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.

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”

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.