New London

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Welcome to New London

Mouth-watering seafood is served with a smile at
Capt. Scott’s Lobster Dock on Shaw Cove.

NEW LONDON IS NOTHING IF NOT RESILIENT. FOR 3 CENTURIES, THIS CITY ON THE LOWER THAMES RIVER HAS ENDURED, REBUILT AND REINVENTED ITSELF, STARTING WITH ITS PHOENIX-LIKE RISE FROM THE ASHES OF BENEDICT ARNOLD’S 1781 SACKING OF THE TOWN. NEW LONDON RECOVERED TO BECOME THE COUNTRY’S THIRD-LARGEST WHALING PORT, ONLY TO SEE ITS WHALE-OIL FORTUNES DECLINE AFTER THE CIVIL WAR. MOST RECENTLY, FOLLOWING DECADES OF HARD TIMES THAT SAW THE DOWNTOWN AREA ALL BUT SHUTTERED, THE CITY IS AGAIN REBOUNDING, THIS TIME CAPITALIZING ON ITS YOUNG AND CREATIVE POPULATION, RICH HISTORY AND RESTORED WATERFRONT.

Tall Ships call on New London at SailFest, held in July.

As part of its mission to attract boaters to the city, New London offers a mooring field off Custom House Pier, along with a free dinghy dock and a secure Visitor’s Center with restrooms and showers, all within easy walking distance of the downtown shops and restaurants. In 2013, work was completed on City Pier, which offers overnight slips on 6 floating docks with power and water. All of this is very reasonably priced, by the way, although visiting boaters should note that river traffic, including the numerous ferries and large commercial ships, can make overnight stays a bit rolly and noisy for some folks.

The Amtrak swing bridge guards the entrance to Shaw Cove.

Those who desire the comforts of a full-service marina can always head for protected Shaw Cove, just south of Custom House Pier. An Amtrak swing bridge guards the entrance to the cove, so you’ll have to hail the bridge operator to gain access. Once inside, you’ll find one of the oldest and most welcoming boating facilities in the country—Crocker’s Boatyard. Crocker’s is still family-owned, and features transient slips, a fuel dock, haul-out service, repair, WiFi, a pool, laundry, showers and just about anything else you could want.

The image of lighthouse builder Capt. Thomas Scott
adorns the menu board of the restaurant that bears his name.

On the opposite side of the cove is Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock, a local institution where you can pull into a vacant slip and dine on mouthwatering fried seafood, chowder, lobster, burgers, ice cream and other tasty fare. With trains roaring past and boats pulling in and out of slips, kids naturally love this place. It’s named for Captain Thomas Scott, who built nearby Ledge Lighthouse and Race Rock Light.

Shaw Cove also puts you within walking distance of Fort Trumbull State Park, which sits on a grassy promontory overlooking the harbor and the river mouth. While the fort features an inviting wooden pier that juts far into the Thames, dockage is not allowed; the pier is strictly reserved for fishermen.

The Fort Trumbull Visitor’s Center educates adults and kids with interactive kiosks that allow history buffs to build their own forts and detect submarines. And the fort itself—an Egyptian Revival design built between 1839 and 1852, but which never fired a cannon in defense—affords marvelous views of the river.

TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT FORT TRUMBULL

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From the fort’s ramparts, it’s easy to see why New London has long been attractive to mariners. The Thames River entrance is wide and deep, with virtually no hazards to navigation. It’s a big reason Groton, opposite New London on the east bank of the river, was selected as the home for Electric Boat, the primary builder of nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy. You can learn more about submarines, and tour an actual sub, at the USS Albacore Museum, just north of the I-95 bridges in Groton.

New London’s proximity to Long Island Sound also makes it a transportation and shipping hub. It’s minutes from a major highway, home to a waterfront Amtrak station, and relatively close to Block Island, Fishers Island and eastern Long Island. The city’s location naturally appeals to recreational boaters who want to pick up or drop off visiting friends and family.

The Custom House Maritime Museum is a short walk from the waterfront.

Or stick around. Once virtually deserted, the New London of today has a very different vibe and look. Though some storefronts remain empty, many have been converted into bars, art galleries and intriguing emporiums. The city also boasts a host of ethnic restaurants ranging from Thai to Indian, as well as funky shops specializing in everything from tattoos and jewelry to comic books and antiques.

A large exhibit in the Maritime Museum documents the Amistad mutiny and trial.

Of course, the many cultural and historic icons are a big part of the New London experience. In the heart of downtown, steps from the waterfront, is the Custom House Maritime Museum. Built in 1833-35 by Robert Mills (designer of the Washington Monument), the building is home to the oldest continuously operating customs house in the country, but now mainly serves as an educational facility. Through the Custom House’s massive, burnished doors—fashioned from original planks of the USS Constitution—passed cargo, contraband and illegal slaves, including those from the Amistad, which was brought to New London following the infamous 1839 mutiny. The story of the Amistad is told in a terrific exhibit on the second floor of the museum, which also contains Fresnel lenses from nearby lighthouses, tin foghorns and a collection of beautifully preserved diving helmets from the early 19th century.

TAKE A LOOK INSIDE THE CUSTOM HOUSE MARITIME MUSEUM

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Also of interest is the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, housed in a 70-year-old neoclassical building set on 32 landscaped acres just north of the downtown area. An archway frames each gallery showcasing mostly American art—lots of Connecticut impressionists and paintings from the Hudson River School. Nearby are the Federalist brick buildings of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where you can explore the convoluted history of the Coast Guard in the modest Coast Guard Museum (a much larger museum is being planned for the downtown area).

Tours of the famous New London Ledge Lighthouse
can be arranged through the Custom House Maritime Museum.

There’s more to see and do south of downtown. Guarding the river’s western entrance is the much-photographed salt-shaker-shaped New London Harbor Light, built in 1801 and mentioned by Eugene O’Neill in his comedic play Ah Wilderness. The light is now owned by the New London Maritime Society, which offers tours.

And speaking of the famous playwright, you can visit Monte Cristo Cottage, O’Neill’s summer boyhood home in the 1890s. Visitors familiar with Long Days Journey into Night will recognize the parlor, set exactly as it is on stage.

Yes, New London is positively brimming with things to do and see—and there’s more on the way. As long as New London continues to grow from its nautical roots, its future looks bright indeed.

TAKE A LOOK INSIDE NEW LONDON’S ICONIC LEDGE LIGHTHOUSE!

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GETTING THERE:

Charts: NOAA 12372

Chart of New London

New London sits on the west bank of the Thames River, just upriver from Long Island Sound. It is roughly 5 nautical miles from Fishers Island, 40 nm from New Haven, 17 nm from Montauk, 12 nm from Watch Hill, and 25 nm from Block Island. The wide, deep harbor is frequented by ferries, freighters and even submarines, so keep a close watch for these vessels. The harbor’s entrance channel runs nearly due north. To enter, pass close to the outer channel sea buoys, Fl G “1” and Fl R “2”. Be sure to leave New London Ledge Light, on the west side of New London Ledge, to starboard.

Dockage, Moorings & Service:

  • City-managed dockage and moorings off Customs House Pier and at City Pier at Waterfront Park are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations can be made as well. Moorings rent for $35 per night, with free access to the dinghy dock just north of Shaw Cove. Note that boat traffic along the river can make for a rolly experience on the moorings. There is also access to a secure restroom and shower facility. Dockage (with water and electric) along the floating dock at City Pier goes for $2 per foot/night. Contact (860-443-3786) or hail VHF 9 or 12.

  • Short-term dockage: Boats up to 18′ can tie up to the dinghy dock floats next to the Customs House pier for up to 4 hours at no charge. Larger boats can dock at City Pier for up to 4 hours at no charge.
  • Thames Yacht Club (860-383-0017, VHF 71): Friendly, low-key yacht club near the mouth of the Thames. Offers moorings, launch service, showers, ice, and use of lounge and library for $15 per night.
  • Thamesport Marina (860-442-1151, VHF 9): On Greens Harbor. Offers transient slips, fuel, water, power, WiFi, ice, showers, marine store, restaurant and deck overlooking the Thames River.
  • Burr’s Marina (860-443-8457, VHF 9): On Greens Harbor. Offers transient slips and moorings, fuel, ice, water, power, WiFi, showers, marine store, laundry, repair, haul out and pump-out services.
  • Crocker’s Boatyard (800-870-1285/860-443-6304; VHF 9): On protected Shaw Cove, north of the railroad swingbridge. Floating piers and docks. Secure and quiet, lots of parking. Offers transient slips, fuel, water, electric, ice, WiFi, full repair service, pump-out, pool, showers and a ship’s store are available.
  • Boating on the Thames (860-443-3310): Small marina offering boat repair, service and storage north of the I-95 bridges.

Anchorages:

  • A large federal anchorage (shown on charts) is located just east of Shaw Cove in 15′ to 17′ of water.
  • You’ll also find numerous spots to drop the hook north of the I-95 bridges, outside the main channel along the west bank of the Thames.

Harbormaster:

  • (860-443-2756/860-443-6304)

Launch Ramp:

  • The closest public ramp is located below the I-95 bridge on the Thames, roughly 1.5 miles north of Shaw Cove.

Kayak Rental:

Getting Around:

  • Enterprise Rental Car (860-442-8333)
  • Yellow Cab (860-443-4321)
  • A-1 Taxi (860-443-1563)

Things to See & Do:

  • Lyman Allyn Museum of Art at Connecticut College (860-443-2545): Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
  • Ocean Beach Park (860-447-3031): The park offers a wide beach, boardwalk, giant pool, miniature golf, restaurants and amusement park. Operates from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • Fort Trumbull State Park (860-444-7591): Open year-round from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. Offers a fishing pier, and serves as home base for the Coast Guard training barque Eagle. Admission to the park grounds is free, while the visitor’s center and fort grounds are open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a fee.
  • Shaw-Perkins Mansion (860-443-1209): Naval headquarters during the Revolutionary War. Open Wednesday through Friday 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Custom House Maritime Museum (860-447-2501): The nation’s longest continuously operating customs house is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Museum (860-444-8511): Displays memorabilia from 200 years of Coast Guard history Monday through Friday.

Where to Eat:

  • Bulkeley House Restaurant (860-444-7753): Popular upscale dining with great food and an outdoor tiki bar.
  • Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock (860-439-1741): Fried seafood and ice cream from April through October. Located on Shaw Cove, across from Crocker’s Boatyard. Boaters are welcome to grab an open slip along the dock.
  • Fred’s Shanty (860-447-1301): On Greens Harbor, near Burr’s Marina. Great place for burgers. Boaters can dock at Burr’s to have lunch.
  • The Dutch Tavern (860-442-3453): A favorite of Eugene O’Neill’s.

Where to Stay:

  • Queen Anne Inn (860-447-2600)
  • Radisson Hotel (860-443-7000)
  • Red Roof Inn (860-444-0001)
  • Visit BedandBreakfast.com for information on B&B’s, inns, and boutique lodging throughout New London and neighboring Connecticut towns. Shop, compare, and book from the site’s large selection of New London properties, many of which offer exclusive deals. Gift certificates are also available.

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18 Washington Square W, Salem, MA
978-825-4311
HawthorneHotel.com

Salem’s famed author,
welcome hotel guests

Nathaniel's In The Hawthorne Hotel

18 Washington Square W, Salem, MA
978-825-4311
HawthorneHotel.com

Salem’s famed author,
welcome hotel guests

Nathaniel's In The Hawthorne Hotel

18 Washington Square W, Salem, MA
978-825-4311
HawthorneHotel.com

Salem’s famed author,
welcome hotel guests

Nathaniel's In The Hawthorne Hotel

18 Washington Square W, Salem, MA
978-825-4311
HawthorneHotel.com

Salem’s famed author,
welcome hotel guests

Nathaniel's In The Hawthorne Hotel

18 Washington Square W, Salem, MA
978-825-4311
HawthorneHotel.com

Salem’s famed author,
welcome hotel guests