Old Lyme got its start as a maritime village–it was originally part of neighboring Saybrook’s shipping colony–and later grew into a thriving artists’ community. In the town’s historic district along the Lieutenant River sits The Chestnut Grille at The Bee and Thistle Inn & Spa. Built in 1756 as the home of Judge William Noyes and his family, it’s been an inn since the 1930s. Today this Colonial masterpiece is a gracious sanctuary designed to feed you well, relax your mind and body, and offer a bit of fun, too.
Feeding yourself well here might start with chef Kristofer Rowe’s innovative grilled Caesar salad (heads of Romaine lettuce sliced lengthwise and grilled); tiny, whole quail, drizzled with honey and served with a napoleon of butternut squash; or seared scallops and grilled shrimp with sweet potatoes and candied turnips. To relax the mind and body, get thee to the on-site spa for a restorative facial or massage.
And the fun? Join other guests for petanque (French lawn bowling) on the riverbank.
100 Lyme St., Old Lyme, CT. 800-622-4946, 860-434-1667; beeandthistleinn.com
Clinging to the Farmington River, this spot offers soothing views as you enjoy crispy calamari tossed with Old Bay seasoning and served with a garlicky marinara sauce.
1593 Farmington Ave., Farmington, CT. 860-673-5405; apricotsrestaurant.com
Tables on the water make this a local favorite on the Mystic River. Start your day with the “S’medley”–eggs with cheese, fried potatoes, sausage, mushrooms, and onions.
135 Greenmanville Ave. (Route 27), Mystic, CT. 860-536-2122; visitconnecticut.com/kitchenlittle
The Deep River view is rivaled by a gorgeous, seasonally sensitive menu, including handmade linguine with lamb and feta.
23 Main St., Chester, CT. 860-526-9417; rivertavernchester.net
SONO SEAPORT SEAFOOD
When you’re right on Norwalk Harbor, chowder, steamed seafood, or perfectly broiled sole is a treat, outside at a picnic table or inside in the dining room.
100 Water St., South Norwalk, CT. 203-854-9483; sonoseaportseafood.com
S & P OYSTER COMPANY
Here they know from oysters, served raw or deep-fried, with a creamy horseradish sauce. The warm lobster roll, bathed in sweet butter, is a decadent indulgence.
1 Holmes St., Mystic, CT. 860-536-2674; sp-oyster.com
STONY CREEK MARKET
Locals depend on this busy shop, right on Long Island Sound with a view of the Thimble Islands, for their morning java and muffins. Bring wine–at night there’s pizza.
178 Thimble Island Road, Branford CT. 203-488-0145
Take in the colors of the late-afternoon sky over Norwalk Harbor; the menu excels in the pasta department, particularly with penne alla vodka.
52 Calf Pasture Beach Road, South Norwalk, CT. 203-866-4177; sunsetgrille.net