Things to see, eat, stay at and enjoy…some you gotta’ know and some are well…just beachy!
Yo-yo “sunny beaches”! It’s time to pack your take-me-away weekender bags and head to the sawlty-sanded, showas’ of Stratford, CT. Stratford, CT? Oh, yes, my HVH friends. Stratford is one beach you need to know! Located just 20 minutes north of Westport, this seaside community is a quick hop, skip, and a jump from Manhattan and the lower Valley areas. Yearning for some Hampton-esque vibes but just a wee less crowded, more laid back, and well, just plain easier to get to? Then climb on board with us as we take you to one terrific weekend getaway via our “beach train” or what you may know as NY’s very own Metro North.
At team Hudson Valley Happenings, what we value most about traveling by rail is the leave-your-worries-behind convenience of it all. It’s pretty darn easy and that’s the way we likey. We just map out our itin’, grab a few train tics’ at our local depot, plop our “tuchus” on some window facing seats and away weeeee go! Whoot, whoot! Metro North does the rest. With all we need to report on these days (as the world begins to burst open), this is one great peace of mind!
Given we are situated deep in the Hudson Valley, we embarked on our lazy morning journey from Poughkeepsie, NY into Madame Grand Central where we grabbed some Grumpy morning time bevs and delicious “well done” croissants just before connecting to our next caboose pointed towards the northern showas’ of Connecticut – yummy yahoo! What a ride. We could almost feel the sand under our feet while we skirted the coastline grabbing glimpses of the Long Island Sound, swooshing by multiple water edged towns, and made our way to our final destination. Yeah, life is good.
Folks, Stratford is a tucked away oasis of fun in the sun just waitin’ for ya’ll to visit. Within minutes of our arrival, we sensed this wasn’t going to be an ordinary weekend jaunt. Around every corner appeared delights in the forms of all shapes and sizes…it was quite tantalizing. Stratford is low-key coolness that isn’t isolated to one area…it’s all around. From big toy jet plane hangers to small town proud feels, and yes, heavenly “LI Sound” breezes, this is one everyone can enjoy!
Anxious to immerse ourselves in all things local, we headed toward a homegrown success story. My god, there couldn’t have been a better place to start our beachside advent
than at Two Roads Brewing. Born out of a “take the road less traveled” mindset, this place snapped our tastebuds into shape! Later, in close by Bridgeport, we feasted on numerous American small plates at Hub & Spoke while watching some impressive cocktail talents unfold in front of us. We must confess, a few buttons were loosened after this one!
There’s nothing like a waterfront hideaway to calm what ails you. The Surfside Hotel…what can I say…”I quit!” No, no, no not literally but boy this 3rd generation beach lodge is an HVH must-know and the center piece of our trip…it made us absolutely beach dream of “jumping ship”! Long shore-lined bike rides…golden-hour shell searching…paddleboard shenanigans (compliments of Scoot & Paddle)…an impromptu shop-while-you-drop session at Mellow Monkey…and the unforgettable laugh-out-loud conversations with new friends we made at Little Pub…”awl” blended like a pineapple and coconut colada…d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! And, when it was all said and done, a sunny soulful timeout with none other than Arogya. It was...yup, bliss of the ancient type!
Team HVH took this one real sloooooow…inhaled the salty air, grooved with the motion of the waves, and planned…what plan (hahaha)?!
Our advice to you is to keep it real loose. And, for those that want…take our lead (that’s what we are here forwa'), read on for one unforgettable splash down at the Stratford shore. There’s lots “you gotta’ know” and some that are “just beachy”!
STRATFORD TAKE-WITH-YOU ESSENTIALS, MAY – SEPTEMBER
Pack or pick up locally
Featherlight button down – takes you from day to night (cover me up or dress me up)
Breathable over-sized cotton scarf – for cool nighttime breezes
Espadrilles – go with everything
Refillable stay-cool water bottle – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
One piece or two – because it’s the beach
Body Lotion – for healthy glowy skin kissed by the sun
SPF – always a smart idea
Headband – to tame your beach waves
Hoop earrings – just plain easy
Mascara – need “eye” say more?
Beach-inspired button down – it's one time he can look like a beach boy
One-of-a-kind “T” – because he loves her (secret to be revealed soon!)
Pineapple deco'd swim trunks – because it’s the beach
Old-school Canon – no mobile camera, no interruptions
Timeout reading material – because he can
Birkens' – best in sand
Cap – always a smart soleil move
Worn-soft jeans – look good and feel good in the warmer air
Lip Balm – keep them lips kissable
Airpods – well, to tune out!
HERE ARE THE DEETS
Now this is just a tease to entice you to explore the sandy shores more on your own. Read on for what we loved, ate, drank, experienced, explored or just talked about - some usual suspects, others new found and for sure a lot that are quite a bit beachy. Enjoy from your friends at HVH!
The Surfside Hotel…is our kinda “gal.” Decked out with some way-out humor (apparently the handy work of the owners’ kids and a local father’s young son), it reminded us of a scene from an Annette & Frankie (you gotta know them!) beach blanket movie from the 60’s…swim caps and all!
Once the Marnicks Motel, this quintessentially beach bright white and washed out aqua blue lodge, welcomes passersby aaaall daaaay loooong! From early morning misty sunrises to the late-night stargazing, this is a daydreamer’s happy-happy spot.
GOTTA’ KNOW: When visiting the Surfside, you gotta’ stay in one of their sound-facing sundeck rooms…da’ view…da’ planes (boats too) …da’ amenities…da’ hint of Sony & Cher tunes echoing from just below…were everything and more. We loved this place. Just saying!
JUST BEACHY: Aside from its dip-your-toes-in-our-waters location (address Point No Point), the nostalgic esthetic (the vintage swimmer logo everywhere is just too cute) is part sarcastic whimsy, part beach glam!
TAKE HOME: We couldn’t help but giggle a bit while picking up some trinkets to take home at the Lifeguard Stand. Not only can you grab one of their delicious smelling signature candles, but their “booby” art was…um…how do you say, “perky!”
EAT, SIP, MUNCH
Two Roads Brewing…is the wildly conceived and sometimes sour bitten brainchild of four best dudes. Living and brewing by the philosophy, “take the road less traveled” (haha, us too!) these guys know what they are brewin’. Team HVH had various opinions about which of their mini flight tastes were tops. But the one we all could agree upon was their proprietary gose. Made on premise, this distinctive brow raiser is housed in a shiny, oversized tanker trailer that’s left in the sun to do its thing.
GOTTA’ KNOW: You’ve gotta’ take the time to mosey on over to Two Road’s other brother - Area Two Experimental Brewing! Dedicated to innovative methods and tastes, we l-o-v-e-d everything about this industrial looking brew lab (rooftop alert!). Heard of Hurricane Sandy? Area Two crafted a tongue teaser called, “Urban Funk.” Made from a yeast deposited during the storm, this one is pure invention!
JUST BEACHY: Can you say “seltza”? These low-cal 100% fresh fruit-made-craft hard seltzers …are glup, glup, glup ahhhh! Sun, sand, and a seltza’…now that’s a combo!
TAKE HOME: Being the road-less-traveled lovin’ types, Two Roads had a ton of great sloganed sh’t we wanted to load up on and take home. But if I had to choose one, their super soft T’s were the bomb!
Hub & Spoke…is eats of the local kind. Specializing in sharable small plates, this pub-ish styled eating hole packs a tasty punch…sausage, pasta, and shrimps oh my!
GOTTA’ KNOW: You gotta’ try the in house-made fresh (not dried) chorizo. It has a touch of sweetness that balances out the typical “hot” bite. We ordered it and later fought over the last nibble bits!
JUST BEACHY: There’s nothin’ like a tropical fruit infused cocktail set ablaze to make you wish you were tiki-side listen’ to Jimmy Buffet while feeling the cooler summer air dance over your skin. Oops! Sorry, I got carried away…a Zombie served up at Hub & Spoke will do that to you!
TAKE HOME: We came within inches of ordering a second round of Pulled Pork Arepas!
Little Pub…is located directly below at the base of the Surfside Hotel. How convenient, right? Desperate for some much-needed uncomplicated chow plans, we took full advantage of Little Pub’s close proximity. Fish Truck (oh, yeah!) and Ahi Tuna Tacos for lunch, Mac & Cheese Burger and Lobster Roll for dinner, I egged…she egged…we all egged for breakfast, and some wow-what-was-that cocktails provide everything necessary to feed our bellies and our souls.
GOTTA’ KNOW: You gotta’ ask the staff to shake ya’ up an early morning boozie bloodie M. Its hand-stuffed blue cheese olives and crisp bacon accoutrements…let me say it again… hand-stuffed blue cheese olives and crisp bacon accoutrements will leave you fowa’ showa’ debating whether you are an optimist or a pessimist!
JUST BEACHY: High polished steel kettle drums playing in the background…need I say more?!
TAKE HOME: We devoured everything...so nothing!
Mellow Monkey…is just like the slogan says, “anything but ordinary.” HVH followers everywhere chatted this place up! A bit off-the-beaten-path, this are-we-going-in-the-right-direction destination is a warehouse-sized showroom brimming with all sorts of coastal-loving home décor, designer lighting, and belly-laughing giftables. Watch out, this place can do some real “CC” damage.
GOTTA’ KNOW: You gotta’ meet “Howard”, owner, and founder of Mellow Monkey. He has a wicked funny sense of humor and a keen eye for curating local and international designs under one roof.
JUST BEACHY: Where do I start?!
TAKE HOME: What would Howard say? I know… a cleverly designed tide clock or a vintage railroad lighted box (I came “this” close to laying down my card for this one)…all aboard!
Pssst, come closer. Want to know what HVH’s creative guru and founder took home? The most soothing chimes that simulate the deep sounds of a local lighthouse foghorn – so cool! But please, don’t tell her I told you! It’s our secret.
Scoot & Paddle…is your adventure connection on land or in H2O in and around the Stratford/Milford area. As luck would have it, I had a bum foot injury that prevented me from trying most everything this day. But have no fear, the crew did enough for us all! Paddle boarding for the first time, HV’s gal and guy may not have gotten as far as they planned but they got above water glimpses at hand-sized conch shells and I’ll-whack-you-with-my-tail horseshoe crabs. Mother Nature we hear you!
GOTTA KNOW: You gotta’ try paddling your way to Charles Island. Owner, “Tina” (love her!) piqued our interest with tales of real-life treasure hunters and ghosts! ohhhhhh!
JUST BEACHY: That’s easy…everything Scoot & Paddle had to offer for our you-can’t-rain-on-our-parade-because-we-want-to-play-at-the-beach day – Paddleboards and kayaks on water and Bikes and scooters on land.
TAKE HOME: You can buy a brightly painted ukulele there too!
Arogya…is ahhhhh exactly what some of us needed this trip. As talented owner “Wey” explained, they have a holistic eastern-inspired approach to wellness. Imagine, from the very tippy, tippy top of your head all the way, way down to the bottom of your toes, a complete mind, body, spirit I-feel-renewed rejuvenation. I unfortunately, had to opt out due to my out-of-commission foot, but from the looks of things, this was one work-every-muscle, please-don’t-stop treatment!
GOTTA’ KNOW: Something this darn good for you…you gotta’ try a least once.
JUST BEACHY: Outside? Huh? Surfside you get us!… outdoor water-made sounds (maybe even a brief don’t let-it-spoil-the-moment tractor rumble), salty air smells, and the heat of the morning’s sun rays added a whole other dimension to our leave-me-alone I’m self-caring moment.
TAKE HOME: Be sure to check out their wellness goodness online. I hear their teas (over 100 loose types) are considered some of the finest in the area - organic and wild harvested.
Stratford, Connecticut your sunny beaches gave these Valley "sunny beaches" one hellva showa’ good time!