Things to Do in Westbrook, CT
Walking & Hiking
Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge
Stewart B. McKinney NWR is comprised of ten different units that are stretched across Connecticut's shoreline. The headquarters is located approximately 45 minutes south of Hartford and 30 minutes east of New Haven in Westbrook, CT.
Salt Meadow NWR was established in 1972 and redesignated by Congress as the Connecticut Coastal National Wildlife Refuge in 1984. The refuge was renamed in 1987 to honor the late U.S. Congressman Stewart B. McKinney, who was instrumental in its establishment. The ten units of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge span 70 miles of Connecticut coastline.
Located in the Atlantic Flyway, the refuge provides important resting, feeding, and nesting habitat for many species of wading birds, shorebirds, songbirds and terns, including the endangered roseate tern. Adjacent waters serve as wintering habitat for brant, scoters, American black duck and other waterfowl. Overall, the refuge encompasses over 800 acres of barrier beach, tidal wetland and fragile island habitats.
Salt Meadow Unit, in Westbrook, CT, and Falkner Island Unit, three miles off the coast of Guilford, CT, have both been designation as an "Important Bird Area" by the National Audubon Society. Falkner Island Unit is home to over 124 pairs of nesting Federally Endangered Roseate Terns and over 3000 nesting pairs of common terns. Salt Meadow Unit is used by over 280 species of migrating neotropical birds during the spring and fall migrations.
West Beach is the largest of the Town beaches in Westbrook. There is a sandy beach facing Long Island Sound with views of Menunketesuck Island, Duck Island and Salt Island. In season, sanitary facilities and a food concession are open to the public. During the season (defined as being July and August exclusively), nonresidents must pay a $20 fee (per day) to park their vehicles in West Beach's parking lot. There is provision for nonresidents to park their respective vehicles at Town Hall, and subsequently walk approximately 1/4 to 1/2 mile to the beach. Off-season, nonresidents are able to park in the parking lot (September through June). To help you reach West Beach, some routes leading to this site are posted with the brown and white Long Island Sound Access sign