Restaurants and other things to do in New London, Connecticut
June 29, 2015 8:16 AM   Subscribe

I'll be staying a week in New London, CT by myself in early July. I'd like to get some recommendations for not-too-expensive places to eat, and other things to do.

I'll be in New London, Connecticut for a week, staying very near the campus of Connecticut College, and I'll be on the campus itself during the day. My days will be completely occupied, but I'll be done with everything by around 5 PM at the latest, so I'm looking for not-too-expensive and not too crowded (i.e., not too touristy) places for dinner in the area. I'll be by myself, so if people could recommend places that don't mind single diners, like places where I can sit at the bar, that would be a plus. I don't have any dietary restrictions, so that's not an issue.

I would also welcome suggestions for sights I shouldn't miss (of course, I already know about Mystic). I understand the Connecticut College campus itself is beautiful, so I intend to take advantage of that, but is there anything else I should make plans to see? I will have a car.

Thanks, everyone!
posted by holborne to Travel & Transportation around New London, CT (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you like books/used books: The Book Barn in Niantic isn't far and is a fun place to wander around...they have like 4 stores now spread out across the town. If you like Sea Food Lenny and Joe's is a good place to check out...though in the summer some of the locations can get crazy busy with all the beach goers.
posted by Captain_Science at 8:23 AM on June 29, 2015

Like everyone who has ever tasted it, I am a big fan of the "Connecticut-style" hot-with-butter lobster roll (as opposed to the "Maine-style" cold-with-mayo). My favorite is at Lobster Landing, a waterfront shack in Clinton, CT. Google says it's a half-hour drive from New London.

If you're curious, I wrote about more Lobster Landing on my food blog here.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 8:53 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

My wife and I have only lived in the area for about a year, so we haven't been everywhere in town yet. That said, here are a few recommendations for meals:
  • Captain Scott's Lobster Dock is a local institution, and is a great place to get an informal, inexpensive meal on a warm evening.
  • Our favorite Thai/Asian places in town are currently Lazy Leopard, a relatively new place on Bank Street, and Singapore Grill (also on Bank). Both have bar areas where a lone diner wouldn't be out of place.
  • Tony D's is a pretty good Italian-American place. It's a little more expensive & formal, but the food is quite good (and plentiful.) They do have a separate bar area, but I've never tried eating at the bar.
  • If you're in the market for breakfast or lunch at all, I always enjoy visiting The Yolk Café—as much for the charming ambience as for the food. Service can be slow at peak times, though.
In general, the restaurants in this area are not hugely touristy; most of the tourists don't hang out in New London proper, but instead congregate in Mystic and (to a lesser extent) Niantic.

As far as attractions go:
  • The Book Barn is definitely worth a look for bibliophiles.
  • I found the Submarine Force Museum in Groton fascinating; the highlight is, of course, the tour of the U.S.S. Nautilus, parked in the Thames river outside, but the exhibits on the history of U.S. submarines are pretty cool too. (Plus, admission is free.)
  • The Lyman Allyn Museum is small, but worth checking out, particularly if you like 19th-century American art. (Disclaimer: my wife works there.)
I'll post again if I think of anything else.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:54 AM on June 29, 2015

Check out stonington ct. It is very idyllic and misses most of the tourists. Saltwater Farms vineyard is a BEAUTIFUL space, they have music and oysters and you can hang out there peacefully in the summer. Milagro is a small Mexican place that is as good as Mexican food gets in CT and a nice place to have a meal alone at the bar.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 9:29 AM on June 29, 2015

Rocky Neck State Park is nearby, and is a great place to relax, whether on the beach or exploring some of the walking trails. There's also a huge pavilion that was a WPA project, I believe.

If you want an extra New England-y night, drive to the Griswold Inn in Essex tonight for sea shanties. I think they usually start singing at 7pm. (The bar is open all week, but sea shanties are just on Monday nights.)
posted by bassjump at 11:48 AM on June 29, 2015

I grew up in the area. If I were going to spend time there again, I'd go here:
-the Recovery Room for pizza in New London
-Abbotts Lobster in Noank
-Gillette Castle State park a bit west of New London in East Haddam.
-the Mystic Aquarium is pretty great.

There's the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos which may have some good live entertainment aside from gambling and buffets. The Mashuntucket Pequot Museum (near Foxwoods) was impressive when I visited several years ago.

Have a good trip!
posted by sk932 at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2015

I have family in Niantic and used to live in New London. I'll second Captain Scott's and the Book Barn. The Black Sheep in Niantic is a nice little pub with good food and a nice atmosphere, and there's an indie movie theatre and a ton of neat little shops within walking distance.
posted by Requiax at 4:24 PM on June 29, 2015

Can't believe nobody mentioned Paul's Pasta! Large portions, garlicky, on an outdoor deck.

Head up to Mystic for at least one evening. If you like old-time fiddle-banjo music, make it Monday evening, when there's an old-time session at John's Mystic River Tavern. If you do go to Stonington - great suggestion - take a walk down to Lighthouse point and to the little Dubois Beach there for a gorgeous sunset, then have dinner at Noah's, and ask your server what they recommend for locally landed seafood. They won't steer you wrong.

Check out Telegraph REcords - they have in-store events not infrequently.

From NL you can take a ferry to Block Island. An absolutely wonderful (long) day trip or perfect recreational overnight.

Take a walk in the Conn College Arboretum while on campus. it's perfect for a lunch-hour ramble: sizeable and scenic, with a pond, rocky ravine, and streams.
posted by Miko at 8:46 PM on June 29, 2015

Response by poster: A ton of great suggestions here -- much appreciated, everyone!
posted by holborne at 7:50 AM on June 30, 2015

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