THINGS TO DO
Old Lyme, originally a maritime village, is situated on the east side of the Connecticut River where it meets Long Island Sound. The town became a popular artist colony in the late 19th century. Since that time, the Old Lyme community has remained committed to promoting artistic pursuits and preserving its quiet charm. The Bee and Thistle Inn is located within the historic district and you will find many Old Lyme sites within walking distance or a short drive.
The Florence Griswold Museum offers an impressive collection of Impressionistic art. This 1817 National Historic Landmark is located next to the Bee and Thistle Inn. Please call 860.434.5542 or visit www.flogris.org for hours of operation.
The Lyme Art Association was built and opened in 1921 by Lyme Art Colony artists. It features exhibits of traditional fine art by area artists. Please call 860.434.7802 for more information or visit their web site at www.lymeartassociation.org.
The Lyme Academy for Fine Arts is one of the few accredited fine arts schools in the country. The gallery features shows by the faculty, students and alumni. For gallery hours and more information please call 860.434.5232 or visit www.lymeacademy.edu.
The Cooley Gallery has been in Old Lyme for over 25 years and offers American paintings from the late 19th and early 20th century with select works of contemporary realism. For hours of operation please call 860.434.8807 or visit www.cooleygallery.com.
There are wonderful antique shops and specialty boutiques to visit when you are staying here, including:
For those of you wishing to enjoy the outdoors….
Rocky Neck State Park is about ten minutes away in Niantic off I-95N on Long Island Sound. The park offers beautiful beaches, hiking and picnic areas.
Devils Hopyard State Park has wonderful hiking and mountain bike trails and is about twenty-five minutes north in East Haddam. We have more information about other nature and outdoor areas within a half hour drive from the inn.
Fox Hopyard, both a private and public golf course, is located a short drive away from the Bee and Thistle and offers the opportunity to play on one of the most beautiful golf courses in Connecticut. Guests must call and make a tee reservation. Visit their web site at www.golfthefox.com/hopyard for more information.
AROUND OLD LYME
Essex is situated on the Connecticut River off of Route 9. It is a wonderful spot to shop, sail or watch the boats coming into the marina. The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat Ride (860-767-0103 orwww.essexsteamtrain.com) takes you up the Connecticut River Valley on a vintage 1920′s steam locomotive. You can choose to travel back down the Connecticut River to Essex on a riverboat. Right on the river on Steamboat Dock you will find the Connecticut River Museum (860-767-8269 or www.ctrivermuseum.org). It offers permanent as well as changing exhibitions relating to the rich history and culture of the Connecticut River Valley.
Ten minutes north of Essex, you will find a charming village of Chester. It has fine shops, art galleries and restaurants.
Across the Connecticut River from Chester is Hadlyme, home of Gillette Castle State Park (860-526-2336). William Gillette, a famous actor and eccentric personality, built himself this remarkable home in 1919.
The Goodspeed Opera House (860-873-8668, www.goodspeed.org) is in East Haddam just north of Hadlyme. This beautiful playhouse, built in 1876, presents three exceptional shows each year.
Nearby in Higganum you will find the Sundial Gardens, a series of formal architectural gardens acclaimed in numerous national publications. Also on the premises is the Tea Chest Shop where you may find fine and rare teas and artisan-made oriental teapots, or purchase specialty gifts for friends. Visit www.sundialgardens.com for details.
There are two premium outlet malls within a fifteen-minute drive south on I-95.
Westbrook Tanger Outlets www.tangeroutlet.com/westbrook
Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=12
This is just a sampling of the sites and activities that surround us here at the Bee and Thistle Inn. We have information on most area attractions and are happy to share our expertise and knowledge with you. Of course, if you’re looking for a peaceful and relaxing retreat, you don’t have to go any further than the Bee and Thistle Inn.
Our Innkeeper’s guide to hidden treasures in the area!
Close to home: An Old Lyme Walking Tour
Old Lyme is originally a maritime village, situated on the east side of the Connecticut River where it meets the Long Island Sound. In the late 19th century it blossomed into the popular artist colony, with quaint charm, that the Old Lyme community continues to preserve today. The Bee and Thistle Inn is located within the historic district of the town, where you’ll find many of Old Lyme’s popular sites.
The Florence Griswold Museum offers a beautiful collection of American Impressionist art. Built in 1817, this National Historic Landmark is located right next door! Visit the Florence Griswold Museum and experience their amazing museum, and home of American Impressionism. Enjoy art, History, and Nature all in one stop.
The Lyme Art Association was built in 1921 by Lyme Art Colony artists. It features traditional fine art by local artists. Call 860.434.7802 for more information, or visit www.lymeartassociation.org
The Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts is one of the few accredited fine arts schools in the country. Their gallery features shows by faculty, students, and alumni. For gallery hours and more information, call 860.434.5232, or visit www.lymeacademy.edu
The Cooley Gallery has been in Old Lyme for over 25 years, and shows American paintings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, alongside select works of contemporary realism. For hours and more information, call 860.434.8807, or visit www.cooleygallery.com
Gilbert V. Boro, Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds is located next to the Lyme Academy. Studio 80 is the personal working space of Artist Gilbert Boro, on 4.5 acres of ‘sculpture grounds’ on the lieutenant river. Open 9-5pm daily, call 860.304.3359 for questions, and more information.
A few more walking-distance attractions include…
• EF Watermelon
• The Chocolate Shell
• The Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe
• Nightingales Acoustic Cafe
The Chester Hadlyme Ferry: A Scenic Route through Lyme
Take a right out of the Bee and Thistle Inn. Then Go right at the first light onto Halls Road.
Stop at ‘Treasures’ about 3/4ths of the way down Halls Road, on the right hand side. This is a great little shop filled with antique, vintage, and classic furnishings as well as home accessories
At the end of Halls Road, turn right onto Route 156. Follow this scenic route of rolling hills and beautiful farms for 8 miles.
Or stay on Route 156 and stop at Tiffany Farms in Lyme, to see their cows, working dairy farm and idyllic pastures.
To continue to the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, follow Route 156 all the way to the end, and take a left onto Route 82. Once you’ve followed this road for several miles, you’ll see signs for the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry.
The Ferry is a quick (But fun!) 5 minute ride in your car that crosses the scenic Connecticut River near Gillette Castle State Park. The ferry runs from April 1st to November 30th, Monday-Friday from 7:00 am to 6:45 pm, Saturday-Sunday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm and costs $5.00 per vehicle.
From the ferry, drive about one mile into Chester, a quaint, Connecticut River Valley town, with great shops and restaurants. Try the River Tavern, at 23 Main Street; It’s one of our favorites!
You can also take the ferry across the Connecticut river from Chester to visit Gillette Castle. Keep an eye out for the Castle sitting atop the cliffs as you’re crossing the river!…
The park is located at 67 River Road in East Haddam, and offers picnicking, river vista views, food concession,seasonal castle tours. The park groundsare open year round (weather permitting) at 8:00 am.The interior of Gillette Castle is open for toursfrom Memorial Day Weekend to Columbus Day 10:00 am-5:00 pm. Tickets: $6 for Adults (13 and over) must be purchased before 4:30 pm.
Call 860.526.2336 for more information.
Alternatively, drive north along Route 154 to the famous East Haddam Swing Bridge, and follow signs to the castle. In all, the drive is about 10 miles through the beautiful towns of Haddam and East Haddam, Connecticut.
Scenic Route through Essex and Ivoryton:
Take 95 South and get off at exit 69, which is the beginning of Route 9. Take exit 3 and at the end of the exit go left on to Route 154. Follow this road for a few miles, and make some fun stops at the following sites:
• The Essex Steam Train
• The Ivoryton Playhouse
•The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook
•Gather—A vintage shop with great finds
Heading East? Stop in Stonington and Mystic:
Mystic Seaport and Village—For sea-lovers and all things maritime, this is a must do.
Take exit 90 off I-95 North.
Proceed approximately one mile.
Parking for Mystic Seaport is on the left.
While in town take the time to stroll the one-of-a-kind shops in downtown as well as Olde Mystick Village, and soak up all the New England charm this little town has to offer.
Stonington is another one of Connecticut’s charming sea-side towns. With plenty of beautiful scenery to offer, this artsy New England village has quite a few hidden gems.
Turn right onto Route 234 West.
Turn left onto North Main Street.
Proceed approximately two miles.
Turn left onto Route 1A North.
Turn at the first right onto Alpha Avenue.
Turn left onto Water Street.
Once you’re in town, our innkeeper suggests…
Mialgros Café, at 142 Water Street—A modern Mexican restaurant with Delicious food.
Noah’s Restaurant, at 113 Water Street—Casual fine dining in the heart of the historic Stonington Borough.
The Dogwatch Café, at 194 Water Street—Casual dining overlooking the Dodson boatyard in Stonington, with a great seafood menu.