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Things to do in Bridgeport

  • Housatonic Museum of Art Housatonic Museum of Art Bridgeport, Connecticut
    The Housatonic Museum of Art began in 1967, just a short time after the Housatonic Community College began, and the first teacher for the art classes, Burt Chernow, knew that original art should be as much a part of art classes and college life as libraries and textbooks. Therefore it is used in conjunction with a fine arts' associate's degree, support for the graphic arts program, general educational programs within the college and a resource for faculty, staff, students and the local community. It has been enhanced by the wonderful and generous donations of many artisans, collectors and other benefactors; and presently contains over 4000 works of art in various medias. Some of the more famous artists' works include Warhol, Renoir, Durer, Matisse, Picasso, Rodin and Miro. There are numerous conditions that must exist for the college to acquire works of art, and the criteria is extensive. The museum contains one of the most prominent collections of any two year school in the nation and all enthusiasts and observers have the chance to enjoy the many original works of art and artifacts that are on display and exhibited throughout the college and campus areas. It presents various changing exhibitions, lectures and programs in the Burt Chernow galleries for the many students and city, giving them a rich cultural asset to enjoy. Thanks to the excellent tutelage and guidance of the late Burt Chernow, founder and Director Emeritus of this museum, collectors and artists give and gave generously over the years to create a world class collection that is thought to be the biggest and most inclusive in a two year college in the United States. The entire scope and range of the collection has to be observed to fully appreciate the magnitude of this fine collection; however, the many works that reside here can be made known through the incredible growth and coverage of the internet. The collection includes great works created by Pierre Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Auguste Rodin, Ansel Adams, Henri Matisse, Henri Cariter-Bresson, Joan Miro, Milton Avery, Mary Cassatt, Aristide Maillol, Marisol, Claes Oldenburg, Larry Rivers, Reginald Marsh, Giorgio DeChirico, Victor Vasarely, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselman, Robert Rauschenberg, Isamu Noguchi, Christo, Philip Pearlstein, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Jim Dine and Gustav Klimt. 

  • Discovery Museum and Planetarium
    The museum and planetarium's mission is to teach, excite and get visitors involved in the exploration of ideas, science and technology via interactive experiences that instigate new vision. They strive to increase the community's perception of technology and science by giving instructive education that will incite participation in hands-on physical science exhibits, planetarium programs and the Challenger learning center. Over 68,000 students were involved in the many programs held at the museum, which is accredited by the American Association of Museums and it is a member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers. The museum started in 1958 and was opened to the public in 1962, and is the only non-historical multi-disciplinary museum in the area. Its early period pertained to the natural and physical sciences to the decorative and fine arts. During the next two decades, the local manufacturing companies were overtaken by the high technology business and in response to this dilemma, educators impressed the need for instruction in the physical sciences. Taking this in mind, the board decided to redefine the mission of the museum to begin focusing on the two most important areas of science and technology. Developing a master plan to achieve this included renovating the museum and putting in 55 interactive science exhibits and better gallery space. These changes started in 1985, and the amount of people coming to the museum has increased from 23,000 to over 100,000. Then, in 1991, with help from the state and area corporations, the Challenger Learning Center was created and is the only center of its type in the New England area and the sixth in the country.

  • The Dundon HouseDundon House Bridgeport, Connecticut
    The Dundon House is a Queen Anne style Victorian home constructed by Richard Dundon, the owner of a coal yard. It was moved twice, finally coming to rest at Captain's Cove in 1991; where it went through many restorations, and now showcases the many exhibits about the maritime history of the Bridgeport area. It houses artifacts, models and photographs that pertain to the Black Rock Harbor and the oyster business in the state. Many awesome items were salvaged from the Long Island Sound's bottom by area divers and these are displayed with numerous photographs of the history of the region's three lighthouses. Some of the other relics shown include sail maker's tools, models and 18th century navigational instruments. Sitting at the end of the dock, the Gustave Whitehead hangar shows the many inventions of the aviation pioneer and mechanical genius, who eventually had a half mile flight over the sound with his powered aircraft in August of 1901. There were many witnesses to this exciting flight, although Gustave kept no photographic records nor scientific documents, which the Wright Brothers did, as well as promoting their work. Gustave completed his marvelous feat a full 28 months, or 2 and a third years before the Wrights. Inside the hangar is a half scale replica of the aircraft called the Whitehead #21 made by a local model maker by the name of Bill Wargo. The full scale replica of #21 was flown over 300 feet in 1986 at Sikorsky Memorial Airport by pilot Andrew Hosch. Presently the plane is being shown in Germany, where Whitehead, not the Wright Brothers is believed to be the first in flight. The house isn't hard to find, since it is the only Victorian or house for that matter that sits in the middle of a paved parking lot. The area around the house is grassy, to make it more enjoyable and seem like it had been there for a long time and someone decided to make a parking lot around it. But actually, the house was built in 1893, on Fairfield Avenue, then moved two blocks to Hope Street and finally to Captain's cove. Co-owner Bruce Williams, told how he was able to save the magnificent house from being demolished in 1991 and moved it to his Captain's Cove area; then opening it in 1996 as a museum.

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  • The Barnum MuseumBarnum Museum Bridgeport, Connecticut
    Constructed in 1893, this magnificent home is a Byzantine, Islamic, Gothic, Romanesque influenced stone and terra cotta structure that was built for P.T. Barnum by the architectural firm of Longstaff and Hurd. The money and land for the building and museum was given by Barnum, to hold the collected works of the Bridgeport Scientific Society and the Fairfield County Historical Society, but is home to the Barnum Museum today. The house was built for the two societies, with the first floor reserved for commercial businesses, and the exterior, on the top contains relief panels depicting various scenes from America's history. These show reliefs of the Civil War, maritime, Native Americans and industrial era, with numerous busts being put in between the reliefs. These busts are of a Native American, Grover Cleveland, Christopher Columbus, Winfield Scott, George Washington and Elias Howe. Prior to his death, P. T. Barnum left $100,000 for the establishment of the structure and when finished was called the Barnum Institute of Science and History. It opened on February 18, 1893, and was used as a resource library and lecture hall with such dignitaries as Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers coming here to speak. Although the first floor was built so that it could include commercial businesses, thus helping with the bills, this never happened, so when the depression arrived, both societies came upon hard times and stopped their operations. Then in 1933, the city took over the responsibility of the building and in 1936, opened the Barnum Museum. It closed in 1943 for renovations and opened in 1946 as part of the city offices, with just the third floor being used for showcasing the collections of the societies that were once there. It stayed that way until the 1960s and in 1965, city officials and concerned citizens started a movement to get the building back to its former glory and idea as a museum. More renovations were made and the museum re-opened in 1968, with more area for the staging of historical exhibits about the city of Bridgeport and the life of Barnum. It was listed with the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and in 1986 began being managed by the Barnum Foundation. The restorations that began cost around $7.5 million and was again re-opened in 1989 with new galleries and an additional 7000 square feet was added for visiting exhibitions and events. It is the sole museum devoted to the life of P.T. Barnum and holds a 1000 square foot miniature copy of his circus that was hand made by William Brinley with 3000 miniature figures. There is miniature copy of his library that existed in his former home in Iranistan Avenue and numerous other relics and displays of the 19th century life in Bridgeport. Tom Thumb has an exhibit dedicated to him as well, and the oldest relic in the museum is the Egyptian mummy that is over 2500 years old according to the people from Quinnipiac University.

  • Seaside Park
    Seaside Park is without peers on the eastern seaboard, with over 325 acres of beautiful lush lawns, sport fields running to Long Island Sound, and shady glens. People coming here are thrilled to see the exquisite sandy beaches, surf and sunshine that grace this three mile beachfront that was designed sometime after the Civil War by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, architect of Central Park and Prospect Park in NYC. The 19th century landscapes stay pristine so that every generation that comes here is overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and serenity of this magnificent park. On the western end is the Fayerweather Island, where hikers and walkers can go to the natural wildlife preserve after crossing the breakwater rocks; where the island's lighthouse helped ships come into the Black Rock Harbor during the years of 1823 to 1932. The city's most famous benefactor and resident, Phineas T. Barnum is the man that helped this park start, which once was pasture land, with wooded forests and salt marshes. Barnum foresaw the first marine rural park in the country and remembered it in his autobiography. The park began to shape up in 1865, and it took many decades to finish. The land west of the statue of Elias Howe was below the water in 1869 and the lot between Park and Iranistan Avenue was the first to be drained and dyked. Then in 1878, the lot between Iranistan and the former bathhouse was next. The city got the waterbound area that made up the west beach and Fayerweather Island in 1911 and finished a seawall in 1919 that joined the mainland. Barnum hoped that the park would be his legacy for future generations of bathers, athletes, fishermen, strollers and picnickers; who today enjoy the park and owe much to this great man.

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Local Restaurants in Bridgeport
  • Vazzy's Brick Oven Restaurant
    An old fashioned Italian ristorante in Bridgeport, Connecticut serving scrumptious cuisine with made from scratch dishes, sauces and dressings. The antipasto appetizers include; buffalo wings; oversized antipasto with Italian meats, marinated vegetables, cheese and more; Sicilian calamari is refried with hot and sweet peppers; Fuzzy's garlic bread is thick slice of Italian bread brushed with olive oil and fresh garlic, topped with brick oven roasted peppers, prosciutto and fresh mozzarella; broccoli rabe and sausage; traditional garlic bread; shrimp cocktail; fried mozzarella; shrimp onkey is shrimp sautéed with capers, tomatoes, lemon, white wine served over toast points; calamari fritta; vegetable of the day; clams casino; sampler is a taste of calamari, clams casino and fried mozzarella and soup du jour. Salads include; mista is with mixed greens tossed with olive oil, red wine and balsamic vinegar; fresh mozzarella with prosciutto and roasted peppers; Caesar is with romaine wedges in a creamy Caesar dressing topped with croutons and fresh grated cheese; Vazzy's special is with prosciutto, salami, gorgonzola cheese, olives, peppers and cucumbers with mixed greens; steak salad is with mixed greens tossed with marinated beef in zesty vinaigrette dressing with red onion, cherry peppers and olives. Pan pasta includes; chicken San Diego is broccoli and sundried tomato, penne pasta, white wine and garlic; rustica is penne pasta sautéed with sausage, chicken, peppers, mushrooms and onions in a fresh garlic sauce; baked penne is with ricotta, mozzarella and their house sauce; cavatelli and broccoli is with fresh broccoli, garlic and oil; pink pasta is capellini in a light pink cream sauce topped with a thin slice of prosciutto and parmesan cheese; al aglio e olio is your choice of capellini or linguini with fresh roasted garlic and olive oil; fettucine carbonara is a sweet creamy parmesan sauce with bacon, onions and prosciutto; pasta in a red sauce is pasta of your choice served with their own house sauce; fettucine Monte Carlo is scallops, clams and broccoli sautéed in olive oil and garlic; linguini in a red or white clam sauce made with fresh clams.

  • Joseph's Steakhouse
    After arriving here from Croatia, Joseph applied himself to learning the restaurant business and has had great successes. In 2000, he opened Joseph's in Bridgeport, in a perfect setting with red brick walls, hardwood floors and the best steaks around. Appetizers, soups and salads offer; fresh stone crab claws, Joseph's special salad for 2, smoked Norwegian salmon, soup of the day, Joseph's special appetizer, jumbo shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, crabmeat cocktail, arugula salad, bacon grilled extra thick, sliced tomatoes fresh mozzarella and basil for two, French onion soup, sliced tomatoes and onions for two, hearts of lettuce. House made dressings include; house vinaigrette, garlic, Russian, crumbled gorgonzola or bleu cheese. Steaks include; T-bone, porterhouse, special selection of USDA aged prime beef, sirloin. Entrees include; rib eye steak, chopped sirloin with potatoes and onions, veal chop with mushrooms, chicken of the day, lamb chops, broiled salmon, filet mignon with mushrooms, twin lobster tails, surf and turf. Potato and vegetables include; asparagus, home fries, French fries, baked potato, mashed potato, French fried onion rings, buttered mushrooms or creamed spinach.

Calamari Fritta Vazzy's Brick Oven Bridgeport, Connecticut


Chicken San Diego Vazzy's Bridgeport, Connecticut


Penne Pasta Vazzy's Bridgeport, Connecticut




T-Bone Joseph's Steakhouse Bridgeport, Connecticut


Rib eye Joseph's Steakhouse Bridgeport, Connecticut 

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  • Beardsley Zoo Beardsley Zoo Bridgeport, Connecticut
    This magnificent zoo is the only one in the state of Connecticut, located in Bridgeport, and with its parks has helped the city be nicknamed the "Park City". It was during the year of 1878, when James Beardsley, who was a rich cattle dealer, gave the city over a 100 acres of land. Then in 1884, the famed Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park in NYC, was contracted to build Beardsley Park; and Olmsted wanted to make a simple rural park for the citizens of the city to enjoy. During the era, Phineas T. Barnum made his home there and would walk his circus animals through the streets and became common to see Barnum out exercising his animals. When the Beardsley Park was finished, Barnum began to walk his animals there and in 1920, the parks commissioner, Wesley Hayes, suggested a zoo inside the park and he asked the city's citizens to make donations of animals. During the first year, 18 exotic birds were given and many of the retired animals of Barnum's circus were given. The Connecticut Zoological Society bought the zoo from the city in 1997, and is running it now as a nonprofit with some help from the state and city. The zoo contains many beautiful and exciting animals, including alligators, tigers, wolves, bisons, foxes, prairie dogs and peccaries; as well as a bald eagle exhibit and others that showcase the rainforest, farm animals and reptiles. It has an old time carousel, and one of the biggest greenhouses in the state. Located at the entrance are twin brick buildings that were trolley barns for the city, but now hold the offices.

  • Bridgeport Lighthouse
    The first lighthouse to be constructed in Bridgeport, Connecticut was in 1851, and it was an octagon tower with a fixed red light on top of the box like structure that was set on iron piles. They didn't have a house for the light keeper, so he had to travel by boat back and forth. The harbor became very busy, and in 1870, it became necessary to replace it. Capt. John Brooks, Jr. was the superintendent of docks and wharves and helped with the new lighthouse. It was completed in 1871, and was a wooden structure with tower secured to the front of the roof. It set a mile offshore on iron screw-piles and used a fourth order Fresnel lens with a fixed red light and fog bell that sounded by a striking machine. It was pretty much the same as those constructed along the New England coastline, like the NY Long Beach light, Sabin Point and Rose Island lights and the Vermont Colchester Reef light. The lighthouse became a popular place for people to go in the summers with their boats, and occasionally in the winter. In the freezing winters of 1875 and 1893, the harbor froze over so hard that many folks walked to the lighthouse. It is said that in the winter of 1875, a Dr. George Lewis and his wife were able to drive a sleigh from the Bridgeport lighthouse over to the Fayerweather Island lighthouse, and Kate Moore said that in her 58 years on the island, no one had ever done that. The most spectacular incident happened in December of 1920, when the steam lighter Calvin Tompkins sprung a leak a mile from the Stratford Shoal lighthouse and the crew managed to escape in two lifeboats, during a terrible storm. One of the lifeboats became full of water and sank, as keeper William Hardwick was watching from the lighthouse as the second was also close to sinking. He quickly launched the station's boat and was able to make it to the men and saved 7. The men from the first lifeboat were amazingly staying alive by clinging to a raft and miraculously were picked up 20 hours later. Three men did die and William Hardwick received a letter of commendation from Commerce secretary Herbert Hoover. In June of 1930, keeper Daniel McCoart saved three men that were stranded in a boat without a rudder and McCoart was able to tow the boat into the harbor. In August of that same year, two boys were in a small sailboat that capsized close by the station, and one of them couldn't swim. His friend held onto him until McCoart came to save them. The lighthouse became in such dire need of repair in 1953, that the Coast Guard replaced it with a skeleton tower.

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  • Downtown Cabaret TheaterDowntown Cabaret Theater Bridgeport, Connecticut
    This wonderful theater is the offshoot of the Sacred Heart University Cabaret, that was very successful in their academic venue, so the whole group, under the artistic leadership of Claude McNeal, relocated to its present location in 1975. Many of the leaders of the city knew that a professional theater company would be an excellent asset for the downtown area. So, the former YWCA was renovated as a theater, complete with the air conditioning and balcony. The official opening was the Vaudeville Troupe in 1976, and since that beginning, over half a million people have been thrilled with the unusual "bring your own picnic" ambiance of the musical productions. Able to attract serious and talented actors and actresses from both New York and Connecticut, the venue has proved to be a fantastic chance for these theater artisans to exhibit their specific talents, thus creating the best environment for the experienced and new artist; as well as giving the community the very best in theater. It is a non-profit organization that offers year round shows that exists because of the help of the community that benefits most from it. It is a perfect arrangement for the city and the theater, with the citizens of Bridgeport gaining the most. Presently, almost three quarters of its budget is gained from the sale of tickets, which is not usual for these kinds of theaters. Since its beginning, it has produced musicals, and until 1980, it was mostly original material with a revue format. After 1980, the theater has produced Broadway style book musicals also. Richard C. Hallinan is the executive producer, and has been since 1981, and his shows has included some Broadway musicals including the premiere of Blood Brothers in 1988, and before him and sometime before it was showing on Broadway, the premiere of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1979. The theater employs an average of 45 people, but only 10 are full time getting their livelihood from it. The Cabaret renovated the theater in 1995, at a cost of $1.3 million, with a new fly house above the stage, remodeled lobby and house, as well as backstage bathrooms and it now hold room for 276 people.

  • Black Rock Art Center
    The Black Rock Art Center will be a multi-cultural center with five different organizations, and various other uses for outside interests. There will be a black box theater, video editing facility, administrative suite, cafe, galleries and Arts learning center. It is going to be housed in an old bank building that was to be torn down to make way for a parking lot, which didn't sit too well with the citizens of the city, nor the businesses located close by. Fortunately it was saved and funds procured for the purchase and subsequent renovation. The center will continue to bring the many art cultures to the area, thanks to the marvelous help of artists, volunteers, business partners and donors.

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  • Klein Memorial AuditoriumKlein Memorial Auditorium Bridgeport, Connecticut
    The Klein was opened in 1940 after being constructed with funds given the city by the late Jacob Klein, a Bridgeport resident. It has hosted many exciting and enjoyable programs through its history and there are 1400 seats available. The program ranges from operas and symphonies, dance recitals, theater, union meetings and graduations. Some of the wonderful famous people that have been here include, Victor Borge, Eleanor Roosevelt, Arthur Fiedler, Leonard Bernstein, Della Reese, Martin Luther King, Paul Robeson and Milton Berle. It has been the home for the Bridgeport Symphony since 1950, with the design by architect Leonard Asheim and the magnificent building is art deco with marble hallways and bronze doors. One of the shows starting September 25, today, is the great music of Levon Helm and coming up Friday, the 2nd of October, is the outstanding Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers. Rufus Wainwright will perform on the 3rd, Saturday and he has been praised by Elton John and the New York Times for his songwriting and excellent voice. Then, on Sunday, the man of comedy himself, Bill Cosby will entertain you like no one else can or has. Bill sells out the halls he plays at usually fast, so you should hurry if you want to see him. Lyle Lovett and his large band will play the Klein on the 7th of November, and following in the venue of the Grateful Dead, the Dark Star Orchestra will give a grand performance on Thursday November 19th.

  • Fairfield Museum
    Just three miles from Bridgeport is the city of Fairfield, Connecticut, where the Fairfield Museum and History Center is located. The center and museum began in 2007 by the Fairfield Historical Society, which is 103 years old. It is a 13,000 square foot building that contains many galleries, special collection library, reading room, exhibitions, family education center and 80 seat theater that looks out onto the town green; as well as a wonderful museum shop. The first exhibition it had was called the Landscape of Change and entailed a detailed history of southeastern Connecticut that goes back to the 17th century. The first member of the society was Frank S. Child, minister of the First Congregational Church of Fairfield from 1880 to 1920, who was very intrigued by the history of the town, just after arriving. Unfortunately, a terrible fire ravaged the wooden church and he became very involved in reconstructing the church for the next two years, this time making it out of stone and finishing it in 1892. He then begin his quest for knowledge about the town's history using the public resources available to him and also from many of his church members. Around the same period, some local women began to become interested in their heritage and in 1894, formed the Eunice Dennie Burr chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. During the latter half of the 19th century, there were so many immigrants coming into the area that the settlers of the town wanted a way to preserve their past and define themselves as the old guard. The best way to achieve that was to trace their descendency from patriots of the revolution using local documents and artifacts that were used in the founding and creation of their town. Reverend Child was very helpful in this latter matter and after having made their chapter, they asked the good reverend to talk to them about the history of their fair city. His continuing lectures were so successful that they put together a book and published in 1895 called "An old New England Town". Child became so impassioned about the history, that he called together some of his leading men in his parish and on June 17, 1902, held the meeting where he mentioned forming a historical society to collect and save artifacts of the city's past. The Fairfield Historical Society was incorporated in 1903, and by year's end included over a 100 people. It continued to grow over the next century acquiring many wonderful and exciting documents, artifacts and photographs.

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  • Bridgeport HistoryBridgeport, Connecticut
    Bridgeport, Connecticut is the most populated city in the state, and is considered part of the New York City Metro area. It was originally part of Stratford, which was settled in 1659, and called Pequonnock until 1695, then changed to Stratfield, since it was only a couple of miles between Stratford and Fairfield. During the revolution, it became a hotbed of privateering, and an important port for the war. Then in 1800, it was incorporated as the borough of Bridgeport, then changed to a township in 1821, and finally a city in 1836. It was home to the Frisbie Pie Company, and argued that it was the birthplace of the Frisbee. The very first Subway sandwich shop was opened in 1965, and the corporate headquarters is still located in nearby Milford. Fishing and farming were the main businesses for many years, and since it was located on the coast, it became a shipbuilding and whaling community in the mid1800s and the railroad helped all of them when it came to the city in 1840. Abraham Lincoln visited here in 1860 and spoke at the Fairfield County Courthouse, which is now the McLevy Hall, to a crowd that filled the biggest space in the area and spread outside quickly. In 2006, President George W. Bush spoke to a select group of Connecticut businessmen about health care reform at the Playhouse on the Green, which is across the street from the old courthouse. It continued to grow and thrive over the next century, having over 500 factories in 1930. Unfortunately, like so many other areas in this country, the deindustrialization of the 70s and 80s closed many and people were forced to leave to find work. Today, the city is beginning to return to some of its former glory, as the long commute to NYC and expensive housing elsewhere is bringing them back into the Bridgeport area, where service businesses have taken over the growth and economy, plus the growing venue of tourism. It has renovated many of the old factories and buildings which are historic into retail and residential units and these are splendid examples of 19th century architecture and the large waterfront area will soon be refurbished to attract many businesses and residents. 

  • Captain's Cove Seaport
    Before 1982, Captain's Cove Seaport was just an empty lot and a few slips on one of the state's most prominent tourist attractions and seaport complexes. It sits on the historic Black Rock Harbor, that is an active maritime and amusement center. There isn't any admission charge and the days are always filled with excitement, music and laughter. Along the boardwalk are BIG little buildings that are mini replicas of colonial and Victorian architectural styles with small shops that sell all kinds of unique gifts and surprises. The place usually starts getting lively around the Memorial Day weekend and lasts all through the summer until the finale at Labor Day weekend. There are seaport events, a heliport, marina facilities, attractions, all kinds of entertainment, a great restaurant, harbor cruises, charters and more. It is one of the jumpingest places in Bridgeport during the summer months and always a fun spot for the entire family. Each Sunday, they have live bands playing on the wharf, and in the restaurant, the upstairs is modeled after a 19th century tugboat wheelhouse. Over the dance floor is the 40 foot replica of the RMS Titanic, that was built during the winter of 1988, and a half scale size replica of the VS44A, Excalibur, the Sikorsky flying boat. The harbor cruise is onboard the 40 foot Navy launch, the Chief, where you can cruise the harbor viewing all the great sights including the renovated Black Rock lighthouse built in 1823, and the Penfield lighthouse that is hinted to be haunted by a past keeper. There are many historical sites that can be viewed on the cruise that will be a great time, during the summer months. The marina is a full service marina with space for 350 boats, with overnight slips available. Some of the best sport fishing in the sound is found here with striped bass, bluefish, blackfish and spring flounder.

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May 09, 2011