Over the past few years, Niantic has seen an increase in tourism, which has been reflected in the great restaurants and cute shops popping up in the downtown. For visitors to the area I used to suggest heading to the nearby towns of New London or Waterford to eat out; however, Niantic is really getting some great restaurants that should make anyone's stay that much more enjoyable.
Downtown Niantic is very walkable, making it easy to go from any of the beaches (e.g., Hole in the Wall, Crescent, McCooks) to the shops, eateries, and bars downtown.
Where to Shop:
The Book Barn (downtown location on Main Street) is a great place to search for your next beach read or a used dvd for a movie night.
Grace, located on Pennsylvania Ave, is one of my favorite stores in southeastern Connecticut. Just stepping into the store makes you feel like you are on a beach vacation. They sell clothes from sometimes difficult to find designers, decorations for your home, specialty paints (milk and chalk paints), and children's items.
Before returning to the US for a visit, my parents kept mentioning Gum Drops and Lollipops (Main Street) to me. They raved about the selection of candies, the homemade fudge, and the huge ice cream sandwiches. Clearly, this became a must-visit for me and I recently stopped by to pick up some treats for Father's Day. I love the interior and will certainly be heading back for ice cream sometime during this trip.
The Natural Food Store has been open in downtown Niantic for years but recently moved to a new location on 21 Hope Street (behind the movie theater). Though pretty pricey, I head there occasionally for hard to find items.
Where to Eat:
The Crescent Beach Shack is my favorite place to walk to for a quick lunch outdoors while still wearing my swim suit. No shirt or shoes is totally acceptable here.
I've mentioned La Belle Aurore (Pennsylvania Ave) before and this restaurant even held a high rank on my 'Places I'd Like to Visit While in CT' list. Each time I eat at La Belle Aurore I'm incredibly impressed with their fresh, local foods and creative menus. It is just so good.
Cafe Sol (Main Street) is a new restaurant in downtown Niantic that serves breakfast, sandwiches, salads, and coffee made from local ingredients when possible. I recently stopped into Cafe Sol for coffee and would love to go back and enjoy a salad on their huge outdoor patio.
*There are several other restaurants in downtown Niantic. Some I have purposely left out because they aren't my favorite and others I haven't yet tried, so I can't comment on them. If you have any suggestions let me know in the comments!
Have you visited Niantic? What else would you recommend around town?