A shoreline town located along the Long Island Sound in Connecticut, Branford was settled into in 1644. Several of the attractions in Branford are recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, including over 20 historic homes and other properties. One of its most popular aspects is Thimble Islands, which is an archipelago that is absolutely beautiful and worth exploring if you’re in the area. The best time to visit would be around October or November when temperatures are perfect and the views are at their most stunning.
An archipelago comprising several small islands in the Long Island Sound, Thimble Islands goes back to a time when it was the home of the Mattabeseck Indians. You can start off by exploring some of the more popular islands such as Horse Island, which at 17 acres is the largest, Money Island, which in its entirety has 32 houses and a library, and Bear Island, which is home to granite quarries which exported stones to constructions such as the base of the Statue of Liberty, Lincoln Memorial, Grand Central Terminal, and the Brooklyn Bridge. With so much to see and do, a visit to Thimble Islands should definitely be on your list of places to go while in Branford.
2.Route 146 Scenic Drive
Connecticut’s own version of Route 66 can be found right in Branford on the Route 146 Scenic Drive, also known as the Edward Ramos Memorial Highway. The scenic and historic stretch spans for over eight miles and starts from the town’s Main Street. The stretch of road, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will take you through the stunning Connecticut shorelines, notable buildings, farms, and much more. Take your time, stop and see some of the notable carriage houses, visit the John Rogers House which was built in the 1750s, and get ready to take a lot of pictures.
3.Thimble Island Cruise
© Thimble Island Cruise
Thimble Island Cruise is a family owned and operated business that provides one of the best ways to explore the historic Thimble Islands: aboard the Sea Mist. The vessel can carry up to 49 passengers, has two decks, and is temperature controlled so that visitors can have fun all year long. The boat company is one of only three companies which are docked at Stony Creek and offers a unique, incomparable experience when exploring the stunning archipelago. Thousands of people have enjoyed tours and charters of the islands and the Long Island Sound with Thimble Island Cruise during its 60+ year history.
4.Stony Creek Museum
© Stony Creek Museum
There’s no better place to better understand the rich history of the area than at the Stony Creek Museum. The museum has several attractions and exhibits dedicated to the many people and events that thrived there. You’ll learn all about the nearby quarries which provided stones for national sites such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Other exhibits are dedicated to the puppets from the Sicilian Puppet Collection of the Weil family, historic firefighting equipment, and the Stony Creek Fife and Drum Corps. After a visit to the museum, explore the nearby Thimble Islands on a boat sightseeing tour that will make the perfect end to the day.
84 Thimble Island Rd, Branford, CT 06405, Phone: 203-488-4014
Branford Trail is a 30-mile-long white circle blazed trial which will take you through many of the town’s parks, wetlands, shorelines, woodlands, and Branford Land Trust properties. Many parts of the trail connect with other trails to ensure that you have a scenic and enjoyable time; one of the most stunning aspects will be along the Lake Saltonstall Trail, from which you’ll be able to see panoramic views of the lake all year long. You can enjoy hiking, jogging, bicycling, and cross-country skiing on the trails. The lake also allows for fishing and boating during certain seasons and with the proper permits and licenses.
6.Le Petit Cafe
© Le Petit Cafe
Voted “Connecticut’s Best Restaurant for Food” by Zagat, Le Petit Cafe is the brainchild of chef and owner Roy Ip. He carefully pairs the flavors and textures of his ingredients together so that each dish takes the diner on an extraordinary culinary journey unlike anything else their palate has experienced before. Each dish focuses on being simple, fresh, and pure so that the true flavors shine and isn’t masked by unnecessary ingredients. Try their Four Course Prix Fixe Dinner which includes a choice of appetizer such as sautéed escargot or duck confit, a second course of organic salad with premium artisan cheese, a main course of rack of lamb, slow braised veal, or wild Canadian swordfish, and a delicious dessert to bring it all together.
225 Montowese St, Branford, CT 06405, Phone: 203-483-9791
Discover some of the most beautiful sailing paradises in the area with Sail-Works. No matter if you’re looking to explore the Thimble Islands, East Hampton, Sag Harbor, or Martha’s Vineyard, you can do so with these professional experts. They offer sailing trips which last four hours, eight hours, and even some that are overnight, making it a perfect choice for special occasions. If you want to learn how to sail on your own, take one of their sailing courses which will get you familiar with basic boat maintenance, sail trimming, docking, and more based on your level of expertise.
2707, 51 Goodsell Point Rd, Branford, CT 06405, Phone: 203-512-7751
8.The Lobster Shack
© The Lobster Shack
The Lobster Shack is a family owned and operated endeavor which allows the Crismale’s to share their love for freshly-caught lobster and clams with everyone. The small stand serves several dishes that the Crismale’s have perfected over the years serving to their own family and friends. Some of the most popular foods offered are the lobster bisque, Captain Nick’s very own Rhode Island chowder, freshly caught and grilled clams, and lobsters rolls made with freshly picked tail and claw meat and served on a toasted sub roll with real butter. Using simple, yet fresh, ingredients, the food at the Lobster Shack is guaranteed to be a mouthwatering dining experience.
7 Indian Neck Ave, Branford, CT 06405, Phone: 203-483-8414
© Home Restaurant
Owner, operator, and head chef of Home, Jared Schulefand has spent much of his life in the restaurant industry. The idea for his very own dining establishment came from the passion he has for cooking delicious meals with fresh ingredients. The restaurant is focused on making the diner feel like their home and has two dining atmospheres: the dining room and the living room. The dining room is fitted with stunning photographs of the town, large windows and skylights, while the living room is perfect for a cocktail or drink at the bar and a light meal. Popular items from the menu include the roasted vegetable tacos, stuffed turkey burger, and the pomegranate-citrus glazed Cornish hen.
1114 Main St, Branford, CT 06405, Phone: 203-483-5896
10.Ashley's Ice Cream
© Ashley's Ice Cream
Serving delicious treats to the residents and visitors of Connecticut since 1973, Ashley’s Ice Cream has gained somewhat of a cult following in the last thirty years. The goal has always been to make the best ice cream possible without ever using any artificial colors or flavors. All of the ice creams offered are all natural and made with fresh ingredients, along with freshly baked waffle cones, whipped cream whipped daily in store, and their famous Bittersweet Hot Fudge which is made with the highest quality chocolates. Popular flavors include the Nutella Chip, Coffee with Oreo, Lemon Pie, Bourbon Brown Sugar, and Chocolate Swiss Almond.
1016 Main St, Branford, CT 06405, Phone: 203-481-5558
11.Stony Creek Brewery
© Stony Creek Brewery
A fusion of bold, clean-cut flavors, a visit to Stony Creek Brewery is definitely in the books for craft beer aficionados. The modern brewery, which is operated by a team of creative and inspiring people who are passionate about creating high-quality beers, is a wonderful place to explore. The tap room flows from the indoor to the outdoors, has a game pit and dock access, and allows visitors to see right into the canning and bottling lines without ever leaving the tap room. Be sure to try any four of their beers on tap with their beer flight while enjoying a picnic you bring along or food from the many food trucks on site.
5 Indian Neck Avenue, Branford, CT 06405, Phone: 203-433-4545
12.Thimble Islands Brewing Company
© Thimble Islands Brewing Company
Founded in 2010 by two guys with nothing but passion and a dream, the Thimble Islands Brewing Company has quickly grown to become one of the largest self-distributing microbreweries in the entire state. Their brewery and tasting room is a popular place for locals and visitors to hang out, have a refreshing chilled beer, and to just have a good time with friends and family. There are 16 rotating tap lines on which you can usually find their American Ale, the India Pale Ale, Coffee Stout, the Ghost Island Double IPA, and their Thimble Lager which is smooth and never goes out of style.
16 Business Park Drive, Branford, CT 06405, 203-208-2827
12 Best Things to Do in Branford, Connecticut
- Thimble Islands, Photo: S/stock.adobe.com
- Route 146 Scenic Drive, Photo: r_tee/stock.adobe.com
- Thimble Island Cruise, Photo: Thimble Island Cruise
- Stony Creek Museum, Photo: Stony Creek Museum
- Branford Trail, Photo: Gajus/stock.adobe.com
- Le Petit Cafe, Photo: Le Petit Cafe
- Sail-Works, Photo: Sail-Works
- The Lobster Shack, Photo: The Lobster Shack
- Home Restaurant, Photo: Home Restaurant
- Ashley's Ice Cream, Photo: Ashley's Ice Cream
- Stony Creek Brewery, Photo: Stony Creek Brewery
- Thimble Islands Brewing Company, Photo: Thimble Islands Brewing Company
- Cover Photo: Town of Branford, CT