My trip to East Haddam, CT wasn’t like the rest of my ventures to the previous New England towns I have blogged about, it was split into two visits.
I have visited East Haddam numerous times as a portrait photographer, and have used many locations for my sessions such as Devil’s Hopyard State Park, Gillette Castle State Park, and the downtown Main Street area where you will find the Goodspeed Opera House.
Before heading over the East Haddam Swing Bridge to visit the Lower Landing of Main Street, I made a stop at Eagle Landing State Park, a riverfront park, in Haddam, CT, that sits across from the swing bridge and Main Street. If you’ve ever seen a photo of the bridge with the Goodspeed Opera House in the background, this is most likely where it was taken. Eagle Landing is the home of RiverQuest, a vessel that you can take for a cruise down the Connecticut River, and if you’re a wildlife enthusiast, be sure to check out their Winter Wonderland Cruises this winter! Winter? Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself here… Anywho, while at Eagle Landing State Park, you can sit in the gazebo and watch planes take-off and land at the Goodspeed Airport across the Connecticut River. By the way, I had no clue there was an airport there. I had passed by so many times, but never noticed low flying planes! I noticed it this time… Once you go across the river, you can drive down back to see the red barn that sits on the property and get a closer look at the planes.
The day was absolutely perfect for some shots of the river, swing bridge, park, and opera house. The sky was blue as could be, the trees rang with vibrancy, and the river was pretty quiet as far as boat activity. It was the perfect fall picture taking day!
Eagle Landing State Park
Airport Across the Connecticut River
After capturing the famous East Haddam scene, I scooted on over to see the Opera House and the Gelston House Restaurant and Inn, where you can dine while taking in the views of the river after enjoying A Wonderful Life at the Opera House. I was in East Haddam fairly early, so I was able to run out in the street to photograph the opera house, but I wouldn’t suggest this. Luckily, I could hear the hum of the cars coming over the bridge as a warning, so it made it easy for me to jump out of the street when I needed to.
Goodspeed Opera House and Gelston House Restaurant and Inn
Goodspeed Opera House
East Haddam, in general, is a cute town. Once you’re off of Main Street, you can drive along the Connecticut River or venture off to other areas to see all the colonial charm and farmland. There are so many nice areas that I was getting a little distracted while driving!
One place I would highly suggest stopping is Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee House & Café on the corner of Routes 82 and 151. I had passed by here many times, but I never stopped in. After my trip to Chester last week, I decided to try their pumpkin spiced latte (of course) and a bacon egg and cheese. The people inside were so welcoming. It seemed like a place that a lot of locals frequent, and they host local and touring musicians Saturdays for their Caturday Concert Series. How cool and creative is that? While I was waiting in line, Dana, a band member that was playing there that day, was chatting with me about my ventures, and it turns out, she used to live in my area. I really wanted to stay to hear her play, but I had a packed schedule that day. I also spoke to Holly who manned the register, and had a great time talking to her about Connecticut and horses. Side note: did you know I love horses? The Two Wrasslin Cats is definitely a place you should stop by on your next (or first) trip to East Haddam. Whether you are a cat person or not, it is fun to look at all the décor and chat with the locals.
Down the street a bit is Devil’s Hopyard, which is a great place to visit with your family and friends. There are tunnels, bridges, a covered bridge, streams, and waterfalls. The expansive property is a great place to camp, have a picnic, play Frisbee, take photos, bird watch, fish, walk, or hike.
My next stop? Gillette Castle, where you can hear the whistle of the Essex Steam Train in the distance. Gillette Castle is extremely UNIQUE and was built by actor, William Hooker Gillette, in the early 1900’s. The first time I saw a photo of it, I knew I just had to go there. The property is gorgeous and there is a lot of it (184 acres to be exact). There’s so much property that I haven’t explored all of it, but if you get a chance to, there are bridges, both wooden and stone, and there is a path that runs along the river. While walking towards the castle, and Grand Central, look out for the remaining piece of what was an old railroad track from Gillette’s mini train; it’s near the archway in front of the castle. When you walk out of Grand Central, look up to see two cat sculptures sitting above you on the ledge.
During the warmer months, there is a museum that is open that you can visit and they do offer tours starting in May, on Memorial Day weekend, that run through Columbus Day. My favorite time to go there though is the fall. It is just gorgeous with the many trees around the property – it’s filled with golden fall hues! They have been doing a lot of restoration on the castle the past year or so, so if you’re going there to take a picture of the castle, know that there will be scaffolding in your way. It’s probably in the worst place it’s been in my last few travels because you can’t get near the front door or the back of the property, which is beautifully positioned to look out over the Connecticut River. I suggest maybe going back in the Spring. Hopefully the construction will be over by then!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my short pictorial trip through East Haddam. Feel free to share your stories of East Haddam in the comments below. I would love to hear what makes East Haddam special for you!
Places Mentioned in the Blog
Devil’s Hopyard State Park | 366 Hopyard Road | East Haddam, CT 06423
Eagle Landing State Park | 14 Little Meadow Road | Haddam, CT 06438
Gelston House Restaurant and Inn | 8 Main Street | East Haddam, CT 06423
Gillette Castle State Park | 67 River Road | East Haddam, CT 06423
Goodspeed Opera House | 6 Main Street | East Haddam, CT 06423
RiverQuest | 14 Little Meadow Road | Haddam, CT 06438
Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee House & Café | 374 Town Street | East Haddam, CT 06423