Hammonasset Beach State Park, with its two miles of white sand and soothing Long Island Sound surf, is not only the closest beach to Hartford, it's Connecticut's biggest beach. Located just about an hour's drive south of Hartford in Madison, Connecticut, Hammonasset Beach, as you'll see in these pictures, is ideal for family outings, whether you want to play in the waves, build a sandcastle, collect seashells, picnic, camp or visit the Meigs Point Nature Center.
If you're planning a trip to Hammonasset, these photos from a spectacular July afternoon will provide you with a preview, along with some tips on what to see and do at the state park. If you can't get away, you can still enjoy a virtual day at the beach and appreciate the beauty of Connecticut's Long Island Sound coast.
Stroll the Hammonasset Beach Boardwalk
Hammonasset Beach State Park is the perfect place to play in the sand or to simply stroll along the boardwalk, enjoying the salty sea air and the views of Long Island Sound.
Room for Everyone
Arrive at Hammonasset mid-afternoon on a spectacular Saturday in July, and you still might find a parking spot very close to West Beach. While Hammonasset is quite popular, it is so large that there is always a place to spread out your blanket, even on a summer weekend.
Umbrellas and Sandcastles
Colorful umbrellas give the West Beach at Hammonasset a festive look, and by mid-afternoon, the beach is already dotted with examples of kids' sandcastle handiwork. The gentle waves of Long Island Sound make Hammonasset an ideal family beach.
Yellow Flag Means...
At Hammonasset Beach, a yellow flag means WARNING, no lifeguard on duty, although swimming is still allowed. Green flags mean lifeguards are on duty, red that the beach area is closed to all swimming.
A Great Beach for Little Kids
Even when there are no lifeguards on duty, you will likely see beach staff patrolling and keeping swimmers from bringing boogie boards and inflatables into the water. They are no-nos. Luckily, little kids need nothing but waves, sand and seashells to be happy as a mermaid in water.
White Sand and Blue Sky
With the boardwalk and two miles of white sand to stroll, Hammonasset Beach State Park makes a perfect outing, even if you don't want to get wet. Hammonasset is also a popular place for camping: 558 affordable campsites are available.
Even if you're not hungry, the French fries you'll see people carrying along the boardwalk at Hammonasset will be awfully tempting. The West Beach has a snack bar that is open during the summer season.
Umbrella in the Dunes
Across the boardwalk from the beach at Hammonasset, wild vegetation grows atop the sand dunes. This blue and white beach umbrella was oddly out of place. Maybe it blew away, or perhaps someone was hiding under there.
Do Not Disturb
The sand dunes at Hammonasset Beach State Park are a fragile habitat, and they protect the beach from erosion, so actually, it is best to stay off the dunes.
Beach roses, or Rosa rugosa, bloom in vivid shades of purple at Connecticut's Hammonasset Beach State Park.
Meigs Point Nature Center
When you and your kids have had your fill of fun in the sun, drive along the East Beach at Hammonasset and visit the Meigs Point Nature Center. The building in this photo has been replaced with an all-new, larger facility. Admission is free.
The touch tank is one of the nature center's most popular attractions. Kids aren't the only ones who are thrilled to touch a tiny crab. The touch tank also has seashells, fish and even a lobster, but a sign warns that some critters are not to be touched.
Snakes, Frogs and Terrapins
Visitors to the Meigs Point Nature Center at Hammonasset Beach State Park can also observe a variety of other animals, including snakes, frogs and maybe a friendly Northern Diamondback Terrapin.
Stay All Day
Many folks—even those who are not camping overnight—bring enough gear to stay the whole day. Arrive early if you hope to claim a picnic table for your family or group.
Picnic Pavilion at Hammonasset
If you are planning a family reunion, beach wedding or other gathering, open air picnic pavilions at Hammonasset Beach State Park can be rented for the day by calling 877-668-CAMP.