The charm of Connecticut is abundantly clear in this historic town with inextricable links to the river and an enticing old-world atmosphere.
Essex has been described as “one town, three villages,” a description that captures the varied charms of this riverside community. Travel between Essex Village, Centerbrook and Ivoryton to enjoy the numerous attractions. Fascinating museums, classically American main streets and atmospheric arts venues characterize a place that has been voted one of the country’s finest small towns.
European settlers first established communities here in the late 17th century. The town was once one of New England’s crucial shipbuilding centers. Wander the banks of the Connecticut River, where over 600 vessels were built between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
Discover more of Essex’s maritime past and the history of boating in the Connecticut River Museum. Exhibits here include a full-scale, working replica of the first American submarine and displays showing how Native Americans relied on the river. The museum also offers excursions along the water in a historical vessel and a river festival every May.
Browse the stores on Main Street, where traditional timber buildings, hotels and storefronts hark back to a bygone era. Take a break from shopping in one of the restaurants or art galleries along the way.
Stroll along the walking trails of Canfield Woods, a pleasant nature preserve on the edge of town. Paths lead beneath red maples, American chestnuts and spruces, among others. Bring your binoculars to spot deer, foxes and a variety of birds.
Relax for an evening in the Ivoryton Playhouse, a stunning theater that has stood on this site for over 100 years. Professional musicals, dramas and comedies are performed in this storied venue throughout the year.
Essex is about 40 minutes away from New Haven and 20 minutes from Middletown by car. Travel by boat to arrive here in style, docking in one of the marina slips in the center of Essex Village.
Come to Essex in any season of the year. Spring and summer bring warm days by the river, while fall promises New England’s famous colorful foliage.