Cove Island Park (yes I just checked on Google Maps) and I'd never even heard of it until this year. I wasted many hours of my childhood at the Stamford Mall (which hilariously still insists on calling itself the Stamford Town Center), just 8 minutes from Cove Island Park, but I never knew that this dramatic bit of coastline was right there all this time.
I have, however, spent a lot of time at a lot of other Connecticut beaches, so I didn't expect that this 83-acre municipal park would strike me as such an unusual spot. It's not as if the rest of the state isn't full of woods, mill ruins, green open spaces, and perfectly curved strips of sand. But here, all these elements overlap. Marsh grasses and massive rock formations exist alongside shell-strewn beaches, and pure soft sand sprouts unexpected trees. Gracefully grand houses loom in the distance, and hints of the neighborhood's manufacturing days coexist with trappings of leisure: picnic tables and grills, a marina, and a paved walking and biking loop.
Now I live at the opposite end of southern Connecticut, so although I want to go back already, I can't exactly go explore Cove Island on a whim. But if you live close by, or even if you're just passing through, don't neglect this place as long as I did. And if it's not completely obvious, don't wait until summer; go in the off-season, when visitors are few and far between, and entry is free.