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.

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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

Niantic, CT. ~ Connecticuts
    Fan Favorite Town

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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.

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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.

Welcome to our BLOG

So, while were somewhat late to the field of Bloging, we hope were not too late to share our tales of being innkeepers and the host of beautiful, delicious and fun-filled things there are to see and do here in our Mystic Country region on the scenic Connecticut shoreline. We also plan to share with you the host of special, unique and local places we love to escape to relax and rejuvenate. Actually, we take great pride in seeking out special little finds to share with our guests. So, as the saying goes, youre never too old to learn new tricks, and with that, let our blog-inn begin

Sue & Dave

Sue & Dave

We thought we would begin our first BLOG post by giving you a little background as to who we are, and how we wound up being Innkeepers here at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina. Both of us (Sue and Dave Labrie) were born in Hartford, CT. and grew up in East Hartford, CT. We met at the tender young age of just 14 years old through our mothers who worked together.

While we both went to differentschools, we began dating, eventually falling inn love and have been in love ever since. We eventually married, had two sons (Chris and Todd) and lived life like so many couples and families do.

Early on Sue was a stay-at-home mom while Dave began his corporate business career working as a technology specialist in the insurance industry. Eventually Sue became an accountant at a CPA firm and then after ten years of tax preparation left to open her own hair salon while Dave eventually moved on to become a business management consultant focusing on the healthcare industry.

While working hard, raising our two sons, saving for the future, and getting older with each and every day, we both began to feel that there had to be something more in life than just working hard and saving for the future. Well, with the loss of some very close friends too early in life we began to think about just how fast life passes by and began to develop a ten-year plan toward leaving the stresses of the business world behind, and finding something new and exciting to do, and something we could do together.

We were fortunate to have been able to travel early on in life and would often seek out bed and breakfasts and inns whenever we could. And like most inn-goers, we would often chat with innkeepers about their lives as innkeepers. Well, to make a long story short, we eventually decided to research the potential of owning and operating a B&B and eventually became innkeepers back in September 2002. Yep, just one year after the September 11th tragedy in New York City (as if we needed yet another lesson on just how short and unpredictable life can be). Anyway, if there was ever a situation that solidified our decision to find and do something new and exciting, and to do it together, it was that tragic event that did it for us. We have a saying that nothing in life is forever, including life so live and enjoy each and every day as though it was your last.

Having been innkeepers now for the past 12 years, we still wake each morning and realize just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country and to be working with each other and a great staff in such a rewarding field. So, if youre looking to broaden your view of New England in a place that offers beautiful scenery, water views, fun-filled things to do, beaches, interesting small towns and great culinary experiences; stay tuned.

Till our next post, be well, spend time with loved ones and happy travels.

Dave n Sue