Published August 23. 2013 4:00AM Updated August 23. 2013 12:56PM
If you live in New London, you already know it's one of the hippest cultural and artistic centers in the state - and don't be too bitter about that, New Haven and Hartford. You can't help it.
On the other hand, as an outsider's Fun Person's Getaway, New London is a bit of an enigma. In that sense, there seems to be the decided opinion that our city is full of folks who want only to LEAVE - not visit.
Truth told, we like it here, for the most part, and we'd love to have you check it out. You might be surprised.
Where to walk, run, bike or take the hound for a stroll or jog: While New London doesn't have any official trails, athletic types love Pequot Drive, with its oft-stately homes and a meandering, water-happy route that follows the Thames River and Long Island Sound. You can also easily link through downtown to the expansive Waterfront Park.
What's the NL equivalent of the French Quarter? Well, Bank Street has that Bourbon Street vibe, with well over a dozen restaurants, bars, the Oasis Pub live music room, museums and galleries, the Hygienic Art Park and shops - all dead-ending at State Street and the centerpiece Parade Plaza and its whale tail fountain.
State Street, meanwhile, runs several blocks at a 90-degree angle and offers more of the same dining, shopping, arts and entertainment options. This includes the majestic Garde Arts Center, one of the state's premiere live arts venues.
Parallel to State is the latest upstart center of hipness: Golden Street. Long the home of the immortal El 'n' Gee rock club, Golden has emerged as a true city focus through bars like 33, the Telegraph record store and, at the intersection with Green Street, the Monte Cristo Bookstore.
Feed me! No problem. For an upscale dining experience, choose from such restaurants as Chaplin's, Gaspar's, Dev's on Bank, Tony D's, the Bulkely House, Mangetout and the Recovery Room. Ethnic specialties can be found at Saeed's International Market, Island Touch, Mi Casa II, Northern India, Jasmine Thai, Bangkok City, Hanafin's Public House, Singapore's Grill, Mambo's and Illiano's.
Coffee shop/diner fare is available from, among others, Washington Street Coffee House, Goldy's, Muddy Waters, Bobby B's, the Bean & Leaf, Monica's State Street Diner, Sweetie's Bakery and the Thames River Greenery. Great casual offerings abound at icons such as 2 Wives, Mr. G's, the Neon Chicken, Captain Scott's Lobster Dock, Kamp Dog, Fred's Shanty, Hot Rod's, Y-Knot Cafe, Hamilton Street Market, the Stone Fleet Tavern and the Terrace Street Bakery.
New London couldn't possibly have one of the coolest beaches on earth, could it? Glad you asked. Yes. Ocean Beach Park - with pristine sand and water, amusement rides, a boardwalk, the Port N Starboard grill and bar, mini golf and an arcade - is wonderful. For admission and hours, access ocean-beach-park.com.
Don't forget the Bird. Oh, where else in this area can you get to Popeye's? Colman Street.
Info: newlondonmainstreet.org, wailingcity.com.