The historic village of Essex, Connecticut lies about five miles up the Connecticut River from Long Island Sound and is a favorite stop for boaters cruising the Connecticut coastline. The town offers history, museums, a quaint New England village to explore and is very boater friendly with several marinas and yacht clubs welcoming visitors. The town likes to boast it has more slips than parking spaces.
Boaters can reach Essex by navigating up the Connecticut River between Fenwick and Old Saybrook to the west, and Old Lyme to the east, passing under the I-95 bridge to reach the town and its harbor on the western banks of the river.
Transient slips and moorings are available from the Essex Island Marina (860-767-2483, Channel 09); Brewer’s Dauntless Marina (860-767-0001, Channel 09), and the Essex Yacht Club (860-767-8121, Channel 68) and the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club (860-767-3239), both of which offer reciprocal privileges to other yacht club members.
Once ashore, boaters will find Main Street to be a pleasant, tree-lined and walkable venue of boutiques, gift shops and stores, along with several places to dine. Breakfast is excellent at Olive Oyl’s Gourmet Shop (860-767-4909) and dinner is a must at the famed Griswold Tavern, said to be the oldest continuous service tavern in America.
There are maps for a self-guided walking tour of the town, which is a pleasant and informative 1.5 mile walk around the town, which was first settled in 1648 and was made famous in 1814 when the British Navy sailed up the river and destroyed some 28 vessels at anchor in the harbor, an action now considered the Pearl Harbor of the War of 1812.
That story, and many others, can be found in detail at the Connecticut River Museum located at the old steamboat dock in the middle of the waterfront. The museum highlights the importance of river trade during the country’s earliest years.
Essex is also the home of the Essex Steam Train station, a popular 30-minute ride through the countryside on an old steam-powered locomotive. Call 860-767-0103 or 800-377-3987 to reserve a seat. There are also dinner-train excursions. The same company also offers riverboat tours up the Connecticut River, exploring some of the islands and wetland coves, many of which are now home to American bald eagle pairs and other wildlife.
The Lord Cove wildlife preserve, on the eastern banks of the river across from Essex, is a beautiful place to boat, hike and experience nature in all her glory. Fishermen have been known to pull some trophy-sized bluefish from the river waters in the mouth of the mighty Connecticut River.
History, nature and a quintessential New England village: that’s why boaters have been calling on Essex for centuries.
While you are in Essex, stop by our CT Sale Office located at Brewer’s Dauntless Marina.