15 Best Things to Do in Westbrook, CT

Westbrook, CT
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Westbrook is a popular summer resort town of Middlesex County on the southern shoreline of Connecticut facing Long Island Sound.

Its sandy beaches, fresh salt air, and a bounty of water-based recreational activities have been drawing visitors since the 1870s.

Incorporated in 1840, Westbrook was initially known as the domain of shipbuilders for close to a century, with the local chestnut and white oak forests sustaining their trade.

Westbrook owns the bragging rights as the place where the world’s first submarine was built.

This underwater sea craft, christened as The Turtle, was invented by a Westbrook native, David Bushnell, a Revolutionary War patriot.

A visit to the points of interest in Westbrook’s 16-square-mile enclave offers a perfect mix of charming amenities and natural wonders.

Hence, planning a pleasant trip to Westbrook entails looking beyond its endearing coastal area.

For a full appreciation of candidate picks on your itinerary, browse this list of things to do in Westbrook.

Go Island-Hopping

Orange sunset reflecting on a body of water.
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Westbrook is a friendly port if you want to go island-hopping on the waters of Long Island Sound.

The town’s territorial jurisdiction includes three uninhabited islands in Long Island Sound.

The easternmost, Salt Island, is the smallest at less than an acre in size, while further west is Duck Island measuring about 3.6 acres.

Shoreline boulders and a body of water.
Jeff Holcombe / Shutterstock.com

The largest among Westbrook's islands is Menunketesuck Island, with an area of approximately 4.6 acres.

This island, extending from the mouths of the Menunketesuck and Patchogue Rivers into Long Island Sound, is part of the Salt Meadow unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.

This island is a birdwatcher’s delight during summer, as it hosts a wide variety of water birds, such as egrets, terns, oystercatchers, and herons.

Clouds reflecting on a body of water.
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Get Pampered at Water's Edge Resort & Spa

Capture all the essence of a vacation in a New England beach town with a stay at the Water’s Edge Resort & Spa.

Located just east of Westbrook’s Middle Beach, Water’s Edge Resort & Spa is a remake of the Bill Hahn’s Hotel founded in 1941.

Besides its hotel rooms, Water’s Edge Resort & Spa has outdoor and indoor pools, two tennis courts, four restaurants, a fitness center, a private beach, and a business center, plus a spacious venue for meetings and events.

This resort’s spa will pamper you with wellness services like body treatments, massages, and facials.

Explore a Wildlife Refuge

Body of water at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, accessible via Old Clinton Road, is an enchanting place to visit for photography, wildlife observation, environmental education, and hunting.

This preserve spreads over 70 miles of marshes and islands, hosting ten units of protected habitats for endangered birds and plants.

Engaging outdoor activities are held here year-round, including interpretive tours and programs typically organized during summer.

Aerial view of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Interesting finds in the refuge include not only birds, mammals, colorful trees, and rare plants.

In a visit, you can also visit historic buildings such as the Enoch Murdock House at Salt Meadow.

Salt Meadow is the preserve’s mainland unit easiest to access, as it features a moderately trafficked 1.2 -mile loop trail and wildlife observation platforms.

Visiting the refuge’s island units is advisable during low tide as this is the best time to see wildlife in the intertidal zone.

A dock at Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Museum of Early Engineering and Technology

This museum is located on South Main Street and is regarded as a gateway to the history of US outer space exploration and the unique place of Connecticut in that history.

The Museum of Early Engineering and Technology features more than 1,000 big and small artifacts.

These are linked to human spaceflight, ranging from Saturn rockets and lunar module thrusters to fuel tanks and nuclear reactor designed for sending to outer space.

This huge collection of artifacts resulted from a two-decade effort, including searching from listings on eBay.

Through this museum, Connecticut presents its significant role in manufacturing machine parts and components like spacesuits for the US space program.

Browse at Antiques on Main Street

If antique items are your cup of tea, Westbrook’s Main Street offers the Clinton Antique Center on Main Street.

This shop is a family-owned and operated enterprise, with 6,000 square feet of commercial space hosting more than 100 quality dealers.

After having a fill of the unique and interesting pieces in this shop, you can turn to the historic Adam Stanton House and General Store across the street.

Built in 1791, this vintage residence has been turned into an impressive museum with its mix of an 18th-century residence and a general store.

The Stanton House boasts 11 fireplaces and a total floor area of 10,000 square feet, 5,700 square feet of which is the living quarters.

Remarkably, this house still has its original furnishings, antiques that remained since it was only the Stanton family who lived here.

Shop at the Westbrook Outlets

This retail hub is located on the eastern terminus of Flat Rock Place, flaunting 290,000 square feet of commercial space.

Its tenants include over 40 leading brands, such as Williams Sonoma, Rack Room, and Blue Navy.

Visit with a tour group at Westbrook Outlets, and chances are you will get generous discounts from the VIP Coupon Book that it gives out.

Besides personal items like footwear and apparel, art pieces are also available at the Six Summit Gallery in Westbrook Outlets.

This commercial center also hosts the Westbrook Marketplace on the second Saturday of each month.

This event features hundreds of pieces of fine art, fashion, and design from an eclectic group of local artisans and creators.

At Westbrook Outlets, you can also watch a movie at Marquee's Westbrook Cinema 12 or skate at its 6,812-square-foot rink.

Enjoy the Waters and Views of Westbrook’s Beaches

View of the sand and beach at westbrook.
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The coast of Westbrook features several beaches, and the largest among these is the picturesque West Beach.

On this beach, you can enjoy picturesque views of the waters of Long Island Sound and Menunketesuck Island.

Swimming and boating are also among the enjoyable activities on West Beach, which provides changing rooms, bathrooms, and concession stands.

Middle Beach in Westbrook is another visitor’s favorite, even as it is smaller than the town’s other beaches.

The setting in sandy Middle Beach is more tranquil, offering marvelous views, especially during sunset.

In visiting West Beach and Middle Beach, you will also be just a short distance away from some of the popular restaurants in Westbrook.

Explore the Tom ODell Memorial Open Space

This is a nature preserve that opened in 2021 on Boston Post Road between Oxford Academy and the US Post Office in Westbrook’s Town Center.

Comprised of 7 acres of woodland trails, it is dedicated to a Westbrook nature conservation pillar, Tom Odell.

This preserve has eight trails traversing a variety of habitats, including fields of undulating grasses and wildflowers, a thriving tidal marsh, forest thickets, coastal hardwoods, and an inland wetland with a boardwalk.

The main trail loops around the preserve’s perimeter, passing through an elevated rocky knoll overlooking Long Island Sound.

This trail passes through mixed terrain of marsh, salt meadow, wetland, and forest abundant with Alder, Black Cherry, Red Maple, and Sassafras.

Visit the Tom Odell Memorial Space between May and October for a chance to catch the Westbrook Farmers Market set up near this preserve’s Boston Road area.

Hang Out at the Westbrook Marinas

There’s a concentration of marinas past west of the Singing Bridge on Boston Road, a great destination if you’re coming into Westbrook by boat or hauling one on a trailer.

Here, one popular boaters’ choice is the Pier 76 Marina, with 254 boat slips and a boat launching ramp for everyday use.

The services of certified and factory-trained technicians are available in this marina for boats requiring maintenance and repair.

Rental of boat slips in Pier 76 Marina is available by the day up to an entire season.

For socials with like-minded mariners and sailors, you can hang out for socials at the nearby Duck Island Yacht Club (DIYC).

Founded in 1932, this yacht club has a member fleet comprised of cruising and racing vessels of 15 to 52 feet.

The DIYC takes price as one of the premier racing clubs on Long Island Sound, running over 50 races each season.

Cruise the Waters of Long Island Sound

Sunset at Long Island Sound.
diy13 / Shutterstock.com

Given its great coastal location, Westbrook is home to many outfits providing boat charters as well as boat training.

One of the popular choices for these services is Captain Morgan’s Boat Training & Charters.

Its network of boat captains includes mariners operating in Westbrook and the whole New England area.

A small boat in the middle of Long Island Sound waters.
BrandonKleinPhoto / Shutterstock.com

Captain Morgan can provide fun boat rides not only along the shoreline of Connecticut but also at surrounding states.

In addition, you can avail yourself of personalized, hands-on boat training through Captain Morgan.

With the Westbrook captain in Captain Morgan’s network, you can train on trailering, navigating, anchoring, using boat ramps, steering and handling the helm, fueling on and off the water, and even getting familiar with local parks and facilities.

Pick Seafood Options on Boston Post Road

The culinary delights in Westbrook, particularly seafood, can be sampled best in the restaurants along Boston Post Road.

Bill’s Seafood is one of the favorites along this corridor, inviting with its picnic tables outside overlooking the Patchogue River.

This restaurant exudes charm, too, with the nautical theme of its center bar/dining room, where servings of big sweet lobsters and tuna are among your choices.

Bistro Mediterranean & Tapas Bar is another great find for dining on Boston Road’s restaurant row.

Here, you can have steamed mussels and crab cake for starters that can be capped with a sumptuous seafood risotto comprised of shrimp, salmon, bay scallops, and calamari.

Check Out the Pink Sleigh Christmas Shop

This unique shop is located on Essex Road, where it has been operating since 1963.

It is housed in an amazing 150-year-old post-and-beam country barn, further adding to its charm.

Pink Sleigh Christmas Shop offers an amazing selection of holiday and seasonal trims and décor.

All these, along with more than 20 themed trees and unique gift items, are attractively displayed on the two floors of the shop.

The items available in this store include Old World and European glass Christmas ornaments, handmade Santas, and Russian nesting dolls.

Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving decorations are also among the items that this shop sells.

Have Fun with Horses at Westbrook Hunt Club

Located on Pond Meadow Road, this club offers a whole range of services for horse lovers.

Westbrook Hunt Club, which has a riding arena, offers horseback riding, riding lessons, and riding clinics.

It also hosts horse shows, including dressage.

Another horse lovers’ choice a short drive east of this club is the Helen Joyce Center for Horsemanship on Barberry Road at the boundary of the towns East Haven and North Haven.

This equestrian center has a large indoor arena and also offers dressage and hunter seat instruction.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore the Hammonasset Beach State Park

Dusk at Hammonasset Beach State Park.
Enfi / Shutterstock.com

This park is in the town of Madison, just 10 miles southwest of Westbrook.

The Hammonasset Beach State Park sprawls over 1,000 acres and is one of Connecticut’s most popular attractions.

Rocky shoreline of Hammonasset Beach State Park.
Ollphotograph / Shutterstock.com

This is also Connecticut's largest shoreline park, with more than two miles of beach, as well as wetlands and woodlands.

The recreational activities that this park offers include swimming, fishing, birdwatching, hiking, biking, and boating.

It is estimated that more than 1 million visitors enjoy this beach park each year.

A driftwood log on the shore of Hammonasset Beach State Park.
Jeff Holcombe / Shutterstock.com

Tour the Front and Back Nines of Clinton Golf Club

Spreading over 100 acres, this club’s golf course in the town of Clinton is the nearest layout near Westbrook.

Clinton Golf Club traces back to the 1890s, and it easily counts as one of the oldest in the US.

Its 18-hole golf course is on Old Post Road, less than 4 miles northeast of Westbrook.

Golfers aim at par 72 over 6,501 yards from the longest tee of this course with a 71.6 rating and 130 slope rating.

Final Thoughts

Despite being a small town of just 55 square kilometers, Westbrook got what it all takes to be a leading destination of choice when visiting Connecticut.

This town’s shoreline points of interest blend perfectly with inland natural attractions and the contemporary amenities Westbrook has developed for over 100 years.

Gear up for the things to do in Westbrook.

This town surely has the offerings right for your family and you.