I remember our first visit to Noank, Connecticut very clearly. It was a hot summer day and we wanted to beat the heat, so we set out for the shore. Researching seaside restaurants, we decided upon a visit to Ford’s Lobster to enjoy a meal and be by the water.
Never having visited Noank before, we had no idea what to expect. We didn’t even know how to pronounce it! Upon arrival, we parked in the customer lot and it was about an hour wait to be seated. That did not bother us though, because the beauty of the setting and our spirit to explore took over. A tiny green atop the parking lot had cornhole set up and it overlooked boats docked on the blue water. It was idyllic New England for sure. Flowers erupted in lawns and along the shore. Docks were loaded with boats and we had amazing views of the water. We could even spy Latimer Reef Lighthouse from our perch at Ford’s.
After a few games, we decided to stroll the narrow winding roads spying seaside homes big and tiny—each with unique details to enjoy. Once our table was ready, we had worked up an appetite in the hot sun and cooled off in the shade enjoying our first experience at Ford’s. It instantly became a favorite that day and this tiny fishing and lobstering village won our hearts.
Since our first visit, we have visited this area quite often and its close proximity to Mystic and Stonington makes it a great day trip. Here is my travel guide to Noank and my favorite haunts for you to experience.
Where to Grab a Bite
Noank is known for its food scene and for such a small village, it has some good places to dine. Noank has been a working fishing and lobstering village for centuries. Around 1912, the Connecticut State Lobster Hatchery was established here. Are you a lobster lover? Then, Noank is right up your alley! If big breakfasts, seafood dinners, and lobster rolls are your thing—add these restaurants to your must try list.
Carson’s Store— This tiny cafe will transport you back in time with its diner style interior and counter. This is the place to get breakfast as the locals know well. From the in-house made corned beef hash to surprising seafood fare— it has something for everyone. Warm, friendly service and excellent dishes make this a place to put on your list. My tip: Grab breakfast here and grab a coffee to-go for your morning walk around town or to take down to the town dock to enjoy the water views.
Ford’s Lobster— Have you seen the movie Mystic Pizza? If you need a refresher and want a coming of age Julia Robert’s flick give it a view and delight when you see Ford’s on the screen. Ford’s is a great scene in the warmer months. They stay open year-round with the exception of taking February off. It’s a fresh take on the classic lobster shack and they serve up all the classics in a slightly more upscale way than most shacks. Real plates, an attention to presentation, and some interesting twists on classic dishes makes Ford’s a nice surprise. All the while, still achieving a laid back atmosphere and idyllic New England setting. Like most waterside establishments, this place is BYOB. Never fear, if you forget to bring your drinks, there is the Universal Package Store one street up to stop at before you head over. In the summer, they will cart over your order for a small fee. My tip: Try the lobster bomb! It’s their signature dish and just envision a bread bowl loaded with pieces fresh lobster with lobster bisque poured on top. Perfect for a cooler day by the water. Also, the CT style lobster roll is great here too.
Abbott’s Lobster— This is probably the most popular and well-known spot in Noank. It has the charm of yesteryear and I imagine it hasn’t changed much since they opened in 1947. An old school setting with classic seafood shack menu items. In the summer months, the line to order gets quite long and you may have a bit of a wait. It’s known for its lobster rolls and their own bagged potato chips. A huge menu with just about everything you can imagine on it. Great for families and lobster dinners. A fun spot for spying sailboats with plenty of outdoor seating. Dock up availability and BYOB. My tip: Have a buddy or group with you. Have someone stay in line to order while someone else looks for a table to open up outside by the water. It’s first come first serve and the coveted waterfront tables get snagged fast!
And if fried seafood is more your taste…
Costello’s Clam Shack— Located just a stone’s throw away from its sister restaurant, Abbott’s—Costello’s is a casual restaurant located in the Noank Shipyard. Known for its fried clams, it has an outdoor deck and nice views of the docks. It shares some of the same menu items as Abbott’s too. Fried seafood, oysters, and fish tacos set it apart. Also BYOB.
Things to Do
Noank is a village that you will want to experience on foot. Being only 2.2 square miles (tiny!!) and full of narrow roads and hillsides it is best to walk and take in the atmosphere. It’s a sleepy coastal village in the off season and you can have a lot of it to yourself. Once the weather gets warm, it becomes a place for dockside meals and garden and shipyard tours.
Take a walking tour— It won’t take long to get a lay of the land here. Park you car and grab a to-go coffee from Carson’s. Start at the town dock and work your way up. There are so many period homes and plaques to read along the way. There are giant stately homes and tiny cottages mixed in every street. Interesting architecture and lots of coastal details to spy. I think I see something new every time I visit. This village is steeped in maritime history and in its heyday had one of the largest wooden shipbuilding companies in the United States. Another fun fact: Check out the plaque at the Latham Chester Store right at the town dock. Did you know Amelia Earhart married George P. Putnam in Noank?
Shop at MW Coastal Goods— Noank is not a shopping destination—we leave that to its next door neighbor, Mystic! There is one shop in Noank not to miss though, and that is MW Coastal Goods. If you love all things coastal for your home, then be sure to head to the Noank Shipyard and visit this shop. Beautifully staged and styled full of coastal goods. If you are lucky you might meet the owner’s dog too.
Visit the Historical Society Museum— Be sure to check out the Noank Historical Society website for events and times. If you want to learn about the maritime history of this tiny village, check out their museum on Sylvan Street.
Memorial Day Parade— Noank hosts one of the longest running continuous Memorial Day Parades in the country—since 1876.
This coastal village is a joy in all seasons. It’s only a 5 minute drive to nearby Mystic and about a 20 minute drive to Stonington. Noank’s location makes it a great day trip if you are staying in Mystic or live close enough to drive down for the day. In many respects, it has stood the test of time. If you love coastal villages, lobster, and maritime history—put Noank on your travel list.