How To Spend a Day Around Essex, Connecticut

Let me start by letting you know this day trip consisted of myself and my three children, ages 15, 13 and 10. This itinerary might need to look different if you have younger children. It also might look different if you like to shop! I do like to shop but with three kids I passed on it this time around.

These activities are all within 20 minutes of downtown Essex. We started the morning early, arriving at Devil’s Hopyard State Park at 9 a.m. Please see my blog post on that here.

We left the state park at 9:40 and drove directly to The Florence Griswold House and arrived at 10 a.m., exactly as they opened. After not being able to go inside a lot of historical places because of the pandemic I was overjoyed to get to see the inside of Miss Florence’s house. This summer the house and grounds are free for any children 18 and under plus one free adult. My children were ho-hum and a little bored with the house tour but I was so into it I ignored them and they knew to let me have my artistic time (train them well!).

After finishing at Miss Florence’s house we drove minutes down the road to visit Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds. A place we discovered last summer while wandering the state. We didn’t stay long because they were mowing the lawn and I have sensory sensitive autistic kids that have a hard time handling that kind of thing randomly. I wanted to see the new sculpture additions this summer and got to do that at least.

From Studio 80 we drove to downtown Essex! It was a Friday and there was plenty of free on-street parking. There are parking lots here and there if it’s a busier time. Go early I always say 🙂 We were hungry and ate at The Griswold Inn for lunch. I didn’t have reservations but the place was almost empty so it didn’t matter.

After lunch we walked around and explored the streets. Lots of shops, we could have spent a lot longer than two hours here. My kids loved the duck shop, we walked up and down the street just to see the historical homes. It was easy to walk to the various marina areas and check out the boats. If we had more time I would have taken the kids into the River Museum.

We headed home after our wanderings in downtown Essex were done. If you haven’t yet been on the Essex Steam Train yet that is absolutely were I would go to finish off the day. You can read more on that here. A worthwhile excursion!

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