Old Lyme is a quaint little town at the bottom of the Connecticut River on the East banks. It is generally regarded as a summering destination as it has many gorgeous beaches. Off-season, Old Lyme has a small population, and the locals generally know each other. Although you may stick out, the locals are very friendly and willing to help direct you where you need to go.
Fun Fact: Lyme Disease got its name from Old Lyme. A local doctor first discovered the disease here!
The best way to get into Old Lyme is by car. Although there is a public transit bus (Bus Number 9), it is very infrequent and hard to catch. As for other means of getting to Old Lyme, across the Connecticut River in Old Saybrook is a train station owned by Amtrak. Many people come from Boston and New York this way. This is the easiest way to get close to Old Lyme without a car; however, upon arriving in Old Saybrook you will need to rent a car.
A car is essential for getting around Old Lyme. Although it is considered a quaint town, the beaches are far from the town center. And if you want to go to any of the parks or lakes (including in neighboring Lyme) you will need to drive 20 minutes from the center of town.
The thing Old Lyme is most known for is its beaches. There are many to choose from, so it shouldn't be hard finding one.
Other things to see include:
The Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme Street. This is said to be the birthplace of the Impressionist Movement. The home of Florence Griswold, friend to many artists, has now been converted into a large museum. Recently, the barn was renovated and now houses a children's art center. One of the main attractions, however, is inside the house itself. Many artists contributed mini murals to Florence's house, painting on everything from door panels to windowpanes.edit
Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, 84 Lyme Street. This Art College is on par with RISD in Rhode Island, however, their average class size is less than 50 people. Feel free to visit the school and peruse the galleries filled with the student's art.edit
Lyme Art Association, 90 Lyme Street, . Old Lyme continues its ties to art with this building, located right down the street from Lyme Academy. Explore the galleries, and purchase some art if you so wish!edit
DEP Station, Ferry Road, . The Department of Environmental Protection has a lovely little spot located near the base of the Connecticut River. You can enjoy fishing and a nice walk with scenic views of the River, Long Island Sound, and many acres of untainted land owned by the Nature Conservancy. If you are lucky, you may even see employees from Mystic Aquarium taking care of seals found near the location.edit
Hartman Park. Come to this nice park to enjoy a little hike.edit
Watch Rock. A great place for a hike, and a letter-boxer's heaven.edit
Golf Courses. Old Lyme is the home to many beautiful golf courses, including the famous Black Hall Golf Course and Old Lyme Country Club. Play a round of golf or bring a couple friends and play a little tennis!edit
This beach makes for a long walk on a sandy beach where there is always sea glass and shells to find. Every so often an arrow heads gets found so keep your eye out, especially sticking out of the orange clay to your right in the beginning of your walk. When getting to the end of the beach stay to the sand and water because the grassy areas are private property. The end of the beach is also home of a nature/bird preserve.
White Sands Beach
This is a town beach. A town resident sticker is needed to park as a parking attendant is on duty whenever the beach is open. Lifeguards are on duty at all times, unless there is rain or bad weather. There are cottage rentals available for summer and winter, all the cottages are a very short walk to the beach. This beach is connected to Griswold point. There are frequent visits from the Ice Cream Man here as well as indoor bathrooms and outdoor showers.
Old Lyme Beach Club
This is a private beach club. Members only, unless the guest is with a member. There is a snack Bar with a deck. Tables with umbrellas are provided, as well as a deck with an awning. Restrooms, dressing rooms, foot showers and stand up showers with hot and cold water are there for member's use. An attendant and life guard are always on duty unless it is raining or there is bad weather. A raft with a swim area around it is where swimming is guarded by the life guard and a pier extends into the water. A swimming test is required for children under 12. The test is done by lifeguards.
Mile Creek Beach Club
The beach is members only. It has a covered deck with picnic tables. There are Men’s and Women’s Restrooms available. Open showers and foot showers are also on premise. A lifeguard and parking attendant are on duty 7 days a week. There is a raft and swim area provided that is watched by the lifeguards. A raft test is administered by the lifeguard here.
Hawks Nest Beach
A portion of this beach is open to town residents. There are no lifeguards on duty. Almost all of the beach butts up to cottages built right on the sand. Some cottages are owned but most are rented out to visiting renters from out of town. A small convenience store is on premise with food, ice cream, toys and clothing bearing the Hawks Nest Beach name and logo. Tennis courts are available for renters. Hawks Nest is a very kid friendly area.
Sound View Beach
Sound View is a public beach. Though for parking there is a fee. This beach is not watched by lifeguards so it is swim at your own risk. It is often a very busy crowded beach. There are no bathrooms other than port potties in the parking lots and those are only accessible if you have parked in that lot. There are many places to eat within walking distance including an ice cream shop and an Italian ice shop. In addition this area is available for cottage rentals.
Morning Glory Cafe, 11 Halls Road, . Offers good breakfast looking over the Lieutenant River.edit
The Hideaway Restaurant, 19 Halls Road. Located near the Connecticut River, this restaurant is a local favorite. Enjoy a wide range of food for moderate prices.edit
Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe, 34 Lyme Street, . The Ice Cream Shoppe offers 37 homemade ice cream flavors, with a selection that changes daily. The Shoppe also offers deli selections, coffee, and salads. Located right in the heart of town, this cute little storefront blends in perfectly with the surrounding town.edit
The Chocolate Shell, 18 Lyme Street. So small that it can only fit 2 people in at a time, this is THE place to go for everything related to candy and chocolate. A two-minute walk down Lyme Street (the main street) from the Ice Cream Shoppe.edit
Hallmark Drive In, 113 Shore Road. This cute little restaurant located near the local beaches offers everything you would expect a drive in to offer- hot dogs, burgers, fries, and ice cream. And the 1950’s drive-in feel.edit
Cherrystones, 218 Shore Road. Located next to a driving range, this is a favorite place to get drinks and seafood at the end of the week. Live music is played on certain nights.edit
Illiano's, 163 Boston Post Road, . This Italian Restaurant is owned by a local family, and offers the best pizza (try the Buffalo Chicken!) and mozzarella sticks in town. However, they also offer a wide range of other Italian food, sandwiches, and grinders.edit
Koffee Works, 83 Halls Road. Located near the center of town, this is where local kids get coffee and bagels before school. Head in for some Beetle-mania fun! Koffee Works also offers sandwiches near lunchtime.edit
Coffee's Market, 169 Boston Post Road, . Located near Roger's Lake, this family-owned market is split- one side is dedicated to hardware, and another side to a grocery. An excellent place for a pre-packed meal to take on a drive.edit
Hong Kong II, 19 Halls Road. This fast-food style Chinese Restaurant is the best place to get Chinese food within minutes, and for very little money!edit
Bee and Thistle Inn, 100 Lyme Street, . Typically considered the most fancy restaurant in Old Lyme, only go here if you are in the mood for small portions of outrageously priced food.edit
Old Lyme Inn, 85 Lyme Street, . As with the Bee and Thistle, small portions of overpriced food are served here. However, if you are into the status of the place you are eating at, Old Lyme Inn is the place to go.edit
There are not many places to drink in Old Lyme. Your best bet is to go to a restaurant. If you are looking for a bar, head to Cherrystone’s or The Hideaway. If you are looking for a more “high-class” experience, go to either the Bee and Thistle Inn or Old Lyme Inn.
In addition to hotels, another lodging option is to rent a Summer Home. If you are visiting Old Lyme in the summer, you can rent a home for as little as a week or as long as 5 months. Contact a local realtor in order to find a suitable home.
Bee and Thistle Inn and Spa. The Inn is upscale and accommodates weddings and events. The building was built in 1756 as a home for Judge William Noyes and his family.edit
Old Lyme Inn. This historic inn is small (considering its main building, however, it has expanded over the years) and elegant. It has room to accommodate weddings and events. The walls are covered in art obtained from the art galleries around town. Each room is decorated in antiques, and pets are welcome here (but you must pay an additional $25). Continental breakfast included.edit