The E List

An Excruciatingly Opinionated Guide to the Shoreline

October 31, 2022
Travel / Shoreline / Old Lyme

Make A Day Of It: Old Lyme


Old Lyme has always been famous for its many art venues, but that’s not all! Spend a glorious Fall day with our list of things to see and do in the home of the American Impressionists.

The Cooley Gallery

Drop your bags from Homeward Collective in the car, and head straight across the street to The Cooley Gallery. This renowned destination specializes in works by the Old Lyme Art Colony painters and draws collectors worldwide. This time of year, they hang their popular annual exhibit, “The Small Painting Show” making gifts of exquisite artworks affordable. The show opens with a reception on Friday, 11/18/2022 from 5 – 7pm

Cooley Gallery


Just behind Cooley Gallery is one of our favorite destinations for antiques and fabric. Artemisia offers interior design services, antiques, and the most sumptuous fabrics you can find in these parts: Fortuny, Scalamandre, David Hicks, Brunschwig and Fils, and more. From pillows and curtains to expert upholstery, they’ll have your whole house covered (literally). Owner Rosemarie Padovano uses the remnants to make the most lovely lavender sachets, and I always grab a couple on my visits. View the website here:

23 Lyme Street,

Photo by Caryn Davis

De Gerenday’s

Itching for inspiration? This art supply and gift shop at the Lyme Art Academy has been reimagined after ancient French ateliers, replete with vintage floor-to-ceiling wood shelving and cabinets for the highly curated but extensive inventory of paints, inks, canvases, brushes, and vintage art books. It’s Olivander’s Wand Shop meets the 1880’s Maison Sennelier Art Store in Paris. Meaning whether you’re an artist or not, the merchandising alone makes this a must-see. Taxidermy, antique landscapes, and oddities line the inky walls, while giftable goods like handmade Florentine leather journals and John Derian’s puzzles, fabulous wrapping paper, and more curiosities are stacked in vignettes on antique tables and desks.

For this artist’s daughter, the only thing missing was the scent of oil paint and turpentine. I could have stayed for hours.

Open to the public: Monday – Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. 

De Gerenday’s is accessible by the South Campus entrance at 84 Lyme Street, Old Lyme.


Old Lyme Inn

If you’re in town on Friday or Saturday, stop for Lunch in front of the fireplace at the cozy Old Lyme Inn and snack on fresh salads, burgers, and more from 11:30 – 2, or reserve Saturday Tea from 12 -2. 

The Side Door Jazz Club at the Old Lyme Inn boasts a roster of the best musicians in the country. See the lineup here:

old lyme inn

Florence Griswold Museum

After Lunch, spend the afternoon at the Florence Griswold Museum. First, immerse yourself in the history of the Art Colony by wandering the refurbished rooms of Miss Florence’s boarding house, where you can view works by the Colony artists who worked here at the turn of the century. Head to the expansive Krieble galleries for the exhibit, Dreams & Memories (through May 2023), which explores themes such as reverie, surrealism, religion, social action, and the American dreams through works by Willard Metcalf, Cables Ethan Porter, Bessie Potter Vonnoh and more. 

The Florence Griswold museum store is a delight, packed with art books, children’s toys and gifts, jewelry, puzzles, and more; plus every purchase supports the museum. If you’re in town in December, you can enjoy the dazzling artist-designed holiday trees and the overflowing Christmas shop.   Tues-Sun, 10am-5pm. 96 Lyme Street,


The Lyme Art Association

Don’t miss a stop at the Lyme Art Association next door to the Florence Griswold Museum. Currently running through November 10th is the New England Landscape Show, celebrating the natural beauty we take for granted until we see paintings of our surroundings. Deck The Walls, opening on November 18th, offers up well-priced works by the Association artists. A must. 

The gallery is open from 10 am – 5 pm, Wednesday – Sunday.

90 Lyme Street,

Studio 80 Sculpture Grounds

Take a stroll around this 4.5 acre garden, dotted with over 100 sculptures. Visitors are invited to interact with the sculptures, moving kinectic pieces and walking through others. It’s a bit of a secret and absolutely shouldn’t be! Free and open 9 – 5 daily.

The Chocolate Shell

Head to the Chocolate Shell for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or a box of fine chocolates to gift (or stash in the closet for a nightly nibble!). This sweet spot carries the best companies like Fika, Moonstruck and and Divine Treasures, plus vegan and sugar-free and a wall of novelty and nostalgic treats.

16B Lyme Street,

The Bowerbird

No trip to Old Lyme is complete without a stop at the Bowerbird. If you’re on the hunt for children’s toys and gifts, adult puzzles and journals, jewelry and scarves, and a massive inventory of greeting cards and wraps, head straight here. 46 Halls Road

You may also like: Homeward Collective

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