Though not off the beaten path by any means, the two full miles of flat, sandy beach at Hammonasset Beach State Park handily accommodate summer crowds. This is the ideal beach at which to set up an umbrella chair, crack open a book and forget about the world. The surf is tame, making swimming superb. Restrooms and showering facilities are clean and ample, and a wooden boardwalk runs the length of the park.
Stroll all the way to Meigs Point at the tip of the peninsula and visit the Meigs Point Nature Center (open 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday) before heading out on a trail that meanders through saltwater marshes for excellent bird-watching. Hammonasset is a Native American word for ‘where we dig holes in the ground,’ alluding to agricultural practices. These days it’s more likely to refer to the holes of tent stakes.