Kevin Beteta, of Groton, plays in the sand with his children Kamila, 4, and Matteo, 1, at Eastern Point Beach in Groton on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
A pair of kayakers paddle by Eastern Point Beach in Groton on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Day at the Beach
Editor’s Note: Welcome to our annual summer series. This year, we asked readers to tell us about their favorite beach destinations within driving distance, since summer in southeastern Connecticut wouldn’t be complete without a day at the beach.
Groton ― Debi Ziegler grew up across the street from Eastern Point Beach and learned to swim there at age 5.
Roberta and Stanley Wolinsky watch the goings-on at Eastern Point Beach in Groton on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Beachgoers arrive for a day at Eastern Point Beach in Groton on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Stacy Mares, left, and Jaclyn Eaton, sit together and chat on the sand at Eastern Point Beach in Groton on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
She remembers going to the beach, located at 1 Beach Pond Road in the City of Groton, with her mother and her sister, Terry. After a morning at the beach, they’d run home for lunch ― once in a while, they’d get a grinder from the concession stand ― and then come back to the beach.
“Basically, I just wanted to swim all the time,” Ziegler said.
She moved to New York after high school, but would come back to Groton on the weekends and go swimming. Eventually, she stayed in New York full-time, but when she moved back to Groton in 2008, she started going to the beach everyday. She likes to go to the beach for a swim, sometimes even swimming twice a day.
All told, Ziegler said she’s been coming to the beach for more than 70 years.
Ziegler was at the beach with Terry on a recent sunny Friday morning, as the waves lapped against the shore and seagulls flew overhead.
Beach supervisor Kathy O’Hara also grew up going to Eastern Point Beach. She never imagined she’d be working there in her retirement, but when a friend asked her to help out, she couldn’t think of a better place to spend her time.
“It’s actually an honor to be on this beach,” O’Hara said. “It really is, because this is a gem.”
When she walks up on a grassy area near the beach, she can still hear the sound of her mother and her mother’s friends laughing. She remembers her mother stopping the car at 8 am to let her and her brother out for swimming lessons. She also has memories of the cotton candy machine at the concession stand, and hanging out with her friends when they used to be able to swim with rafts and tubes.
“It just brings back so many memories being here,” O’Hara said.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Director Mary Hill calls Eastern Point Beach the “throwback beach” — a small, quaint, family-oriented beach where families come back year after year and grandparents show their grandchildren where they grew up.
Maria Gonzalez and Kevin Beteta and their 1-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter were spending time as a family at the beach, as the kids enjoyed the shallow water by the shore and scooped up buckets of water to make a small pool in the sand.
“For us, it’s mostly spending time as a family and just playing and having outside time as much as possible,” said Gonzalez.
She said her kids love the beach and playing in the sand, and Eastern Point Beach is a nice spot for the Groton family because the water is calmer for the kids to play in.
Norwich resident Veronica Hoard, who sat in a beach chair under an umbrella, said she likes the quiet, family-oriented beach.
“This is my relaxing place,” she said.
She said the view makes the beach unique: “You can see the submarines coming by. You’ve got a great view of Ledge Lighthouse, sailboats and other boats going by so there’s lots of activity out there on the water to be watching.”
Mystic couple Roberta and Stanley Walinsky like the beach for its clean water, “million dollar view,” and of course, the hot dogs from the concession stand.
“It’s really special because it sits at the mouth of the Thames River, and it overlooks Long Island Sound,” Stanley said of the beach. “You get Sound water and a lot of turnover of water. You can see the boats going in and out and the ferry.”
Beach ʽtherapy ʹ
City resident Jaclyn Eaton dropped her daughter off at Eastern Point Beach for her beach day at camp and decided to spend some time at the beach herself. She was knitting a cap for her sister’s soon-to-be child, when she ran into her friend Stacy Mares, also a city resident, and they began chatting and catching up. Eaton said she’s grateful to have the beach because it gives her daughter something to do while she can also enjoy it.
“I love the beach,” Eaton said. “It’s my therapy, so it’s nice to hop in the car, come down here, have some lunch, watch her play and mingle and make friends.”
Eaton said it’s a good social environment for her daughter, and it’s Eaton’s way to relax while listening to the sound of the waves, feeling the breeze, and watching boats.
Mares, who is a teacher on break, likes to come down to the beach a couple of times a week to relax and sit and read a book while listening to the sound of the gulls and enjoying the ambiance. “It’s never too busy,” she said. “It’s nice and relaxing. It’s close to home.”
City resident Jackie Rege, who was enjoying a family day at the beach, said she loves how close the beach is to her home, as well as the clean sand and nice concession stand. She likes that the beach is small enough and is not too wavy for the kids. Her daughter Lena, who was about to turn 3, said she likes playing in the water and building sand castles.
“It’s just so easy for the kids to play,” said Rege. “We get into our routine and our set up, and it’s just really special family time.”
“We like the white sandy beach and the clean ocean,” added her sister, Tara Vece, of Mystic.
City residents Louis and Marilyn Iovino, who have come to Eastern Point Beach after moving to the area three years ago, said it’s a nice beach with available parking.
“It’s quaint,” said Marilyn. “It’s smaller, and it’s not as crowded.”
“It’s a nice family place to be around,” Louis said.
City of Groton Mayor Keith Hedrick said boats – including submarines and ferries – coming in and out of the harbor makes it a great place to enjoy the view no matter what time of year.
“On a clear day, you can see four or five local lighthouses, and that’s tremendous,” said City of Groton Mayor Keith Hedrick.
During beach season, a concession stand, run by the Groton Public Schools Food Services program, sells hamburgers, hot dogs and soft-serve ice cream at reasonable prices, Hill said. The 9.5-acre property also has picnic areas with tables and outdoor grills, a playground, and restrooms. The Zbierski House on the property can be rented out year-round for parties of 50 people or less.
IF YOU GO:
Eastern Point Beach is open 8 am-8 pm through Sept. 5.
Season passes: City residents/taxpayers, 62+: $15; city resident/taxpayer: $32 ($22 for second vehicle); town taxpayers 62+: $32; non-resident 62+: $48; and non-residents: $70. Daily parking: $20 weekdays; $30 weekends and holidays; $40 during special events. 5-8 pm daily: half price for non-residents, free for city residents. Walk-ins: free for city residents (with ID) and for all kids 17 and under; $5 for non-residents 18 and older; guest pass (available to city residents): $30. More information at cityofgroton.com or by calling (860) 446-4128.