Essex Travel Guide

  • Essex
    by msbrandysue
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by msbrandysue
  • Essex
    by msbrandysue

Essex Highlights

  • Pro
    msbrandysue profile photo

    msbrandysue says…

     Small town, patriotic, historical, RIVER, water is so close 

  • Con
    CTnightowl profile photo

    CTnightowl says…

     might be too calm if you are a big city person 

  • In a nutshell
    peterd1331 profile photo

    peterd1331 says…

     A great small town for a day trip 

Essex Things to Do

  • Essex Steam Train

    I visited the Essex Steam Train because it's featured in the book 1000 Things to Do Before You Die: USA Edition. It's definitely worth doing, especially if you are travelling with kids. This authentic steam train ride really takes you back in time, and the steamboat ride is a great break on the Connecticut River.First, make sure you pick which time...

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  • Stroll Main Street

    There isn't a WHOLE LOT to do in Essex. So, towards the afternoon hours I decided to stroll the couple blocks of Main Street Essex. I thought there might be more shopping opportunities but didn't see many. Most of them were real estate agencies or private offices. And I was in the mood to shop too. LOL However, I found the Christmas Barn, coffee...

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  • Ride on a Schooner

    While visiting the Connecticut River Museum I found they offered schooner rides on the Mary E. twice a day. Well, it was mentioned in the book 1000 Things to See Before You Die so of course I said "Let's go!" For $26 you get an hour and half "ride" on the schooner. Well, I didn't know much about schooners or sailing. An hour and a half I thought...

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  • The Connecticut River Museum

    The Connecticut River Museum was mentioned in the Essex tip in 1000 Things to See Before You Die: USA Edition. So, of course, I had to visit. :) When approaching the museum you will park to the left of Main Street right in front of the River Museum. I went in the double doors and paid my admission fee. There are three floors but they aren't very...

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  • Connecticut River Museum

    The Connecticut River Museum is a small museum located on the riverfront in Essex, CT. You can see all sorts of things from their docks, and learn about the history of the river and it's peoples inside. It includes family-friendly exibits for all ages.

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  • Essex Steam Train and Riverboat

    This is a MUST-DO for anyone vistiting Essex or anyone interested in Rail Travel. Not only is it fun for the whole family, but it is great for anyone because it is so convienent, informative, and fun! The train runs 4 times per day during the summer and the boat 3 times. I highly suggest you ride both together, because they complement each other...

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  • Essex parks

    This is where I like to eat my lunch or just go chill and relax. Quite lovely every season. There are many varietys of trees here too which are all labeled and mapped. Great kayaking too in the coves with good currents

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  • parades

    Essex has 8 parades a year. The biggest is Groundhog Day (with Essex Ed or Essex Edna). Everyone grabs a pot and pan, clangs them together, marchs down main street- then march to the Griswold Inn and the Black Seal. Another big one is the "Burning of the Ships Parade" (celebrating the 1814 British raid that left 29 ships burning in the harbor).

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  • Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

    At the Essex Railroad Station, there are many antique steam engines to look at. There are also excursions available. The train ride is a 12-mile trip along the Connecticut River Valley. At the other end, there is a Connecticut River Cruise. Unfortunately, we could not go on this excursion because of time constraints. But it definitely seems like...

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Essex Hotels

Essex Restaurants

  • Sometimes You Just Need a Cheeseburger

    Burger King is the international home of the Whopper (yuck). When I was in Historic Essex I went out on the Schooner and shopped so by the time I was finished I missed the food at the Coffee and Tea Company, they closed. The Tap Room was loud and finished serving dinner so I had to find something.My GPS pointed me to Burger King, though it's...

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  • Pizza Buffet

    Well, Pizza Hut is the biggest pizza chain, probably in every state if not city in the United States. Their pizza choices are vast and I order them on a somewhat regular basis because my dad likes their pizza. I went to this Pizza Hut (which is actually in the city limits of Old Saybrook) while I was waiting for the Essex Steam Train. I had about...

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  • A Coffee and Snack While Strolling

    While strolling around Main Street I stopped here for a sandwich and coffee. Unfortunately, I think the place was closing so I just ordered a coffee. However, the iced coffee was just right for a warm afternoon and the little tables and chairs were quite nice to take a break. The small place which includes a few tables and chairs inside if it's too...

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  • Ultimate Sunday Brunch

    The Griswold Inn presents their Sunday Hunt Brunch and I would definitely recommend this even if you aren't staying in the area. The food is superb and the setting is fantastic. Eating in a tavern that has existed since our first President was alive is an amazing experience to me. To know that the tradition is priceless and has fulfilled so many...

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  • Great Fresh Sandwiches

    They have great original sandwich creations with catchy names such as "The Endevour". They also offer other things from salads to complete diners. Of course, they have all the basics too and more. They also have great coffee as well as olive oil and other gifts and sweets. You will not be dissapointed.Once you get your food, make sure to walk down...

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  • Cool down with some Ice Cream!

    Sweat P's is a delicious small Ice Cream and Candy Store in the heart of downtown Essex! they sell old-fashoned Ice Cream and lots of different candy. A heavenly place for kids and kids-at-heart!Note - It's only open in the summer! Their Rocky Road Ice Cream! It's da bomb!

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Essex Nightlife

  • msbrandysue's Profile Photo
    Inside the Tap Room (while empty, in the AM) 2 more images

    by msbrandysue Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I stayed at the Griswold Inn on a Monday night if I remember correctly. Attached to the Inn is the Tap Room, a bar that was used in the colonial days and is available to still have a drink in these days. Even on Monday night they had live music from about 7-8pm until around 11pm. The bar isn't a huge place so there are people that spill outside at busy times. But everyone seemed to be having a good time.

    *I checked the website and they claim to have live music/entertainment on every night of the week!

    Dress Code: There was no dress code here.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Singles
    • Beer Tasting

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Essex Transportation

  • peterd1331's Profile Photo

    by peterd1331 Written Jul 25, 2006

    If you are planning to visit Essex for a day trip, I suggest that you take you car and park it on or around Main St. and walk around. You can walk to the Town Green, the Connecticut River Museum and various shops and restaurants. It's lots of fun.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Food and Dining
    • Road Trip

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Essex Shopping

See all 3 Shopping in Essex
  • A great assortment of toys

    As you might imagine from the name, this village toy store features a nautical theme, but that hardly limits the scope of the offerings inside. As a relatively new grandmother, I couldn't stop fawning over the adorable purses for little girls, each with a tiny stuffed animal and lots of ribbons, sparkly bits, and bright colors. My friend is very...

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  • Little Book Store with a BIG Heart

    Do not underestimate this little shop, it has one of the biggest hearts of any place I've been. The owner, an independent business woman and mother, runs this store as if it were her dream...and it is. It may not be a Barnes and Noble but it has this hope in it that really just moves my heart. When I came in there was a local author signing a...

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  • Ornaments Anyone?

    Have you ever been in one of those shops where your eyes don't even know where to turn because there's SO much to see per every square inch? Well, this my friends, is one of them. It may sound silly to others but having a year-round Christmas store is actually quite convenient. For a few minutes, while inside, you do transfer to that December...

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Essex Local Customs

  • I Pledge Allegiance to the ....

    Maybe it's the history. Maybe it's the local businesses. Maybe it's the location. But, Essex is American soil and PROUD of it. Almost everywhere I went there were signs of patriotism and pride for the USA. (Must be a WONDERFUL place to visit for 4th of July.) It was really nice to see a love and appreciation for the historical and patriotic aspects...

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  • Beautiful Homes

    While wandering up and down Main Street in Essex I found myself admiring the beautiful, private homes. They are very picturesque and I couldn't resist getting a snapshot or two. Hopefully you'll allow yourself to wander as well and appreciate beauty in its different forms.

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  • My Life, My Love and My Lady are the...

    So, Essex is a small road that leads to see the Connecticut River and everyone here loves the water. They have a lovely little area/riverwalk with an open green lawn, benches and harbor. I loved walking here to people watch, journal write or enjoy a sandwich. And I definitely wasn't the first person to have done this. The sound of the river, and...

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Essex Off The Beaten Path

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    by msbrandysue Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    So while I was on the riverboat cruise with the Essex Steam Train trip they showed us this structure while we were on the Connecticut River. The building was very interesting from a distance. I got a shot, then contacted the Steam Train company to get the name of it.

    "Mount Saint John (MSJ) is a residential treatment program that provides comprehensive and integrated treatment services to adolescent boys and young men who are not able to function in their home community due to combinations of behavioral, emotional, family and educational problems. The staff and Board of Mount Saint John are committed to providing a treatment program to meet the evolving and changing needs of the times and of the boys who come into our care." -From their website

    Mount St. Johns was a school for boys after being built in the early 1900s. Rather than paraphrase I included some historical information from their website.

    "Mount Saint John was founded as St. John's Industrial School in 1904 in Hartford. The Hartford property soon became too small to meet the needs of the growing residential school for boys in need of care. In 1907 the foundation stone for a new building was blessed and laid on the present site in Deep River by the Bishop of Hartford, and staff and residents moved in during the following year. A prominent local family the Duggans of Deep River - had donated the property on which the residential school was built. A son of that family— a priest, Monsignor Thomas Duggan was a longtime friend and benefactor of this institution, as the plaque in the entrance foyer attests."

    Then basically it became an orphanage for boys. Soon after that it began specializing the treatment for boys both with mental struggles and behavorial. It still functions today and is a lovely sight from the Steamboat ride of the Essex Steam Train attraction.

    Boys Served:

    Capacity: 40 boys
    Ages at Admission: 11-15.6 years
    Average Age: 14 years 8 months
    Average Stay: 9-12 months
    Reasons Boys Come to Mount Saint John:

    Learning & behavioral problems
    Emotional difficulties
    Family problems
    Alcohol and other drug abuse & addiction
    Neglect & dependency issues
    Probation and parole requirements

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

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Essex Favorites

  • msbrandysue's Profile Photo

    by msbrandysue Written Jul 1, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: While strolling Main Street I ran across this plaque giving the historical accounts of the shipping industry that was the backbone of Essex. Seems there was a bit of a skuttle during the War of 1812. I love thinking of the history of a certain place, and Essex is sure busy with displaying those accounts.

    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Seniors
    • Historical Travel

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