Where to Cool Off in Mystic Country Last Updated: September 2023

With summer in full swing, are you still looking for fun places to beat the heat this season? Look no further than Mystic Country! The towns have some of the sandiest beaches and fun filled parks in the state. From friendly oriented retreats to solo hideaways, Mystic Country has got you covered.


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Ocean Beach Park - New London

Chosen as one of New Englands Best Beaches by National Geographic, New London’s Ocean Beach Park is everything your family would ever want in a beach day and more. Besides their soft sands and half mile boardwalk, the park also offers a pool, mini golf course, an arcade and more! There’s something for everyone at this summer destination. In addition to the overwhelming number of choices, there are a variety of park events you will not want to miss, including Salsa Dancing on the Boardwalk, Classic Car Cruise, and their countless concerts. Ocean Beach Park is a must visit.

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DuBois Beach - Stonington

Wanting something a little smaller in size? Visit Stonington’s DuBois Beach for a tranquil experience. Located at the tip of Stonington Village, the tame waves of this beach provide a beautiful view of passing boats during the day and sunsets in the evening. They also have a jetty for crabbing as well as a shaded gazebo. Taken care of by the Stonington Community Center, it’s easy to see that the beach is kept neat and tidy with their “carry out what you carry in” rule. It’s no surprise this peaceful refuge has made Boston Globes Top 20 Beaches to visit in New England.

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Hole In the Wall Beach - Niantic

In case you were wondering what inspired this amusing name: visitors must pass through a tunnel under a railroad track in order to access this white-sand beach. Located between the Niantic Boardwalk and McCook Point Park, you’ll never get bored at Hole in the Wall Beach. Additionally, Mobi-Chairs are available on the beach for disabled beach goers. The town also hosts the yearly Celebrate East Lyme Festival in the park with a spectacular fireworks display you won’t want to miss! To make matters even sweeter, Gumdrops and Lollipops, a Niantic staple, is right around the corner if you’re craving a sweet treat on a hot day.

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Bigelow Hollow State Park - Union

If you enjoy a woodsy atmosphere, then Union’s Bigelow Hollow might be the spot for you. Adjacent to Nipmuck State Forest, this recreational area not only has swimming but also offers the opportunity to go kayaking, hiking, biking, boating, and fishing. Besides Mashapaug Lake, there are two smaller ponds, Breakneck and Griggs, that are north and east of the park. And since crowds are small and few, it’s a perfect place for some quiet time. But if you’re going with family and friends (including your dog), don’t be afraid to spend the whole day. The park is equipped with picnic tables and grills so good times are guaranteed.

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Gardner Lake State Park - Salem

Placed on the border of Bozrah, Montville, and Salem, Gardner Lake is a small but wonderful park. Popular with the locals, this pet-friendly area allows swimming, kayaking, boating, and fishing. The lake is also the only way to access Connecticut’s smallest state park, Minnie Island. So, if exploring the hidden gems of Connecticut sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon.

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The Dinosaur Place - Montville

If you have a tiny paleontologist in the family, try The Dinosaur Place. Located in Nature’s Art Village, who prides themselves as being “Connecticut’s fastest growing family destination," this 60-acre theme park is sure to capture your child's imagination. Included with admission is the iconic Splash Pad, New England’s largest zero-depth water park. It contains water cannons and dumping buckets, but it also provides a separate area for smaller children. Nevertheless, if your kids do become disinterested, there are a ton of other things that can keep them busy. In addition to the water park, Nature’s Art Village also has attractions like T-Rex Tower, a playscape with tons of challenging puzzles and 50 life sized model dinosaurs. The Dinosaur Place would make any kid happy.