You might not believe it as you wander its grounds, but Fort Saybrook Monument Park is older than America itself. That's because this park was founded in 1635, making it a piece of living history that you can experience anytime you wish when living on the Connecticut Shoreline.
The original park was the first military fortification in present-day Connecticut and possibly anywhere in New England. Because the location features panoramic views of the Connecticut River's mouth, it was the perfect strategic position for the fort.
Its history dates back even further, though, as the Algonquin Nehantic tribe had a village called Pashebeshauke on the site until about 1600 when the Pequot tribe conquered them.
While Fort Saybrook Monument Park has a volatile history because of its position at the mouth of the river, it's now a tranquil location where Old Saybrook residents can spend an afternoon exploring its sites. The park is also a short walk from Saybrook Point, which has even more attractions.
Here's a look at what Fort Saybrook Monument Park provides for Middlesex County residents today.
What's at the Park
Fort Saybrook Monument Park is 18 acres in size, although about half of its is marshland. You can wander through the park's green space if you wish or take the boardwalk to the marsh and use the lookout.
The marsh is an excellent bird-watching location and provides a sense of calm, despite sitting close to a busy marina. You can head into the woods if you want to explore further, as well, or read the storyboards sitting throughout the area that provide insight into the region's history.
This park is like a living museum and is free to visit, making it a place you'll want to check out after buying a home in the Old Saybrook area.
This location is called Monument Park for a reason, so, as you might expect, it has some monuments. The storyboards will provide information on the significance of the monuments and sites, and you'll find a handful of statues and plaques in two distinct sections of the park.
One of the most visible statues in the park is dedicated to Lion Gardiner, who was responsible for building the original fort in the 1630s. Gardiner was the commander at the fort during its early years as well.
There are also plaques on the grounds dedicated to Saybrook Colony's founders and the Connecticut Valley Railroad, which used the location in the 1870s. Some remains of the railroad remain on the site to this day.
If you're at all interested in Connecticut's history, you won't want to miss Fort Saybrook Monument Park. There are very few spots in the United States where you can learn about history while looking directly at the locations where the events occurred, but this combination is one of the aspects that makes this park such a special place.
Across the Street
After checking out Fort Saybrook Monument Park, feel free to head across the street to Saybrook Point. There's a large marina on the point, but that's not all it has to offer.
First, there's a lookout over the Connecticut River. Here, you can watch the boats pass by, take a look at the Great Island Wildlife Area, or enjoy the views of Long Island Sound. The point is a scenic spot that provides a great place to end your day after walking through the park.
You can also fit in a round of mini-golf right on the riverfront. Mini-Golf at Saybrook Point is one of the country's most beautiful courses, and it is open until 10:00 PM throughout the summer, giving you plenty of opportunities to check it out. There's an on-site concession stand there, too.
Getting There and Finding Parking
Reaching Fort Saybrook Monument Park is simple, as all you have to do is take Main Street south from Old Saybrook's downtown area and follow it until it ends. Main Street eventually turns into College Street, which takes you right to the park.
When arriving from Fenwick, you'll follow Maple Avenue over the causeway, where it becomes Bridge Street. Bridge Street will take you straight to Fort Saybrook Monument Park.
There's a small on-site parking lot at Fort Saybrook that usually has enough space to accommodate the park's visitors. You can also park across the street at Saybrook Point or at the north end of the park closer to the waterfront.
Overall, Fort Saybrook Monument Park might not be the region's most exciting location, but it's important because of its historical significance. The area is also stunning and well worth your time when living in Coastal Connecticut.