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

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.

So why choose to stay at
    a Bed and Breakfast?

When it’s time to plan for a trip, there are a number of things to consider. How will you get to your destination? Will you be going by plane, train, or automobile? You need to figure out how much and what to pack. These are important questions that often take time and effort to plan out.

In the process of planning, you might be tempted to reserve a room at a decent hotel and call it a day. It’s a strong temptation, and certainly understandable. Hotels are businesses that are specifically designed to make sure your stay is comfortable. You’ll usually get a decent bed in a nice room, at a reasonable price. However, it’s not the only option, and in fact, it’s not even the best one.

How is a Bed and Breakfast different From a Hotel?
Bed and Breakfast

A hotel may have nice amenities, it may be clean and well-tended, and it may have good customer service however, the staff is just that, staff. It’s a place where you go to stay for a few days, ignoring the world around you and often having the world ignore you right back. You may be able to use their pool, or their gym, or one of their other facilities but at no time is a hotel ever going to go out of their way to make you feel like their room could be your home. For some people, the idea of staying at a place that tries to feel like home is unnecessary. They just want a clean bed and a television, and perhaps internet access. As long as they have that, they’re fine.

But it’s always nice to have a choice and a Bed and Breakfast does exactly that by offering a warmer, more personal option. It’s much more than simply a room in which to stay, it’s actually a place that usually feels like home (minus the laundry, leaky faucet, etc.). A B&B accomplishes this with special amenities like complimentary WiFi, a glass of wine on arrival and home cooked breakfasts, local itineraries and pleasant surroundings. Though peaceful solitude is always an option you may find sitting in one of the common areas and talking with other guests or staff members is just what you need.

A Little History about Bed and Breakfast / inns…

The custom of opening one’s home to travelers dates back to Colonial America. Lodging establishments were few and far between and wayfarers relied on the kindness of strangers to provide a bed for the night. Hotels became more common with the advent of the railroad and later the automobile and most towns had at least one prominent hotel at this point in time.

Through the years there have been several steps to the evolution of today’s Bed and Breakfast Inn. In the 1980s and 1990s, B&B’s increased rapidly in numbers and evolved from homestay B&B’s with shared baths and simple furnishings to beautifully renovated homes and historic mansions with luxurious décor and amenities. By the mid-1990s, the Internet made it more affordable for innkeepers to promote their properties worldwide; it provided on-line reservation software and allowed travelers to view detailed photos, videos, and reviews.

B&B and Inn owners have been adding amenities such as wireless Internet access, free parking, spa services or nightly wine and cheese hours. To stay competitive with the rest of the lodging industry, larger bed and breakfast inns have expanded to offer wedding services, business conference facilities, and meeting spaces as well as many other services a large hotel might offer.

Innkeepers

      Sue & Dave Labrie Innkeepers ~ Inn at Harbor Hill Marina

Today there are hundreds of thousands of B&B’s throughout the world. In the United States, B&B’s are found in all states, in major cities and remote rural areas, occupying everything from modest cottages to opulent mansions and in restored structures from schools to cabooses to churches.

Check out the benefits to staying in a bed and breakfast

Staying at a bed and breakfast is a wonderful alternative to the traditional hotel stay. Gardens are often lush and offer comfortable seating, and rooms range from cozy to luxurious. Staying in a B&B can be a really unique travel experience and not one to be missed. Check out the following benefits of staying while making your decision.

  • Although B&B rooms can be priced higher than hotels, they usually offer a better value overall. More amenities are included such as breakfast and free Internet, you get much better service, and the experience tends to be more unique than an average hotel stay.
  • You’ll get more personal service. At a B&B, there are only a small group of guests, giving you a much more personal experience. Typically, your concierge is the owner and thus is invested in making sure you have a great stay.
  • Breakfast is included. It’s a wonderful amenity usually including special homemade offerings like coffee breads and cakes with everything from a continental spread to a hot breakfast with entrée.
  • You’ll encounter unexpected luxuries. B&B’s tend to offer all those special extra touches that can make your stay feel pampering. Some facilities even offer snacks and beverages (often to include wine) in the common areas for your enjoyment and convenience.
  • A B&B is the perfect romantic getaway. In fact, B&B’s have become so popular for couples that many cater to this romantic angle, offering special romantic packages. These may include pre-planned events or excursions that are included in your stay.
  • You can get a taste of the local flavor and lifestyle. B&B’s are usually established and run by locals, and tend to have their own character. Even better, B&B owners often have lots of tips concerning the best things to do and see in the local area.
  • Many B&B’s offer additional recreational activities in their regular packages. Depending on the location, you may be able to enjoy boating, biking, hiking, canoeing, golfing, or skiing.
  • Unlike hotels, B&B’s are often located in out-of-the-way areas or off the beaten path. This provides you with a great opportunity to see less traveled parts of the community that you would otherwise miss.
  • At a B&B, there are fewer people coming and going. With less going on, B&B owners tend to keep a much higher standard of security than a hotel property with a typical hotel staff.
  • You get the privacy and peace and quiet you desire. A B&B tends to be more exclusive with fewer guests and usually don’t often cater to families but are more popular among couples. If you’re looking for a place to spend a quiet weekend, a B&B may be your best bet.

So why stay at our Inn at Harbor Hill Marina B&B?

Well, here at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina we absolutely love what we do and that has been the driving force behind the inn experience that we’ve created, from the staff and team that we’ve chosen to all the little extras that we provide. We are committed to providing exactly what we value when we are traveling, and have also added important, unique items from our own traveling ‘wish list.’ At the bare minimum we all look for clean and well-appointed rooms, pleasant, accommodating and knowledgeable staff, good food and beautiful surroundings – and as you know we often don’t get them all.

However, here at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina we strive each and every day to exceed all standards and also offer our 24 hour complimentary snacks and beverages, fresh, home baked warm cookies in the evening and best of all accessibility to us, our staff and our incomparable knowledge of the Mystic Country region. We take great pride in being able to make tried and true recommendations for all things Connecticut Shoreline, providing custom itineraries of things to see and do or you can peruse our restaurant book and let us help you make those very important dining decisions. Perhaps you’re looking to spend some time at the beach, and if so, we provide you with everything that you’ll need to enjoy your day. All of these things are important to our commitment to exceptional customer service and offering you the experience of a lifetime here at our B&B.

The sign below and in our Gathering Room beautifully sums up perfectly:
Enter Strangers Leave Friends

So, if you’re planning on taking a vacation anytime soon, and if you have never stayed at a bed and breakfast before, then you just might find the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina a better choice, and a better way to stay!
We hope to see you soon.

Elopement Weddings at
 Harbor Hill on the CT Shoreline

We’ve had many guests tie the knot here at Harbor Hill over the past couple of years, and we pride ourselves in helping couples coordinate the officiants, marriage licenses, flowers and photographers. We even have recommendations for small wedding cake bakeries and hair salons. Whether you choose a simple exchange of vows on a local beach or a sand-ceremony in our gazebo, we are sure that we have what you’re looking for – memories to last a lifetime.

Gazebo Decorated for Wedding

Today, with the stress, often limited time available, balancing schedules and high costs of weddings, more and more couples are choosing to have an ‘elopement style’ wedding. Couples find that by eloping, they can have a beautiful wedding at an affordable price, within their own time frame, without all of the stress. And while anytime of the year is a perfect time of year to elope with that special someone you love, it is especially so during the spring, summer and autumn seasons here on the CT shoreline. Although we have had some lovely winter elopement weddings right here at the inn it seems that milder weather, our beautiful gardens, quiet beaches and spectacular sunsets make for the most popular setting for vows and photos. Actually, ceremonies here at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina are as we’ve been told, a photographers dream!

VinitnSherri 2014 4

The photos from our extraordinary and beautiful waterfront setting help tell the story of love and commitment. The inn is the perfect choice for stylish New England seaside elopements with our vintage-restored guest rooms or newer rooms with higher end amenities, our home-made breakfasts each morning and advice in arranging all the details for your perfect wedding. Your classic New England elopement was never easier with our casual seaside elegance that captures the relaxing feel of a day long past with wraparound porches, comfortable wicker and Adirondack chairs, beautiful flower gardens and magnificent water views.

VinitnSherri 2014 3

Although the State of Connecticut does not require witnesses to be present for your ceremony you may want to include a couple of friends to join you here. After your nuptials, we can recommend some local restaurants to go to for a simple yet romantic dinner you’ll enjoy as you reflect on your day, the ceremony and most importantly your future together. There are fine dining options, wonderful waterfront restaurants, stylish and intimate bistros all within walking distance or a short drive from the inn.

VinitnSherri 2014 2

The next morning sit down in our Bayview dining room to enjoy the perfect honeymoon breakfast as you enjoy the Inn at Harbor Hill’s classic breakfast buffet with a delightful hot entrée offered each morning while taking in the beautiful harbor view. You’ll be treated to one of many ‘Chef’s Choice” daily offerings to include our signature Pecan Baked French Toast, fluffy egg strata, ricotta or blueberry pancakes to name a few. The daily buffet includes fresh fruit salad, home baked muffins and coffee cake, fresh bagels, toast and English muffins along with juices, yogurts, cereals and our own delicious and highly acclaimed Harbor Hill Granola.

MichellenChris in Gazebo

What more can we say? If you are considering an ‘elopement’ style wedding, please check out our Sea Breeze Elopement Package because every now and then, right in the midst of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy-tale!

MikeFran 39

 

Stoofer Elopement Ceremony

 

Kavedis by InnStyle

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”

Mystic, Connecticut ~
  The Town that Isn’t

Located just 20 minutes north of our inn is the historic settlement called “Mystic” (circa 1654) actually located within the towns of Groton, CT.and Stonington, CT.,and bordering both the east and west sides of the Mystic River. Hence, though Mystic, Connecticut is not a legally recognized municipality it is the most visited settlement, town, municipality or destination within the entire state of Connecticut.

Mystic Sign

Identified in the New York Times #1 Bestseller, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (A Travelers Life List by Patricia Schultz), Mystic is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of New England. Mystic offers visitors many things to see and do, and features two of the regions most popular tourist attractions, Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium. However, Mystic offers so much to see and do that its a popular place to visit and re-visit many times during any time of the year. You might find our Taste of Mystic Getaway Package of interest just follow the link!

Anyway, for those of you who have never visited Mystic just sit back and picture this those of you that have think of the chance for new memories (maybe without the kids?).

Theres sparkling water bordering most everything in town. Listen to the sounds of the gulls and sea birds flying overhead. Imagine a sea of boats, including sailboats and historic Tall Ships and schooners like the Argia all in your view. Walk through the unique shops of Olde Mistick Village and boutiques offering treasures to be snatched up and taken home for your enjoyment or to be shared with others. Smell the wonderful smells of the sea combined with some of the best cooked lobsters and local sea scallops or look for the best place in town to enjoy a nostalgic piece of Mystic Pizza or maybe just a big sloppy ice cream cone. Plan to come for the Chowder Days or the Lobster Days or the Mystic Arts Festival or the Mystic Blues Festival. As you might sense, there’s a little something for everyone, anytime of the year!!!

A View of Mystic Seaport from across the Mystic River.

A View of Mystic Seaport from across the Mystic River.

At any given time you might also visit beluga wales, penguins, sea lions and everything aquatic that you can think of at the beautiful Mystic Aquarium. Regular and unusual new exhibits give a new excitement to the aquarium every time you visit.
Also right down the street youll find friendly folks that showcase times long past and entertain you as you enter into the history of America at Mystic Seaport, considered to be one of the jewels of Mystic Country and is home to a world renowned maritime museum. People dressed as they did in the 1600s all working in their shops in the village, building their sea vessels and taking their day to day routines all in stride. The Mystic Seaport hosts interesting and unusual capsules in time to include historic special sailings of beautiful Tall Ships like the recently launched Charles W. Morgan and Holiday Lantern Light Tours through the Seaport.

Mystic Aquarium Belugas

Beluga Whales at Mystic Aquarium

Yes, as you might imagine, it does get busy and crowded in Mystic, but we think Mystic is also scenic, historic and quite possibly the absolute quintessential historic New England seaport town to sea. One thing is for sure; whether you want to eat, shop, stroll or just observe, Mystic isone town (or not) to do that inany time of the year!

Niantic, CT. ~ Connecticuts
    Fan Favorite Town

Niantic Sign3
Welcome to the Village of Niantic

Located along the shores of Long Island Sound sits the quaint seaside village of Niantic, CT. Our small town has made a big impact with residents and tourists alike recently, and thanks to them Niantic was voted Connecticuts Fan-Favorite Town in 2013 in a contest spearheaded by the states Department of Tourism.

What makes Niantic so special, you ask? Well, many things, but lets start with location, location, location. If you were to drive two hours north youd end up in Boston. Head two hours south and youd be entering New York City. Our seaside escape lies halfway between these two major cities. And if you’rea local, you know that Niantic is within 20-30 minutes of almost every attraction in southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island. For a quick insight into Niantic, check out the video the State of CT. created about Niantic here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKmEWbw_Vfc)

CT Fan Favorite

Niantic ~ Connecticut’s Fan Favorite Town of 2013!!!

Its all well and good that being based in Niantic one could cover a lot of ground, but we feel that you really dont have to. Niantic has a lot going on throughout the year. Our towns Events Calendar (http://www.discovereastlyme.com/calendar.php) is filled with events from our annual Winter Light Parade (the oldest and largest in all of New England) to our annual summer bash-on-the-bay festival called Celebrate East Lyme, and tons of things in between. Our Farmers Market draws huge crowds from June to October and in the winter Holiday season you can see our Main Street light up and transform into a classic New England Village.

130707 McCooks Beach 001

Hole-in-the-Wall Beach overlooking McCook’s Park

While we enjoy our annual events, we in Niantic also love the laid back beach lifestyle, which is good because our town features three town beaches AND Rocky Neck State Park. Its not uncommon to spend an entire summer day soaking up the suns rays and swimming in the calm waters of the Long Island Sound. Niantic is also a mecca for boaters and fisherman alike and boast numerous marinas as well as charter fishing boats. And, as a side note, after spending the day at the beach or out on the water be sure to stick around to witness some of the most amazing sunsets right from the lawns of our inn.

Sunrise Oct 2013 sm

The beach may take up a lot of our time in the summer, but we always find time to visit our handful of local restaurants and shops, most of which are open year-round. In future BLOG posts we will be highlighting some of our favorite local places and events just to provide a more detailed look at what our town has to offer. We love Niantic and hope youll have a visit and see for yourself why we are one of Connecticuts best kept secrets.