Hammonasset Beach State Park

I have known people with out-of-state origins to sneer at Connecticut's ocean beaches, comparing them unkindly to those of Cape Cod, Rhode Island, even Long Island.

These foreigners are going to keep driving past Hammonasset Beach and the rest of the Connecticut shore until they get to at least Misquamicut, just over the Rhode Island line. This comes off as a bit insulting, even if you consider Rhode Island to be merely the two lost counties of Connecticut.

So let's get this straight - if you want to lie on sand in sun next to the ocean, Hammonasset will do quite nicely. The sand will make sand castles. The ocean will get you wet.

Yes, it's on Long Island Sound, so great body-surfing waves are rare. But the Atlantic in New England is too cold for most of us, anyway. We're just going to look at it.

Hammonasset even has a campground, and if you want somewhere to sack out between long days of lying on the beach, it will serve that purpose admirably. But the sites are generally crowded and boring, without much shade or a view of the water.

Activities: Bicycling, picnicking, camping, saltwater fishing, swimming, boating (carry-in)

Parking: $9 for Connecticut residents, $14 for non-residents on weekends; $7 and $10 on weekdays

Best: Biggest beach in Connecticut.

Worst: That's still not saying all that much.

Official Website: