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Please select an itemTOWN


What distinguishes Branford from all of the other shoreline towns is its distinct villages and neighborhoods. From the village center to such enclaves as Branford Point, Stony Creek, Short Beach, and Pine Orchard, Branford offers its charms in neat little packages that make it a delight to explore. Each has its own character and personality for which the residents express abiding affection. But ask them to name their hometown and they’ll all say Branford. Clustered around the green, which dates back to 1699, Branford Center is the hub of town life, with its town hall, three 19th-century churches, an ancient academy, and a tablet that marks the site where ten clergymen met in 1701 to create the first library of Yale University. These days, residents and visitors meet here for concerts, fairs, and such annual events as the Branford Festival, held every Father’s Day weekend since 1985.

Surrounding the green are women’s clothing boutiques — both trendy and traditional, as well as ethnic markets and some great restaurants. At Billy’s Pasta Cosi, CIA grad Chef Billy gets ovations from even The Times for his fresh sauces and noodles. Darbar of India, well known for its luncheon buffets, is packed to a full house on most evenings. Le Petit Café, a modest-looking spot, is popular statewide for its high echelon French offerings. And across the green is Ashley’s Ice Cream, where you’ll get the best scoop in town. Here, you’ll find a link to Route 146, the scenic highway that traces the coastline through Pine Orchard and Indian Neck, as well as Montowese Street, which slips under the railroad trestle and crosses the causeway over the Branford River.

At Indian Neck, Montowese swings eastward along the shore — and just before that turn is Lenny’s Indian Head Inn, a restaurant with awesome marsh views and legendary fresh seafood. Nearby is Bud’s Fish Market, which is always happy to provide take-home delights, including lobsters. If your taste buds are calling for something more complex, give 9 East Hibachi & Asian Kitchen a try. And a detour onto Linden Avenue leads to the Owenego Inn, the last of Branford’s summer hotels, with its 500 feet of direct waterfront providing sweeping views of the Sound.

Out on 146, the coastal route heads eastward through Pine Orchard to Stony Creek — which seems to exist in a time warp. A peek into the backyards reveals lobster traps and boat trailers, faded buoys, and an occasional net draped to dry on a fence, imparting a sense of New England’s nautical past and the time-honored work of trawling for nourishment from the Sound. Stony Creek’s history swells with tales of quarry life, pirates, and the romance of the sea, but today the village is mostly known for its Yankee charm — and its islands. Named for the thimbleberries that once flourished on them, the more than 100 Thimbles, of which only 32 are inhabited, are the largest group of islands on the Sound. Sightseeing businesses have developed to take tourists to see the islands, all of which are held in private hands.

West of Branford Center is Short Beach, bordered on the west by the East Haven River and by beautiful Granite Bay on the east and Sound side. Around the eastern shore of Granite Bay, on Harbor Street, is the town dock and Parker Memorial Park at Branford Point — a 12-acre park that has a beach and a pier for both fishing and watching the maritime traffic at the Harborview overlook.

Al Ferreira Photo