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

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.

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

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.

Come Getaway and visit our local Connecticut Wineries

Let’s face it, when you think of good wine and beautiful wineries, Connecticut wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of your list.  However, you just may be surprised to learn that CT does have beautiful wineries that produce very good wines.  While there are nearly 30 wineries here in Connecticut, we are particularly fond of several local wineries located just minutes from our inn.

The award-winning wine industry of southeastern CT is relatively new considering the history of many California wineries; however, they should not be overlooked for that reason. Located in a unique micro-climate these vineyards benefit from close proximity to Long Island Sound. This maritime climate influences longer, milder growing seasons creating benefits like those of a European vineyard. All of these vineyards mix new technology with time honored brewing secrets to create fine wines and open for tastings and some for tours. Bring a picnic and enjoy dining by the vines – there is nothing quite like sitting out on the land that grew the grapes and enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.

CT Wine Trail

In Ledyard CT (just 20 minutes from our inn) is Maugle Sierra Vineyards (est. 2002). This vineyard is primarily known for their St. Croix grapes, producing intensely fruit forward red and dessert wines. Watch the seasonal changes at the winery in the harvesting of the grapes and the production of the vineyards many fine selections. Visitors can enjoy a bottle or glass of wine when they come for a wine tasting and are welcome to bring a picnic to the wine patio, sit back, take a deep breath and relax amidst the vines. We especially like that Maugle Sierra Vineyards offers live entertainment on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. We often recommend that our guests shop at our local market and pick-up a brick of cheese, a baguette of bread and maybe some olives, deli meats, etc., and enjoy everything with your wine.
Maugle Sierra Winery

The Jonathan Edwards Winery (just 30 minutes from our inn) is a beautiful vineyard set on a hill with panoramic views in North Stonington, CT (est. 2001). This winery is a historic dairy barn that has been completely renovated to accommodate the wine making, barrel aging and final bottling and distribution process. The winery handcrafts Estate Connecticut wines as well as premium Napa Valley managing to capture the flavors of both the east and the west winemaking industry. Enjoy a tour of the winemaking and taste all of the special blends offered in the tasting room and relax out on the patio with a picnic and your chosen favorite wine. Watch for summer entertainment under the stars – there’s nothing quite like it. Aside from their great red wines (Merlot and Zinfandel are our favorites) we especially like the summer concerts that Jonathan Edwards offers. Generally on Thursday nights, and only in July and August, these inexpensive, low key concerts are no more than a blanket on the lawn, and picnic dinner and sunset watching all while listening to great local bands. We don’t let a summer go by without catching at least one or two of these wonderful concerts.
Jonathan Edwards Winery

In Stonington CT, a trip to Stonington Vineyards (est. 1987) (just 30 minutes from our inn) will find the vineyard well known for many of their award- winning blends and a commitment “to create wines both pleasing to the soul and palette.” Winery tours can be booked in advance and tastings of their quality, European-style wines is encouraged. Perhaps picnic on the vineyard and enjoy any one of its barrel fermented Chardonnays or proprietary blends… their Seaport White named for Mystic Seaport is a good choice if you enjoy a nice glass of white wine.
Stonington VineyardsLastly, In Clinton CT, Chamard Vineyards (est. 1983) (just 30 minutes from our inn, and immediately next door to the Clinton Crossing Outlet Shops) has a winery building crafted in an old New England design which includes old field-stone and wooden beams taken from the land of the vineyard. The winery has an underground wine cellar, production and barrel aging rooms enjoy a cool stable environment perfect for making their many fine Cabernet’s and Pinot Noir’s. Stay for wine tasting and enjoy your pick of their wines while sitting out on the deck or at the custom built tasting bar while viewing the vineyards or perhaps watching a spectacular sunset.
Chamard Vineyards

So, if you have never visited our inn or the southeastern corner of Connecticut and would like to experience a local CT winery and have everything planned for you, you may want to consider our very popular Wine & Dine Package.  For details on this and other packages we offer, visit our Specials and Packages page.  So as you can see, there are several options for you wine lovers, and best of all, these wineries are open year-round.
Wine is better at the Beach

 

Lantern Light Tours
   at Mystic Seaport

As we turn our calendars to November, we begin thinking about the upcoming holiday season. During our many years as innkeepers we are always amazed at just how many people getaway to celebrate special occasions during November and December. We often ask ourselves, just how do they/you do it with all the decorating, shopping, planning and hosting that goes on over a 6-7 week period. Just how are people able to getaway and enjoy themselves?

What so many of our guests find as a surprise, is just how many fun-filled things there are to do in our Mystic Country region during November and December. And one of our favorite things to do, and one of our best recommendations during the holiday season is the Lantern Light Tour at Mystic Seaport.

Lantern Light Tour1

The Lantern Light Tours transform Mystic Seaport into holiday splendor and you find yourself transported back in time. Actors in period costume greet and take you through the seaport while a seaside holiday story unravels. Each year the story is different and it’s always a lot of fun. This years story is set to portray Christmas Eve in 1876 and as the story unfolds you are brought through five scenes in exhibits around the Museums 19th-century maritime village. The original script has been written by acclaimed playwright Jacques Lamarre. Inspired by the traditional carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, the story is filled with seasonal hilarity as the citizens of Greenmanville attempt to deliver some unexpected Christmas gifts. Be prepared to walk through darkened streets with just a few kerosene lamps lighting the way while young and old alike will enjoy the seasonal delights that include a horse-drawn carriage ride, a spirited holiday dance, the beautiful glow of lanterns, and just perhaps, a visit with old St. Nick!

Small groups are escorted thru Mystic Seaport via Lantern Lights.

Small groups are escorted thru Mystic Seaport via Lantern Lights.

Each Lantern Light Tour is a 70-minute progressive performance that covers approximately half a mile of uneven terrain (including cobblestone, wood planking, grass, gravel, and stairs) and is performed in all weather conditions. Audience members walk or stand for the majority of the performance, so all are cautioned to wear appropriate footwear and dress for the seasonal weather conditions. To provide the best experience for the audience, each tour is limited to 16 people.
Lantern Light Tour 2

If you thought we were only a summertime getaway destination, think again. There is much to see and do here in Niantic and along the CT shoreline throughout the year. So, if you looking for a quick pre-holiday getaway to get into the holiday spirit or do some serious shopping or a place to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or special occasion during November or December, give us a call. As we like to say here at the inn, another season – another reason to come and visit.

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!

The Charles Morgan ~
   All Hands on Deck !!!

Are you interested in history and a fan of historic seaports and old boats? Are you looking to getaway to enjoy springtime here in New England? If so, you may want to set your sails for Mystic, CT on Thursday, May 17, 2014 where theCharles W. Morgan, a historic US whaling shipwill embark on her 21st century maiden voyage to ports throughout New England.

The Morgan is a US whaling ship which sailed during the 19th and early 20th century and was used to catch whales to harvest the whale blubber for commonly used whale oil. The Morgan, is a National Historic Landmark built in 1841 and is the oldest American commercial ship and wooden whaling vessel still afloat in the world. Skilled craftsmen at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport recently completed a nearly five-year restoration.

The Charles Morgan during renovations

The Charles Morgan during renovations

On May 17th, The Morgan will set sail on her 38th voyage sailing from Mystic Seaport to New London, CT (just 15 minutes from our inn) before heading off to Newport, RI on June 14th. During her stay in New London the ship will be open to the public with dockside exhibits on May 24-25, May 31 and June 1st.

Following her visit to Newport, RI, The Morgan will visit Marthas Vineyard, New Bedford, MA, Provincetown (Cape Cod), and Boston before returning home to the Mystic Seaport on August 9th. For additional information about the Charles W. Morgan or Mystic Seaport, please visit: http://www.mysticseaport.org/visit/explore/morgan/

In closing, we would also like to wish our Inn at Harbor Hill Marina team member Julianne (Jules) happy sailing and congratulations on being selected as a crew member on the maiden voyage of the Charles W. Morgan. We can’t wait to hear about your summer adventure.

Charles Morgan

The Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport

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