23 Best & Fun Things to Do in Essex (CT)

In search of the best and most fun things to do in Essex, CT?

Essex is a town in Middlesex County, midway from Boston and New York in Connecticut, United States.

The town consists of three villages– Ivoryton, Centerbrook, and Essex Village with a population of six thousand, seven hundred and thirty-three, according to the 2020 census.

Essex is well known for its rich history and undying culture, providing a hospitable environment for tourists to have fun.

There is no limit to what you can explore in the city, being home to numerous exciting attractions.

You will find places like Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, Cooper & Smith Gallery, Scotts’ Farm & Greenhouses, Abby’s Place Restaurant, Essex Chocolatier and Coffee Bar, the Essex Library Association, and more.

Are you planning an exploration of Essex? Here are the best things to do in Essex, CT.

Things to Do in Essex, CT

1. Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat
Credits: veisha / Flickr
Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

Operated by the Valley Railroad Company, the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat offers visitors an amazing adventure.

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat takes guests on an excursion through the rivers of Connecticut as the only riverboat and steam train connection in the whole country.

They usually function from May to October, and visitors are given a chance to pick from any of the two active steam locomotives.

You can also choose from the numerous class expeditions, including open-air, first class, cabin car, and caboose.

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat hosts many events throughout the year, like the Essex Clipper Dinner Train, tagged as a “Memorable Meal” by the United States, being a lovely culinary event.

Address: 1 Railroad Ave, Essex, CT 06426, United States

2. Scotts’ Farm & Greenhouses

Scotts' Farm & Greenhouses
Credits: Crisp0022 / Shutterstock

The history of the Scott family began when Micheal Scott, the great grandfather of Winston, traveled to England to serve as a weaver in 1883.

He purchased fifty apple trees in 1894, and then in 1902, his children started part-time farming. Scotts’ Farm & Greenhouses offers an abundance of vegetables and flowers which caters to the needs of gardening and the kitchen.

You will find hundreds of beautiful and well-packed baskets at Scotts’ Farm & Greenhouses.

Depending on the season, you can shop for freshly picked herbs, pumpkins, vegetables, melons, and tomatoes.

Scotts’ Farm & Greenhouses is a 15,000-square feet facility that offers seasonal varieties such as raspberries, peaches, apples, blueberries, and more.

Address: 81 Plains Rd, Essex, CT 06426, United States

3. Connecticut River Museum

Connecticut River Museum
Credits: John Weiss / Flickr
Connecticut River Museum

A visit to the Connecticut River Museum should be on your list of top things to do in Essex, CT, if you’re interested in learning about the Connecticut River Valley’s history.

Connecticut River Museum was founded in 1813 as an institute for education and culture which is exclusively concerned with the maritime history of the Connecticut River Valley.

This three-story Museum is located in a fully refurbished steamboat warehouse dating back to 1878 as the only surviving structure on the river.

It houses an extensive collection of maritime and nautical artwork artifacts, including navigation equipment.

Major components of the historical materials displayed in the Connecticut River Museum were contributions from Wadsworth Atheneum.

Connecticut River Museum features several permanent collections focused on shipbuilding, such as steamboats models and other historical maps. You will also find the total duplicate of the first American Submarine.

Address: 67 Main St, Essex, CT 06426, United States

4. Essex Indoor Golf Center

Essex Indoor Golf Center
Credits: SergeyAbramov / Shutterstock

Essex Indoor Golf Center is your number one destination when you feel like spending time enhancing your skills.

This destination is one of the premier golf centers in the world, with about seventy golf courses in just one location or setting.

This Golf Center takes pride in its state-of-the-art golf simulators offering golf players a wide variety of options.

Essex Indoor Golf Center allows visitors to customize their wind conditions according to their preferences, the fairway’s aerial view, Tee level, and more.

You’re also allowed to come along with your clubs, although the pro shop offers clubs for rentals. The Center features a driving range with many mini-golf virtual games to keep you engaged. Golfing in this destination is among the fun things to do in Essex, CT.

The facility is clean and adequately maintained, with staff available to answer visitors’ questions.

Address: 23 Saybrook Road, Essex, CT 06426, United States

5. Essex Chocolatier and Coffee Bar

Essex Chocolatier and Coffee Bar
Credits: Brenda Carson / Shutterstock

Are you still searching for what to do in Essex, CT, with your friends? Why not meet and chat over some delicious cup of coffee or treats?

Established by Teresa, Essex Chocolatier and Coffee Bar is a treat store that offers an extensive selection of locally crafted coffee and chocolates and a menu that highlights the use of local ingredients.

Essex Chocolatier and Coffee Bar is a paradise for lovers as they offer a wide variety of flavors, milk & chocolate proportion, and beans.

The store offers chocolate bakery desserts, chocolate drinks, pretzels, chocolate infused with fruits, nougat, chocolate truffles, cocoa products, baked goods, and more.

Essex Chocolatier and Coffee Bar is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 12 pm-5 pm (closed on Sunday and Monday).

Address: 124 Westbrook Rd, Essex, CT 06426, United States

6. Truffle Shots

Truffle Shots
Credits: Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

Are you with kids and wondering what to do in Essex, CT? Visit Truffle Shots for some awesome treats.

Truffle Shots was established through a mother and daughter coalition, which led to the invention of the International award-winning chocolate truffles.

The concoctions are produced in small units with the highest quality ingredients, making them dissolve when they meet the tongue.

They offer more than thirty fascinating flavors for visitors, such as caramel beurre, miel habanero, minted grapefruit, and fig balsamico.

Each of the Truffle shots showcased is suitable for consumption for everybody, irrespective of their age, since alcohol is not included in the preparation process.

Truffle Shots allows you to mix and blend various flavors or create customized nine-pack chocolate.

 Address: 47 Main St, Essex, the CT 06426, United States

7. The Spa of Essex

The Spa of Essex
Credits: Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock

The Spa of Essex, a place that is not just relaxing but beneficial to every individual’s health and state of mind, is located a few distances from Essex Village.

The Spa of Essex is a standard destination for special relaxing experiences through spa services and beauty treatments.

It has a team of certified therapists, professional estheticians, and staff who are polite and ensure you get a run for your money.

The Spa sits on a land space of more than three acres with high maintenance levels of the various sections in the facility, such as the relaxation lounge, sauna, and waiting for lounge decorated with comfortable seats and dim lights.

Some services offered include pedicures, couple massage, deep tissue massage, Swedish massages, and more.

The Spa of Essex hosts various spa parties, baby showers, and Valentine’s parties. You can visit on Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday from 9 am-5 pm, and Thursday from 9 am-7 pm.

Address: 63 S Main St, Essex, CT 06426, United States

8. The Griswold Inn

Griswold Inn
Credits: Joe Mabel / Flickr
Griswold Inn

A historic dining facility, the Griswold Inn is well known for serving every American cuisine prepared using simple ingredients.

The Griswold Inn was established in 1776 as a beautiful resort offering accommodations for people who fancy historic hotels.

This Inn was captured in 1812 during the war as the operational headquarters of the British troops, which is why the iconic wartime firearms were used as decorations.

Visitors can enjoy their signature buffet-style Hunt breakfast in the morning on Sunday, a tradition that began way back in 1812.

The Griswold Inn features a charming and casual dining room which is a fantastic place to enjoy a meal with a loved one.

The menu was carefully crafted by Chef Toppin, an awarding-winning chef featuring fresh seafood, aged beef, and pork chops.

Address: 36 Main St, Essex, CT 06426, United States

9. Olive Oyl’s

Olive Oyl's
Credits: Olive Oyl’s / Facebook
Olive Oyl’s

Are you in for an amazing dining experience? Add a visit to Olive Oyl’s to your list of best places to visit in Essex, CT. Olive Oyl’s is a restaurant nestled in the middle of the town.

Olive Oyl’s was founded in 1991 and has now become a perfect place to grab some delicious and flavorful culinary delights.

The Restaurant offers an impressive menu that highlights seasonal ingredients, which are always fresh and locally sourced.

They offer a variety of grilled salmon, fresh soups, salads, pastries, gourmet sandwiches, homemade pastries, and more.

Olive Oyl’s serves buttermilk bran muffins, coffee cakes, bagels, Classic Mini Junior’s Cheesecake, croissants, and so on. You can customize your gift basket with different kinds of treats, and your family will forever be grateful.

Address: 6 Main St, Essex, CT 06426, United States

10. Black Seal Seafood Grille

Black Seal Seafood Grille
Credits: The Black Seal / Facebook
Black Seal Seafood Grille

Are you searching for an old-fashioned dining location? Black Seal Seafood Grille is a must-visit in Essex city.

Black Seal Seafood Grille is located in the heart of Essex as a restaurant with unique decor and vintage New England design.

They offer an extensive menu featuring a wide variety of meals, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.

The menu features deliciously prepared stuffed clams, grilled seafood, fried calamari, burgers, pasta, sandwiches, French onion soup, nachos, Short Rib Ravioli, Filet of Sole, and more. Black Seal Seafood Grille offers an extensive collection of wines and beers, including cocktails.

The Restaurant is open from Sunday to Thursday from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, and Friday & Saturday from 11:30 am to 10 pm.

Address: 15 Main St C, Essex, CT 06426, United States

11. Cooper & Smith Gallery

Cooper & Smith Gallery
Credits: Iryna Inshyna / Shutterstock

For every art lover, one of the best things to do in Essex, CT, is to pay a visit to Cooper & Smith Gallery. It is one of the most popular galleries in the region.

Cooper & Smith Gallery is housed in a facility of more than 5,000 square feet. Almost every corner comprises modern fine art in different genres and styles.

This unique Gallery is doused in tradition with great concentrations of oil paintings through disciplines based on drawing.

The Gallery is an excellent place for professional and amateur artists as a vibrant environment for them to unleash and showcase their skills and level of imagination.

Cooper & Smith Gallery showcases artworks made by distinguished artists like Janes Coe, Henry St., Tom Root, James Coe, Molly McDonald, Judith Pond Kudloe, and Merrill French.

The Gallery is home to numerous art presentations and other exciting events held throughout the year.

Address: 10 Main St, Essex, CT 06426, United States

12. Essex Indoor Golf Center

Essex Indoor Golf Center
Credits: Yeongsik Im / Shutterstock

Essex Indoor Golf Center is a famous center that offers visitors an unforgettable experience through virtual golf.

It features more than seventy courses from different parts of the world and is open throughout the year.

This golf entertainment and training center is fully equipped with state-of-the-art golf simulators, ideal for golfers of different ages and skill levels.

Golf players can learn, rehearse and play with some of the best golf equipment for affordable prices.

Essex Indoor Golf Center offers regripping services and club rentals, although you can come with your club.

This Center offers you the exact excitement as in a real course with bunkers, rough, and fairways (pitch, chip, and putt).

Address: 23 Saybrook Rd, Essex, CT 06426, United States

13. Pratt House

Pratt House
Credits: Eadamico [CC BY-SA 4.0], Wikimedia Commons
Pratt House
Constructed around the mid-17th century, the Pratt House is an ancient house museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Pratt House is one of the oldest remaining structures in Connecticut. It belonged to a family for nearly three centuries before being handed over to the local historical society.

This historic home is open for guided tours daily, where visitors can explore all the historical artifacts showcased.

You can browse through beautiful architectural designs and decor, such as timeless furniture and period kitchen gardens.

Address: 19 West Ave, Essex, CT 06426, United States

14. Essex Wellness Center

Essex Wellness Center
Credits: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

Even though there are several fun things to do in Essex, CT, don’t forget to visit Essex Wellness Center. This place is of mental and physical importance.

Essex Wellness Center offers you a wide variety of services that helps you reflect, meditate, and reduce stress.

They offer services like life coaching, acupuncture massage, Chinese & naturopathic medicine, therapy, reiki, facials, ta chi, yoga, and facials.

You can also participate in their meditation lessons which are available to the public free of charge.

Essex Wellness Center provides a serene and calm setting for clients to relax and feel comfortable while these services are rendered.

All the services offered are carried out by professionals and experts with great knowledge about what they do.

Address: 28 Main St, Essex, CT 06426-1174, United States

15. Scotch Plains Tavern

Scotch Plains Tavern
Credits: Scotch Plains Tavern / Facebook
Scotch Plains Tavern

Are you planning a date night with friends? One of the best places to visit in Essex, CT, is Scotch Plains Tavern.

Scotch Plains Tavern is an old-school style bistro found in Oliver Tavern. It is known for serving original tavern cuisine with a blend of modern and rustic ambiance.

Its unique design depicts the heritage of the Essex region featuring French doors, vintage wooden gear, and a large scotch barrel.

There are large screens showing live matches, pools, live music presentations, shuffleboard, and many more.

Scotch Plains Tavern features indoor and outdoor seating areas where visitors can relax on a cool or hot day.

The tavern is open from Sunday to Wednesday from 11:30 am to 10 pm, Thursday from 11:30 am to 11 pm, and Friday & Saturday from 11:30 am to 1 am.

Address: 124 Westbrook Rd, Essex, CT 06426, United States

Also check out our list of things to do in Greenwich , things to do in Bridgeport, and things to do in Stamford, for a fun vacation in Connecticut.

16. Toys Ahoy

Toys Ahoy
Credits: ViktoriiaNovokhatska / Shutterstock

Toys Ahoy on Main Street offers a large collection of games, pocketbooks, and toys for children and adults.

Toys Ahoy is referred to as the city’s toy store. Almost every corner has the best selection of toys with unique designs to excite kids.

Please bring your children to Toys Ahoy and lead them through the displayed items as they choose from the wide varieties available.

They provide a family-friendly environment where grandparents, parents, and children can visit and view items that bring back childhood memories.

Address: 43 Main St, Essex, CT 06426, United States

17. The Ivoryton Playhouse

Ivoryton Playhouse
Credits: ROY KLOTZ MD [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons
Ivoryton Playhouse
The Ivoryton Playhouse, in the middle of Ivoryton, is an attraction with lots of significant cultural history.

The Ivoryton Playhouse has existed since 1911 as the first independent summer theater in the country.

The playhouse faced many challenges during World War II as it was impossible for viewers to get to the facility.

After the war, Milton Stiefel, a famous American theatre director, reopened the Ivoryton Playhouse, through which he promoted talented stars such as Marlon Brando, Gloria Swanson, Ethel Waters, Katharine Hepburn, Betty Grable, and more.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is still functioning and hosts several entertainment shows such as dramas, comedies, musicals, and more. Visiting this destination is one of the top things to do in Essex, CT.

The Theatre has gone through an extensive renovation with the addition of new comfortable seats, shingles, quality sound & lighting systems, air conditioning & heating system, and more.

Address: 103 Main St, Ivoryton, CT 06442, United States

18. Essex Veterans Memorial Hall

Essex Veterans Memorial Hall was founded in 1946 to support veterans, their families, and the community, either financially or contrarily.

The Hall features a sports facility and a bar where groups of friends, colleagues, or families can organize a social gathering.

During your time here, you can discuss with a veteran in any of their gatherings held all year round.

Essex Veterans Memorial Hall has continuously provided visitors and members with entertainment, refreshment, and recreation.

There are club and meeting rooms where numerous events and meetings are held from September to June.

Address: 3 Westbrook Road, Essex, CT 6409, United States

19. DePaula Jewelers

DePaula Jewelers
Credits: Kwangmoozaa / Shutterstock

Do you want to make customized jewelry for a loved one? Visiting DePaula Jewelers is a must-do.

DePaula Jewelers has been in the business of making customized jewelry for more than forty years, and they boast of creating each item by hand with great quality.

The store has numerous collections of custom-made jewelry you cannot find elsewhere.

Phil De Paula learned everything about the jewelry business when he worked for some of the best jewelers in the city of New York.

He founded the business in 1991 as a family-owned and operated business which considerably grew with branches in Florida and Connecticut State.

DePaula Jewelers offers customers the highest quality and unique products for affordable prices, plus outstanding customer service.

Address: 23 Main Street, Essex, CT 6426, United States

20. Main Street

Main Street
Credits: Joe Mabel / Flickr
Main Street

If your stay in Essex is to be considered perfect, you must explore Main Street with your travel companions.

Main Street is packed with an assortment of lovely stores open to everyone who is searching for some unique and beautiful souvenirs.

You will find lovely boutiques offering novelty items, including jewelry and clothes, with unique stores filled with craft items.

This district offers you an opportunity to go on window-shopping if you’re on a low budget. Main Street showcases the creativity and talent of its citizens through the handcrafted items exhibited.

Address: Main St, Essex, CT 06426, United States

21. The Essex Library Association

Essex Library Association
Credits: GNT STUDIO / Shutterstock

The Essex Library Association, founded by Dr. Willis Russell in 1889, began with a small selection of his books.

His office was located in what is now resided by Talbot’s on Essex Square; he later used his building’s second floor as a library which lends to locals.

The library lent books for pocket-friendly fees throughout the year; sooner than later, donations of books began, and before the end of the 1890s, the library featured thousands of books.

In 1897, a resident of Essex, Captain Joseph Tucker, donated three paintings to the library and a whooping $5,000, which is now worth $150,000.

His donation led to the construction of the library’s permanent home. In 1924, the city of Essex started supporting the library.

The Essex Library offers typical services and amenities such as fourteen public computers, a free Wi-Fi network, and four hundred programs.

The library hosts talks and events throughout the year, with extremely friendly and experienced staff.

Address: 33 West Ave, Essex, CT 6426 United States

22. Abby’s Place Restaurant

Abby's Place Restaurant
Credits: Abby’s Place / Facebook
Abby’s Place Restaurant

Abby’s Place Restaurant in Essex, CT, serves excellent American cuisine. The Restaurant is located in a beautiful environment that directly overlooks the waterfront.

The Restaurant is owned by Abby Miner, an individual who is concerned with providing visitors with the most delicious and healthy meals.

All the meals served are solely prepared using freshly sourced local ingredients purchased from local farmers and business owners.

Abby’s Place Restaurant serves crab melts, steaks, wraps, clam chowders, salads, BLTs, and burgers; aside from breakfast and lunch meals served, Abby’s Place Restaurant also offers a variety of beverages.

The staff is welcoming and attentive when taking orders from customers, and they always do so with broad smiles.

Address: 37 Pratt St, Essex, CT 06426, United States

23. Sweet Martha’s

Sweet Martha’s
Credits: studio presence / Shutterstock

As its name implies, Sweet Martha’s specializes in offering sweet treats. It is operated by Martha, a native of St. Paul, and her business partners, which include Brenda O’Leary, Neil, and Gary Olson.

Her three partners have consistently sold fresh oven-made chocolate chip cookies for over forty years which Martha referred to as “part luck’.

Sweet Martha’s is known as the kingdom of cookies as they produce about three million cookies on the Minnesota State Fair’s days.

In 1979, Sweet Martha’s began with a few booths, but it is now available at events held in Twin Cities, grocery stores, and more

 after more than forty years.

Every year, there are frozen cookie doughs in numerous grocery stores such as Target stores, Hy-Vee, Lunds & Byerlys, Jerry’s, and Cub in the Minnesota area and the Twin Cities.

Address: Sweet Martha’s, Essex, CT 6426 United States

Meet the top attractions in Connecticut, here is a guide on the top things to do in Norwalkthings to do in Milford, and the best things to do in Danbury.

Plan Your Trip to Essex

Your visit to Essex will be exciting and memorable whether you’re visiting alone or with a companion. There is something intriguing for everybody.

The town offers visitors an amazing adventure through the series of recreational activities available to cater to the needs of every tourist. 

Start planning your trip to Essex.