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If summer means “messing about in boats” for you, then Old Lyme is where you’ll want to be as often as possible from April to October. Sail, row, paddle, or float just about anywhere — on the Sound or rivers, in ponds and lakes — even in the tide-kissed marshland that defines this perfectly pleasing town. And for front-row seats to some serious salt-seasoned beauty, reserve rooms early to arrive on Friday afternoon. The Bee and Thistle Inn offers posh digs and welcomes you like family — so much so that venturing forth hardly seems necessary. But owner Linnea Rufo’s lush gardens will coax you out. And since they lead down the lawn to the banks of the Lieutenant River, then onward to the renowned Florence Griswold Museum. Spend some time enjoying its collection of Connecticut Impressionists. Slip back to the lovely Bee for gourmet dinner fare and slumber — but bright and early, head out to the sun and sand. Explore the Sound and Griswold Point by way of White Sands Beach, or plan a guided tour with Connecticut Coastal Kayaking to explore Great Island salt-meadow refuge. A nice lunch at the charming Old Lyme Inn is the prefect prelude to an afternoon of browsing at the Lyme Art Association and the engaging galleries on Lyme Street. And all that browsing has a way of leading to either The Chocolate Shell or the Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe — a treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. In late afternoon, paddle the lazy Lieutenant, put in at Lords Cove or Uncas Pond, up north a bit in Lyme, or skim alongside the riverside park at the DEP station off Ferry Road. Top off the day with a fresh-caught picnic-style shore dinner at The Flanders Fish Market, a few minutes away in East Lyme. On the way back, grab a cone at A.C. Petersen’s at Hallmark Drive-In, the new incarnation of Old Lyme’s iconic ice cream drive in — and the oldest in the state. Then it’s on to an evening of some of the best jazz in Connecticut at the Old Lyme Inn’s Side Door Jazz Club.

Expanded tour of Old Lyme

Beaches

  • White Sands Beach
    off Old Shore Rd., off Rte. 156, 860-434-1570
  • Sound View Beach
    foot of Hartford Ave., off Rte. 156, 860-434-4469

Boats

  • Connecticut Coastal Kayaking
    860-391-3837
  • Black Hall Outfitters
    132 Shore Rd., Old Lyme, 860-434-9680

Nature

  • Griswold Point / Great Island Roger Tory Peterson
    Wildlife Area
    parking at White Sands Beach lot,
    views and boat launch on Smith's Neck Rd.
  • McCulloch Farm
    100 Whippoorwill Rd., 860-434-7355

Attractions

  • The Carousel At Old Lyme
    75-81 Hartford Ave., 860-434-3908
  • Florence Griswold Museum
    96 Lyme St., 860-434-5542
  • Lyme Art Association
    90 Lyme St., 860-434-7802
  • Old Lyme Inn/Side Door Jazz Club
    85 Lyme St., 860-434-0886
  • The Chocolate Shell
    18 Lyme St., 860-434-9727

Restaurants

  • Coffee’s Country Market and Catering
    169 Boston Post Rd., 860-434-1877
  • Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe
    34 Lyme St., 860-434-6942
  • Flanders Fish Market and Restaurant
    22 Chesterfield Rd., East Lyme, 860-739-8866
  • Old Lyme Inn
    85 Lyme St., 860-434-2600
  • Bee & Thistle Inn
    100 Lyme St., 860-434-1667
  • A.C. Peterson at Hallmark
    113 Shore Rd., 860-598-9680

Hotels

  • Bee & Thistle Inn
    100 Lyme St., 860-434-1667
  • Old Lyme Inn
    85 Lyme St.., 860-434-2600