by Theta Pavis
If you’ve never heard of Madison I doubt the locals will be offended. This pretty town hugs the Connecticut shoreline and its beaches are pristine. While it’s filled with pleasant summer homes overlooking the Long Island Sound, it also has a quiet feel—cultivated by the year-round residents who clearly treasure their small town connectedness.
In addition to more than 1,000 acres of beaches, Madison also has hiking and biking trails as well as protected woodlands.
During the weekend we visited, nearly every business was out in force participating in a “Souper Bowl” fundraiser to benefit a local high school student who’d been injured in a diving accident. Each business had soup to sell, and neighbors and visitors alike strolled the downtown eating soup and talking.
Madison has several B&Bs, but we stayed at the Madison Beach Hotel, a small boutique resort where all 32 rooms have ocean views and balconies. Completely rebuilt in 2012, the hotel has a great location—but what really stood out was the staff, all of whom were genuinely friendly. At cocktail time we gave up our comfy seats in front of the fireplace because the view of the sunset from the porch was not to be missed.
With easy access to the beach, you can spend time strolling along the shore or sitting on the rocks nearby, but the hotel also offers a fitness center, yoga room and an in-house spa if you feel like something more decadent.
Back downtown, we walked along Boston Post Road admiring the shops, then lost ourselves inside R.J. Julia Booksellers – which features two big floors filled with a terrific assortment of books (and cards and gifts) plus a café attached in the back. We had to tear ourselves away. In the past, Publishers Weekly named the store a “Bookseller of the Year” and the shop hosts more than 300 events annually.
Madison has several restaurants and places to get coffee, but we tried The Wharf Restaurant at the hotel for dinner. It features farm-to-table cuisine from the Atlantic northeast and some of the freshest oysters we’ve ever had. Since it took us only two hours to drive there, I’m sure we’ll be back.