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Please select an itemTOWN


Founded in 1663, what are now Clinton and Killingworth were originally one town called Homenoscitt — the name evolving into Killingworth over time. Not surprisingly, farmers in the northern portions of the town began seeking their own church, and thus independence, as early as 1734 — the trip to and from Sunday worship every week an onerous 10 miles even in ideal weather, and 1838, the two regions finally separated. What is now Killingworth remaining Killingworth and the break-away community adopted the name Clinton, more than likely in honor of Geoffrey de Clinton, a Lord Chamberlain and Treasurer in the 12th century.

Since then, Clinton, with the Hammonasset, Indian, and Hammock rivers all wending their way through its marshes before emptying into a harbor well protected by Cedar Island, has established itself as a mecca for fishermen, sailors, and power boaters — the population swelling from a modest 3,000 or so in winter to as many as 20,000 in the summer. Indeed, the docks and wharves near the harbor and along the Indian River that once rang with the sounds of shipbuilders now hum with the sweet summer sounds of recreational vessels and their crew. The harbor and such enterprises as the Indian River Marina do a steady trade in kayak sales and rentals. Ports such as the Clinton Harbor, Old Harbor, and Cedar Island marinas are kept hopping by everything from small daysailers to the umpteen-foot yachts they welcome for a weekend or the season with moorings, slips, as well as a full range of repair and maintenance services. And whether done for one’s livelihood or pure pleasure, fishing is serious business.

Like centuries ago, when the native Hammonassets trawled for flounder and harvested scallops, crabs, clams, and oysters, shell- and saltwater fishing are still common occupations. The Bluefish Festival, held every July, celebrates the catch down near the town dock with an exuberant display of local pride. This may be the only place on earth where you can buy a paper tray brimming with crispy bluefish nuggets — a signature town delicacy. And truth be told, for a lot of Clinton’s amateur anglers, a bad day fishing is still better than a good day of doing almost anything else.

Downtown are the town’s three museums, three of its churches, and a community playground. In the historic districts of downtown Clinton, surrounding Liberty Green and on pretty Waterside Lane, are scores of pre-Revolutionary, Federal, and Victorian buildings, many of which are still private homes. Others are now the inns, art galleries, bookstores, restaurants, and antiques shops that gently affirm the quiet ambiance of the town.

The first stop in town for the anglers and boaters is often the Clinton Town Dock off Riverside Avenue, where boats can be launched — or passage can be booked on a charter leaving from the nearby Harborside Marina at the foot of Grove Street. That’s where the Bluefin Charters docks — and where the proprietors of the Lobster Landing await the day’s catch.

For beachcombing and sunbathing, head for the Clinton Town Beach, nestled in one of the prettiest elbows of the Connecticut coastline just over the bridge at the foot of Waterside Lane. For a quick picnic lunch, stop at Chubby’s along the way — but if an overstuffed sandwich would really hit the spot, try Saldamarco’s Market on Main Street.

The theater in Andrews Memorial Hall, which is also home to the town offices, is the stage upon which both the Nutmeg Players musical theater company and the Opera Theater of Connecticut perform for routinely full houses, and free outdoor concerts are held throughout the summertime near the gazebo at Vece Green. Also free — and perhaps even more popular — is the George Flynn Classical Concert Series, held during the cooler months.

These days, the busiest part of town is up on Route 81, between the highway and the vineyard, where Clinton Crossings Premium Outlets draw a steady stream of upscale bargain hunters year round. But that hasn’t stopped locals and visitors alike from choosing a good hike on the Clinton Land Conservation Trust trails in Peters Memorial Woods or an afternoon watching the kids compete on the fields and courts of the Peters and Indian River recreation complexes over outlet hopping.

Oh, and if you’re here on a weekend morning, you’ll find that there’s always a queue for the pancakes and eggs at The Coffee Break. But there’s a reason. A good reason. Get in line and see for yourself.

Al Ferreira Photo