Ladies and Gentleman,
  Start Your Engines – Naskart
  Go-Cart Racing has arrived

Here at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina we work hard to keep abreast of new and exciting changes throughout our Mystic Country region, and are always in search of new attractions, new restaurants and new places to visit. And why not, it’s what keeps so many of our guests returning time and time again. Like a good seafood restaurant, we try to keep it fresh!

Naskart Gocart Racing Track Waterford CT

NASKART Indoor Go-Cart Race Track just 15 minutes from our inn.

Well, we are happy to introduce something we think those of you seeking fun and adventure will absolutely love – NASKART, the largest indoor multi-level go-cart track in the world!

Naskart Racing indoor carting track

Naskart Racers getting ready to race

The 110,000 square foot, 11 million dollar facility houses two very diverse multi-level tracks offering challenges for both beginner and experienced drivers. The two tracks are reminiscent of those formula-one / grand prix type of tracks you see on TV. Anyway, when all is said and done, the 76 all-electric, zero emission karts will get your adrenaline pumping as they reach top speeds of up to 45 mph. That might not sound like much, but when you’re only a foot off the ground, that’s zipping.

On your mark, get set, go

Naskart Grand Prix Track

The Naskart go-cart racing facility is a short 15 minute drive from our inn, and again is the perfect activity for those seeking something different to do while visiting. And after a few laps, you can enjoy an adult beverage at Naskarts full service “Pit Stop / Sports Bar”. That’s right, beer, wine and mixed drinks are offered in a bright and airy space ideal for watch car races and other sporting events. They even offer pub food (burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and more) at their “Fuel Up Café”.

NasKart Pit Stop Sports Bar

The “Pit Stop” Sports Bar serves beer, wine and mixed drinks, and the “Fuel Up Cafe’ offers burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and more.

So if you’re a race fan or kid at heart longing for the good ole days when your parents would take you to a go-cart tract, we here to tell you the good ole days have returned in a big way here on the Connecticut shoreline at the new NASKART indoor go-cart racing track. This new fun thing to do is the ultimate racing experience, and something to consider while visiting with us during those winter and early spring getaways.

For additional information, check NASKART’s website (http://naskartracing.com/ ) for hours of operation, pricing and other related details.

Why Visit Mystic Seaport this Winter.

Sure our Mystic Country region is well known for all the great things to “sea” and do during the warmer summer months, but that reality is changing with the ongoing development of new attractions in the region suited for winter time visitors to the area. And nothing currently reflects this more than Mystic Seaport’s new Thompson Exhibition building and inaugural “Sea Change” exhibit.

Mystic Seaport

Its very shape of the new Thompson Exhibition Building mirrors the sea. The breathtaking new Thompson Exhibition Building, now open at Mystic Seaport takes its design inspiration from the geometry of the sea and the curved hulls of the ships that sailed from the town of Mystic. With sweeping views of the Mystic River, it captures the soothing movement of the ocean in its graceful arch design, reflecting skeletal forms of marine animals while welcoming guests as the anchor of the Museum’s Gallery Quad.

The Thompson Building is the cornerstone and final element of the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle, a project which integrated existing buildings and grounds with new construction and unified the buildings of the north end of the Museum by focusing on their common role as formal exhibition galleries.

Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport

With a grand and welcoming lobby, the state-of-the-art 5,000-square-foot exhibition space will allow Mystic Seaport to host major exhibitions and take the experience of America’s maritime story to new levels. The bold design reflects a distinct departure from the Museum’s traditional architecture. Relying on inspiration from the sea is a wholly new approach to the design feel at Mystic Seaport and introduces the Museum into a new, modern, and exciting exhibition era.

Wade Thompson, the which the new building was named after, was a Mystic Seaport trustee for 27 years who believed passionately in the need for contemporary exhibition space and its importance for the future of the Museum. The Thompson Building houses the Collins Gallery, a 5,000-square-foot hall featuring soaring ceilings and a flexible layout that provides the caliber of conditions required to curate not only exhibits from the Mystic Seaport collections, but also permit the borrowing of outstanding art and artifacts from other museums around the world.

Mystic Seaport Sea Change Exhibit

A green building, it includes geothermal heating and cooling systems and recycled roof material and carpet tiles. It is constructed with Douglas fir, red cedar and mahogany. Douglas fir is the wood used on the spars on the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last wooden whaling ship. The first exhibit featured in the Thompson Building is titled “Sea-Change,” a dramatic presentation of a range of beautiful and unique objects drawn from the collections of Mystic Seaport. A special grouping of these intriguing artifacts will be on display for the first time, and all will be presented in a new setting which reveals surprising stories of transformation that continue to impact a contemporary audience and its experience with the sea.
The new Thompson Building and “Sea Change” exhibit opened on December 10, 2016. Come check it out.

Mystic Seaports Thompson Exhibition Building

Upcoming Fall Festivals here in Mystic Country

Autumn or Fall – whichever you choose to call it, is a beautiful time to get out and about now that the colorful mums are being planted, leaves are changing to scarlet and gold, and beach umbrellas are down, summer novels are read and our tan is beginning to fade and kiss summer good-bye. We suggest that our guests get out and take a ride to some of our favorite fall locations. Here are some of our recommendations for fall adventures in shopping, celebrating and leaf-peepin’ that we think are great! Getting there is just one of the highlights of a fall getaway.

The fall is truly a time for scenic views and wonderful Fall Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals. For instance just about an hour north of our inn is the Quiet Corner, aka, Northeastern Connecticut. In this case, the journey getting there is truly one of the highlights of the destination as we send our quests up scenic Route 169, which runs north-and-south through the region. The Quiet Corner is much more rural than our inn’s southeastern CT waterfront location and is especially noted for its country/rural setting, antique shops, boutiques and restaurants. The region is also known for the many antiques shops within Putnam, Pomfret and Woodstock. Check out the following festival in Woodstock, CT:

October 15th & 16th which is the weekend after Columbus Day is the 34th Annual Roseland Cottage Fine Arts and Crafts Festival. fall-roseland-cottage-arts-festivalLocated right off of Rte. 169, Roseland Cottage in Woodstock hosts one of the leading juried fine arts and crafts shows in New England, featuring 175 local artisans and their wares: jewelry, painting printmaking, woodwork, pottery, clothing, Metalwork, and much more. Enjoy live music, a food court, and first-floor tours of Roseland Cottage. Hours are 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

As your ‘day trip’ continues to wind through the country side you will enter the antiquing capital of Connecticut! Putnam is home to the largest antiques market in the state. While perusing several floors of items you will most certainly find a treasure that you must have for your own! If you’re feeling fatigued from your travels this is the place to take a stop to refuel. Try the 85 Main Bistro, The Crossings Restaurant & Brew Pub or The Courthouse Bar & Grille where you will find some wonderful food in this small town location. Or perhaps you can plan to visit during the following festival:

October 22nd is the Great Pumpkin Festival and Foliage Train Ride in Downtown Putnam CT.
fall-pumpkin-festival-putnamArts and crafts, harvest fair, live music, pumpkin carving, pie eating contest and much more! The Town of Putnam & the Downtown Business Association proudly present this annual festival. Take a 90 minute foliage train ride excursion and you’ll wind at a leisurely pace through the Last Green Valley. All events make for a long and satisfying day!

In closing, autumn is one of the best times of the year to visit here at our inn, and for us locals “it is” our favorite time of the year. The summer crowds have come and gone, and the weather just keeps getting better. The days are sunny and warm, still perfect for walking the beaches or visiting the host of shoreline attractions. At night the cool ocean air off Niantic Bay provides the perfect excuse to light the fireplace in your guest room while you sip a glass of wine and relax after a long day exploring the southernmost New England state ~ Connecticut.

Bravo! Bravo!
for CT Shoreline Summer Theater

Summer theater is alive and well in Connecticut!  One of the things that our vacationers and guests here at the award-winning Inn at Harbor Hill Marina might not realize is our great accessibility to some award-winning theater.  Everything from drama to musicals can be found within 30 minutes of our inn.  So if you’re considering a getaway to the Connecticut Shoreline it’s smart to book your room and buy your tickets as soon as you’ve decided on dates.  You won’t be disappointed!

Let’s take a look at what the 2016 seasons at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, the Norma Terris Theater in neighboring Chester or the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton have to offer.

Goodspeed Opera House

The Goodspeed Opera House – East Haddam, CT

The Opera House was originally built by a local merchant and banker, William Goodspeed. Construction began in 1876 and finished in 1877. Despite the name, it was not in fact an opera house, but rather a venue for presenting plays.

Goodspeed Musicals was formed in 1959 by a group of concerned citizens after the state of Connecticut had condemned the building. The state agreed to sell the building to the group for one dollar, provided they acquire enough funding to restore and maintain it. They did and the Goodspeed Opera House was rededicated on June 8, 1963. Since 1968, Goodspeed Musicals has sent 19 productions to Broadway and productions have won more than a dozen Tony Awards, while Goodspeed Musicals itself has won two special Tonys, one for outstanding contributions to American Musicals and the other for outstanding achievement by a regional theatre.  Goodspeed has produced over 250 musicals, including over 70 world premieres. Critic fellows from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT travel to the Goodspeed each summer to practice reviewing full productions.

Tours of many of the Goodspeed facilities can be scheduled in advance for a small fee. Tickets to the opera house or theatre productions should be ordered in advance as most performances in the relatively small theater sell-out quickly.

See more at:  http://www.goodspeed.org/about/all-about-goodspeed#sthash.h4XjQFMH.dpuf

Bye Bye Birdie
June 24th – Sept 4th
Bye Bye BirdiePut on a happy face! Army-bound rock star Conrad Birdie’s farewell appearance in Sweet Apple, Ohio is the talk of the town. But it’s a teenage crisis for new “steadies” Hugo and Kim: she just won the chance to give Birdie one last kiss before boot camp. Kids, parents and show folk collide in the Goodspeed debut of the hip-swiveling musical comedy set at the dawn of the sensational ’60s. – See more at: http://www.goodspeed.org/productions/2016/bye-bye-birdie#sthash.Ppo9G80b.dpuf

 

Chasing Rainbows – THE ROAD TO OZ
Sept 16th – Nov 27th
Chasing...An awkward girl with a golden voice blossoms into Judy Garland in the inspirational new musical about the bumpy road to “Oz.” The future superstar’s complicated childhood comes alive with heartbreak, hope and the music that made her famous. “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “You Made Me Love You” and “Over the Rainbow” sweeten the story of Judy striving to hold onto her family. A love letter to gifted underdogs who reach high—and how the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. –
See more at: http://www.goodspeed.org/productions/2016/chasing-rainbows#sthash.svODEEum.dpuf

The Norma Terris Theatre – Chester, CT
Norma Terris
In 1984, Goodspeed Musicals added a second performance venue—the Norma Terris Theatre—in nearby Chester, Connecticut. Dedicated in 1984, the theatre is named in honor of the actress Norma Terris, a patron and trustee of the Goodspeed Opera House during her later years. In 1987 she established

The Norma Terris Fund to develop the careers of new actors and to promote musical theatre.  While the main stage presents a mixture of revivals and new musicals as part of its 3 production season, The Norma Terris also presents three new musicals each season. Several original plays debuted here or at the opera house before going on to Broadway and winning Tony Awards.

A Sign of the Times
July 29th – Sept 4th

Sign of timesA NEW ’60’s MUSICAL – 1965. The pulse of a changing era lures Cindy from Middle America to the swirl of Manhattan. –

See more at:  http://www.goodspeed.org/productions/2016/a-sign-of-the-times#sthash.vuurWYeM.dpuf


The Ivoryton Playhouse – Ivoryton, CT

ivoryton playhouseThe original building was built in 1911 and in 1930 became the home of the Ivoryton Playhouse, believed to be the first self-supporting summer theatre in the United States.
The theater gained in prestige to the point that invitations to work there were highly prized in the theatrical profession. Established actors like Henry Hull and Norma Terris (theater named for her in Chester, CT) signed on to perform at Ivoryton, and newcomers like Katharine Hepburn and Cliff Robertson came along to help mold the Ivoryton legend. Ivoryton’s fame as one of America’s leading summer showplaces continued to grow until the outbreak of World War II, when the theatre went dark for several seasons but reopened the Playhouse after the war and presented a parade of stars such as Marlon Brando, Betty Grable, Groucho Marx, and many others.

Chicago
June 29th – July 24th, 2016
Chicago
Winner of Six 1997 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, CHICAGO has everything that makes Broadway great: a universal tale of fame, fortune and all that jazz; one show-stopping song after another and the most astonishing dancing you’ve ever seen.
See more at: http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/chicago

Rent
August 3rd – August 28th, 2016
RENT
RENT is an inspiring musical with songs that rock and stories that resonate.  Set in the East Village of New York City, RENT is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the TONY Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, RENT has become a pop cultural phenomenon – exuberant, passionate and joyous.  See more at:
http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/rent

Man of La Mancha
September 7th – October 2nd, 2016
Man of LaMancha
One of the world’s most popular musicals, MAN OF LA MANCHA, the “Impossible Dream” musical, is based on Don Quixote, and tells of the adventures of a delusional Spanish knight who sallies forth on a quest to restore chivalry to the world, and to claim his lady love.

Winner of 5 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  See more at:
http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/man-of-la-mancha

Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Story
October 26th – November 13th, 2016
Tenderly...America’s favorite girl singer comes to life on stage in this exhilarating and inspiring musical biography. TENDERLY, THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL is not a typical “juke-box musical.” It offers a fresh, remarkably personal, and poignant picture of the woman whose unparalleled talent and unbridled personality made her a legend. With her signature songs woven in and out, we learn both the story of her successes on film, radio, and TV, as well as her struggles in her personal life.
See more at:  http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/our-season/tenderly-the-rosemary-clooney-story

So, as we titled this BLOG post, Bravo!  Bravo! for our Connecticut shoreline theaters.  We love them, and are sure you would too.

Lighthouse Tours
   on the Connecticut shoreline.

The Inn at Harbor Hill Marina is located within a short distance of a number of beautiful and historic lighthouses. Did you know that people are fascinated by lighthouses? The historic naval and military review before construction, the folklore, the design and the locations all conjure up a vision of the history of the United States at sea.

When we named the rooms in our ‘Main Inn’ some years back, they were named for famous lighthouses on the southeastern portion of the Connecticut shoreline and three important lights in Long Island Sound.

Aside from history there is something mystifying about a lighthouse. I don’t know if it’s the vision of a structure standing alone out on the ocean and the apparent danger the house is constantly exposed to during storms and in protection of our harbors. Maybe it’s the countless books, movies, documentaries, and stories associated with the lighthouse. Who hasn’t seen a movie that has a wayward ship crashing up on the rocks by a lighthouse, lost at sea in a horrible storm or a soaking wet stranger arriving on the doorstep shivering and disoriented. This is the stuff books and movies are made of… mystery and adventure.

A very unique tour shoves off three times a week from New London and explores historic lighthouses in Long Island Sound. Some of “our” lighthouses and historic forts along the shoreline can be seen during wonderful lighthouse cruises that are offered by the Cross Sound Ferry (longislandferry.com). Enjoy two hour tours of history narrated by local experts while zipping aboard the SEA JET, a wave-piercing catamaran capable of cruising at speeds in excess of 30 knots (35 mph). Hit the high seas with all of the comforts and travel in air conditioned comfort with ample windows, airline seating and spacious outdoor decks.

If you’d like to strike out on your own and plan a self-guided daytrip from the inn here are our suggestions for lights of interest that are all within a half hour drive and can be seen by land. Pack a picnic and choose a waterfront stop along the way, smell the salt air and just enjoy!

Stonington Harbor Lighthouse, Stonington, CT – 1823
Stonington Lighthouse

In the early 1800’s, Stonington became a center for shipbuilding, whaling, and fishing industries, prompting the need for the current Stonington Harbor lighthouse to be built in 1823 at the entrance to the harbor. It was the first lighthouse built in Connecticut.

The lighthouse was offered for sale and the winning and only bid came from the Stonington Historical Society. In 1925 it was completely refurbished and opened it to the public as a museum. The Old Lighthouse Museum still operates today, and boasts as the only lighthouse on the Connecticut mainland that is regularly open to the public. The original whale oil light from the first Stonington light is one of the many items on display at the museum.

Mystic Seaport Lighthouse, Mystic, CT – 1966
Mystic Seaport Lighthouse

Mystic Seaport Light is a lighthouse at the south end of Mystic Seaport, 2 miles upriver from Noank, Connecticut. The light is a two-story white shingled structured topped with a glass-enclosed lantern constructed in 1966. It was formally dedicated in August 31, 1967, but remained unlit due to active navigational regulations imposed by the United States Coast Guard. The Mystic Seaport light is now an active light, but not an official aid to navigation.

The structure was used as an example of a lighthouse for Mystic Seaport visitors, but was not part of an exhibit until a 2008 renovation. The interior of the lighthouse was equipped with five LCD televisions to display two short educational films that highlight the history and architectural diversity of American lighthouses.

Morgan Point Lighthouse, Noank, CT – 1823 – Privately owned residence.
Morgan Point Lighthouse

To help mariners enter the Mystic River and the harbor, the Morgan Point lighthouse was built in 1823.

In the great New England hurricane of 1938, local residents reportedly took refuge inside the base of the tower during the hurricane, believing correctly that it was one of the safest places to be during a storm.

In 1991, a Connecticut native became the third private owner after seeing an ad for the lighthouse in the Wall Street Journal. “I had harbored the dream for 40 years of living a CT lighthouse. “When I found it, we were going to own it, that’s all there was to it.”

As a private residence, the lighthouse and the surrounding grounds are now closed to the public, although the structure is well-kept and remains an important visual landmark for maritime traffic coming into Mystic Harbor

Avery Point Lighthouse, Groton, CT – 1943
Avery Point Lighthouse

Avery Point Lighthouse is located on the east side of the Thames River entrance. You can visit the lighthouse situated on the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus. Avery Point is the last lighthouse in Connecticut to be built in 1943. The first light used consisted of eight 200-watt bulbs as a white light. In the late 1990’s some of the funding to restore the deteriorating structure came from sales of over 2000 personalized bricks from individual donors as part of a new landscaped walkway. Many of the services and materials were donated by the local townspeople to help complete the restoration in 2006.

New London Harbor Lighthouse, New London, CT – 1760, 1800
New London Harbor Lighthouse

New London Harbor Lighthouse is the fourth oldest lighthouse in the country and one of the earliest American lighthouses with a flashing light.

The original New London Harbor Lighthouse was built on the west side of the entrance to New London Harbor in 1760, before the United States was established as an independent nation.

On May 7, 1800, Congress appropriated funds to rebuild the lighthouse. It was removed in 1801 when the current stone tower was built. In 1855 a fourth-order Fresnel lens replaced the original 11 lamps with 13-inch reflectors. Illumination was converted to oil-vapor lamp in 1909 and acetylene in 1912. The light was electrified in 1930. The present keeper’s house was built in 1863.

New London Ledge “Haunted” Lighthouse, New London, CT – 1909
New London Ledge Lighthouse

This one-of-a-kind building was one of the last lighthouses built in New England, and it represents a rare case of an early 20th century offshore lighthouse that is not of cast-iron construction. By the early 1900s, New London, with its protected harbor at the mouth of the Thames River, had made the transition from whaling center to industrial city. New London Ledge Light was built because New London Harbor Light wasn’t sufficient to direct vessels around the dangerous ledges at the entrance to the harbor. When it was first lighted, the New London Day reported that the light could be seen up to 18 miles away.

The stately red brick building with its mansard roof and granite detailing makes a striking picture standing off by itself near the entrance to Connecticut’s New London Harbor, at the extreme eastern end of Long Island Sound. The lighthouse reportedly owes its distinctive French Second Empire style to the influence of the wealthy home owners on the local coast, who wanted a structure in keeping with the elegance of their own homes. Many of the large homes near the shore in the area were destroyed in the great hurricane of September 21, 1938.

Probably the best-known part of this station’s history and lore is the lighthouse’s infamous ghost, “Ernie.” It’s been claimed that in the 1920s or ’30s, a keeper learned that his wife had run off with the captain of the Block Island ferry. Distraught, the keeper jumped — or fell — from the roof of the lighthouse to his death, the story goes. Before the station was automated, the Coast Guard crew on duty reported various strange happenings: mysterious knocks on their bedroom doors in the middle of the night, doors opening and closing, the television being turned on and off repeatedly, and even having the covers pulled off the end of their bed. Falling back to sleep after being awakened by a strange noise was often a problem. If there’s any truth behind the legend, it’s elusive.

Playwright Eugene O’Neill lived in New London for many years, and his famous play Long Day’s Journey Into Night was set in the town. During one scene in the play, the characters refer to the fog signal at New London Ledge, a sound familiar to residents of New London.

New London Ledge was the last remaining manned lighthouse on Long Island Sound when it was finally de-staffed in 1987.

Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse, Old Saybrook, CT – 1886
Saybrook Breakwater Light

Saybrook Breakwater lighthouse was built in 1886 as part of a channel system that was dug to guide ships into the shallow harbor. Even though its location was close to shore, keepers would only stay there on average only a couple of years due to its constant dampness, and it was difficult with the strong currents and constant winds to row ashore for supplies. There were also no assistant keepers assigned to help the keepers until 1917.

During the hurricane of 1938, New England’s worst hurricane, most everything including a 1,500-gallon tank of kerosene was swept away except for the tower, which actually withstood the force. Keeper Gross and Assistant Keeper Bennett were able to survive in the tower and kept the light burning.

Actress Katharine Hepburn lived for many years near Lynde Point Lighthouse and Saybrook Breakwater Light.

Lynde Point Lighthouse, Old Saybrook, CT – 1803
Lynde Point Lighthouse

With increased shipping traffic and fishing, Lynde Point Lighthouse was built in 1803 to guide ships coming through Long Island Sound where the Connecticut River empties into the sound at Old Saybrook. The first wooden lighthouse with a whale-oil lantern placed on top was criticized by mariners as being too difficult to see. They complained it was too dim and too short, and the evaporation from the nearby marsh would cause a constant fog obscuring the lighthouse, even though the air would be clear out at sea.

The Book Barn; the most
   unique Book Store anywhere!

You know how we all sometimes take for granted some of the true local treasures we have right in our own backyards? Well so is the case with our local “Book Barn” right here in Niantic, CT. Often, when guests come to stay here at the inn they may be thinking of venturing out to Mystic Aquarium or Seaport or maybe finding their way to one of the many vineyards located here in Southeastern CT. However, many guests are also looking for recommendations for the really unique, fun and interesting things to do locally for a morning or afternoon.

Book Barn 001

One option that has become a bit of a New England legend is just fantastic and again is located right here in Niantic (just 1 mile from our inn). You can literally spend hours here. Take in the fresh air, take some time to relax and curl up with a book and be transported to a place away from the stresses of everyday life. Worth a trip for all ages! Explore away at The Book Barn!!

Book Barn 002

Financial success has given owners Randi and Maureen White the freedom to also transform their store into a tool to get kids excited about reading. They believe in a make it fun while they’re young approach. It doesn’t matter whether the kids are there primarily for the playground or the animals, Randi asserts: “Deep down inside, they’re associating that good time with being at a bookstore.” The place really does have an enchanted feel to it.

Book Barn 006

This southeastern Connecticut “book-shop” has grown over the past 2 decades and now spreads across four locations, which is understandable, given that the barn alone couldn’t handle the 500,000 plus volumes on hand. Bring a book to sell and find your next treasure among the fiction, nonfiction, children’s, and rare volumes on offer.

Book Barn 003

What started as a room with a couch and three bookcases has grown into a sprawling complex of themed buildings. No doubt about it, this is a wonderland for book lovers. The Book Barn is spread out among five locations in Niantic, CT. At the main Book Barn (yes, a real Barn!) at 41 West Main Street there is more than enough to engage you. Everything is well-organized. Most hardcover books are available at a bargain price of $1 – $4 and there seems to be quick turnover, so this is a place where frequent visits are rewarded.

This whimsical store attracts some serious book lovers, too. It’s become a pilgrimage site for bibliophiles across the region — including anyone looking to purge their old collections and stock up on cheap paperbacks. Many even make a day of it, spreading out on the lawn for a lunchtime picnic. Owners estimate that they buy at least a thousand books a day and sell about a quarter-million a year.

Book Barn 004

For those of us of any age, who enjoy a book on paper, you will find it here. There are folks that have visited it many times and almost always leave with a treasure. It’s just fun to visit and many return visitors to the Book Barn, plan time to come back to just hang out and read in one of the outdoor gardens in cozy seating areas. The ambience is so laid back and friendly and is conducive to simply hanging out and enjoying your books.

Quirky jokes and kitschy junk have a way of finding permanent homes at The Book Barn. This is a creative spot to visit and the water elements, decorations (whimsical and not) are just charming as you meander through the numerous buildings of books by genre. It is charming and quirky with goats, flowers, odd statues and signs, and the cats. Make sure you look for the cats! They even have a guide to find the cats on the property that boasts biographies for each feline. There is a pen holding two pygmy goats (the store’s most popular residents), Randi explains, “One day some friends just showed up with some goats in the back of their truck … That’s just the way things work here.”

Book Barn 005

And, not least of all, the staff is helpful, very knowledgeable and pleasant.

The Book Barn, 41 West Main St., Niantic, CT. 860-739-5715; bookbarnniantic.com
2nd location: The Book Barn Downtown, 269 Main St., Niantic, CT. 860-691-8078
Open 7 days per week (but closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day)
Hours: daily 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Come visit the Oldest Steam Powered Cider Mill in the US

Clyde's Cider Mill in Mystic CT

   Clyde’s Cider Mill in Mystic CT

Let’s face it, autumn or fall conjure up thoughts of New England highways and byways surrounded with beautiful vistas of trees decked out in spectacular, colorful foliage. Is there a more beautiful place to be in autumn than in New England? Many folks forget about Connecticut (and Rhode Island) when they think about taking a fall getaway to New England. Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and even Massachusetts are most popular when planning those New England leaf-peeping escapes. However, we’re here to tell you that all of the magnificent beauty and charm of autumn can be found right here in southeastern Connecticut.

Clydes Cider Mill 007

The oldest steam-powered Apple Press in the entire US.

For instance, we have B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Old Mystic. A visit to Clyde’s Cider Mill is like stepping back in time. If you come you will see the only steam powered cider mill in the U.S. in production with scheduled apple-pressing demonstrations.
Clydes Cider Mill 007a

There are locals that have been going to Clyde’s for so long that they remember getting cider and donuts and the only option for eating them was in the car! This cider mill has grown so much through the years but it hasn’t lost its’ historic New England charm. We think of Fall and we think of all things apple- Delicious pies, tarts, breads and cider served here every day. They start in September with a nice selection of Apple wines and hard ciders, jams, jellies, local honey, maple syrup, fudge, and what many people call “The best sweet cider on Earth!” Also available in the Fall are pumpkin bread, gourds, Indian corn, pumpkins, candy apples, kettle corn and apple cider donuts. A real favorite is the cider slushes, warm melt in your mouth cider donuts and the apple Dumplings. Also, let’s not forget the wonderful non-apple offerings of condiments and preserves. There are other areas at Clyde’s such as The Grist Mill which is a smaller shop with Christmas ornaments, tee-shirts, gifts, etc., a popcorn stand where they make fresh kettle corn, and tasting stations– for hard ciders and for apple cider wine.
Apple Cider Doughnuts

When you visit there are usually some tables from local vendors—perhaps selling cheeses and other products made from goats’ milk, and another selling honey and beeswax candles or offering local wines for tasting. They also have some colorful Adirondack chairs on the porch where you might be lucky enough to snag a seat and enjoy your cider and donuts.
Cinnamon Donuts with Sugar Daddy

This is a great stop for a historical/educational/tasting & shopping tour. You won’t be disappointed even though it can get crowded on weekends – it is worth parking on the road (if necessary) and taking a walk. The air perfumed with freshly pressed apples, and then the knowledgeable and kind staff, are just a bonus! So take a break from the ordinary and come visit a National Historic Landmark and see the 6th generation of the Clyde family making cider just like B.F. Clyde did in 1881.

OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK FROM SEPTEMBER UNTIL LATE DECEMBER
SEPT. – OCT. 9AM – 6PM
NOV. – DEC. 9AM – 5PM

CIDER MAKING DEMONSTRATIONS:
Saturdays & Sundays
October – 11am, 1pm, 3pm
November – 11am, 1pm Weather permitting

For additional information about Clyde’s Cider Mill, visit: www.bfclydescidermill.com

It’s Autumn and time to experience the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

As summer gives way to the beautiful and popular “Autumnal season” here in southern New England, many quests look for that quintessential New England leaf-peeping experience. You know what we’re talking about; places to see beautiful colored trees, visits to apple orchards and harvest festivals, corn-mazes and country drives to witness all of nature’s beauty. However, if you’re looking for a truly unique New England Experience, look no further than our local Essex Steam Train and Riverboat excursions.
Essex Station

The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat is just a short 30 minute ride from our inn, and provides a sightseeing journey through the beautiful Connecticut River Valley. This 2-1/2 hour nature excursion blasting with nature’s colors is guaranteed to reawaken all of your senses. Relax and soak up the colorful sights while gently rolling through the countryside aboard vintage train coaches. From the open decks of the Becky Thatcher Riverboat, you’ll revel in stunning views of the hills breathtaking Fall Foliage reflecting on the river water.
Essex Steam Train

Imagine traveling through one of the “last great places on earth” in Living Color! Now, board the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat for the ultimate Fall Foliage journey through the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley. Your journey begins in Essex station. There you board vintage train coaches and travel north along the banks of the scenic CT River passing by such notable historic icons as Gillette Castle, the Goodspeed Opera House, and the Haddam Swing Bridge. And, the train travels near the tidal wetlands of Pratt Cove and Chester Creek – – bountiful, natural habitats for birds. Among those typically spotted are Cormorants, Ducks, Swans, Greenland Geese, Blue Heron, Egrets, and Red-winged Blackbirds. You might catch a glimpse of an eagle or two as this area is noted for occasional eagle sightings at this time of year. Then, you will depart the steam train to board the triple-deck Mississippi-style Riverboat “Becky Thatcher” taking in breathtaking views of the color-bursting classic New England foliage. Upon Becky’s return to Deep River Landing, the steam train welcomes passengers for the return trip to Essex Station.
Becky Thatcher Riverboat

In closing, autumn here at our inn is one of the best times of the year to visit, and for us locals this is truly a favorite time of the year. The summer vacation crowds have come and gone, and the days are as lazy or as active as you’d like them to be. The days are sunny and warm, still perfect for walking the beaches or visiting the host of shoreline attractions. At night the cool ocean air off Niantic Bay provides the perfect excuse to sip a glass of wine and relax after a long day exploring the southernmost New England state ~ Connecticut.
Essex Steam Train and Riverboat

Want to see more, view our Fall “Inn” Love Getaway Package video

Our Top 10 Things To Do in Mystic Country this Summer

The weather has warmed, our inn is looking amazing and we are ready for the busy summer season here in Niantic, CT. If you’re still looking to make summer vacation plans and wondering what there is to do in the area, we put together a list of popular summertime things to do in our Mystic Country region. So, without further ado, our Top 10 Things To Do while visiting the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina are:

# 1 – Visit Mystic Seaport
Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport — The Museum of America and the Sea — is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Explore American maritime history first-hand as you climb aboard historic tall ships, stroll through a re-created 19th-century coastal village or watch a working preservation shipyard in action.

Yes, Mystic has so much to see and do and we find that most of our guests who have never visited the area are very interested in visiting Mystic Seaport. And why not, it is truly one of New England’s most cherished treasures.

Click here to read more about Mystic Seaport

# 2 – Take a Day Trip to Block Island
Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

Thousands of years ago, a glacier left rolling hills and ponds behind, forming what is now known as Block Island.
Block Island features 17 miles of pristine beaches, protected by lighthouses and spectacular bluffs, and surrounded by rolling roads and winding paths.

If you have never been to Block Island and enjoy outdoor activities and exploring new places, then Block Island beckons. You’ll find that ‘Block’ is a special destination in so many ways. You’ll take a high speed ferry and find that this little island is a terrific place to explore. Whether you enjoy a laid-back beach day, a vigorous bike ride or a simple day of shopping and lunch, it’s all just a short walk from the Ferry dock. Consider visiting the iconic and beautiful southeast Lighthouse and breathtaking bluffs.

Getting out to ‘Block’ is so easy and affordable! The high speed ferry leaves several times a day from the New London Ferry dock which is just 15 minutes away from the inn!

Click here to read more about Block Island

# 3 – Visit and Picnic at one of our local Wineries
Wineries

If you enjoy unique wines, tranquil settings and an overall relaxing day, we recommend visiting one of the several local wineries on the southeastern CT shoreline. We also recommend that you take a lovely picnic to enjoy at the winery. We can’t begin to tell you just how many of our guests enjoy this recommendation. Most of the local wineries are within a 30 minute drive from our inn, and some of them offer entertainment.

Click here to read our BLOG post about Connecticut Wineries

# 4 – Visit Watch Hill and “The Ocean House”
Ocean House Rhose Island

This charming village is nestled along the shore of Block Island Sound in the southwest corner of Washington County, Rhode Island. Watch Hill is situated on a peninsula that is nearly surrounded by ocean, further adding to its awe inspiring beauty. Outdoor activities in the area include rowing, swimming, ocean sailing, fishing and hiking. Additionally, local shopping and fine restaurants combine to make this a favored resort area. Did you know that this is where Taylor Swift chooses to make her summer getaway?

Click here to read more about Watch Hill

Perched high on the bluffs of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, Ocean House is an iconic New England seaside resort. Ocean House welcomed guests for 135 years, but as with many historic hotels, over time, neglect took its toll. The Ocean House was closed in 2003 when it was deemed beyond feasible repair. In 2004 a new structure replicating the original exterior design was conceived. Today, this much-loved beach hotel has been recreated to convey the romance of its storied past and the rich character of Watch Hill, Rhode Island.

Click here to read more about the Ocean House

# 5 – Take a Sailboat Cruise aboard the 81′ Schooner Argia
Mystic Schooner Argia

We can’t begin to tell you just how special it is to take a sailboat cruise aboard the 81′ Schooner “Argia”. Step aboard the traditional sailing ship ARGIA for a relaxing sightseeing cruise. Enjoy a leisurely cruise down the Mystic River and smooth sailing in Fishers Island Sound. Beautiful views of lighthouses, islands, and historic homes await you as the gentle lapping of the water and the smell of salt air surround you. Day cruises are available for 2 ½ hours at morning, afternoon or sunset and are very reasonably priced.

Click here to read more about the Argia

# 6 – Bike through our local Beach Communities
Bike Riding along the Beach

So, who doesn’t like a bike ride along beautiful coastline and looking at everything from beaches, beautiful birds, boats, waterfront estates, houses and bungalows. Here in Niantic we have some beautiful seaside bike routes as well many others fit for every kind of biker. Whether leisurely or intense we have ideas to share with you here at the inn.

Click here to read more about our ‘Bike-inn’ by the Sea package 

# 7 – Spend a day at our local Beach!!!
CT shoreline beaches

Overlooking Niantic Bay is McCook’s Point Park. The park consists of a beautiful bluff between two white, sandy beaches. On the bluff, there is a green lawn shaded by copper beeches, perfect for picnics, games or quiet contemplation.

From the Point, you can see Fisher’s Island, Plum Island, and Orient Point across Long Island Sound. McCook’s Point beach, on the west side of the bluff, and Hole-in-the-Wall beach, to the east, provide plenty of room for sunbathing and swimming.

Here at the inn we provide beach passes and all of the beach gear you could possibly need for a day of fun in the sun.

Click here to read more about Niantic Beaches

# 8 – Visit one of our favorite outdoor dining spots
Lobster in the Rough

Outdoor dining is on everyone’s mind during summer on the CT shoreline when the sun comes out and temperatures warm. Visitors and locals alike scramble to occupy every breezy patio and waterfront restaurant in sight. To help you score the most coveted alfresco tables, we’ve identified some of our guest favorite restaurants with outdoor seating. Below are just some of the favorite outdoor/waterfront dining spots.  Please feel free to call us (860.739.0331) or email us (info@innharborhill.com) with anyquestions about these or other restaurants in the region:

The Back Porch
Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock
Skipper’s Seafood
Ford’s Lobster
S&P Oyster Co.
Main Street Grille
The Black Sheep

# 9 – Explore the areas Antique & Boutique shops
Antique Shops

Is your “inner collector” eager to scout out vintage artifacts?
Antique shops can be a treasure trove of undiscovered delights, whether your passion is industrial art, 19th century glassware, estate silver or nautical kitsch.

Browse Mystic Country’s array of antique dealers, quaint gift shops, general stores, bookstores, art galleries and specialty boutiques, many of which can be found in CT’s Coastline and Countryside village centers.

FYI: Bargain shoppers will love our numerous outlet stores…

Pack comfy shoes to ensure you’ll have fun every step of the way…
so explore, shop… and come away with that perfect find!

Click here to read more about the Mystic Antiques Trail

#10 – Last, but not least, Relax here at our Inn
Relaxing at Bed and Breakfast

With so much to see and do in the area some of our guests forget why they wanted to getaway in the first place. To relax! But we have found that both exploring the area and relaxing here at the inn can be accomplished all in one trip. So come enjoy the beauty and quaintness of our inn and you won’t be disappointed.

Click here to read more about relaxing at the inn

In closing, we hope that our ‘Top 10’ list gives you some idea of the many things there are to see and do while staying with us. And also note, we have much more info and directions for each and everyone one of these adventures right here at the inn, as well as many other suggestions for things to do. We hope you find our Top 10 Things To Do list helpful in considering a getaway to our inn.
Below are some additional helpful links:

Click here to check “Room Availability”

Click here to view our “Specials & Packages”

Discover Mystic Seaport this Summer

We at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina love helping our guests figure out fun adventures to go on while they are staying with us. Every summer visitors flock to Mystic Country to enjoy not only our fantastic New England summertime beach experience, but our many interesting activities as well. There are so many different ways to enjoy the Connecticut shoreline such as our scenic beaches, array of restaurants, wineries, shops, hiking paths, museums, and so much more. However, one of our favorite recommendations is to visit Mystic Seaport and Museum of America and the Sea for the nautical history of our beautiful area and America. If you come and see what Mystic Seaport is all about you will find that you can easily spend an interesting afternoon there. Located about 20 minutes from our Inn on the southeastern coast of Connecticut is the jewel in our historic crown – famed Mystic Seaport.
Mystic Connecticut

As the great Age of Sail gave way to steamships and railroads, wooden ships and boats were turned into firewood and the nation’s seafaring traditions began to disappear, three Mystic residents decided to work together to keep the past alive. On December 29, 1929, the papers were signed incorporating the Marine Historical Association, today known as Mystic Seaport. Their dream: create a dynamic, educational institution to preserve America’s maritime culture–and turn the achievements of a past era into an inspirational force for the future.
Post Card Mystic Seaport

Despite the economic conditions of the Great Depression, Mystic Seaport grew rapidly. Donations of log books, photography, ships plans and other maritime artifacts poured into the one-building museum. In 1941, Mystic Seaport acquired the Charles W. Morgan, the country’s last wooden whaleship from the once-great Yankee fleet. Historic buildings from across New England were also moved in to complement the Morgan–and the authentic coastal village area of Mystic Seaport was born.
Mystic Country

Over the next 50 years, Mystic Seaport experienced explosive growth, amassing the world’s largest collections of maritime photography (over 1 million images) and boats (nearly 500), as well as collecting two million other maritime artifacts. And the 1970s saw the creation of the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, additional exhibition buildings and several new accredited educational programs. The largest recent undertaking was the complete restoration of the Charles W. Morgan which once again sailed the high seas in the summer of 2014. You can visit the ship and see how life was aboard this antique wooden sailing vessel when she was out with a crew searching for whales in her historic past. Currently on display for all to view is the Mayflower II which has been brought down from Plymouth, MA to receive a multi-year restoration. The shipyard is also restoring the oldest steam powered ship the Sabino which is in permanent residence at the Seaport. The shipwrights use many of the traditional historic boat building practices along with current day building applications to ensure the historic nature of the vessel is maintained during their modern day restoration.
Mystic Seaport Entrance

Now, Mystic Seaport is making the history of America’s relationship with the sea even more accessible to all-new audiences. As part of a an extensive expansion plan that includes new exhibit halls and reception areas, the Museum’s state-of-the-art Collections Research Center provides easy and convenient ways for scholars and researchers from around the world to access Mystic Seaport’s renowned archives, via the Internet and integrated databases. It’s just one of many ways this showcase of the past two centuries is preparing for the next one.

Visiting and strolling through Mystic Seaport takes you back in time as you wander through this reconstructed authentic coastal village with appropriate character actors giving enlightening demonstrations of a life past. The Museum’s exhibition halls are brimming with permanent and changing exhibits that offer rare glimpses into other eras and cultures, including restored vessels, figureheads, ship carvings, and vintage photography. Each exhibit and art gallery at Mystic Seaport offers a unique perspective of our nation’s history with the sea and voyages on the water.

There are many rare and historic boats you can climb aboard at Mystic Seaport. Even better, they also have several you can ride aboard or self-pilot. Take a waterfront tour aboard one of their launches, charter a sail aboard one of the historic sailboats or spend the day relaxing underneath a historic catboat’s billowing sail. Rent a classic wooden rowboat or sailboat and explore the river firsthand. Before you leave Mystic Seaport be sure to see the Museum from this entirely different vantage point!
Mystic Seaport at Night

If you can plan ahead you may want to coordinate your visit with one of the Mystic festivals like the chowder or lobster fest or the holiday Lantern Light tours at Mystic Seaport. It’s the great events and places like these that make coming to Mystic Country during the summer or any time of year such an excellent choice for a vacation getaway. While there are so many places in our Mystic Country region to choose from, consider staying with us at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina. Our beautiful waterfront B&B is like a home away from home. Each morning join us for a delicious breakfast and end your days relaxing with other guests and exchanging stories of what you have done that day. Summers in Mystic Country are a very popular choice so please call us and speak to one of our fantastic team members and we will be happy to help you plan a wonderful vacation trip.