Travel Tips

Ask the Locals Travel Guide: Foxwoods, New London, Mystic & Mashantucket, Connecticut

Locations in this article:  Atlanta, GA London, England

Foxwoods ConnecticutThis week, Peter is broadcasting from the Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

But since Mashantucket is rather tiny, we went a bit broader and asked some locals about the things throughout southeastern Connecticut that make their area unique.

So check out what our local guides recommend for nearby towns like New London, Mystic Seaport, and Groton in southeastern Connecticut. 

Leo I. Higdon, Jr., President, Connecticut College

With 750 acres, the Connecticut College Arboretum is a wonderful, free way to spend time in New London, CT. Open from dawn till dusk, the “Arbo” as students call it, is perfect for easy strolls, hikes, running, dog walking, and picnics.

Botanical garden flower close-upIt offers four different areas: the Native Plant Collection, the Caroline Black Garden, the Tropical Greenhouse, and the Connecticut College campus itself. Free, guided tours of the Native Plant Collection are offered every Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. between May and October, but President Higdon recommends having a look even if there isn’t a tour available: free maps are provided at the main entrance.

Downtown New London is most definitely up and coming, and Bank Street is the place to be. According to President Higdon, Muddy Waters is “the best place in New London for coffee.” Open for breakfast and lunch, either sit inside the café, which is homey and off-beat with mismatched couches and furniture, or outside, where you can get a stunning view of the Thames River. The food is quality, too, with fresh H&H Bagels, terrific pastries, and delicious sandwiches and salads. 860-444 2232

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Or if you’re looking for something a little fancier, President Higdon suggests Brie and Bleu. New London’s gourmet cheese shop offers more than just that: lunches and dinners comprised of bruschetta, salads and cheese are always delightful, and they also have a staff that is both knowledgeable and friendly.

Brie and Bleu outdoorAs with Muddy Waters, diners can choose to sit inside or out on the waterfront deck. Since Brie and Bleu is owned by the Thames River Wine & Spirits crew next door, President Higdon says, “you really should tour the wine cellar” where you can find “some of the best wines in the region.” 860-437-2474

Lori A. Potter, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation

Tucked behind Shaw’s Cove on Hamilton Street, Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock is hard to find even for locals, but is the ultimate spot if you want the “real” New London experience. With a following that could be called cult-like, the Lobster Dock offers everything you could want from a seafood shack, from their unbeatable lobster rolls to their homemade cocktail sauce.

Cooked lobsterBring a six-pack and enjoy sitting in the open air, watching the lobster boats come in on one side, and the train pass on the other. Or, if you’re just looking for a couple lobsters or fish to cook yourself, the Lobster Dock fish store will supply you with the best seafood around. Don’t forget to pick up one of the bright red sweatshirts as well! 860-439-1741

New London isn’t the only city around Foxwoods worth checking out. Mystic Seaport is not only full of history, but is also a fun place to simply wander around and watch the boats come in, or try one of the many fantastic restaurants. Potter recommends Bravo Bravo, a favorite locals spot on East Main Street. With fresh, local seafood, a warm atmosphere, and welcoming servers, this Italian restaurant is a must.

If you’re looking for something a little smaller and more fun, try Azu, owned by the folks at Bravo Bravo. Just up the street, Azu offers American bar food taken to a whole new level. From their “bites” menu with items like lobster macaroni and cheese (which is also served at Bravo Bravo) to their blackberry mojitos, Azu is a great stop in Mystic.

Casey Corn, New London local / Contributor

Paul’s PastaFor a dining experience that will stay with you long after you leave Connecticut, go to Paul’s Pasta Shop on Thames Street in the town of Groton. On the other side of the Thames River from New London, and just before Mystic, Groton is famous for its submarine base where visitors can actually view the subs on the river.

Paul’s Pasta was founded by Paul and Dorothy Fydrich in 1988. With pasta is made fresh every morning and loyal waitresses who treat customers like family, this is a true local spot. Classics include fettuccini alfredo, penne pesto, and spaghetti with meatballs, plus house specialties such as spaghetti pie and Paul’s chicken diablo, and daily cold pasta specials—in fact there are so many great options, ordering will be the hardest decision of your day. The extremely reasonable prices will have you begging Paul to open up a Pasta Shop near you.  860-445 5276

On the cusp of Waterford and New London is the Broken Yolk on Montauk Avenue, a traditional diner hidden in the residential neighborhood. With homey breakfasts that will transport you to your favorite diner, wherever it may be, the Broken Yolk serves up classics like make-your-own-omelets and eggs in a window, and has their own specialties like the stuffed croissant—scrambled eggs, tomatoes, scallions, cream cheese and smoked salmon all in a buttery croissant. Sit outside if it’s nice, or inside where you can watch the kitchen at work.  860-437-0898

Dev’s on Bank Street TapasNew London’s new Bank Street tapas restaurant, Dev’s on Bank Street, is the perfect place for a light or not-so-light meal. The Special Tastings every Tuesday and Wednesday offers a deal beyond belief: the tasting menu lets you pick four tapas accompanied by three white wine and three red wine samples for only $15. With live music Friday and Saturday nights, and a menu that is unexpected in New London, Dev’s is definitely a place to try.

Their tapas are the perfect size, and the menu has the delightful dilemma of too many delicious decisions. Dev’s even offers a Sunday brunch with a must-try tapas cocktail: the Maria and Her Two Amigos, a Bloody Mary served with two Cajun and celery-crusted shrimp.  However if you’re going to just try one thing, opt for the Painted Grapes … though be prepared to ask for a second order!  860-442 3387

By Casey Corn for

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