The Family-friendly Madison Beach Hotel

If your family could use a few more days at the beach, the Madison Beach Hotel just might be the answer to those oceanfront dreams. Located on the shoreline of the quaint New England town of Madison, Conn., the newly reconstructed luxury property is a quick getaway from Westchester (approximately 75 miles) via car (I-95, exit 61) or rail (MetroNorth to New Haven and ShorelineEast to Madison).

True, with a spa, yoga on the beach and an amazing restaurant with an extensive wine list, the Madison Beach Hotel is a perfect couples’ or girls’ weekend retreat. But this same destination, paired with family-friendly accommodations and amenities, will definitely keep kids happy and parents feeling pampered.

The Venue

Overlooking Long Island Sound, the beautiful four-story structure features 33 oceanfront rooms with furnished balconies. From the plantation shutters to the marble bath and exquisite bed linens, the beautiful touches reflect elegant New England simplicity. And no one needs to be left behind because they’ve thrown everyone a bone with pet-friendly oceanfront options and plenty of adjoining rooms. The most unusual part of this luxury property is something all parents can embrace – an abundance of free amenities including complimentary valet parking, fitness center use and Wi-Fi. (What teen wouldn’t high five you on that?) Room rates vary, but in- and out-of-season prices might leave you pleasantly surprised.

What to Do

Onsite activities include swimming, kayaking and biking, with even more extensive water and nature opportunities less than five miles away at Hammonasset Beach State Park, Connecticut’s largest shoreline park.

Need a break from the sand and surf? There are hundreds of fabulous local opportunities that will keep everyone entertained. Stop by the Florence Griswold Museum, the home of American Impressionism, for a little art or art lesson (Activities for kids include “Make-A-Painting Sundays” where instruction, supplies and smocks are free with Museum admission.) If your family is into show tunes, don’t miss a lovely night of theater on the Connecticut River. The historic Goodspeed Opera House, home of the American musical, is a true New England gem. (Note: Children must be 5 years old or older for admittance.)

Shopping & More

If shopping is on your recreational “to do” list, head to Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets or the many specialty shops along the shoreline in Madison, Guilford, Clinton and Old Saybrook. Readers will love RJ Julia Booksellers, a local favorite and nationally renowned independent bookstore, with a cozy children’s book nook tucked upstairs and plenty of fascinating programs for kids of all ages.

Looking for even more excursions? The Madison Beach Hotel is less than 30 minutes from boat tours, steam train and riverboat rides, historical sites and unusual road stops. My new favorite is The Pez Visitor Center,  a quick nostalgic detour that offers a glance into the Pez candy assembly line and a chance to shop amidst the biggest Pez selection on the planet.


Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen and your appetite if you’re planning on a visit to the Madison Beach Hotel. While there are plenty of wonderful dining options on the shoreline, you’ll never have to leave the premises for a great meal. I continue to dream about some of the signature dishes I’ve enjoyed there. The Wharf Restaurant boasts a remarkable chef de cuisine and pastry chef whose selections don’t disappoint. Think “Lobster Benedict” for breakfast or “Apple and Peppercorn Brined Pork Chop” (with white truffle honey!) for dinner. And while these dishes wouldn’t have intrigued my mac and cheese-obsessed kids, the kitchen staff also whips up a fabulous burger and will work with parents to accommodate little taste buds. Their Sunday brunch features live jazz music and a spread that will have everyone but your personal trainer smiling. (Hint: You can calm her down by talking about the gorgeous fruit and veggie display.)

From serious sandcastles to spectacular sunsets, the Madison Beach Hotel has all of the ingredients for a family-friendly escape. The only problem might be convincing everyone it’s time to head back home.

Note: Accommodations and some meals and activities were complimentary as part of a media event. However, my compliments, comedy, and comments are always my own.

Nancy Berk, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, entertainment analyst, award-winning humor writer and author of College-Bound and Gagged: How To Get Your Kid Into A Great School Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind which can be seen in the Tina Fey movie “Admission”.