and waterfronts. The cruises last about two hours aboard high speed vessels. Cruises begin the end of May and there is a calendar on the website. Tickets are $30 for adults, $15 for children ages 2-11, and free for children under two. Cruises launch from 2 Ferry Street in New London.