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Please select an itemTOWN


Clinton really comes alive in the summer, when its year-round population of 13,700 grows to 20,000 or more.

Three rivers — the Hammonasset, the Indian, and the Hammock — wend their way through the marshes of Clinton before they empty into the harbor protected by Cedar Island. It’s no surprise, then, that sailing and fishing are among the most popular activities. Indeed, the docks and wharves near the harbor and along the Indian River that once rang with the sounds of shipbuilders now hum with the sweet summer sounds of recreational vessels and their crews. Busy throughout the warm season, the harbor and such enterprises as the Indian River Marina do a steady trade in kayak sales and rentals.

Just as they were centuries ago — when the native Hammonassets trawled for flounder and harvested scallops, crabs, clams, and oysters — shell- and saltwater fishing are still common occupations. The Bluefish Festival, held every July, celebrates the catch down near the town dock with an exuberant display of local pride. And truth be told, this may be the only place on earth where you can buy a paper tray brimming with crispy bluefish nuggets — a signature town delicacy.

Downtown are the town’s three historic museums, three of its churches, and a community playground. In the historic districts of downtown Clinton, surrounding Liberty Green and on pretty Waterside Lane, are scores of pre-Revolutionary, Federal, and Victorian buildings, many of which are still private homes. Others are now the inns, art galleries, bookstores, restaurants, and antiques shops that gently affirm the quiet ambiance of the town.

The first stop in town for the anglers and boaters is often the Clinton Town Dock off Riverside Avenue, where boats can be launched — or passage can be booked on a charter leaving from the nearby Harborside Marina, at the foot of Grove Street. That’s where the Bluefin Charters docks — and where the proprietors of the Lobster Landing await the day’s catch.

For beachcombing and sunbathing, head for Clinton Town Beach, tucked in one of the prettiest elbows of the Connecticut coastline just over the bridge at the foot of Waterside Lane. For a quick picnic lunch, stop at Chubby’s along the way. But if an overstuffed sandwich would really hit the spot, try Saldamarco’s Market on Main Street.

The theater in Andrews Memorial Hall, which is also home to the town offices, is the stage upon which both the Nutmeg Players musical theater company and the Opera Theater of Connecticut perform for routinely full houses, and free outdoor concerts are held throughout the summertime near the gazebo at Vece Green. Also free — and perhaps even more popular — is the George Flynn Classical Concert Series, held during the cooler months.

These days, the busiest part of town is up on Route 81, between the highway and the vineyard, where Clinton Crossings Premium Outlets draws a steady stream of upscale bargain hunters year-round. But that hasn’t stopped locals and visitors alike from choosing a good hike on the Clinton Land Conservation Trust trails in Peters Memorial Woods — or an afternoon watching the kids compete on the fields and courts of the Peters and Indian River recreation complexes — over shopping.

And here’s another thing that hasn’t changed: There’s still a line-up for pancakes and eggs at The Coffee Break weekend mornings, where breakfast is the best

Al Ferreira Photo