This year, there’s lots of competition for vacation rentals. New Yorkers who fled the city early on in the pandemic got the jump on summer properties in popular areas like the Hamptons and Hudson Valley. If you haven’t booked a summer vacation yet, or have been shut out of your favorite getaway, you might consider renting in one of the beach towns along the Connecticut shore of the Long Island Sound.
Often overlooked by New Yorkers as a vacation destination, towns along the Sound are interesting, scenic, and historically rich. And the cost of a rental in any of these towns will most likely be dramatically less than what you would pay on the Jersey Shore or the Hamptons.
Until last week, rentals in Connecticut for fewer than 30 days were banned, but the ban has been lifted. Connecticut is in Phase 2 of its reopening, and amusement parks, indoor dining, museums, zoos, aquariums, bowling alleys, movie theaters, gyms, libraries, and hair salons are all open with Covid protocols.
Elizabeth Carlson, owner of Shore & Country Real Estate in Old Lyme, says there are houses available for July and August rentals and that it’s not too late to plan your getaway.
“We still have end of summer vacation rentals listed. This year, because of the pandemic, some properties have opened up when the renters had to make last minute changes to their travel plans. Some families we were working with decided to stay closer to home, not wanting to fly at the moment,” she says.
To help you with your hunt, Brick Underground found houses in Madison, Clinton, Westbrook, Old Saybrook, and Old Lyme, which are no more than a two-hour drive (depending on traffic, of course) from NYC.
No car? You can get there by train for about $30 and use Uber for local trips or rent a bike. All of the towns listed here, except Old Lyme, are accessible by train and Old Lyme is only minutes away from the Old Saybrook station.
Looking for things to do in Connecticut? The Mystic Aquarium, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London (free admission all summer), the Book Barn in Niantic, Gillette Castle State Park, and the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat along the Connecticut River, are all open and are a short ride from any of the five towns. The Clinton Crossing Outlets and Tangers Outlets in Westbrook make for happy hunting. Sadly, the almost-100-year-old carousel at Sound View Beach in Old Lyme, a huge draw for generations, is closed for now. No brass rings in 2020.
Here are five properties in five different shoreline towns, starting with Madison, the closest to NYC. Rates quoted here are approximate and may vary depending on the length of your stay and number of people. If pets are permitted and Fido comes along, there will be an added charge.
Three-bedroom, two-bath house in Madison
On a private beach and five minutes from Madison’s historic district, this house sleeps five guests. The lucky ones get the master bedroom with a queen-sized bed, oversized closets, and a treehouse. Guests can stay out on the sun porch on the daybed. There’s a fireplace and a large screened-in porch. Wifi and linens, beach chairs, and towels are all provided. An outdoor shower is helpful for rinsing the sand off after the beach.
There’s parking for four cars, an unusual perk for a beach house. The approximate rental is $429 per night, with August dates still available.
Two-bedroom, two-bath house in Clinton
Right across the street from the beach, this recently updated house can sleep six and has an open floor plan. There’s a view of Long Island Sound from the second-floor front balcony and from the rear balcony, a view of the marsh.
You’ll need to bring your own linens, but the backyard is well-furnished and there’s a kayak and canoe that you can use. If you decide to leave the private beach for a change of scene, Hammonasset Beach State Park has a two-mile stretch of beach for walking, biking, swimming or bird watching.
Children are permitted but pets and parties aren’t. The average nightly rate is $425.
Loft apartment in Westbrook
The owners of this property rent a loft-style apartment above their garage that's a few steps from private Chapman Beach. There’s a balcony overlooking the Long Island Sound, a full eat-in kitchen and, if gambling’s your thing, the casinos are only a half hour car ride away.
A pullout sofa in the living room can accommodate a guest but it looks as though that would make things pretty crowded. Linens and towels are provided, there’s a fireplace, a washer/ dryer and a dishwasher and, according to one guest, “lots of birds and rabbits” that you can see from the balcony. And, there’s a genuine drive-in Dairy Queen nearby. The price is appealing at $142 per night.
Four-bedroom, three-bath house in Old Saybrook
You and nine friends can spread out all over this 2,600-square-foot house. You can draw straws to see who gets the 600 square foot guest suite with its own living room and kitchen and two bunk beds.
There’s not much of a water view and it’s not on a swimming beach, but it’s located in the quiet North Cove neighborhood of the town, where you have access to Saybrook Point Inn’s restaurants, spa, pools and health club. You can moor your boat here (if you have one), and you’re a short walk from mini golf or the Fenwick nine-hole golf course which overlooks the Sound. Bikes and two kayaks are available and there’s a big fenced-in backyard.
Children are fine and pets considered on an individual basis. The nightly rental is $450.
Five-bedroom, two-bath house in Old Lyme
This large house has an expansive back deck with a full view of the water. White Sand Beach, one of the nicest beaches in the area, is just down the hill. The beach is great for kids with changing rooms, outdoor showers, bathrooms, lifeguards, shaded picnic tables, and ice cream truck that comes by every few hours all summer long.
The house has room for nine to sleep. There’s still some availability in August and in October—a nice time to be at a beach if you like to avoid summer crowds. Outdoor furniture, a washer/dryer, an outdoor shower, and parking for four cars are some of the other perks you get for $2,400 per week.
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