MADISON, Conn. (WTNH) – Large crowds are already heading to beaches in Connecticut over the Fourth of July weekend.

The three-day weekend is four days for some while others are just taking advantage of Friday’s hot weather and making it a beach day. Businesses near Hammonasset Beach State Park are also bustling, preparing for what they expect to be a busy weekend.

Donahue’s Clam Castle in Madison could serve as much as 40 gallons of its clam chowder this weekend.

“It is upon us,” David Donahue of Donahue’s Clam Castle said. “We are ready to go. We have a great team in place. The chowder’s cooking, and we’re having a ball.”

The state says it was able to hire enough lifeguards to open all eight state swimming areas by this holiday weekend, otherwise, they would have been ‘swim at your own risk.’

“It’s very hot,” Denise Simon of Oakdale said. “It’s very hot, but it feels good to be at the beach.”

“It’s so much fun out here,” her husband, Phil Simon added. “We bike about seven out miles a day all the way to the point.”

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), which runs all of the state parks, reminds people that if they want to enjoy the holiday weekend to plan ahead, arrive early, and have a backup plan because, if parking lots fill up, even if there are some open spots on the beach, the park closes and people are turned away.

ParkConneCT, a pilot program launched by the state last year, provides free shuttle service and enhanced existing transit service to Hammonasset and six other state parks.

The parks included in ParkConneCT are:

  • Fort Trumbull State Park
  • Hammonasset Beach State Park
  • Indian Well State Park
  • Osbornedale State Park
  • Sherwood Island State Park
  • Silver Sands State Park
  • Sleeping Giant State Park

All buses associated with the ParkConneCT program will run fare-free through Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2022.

Click here to learn more about Connecticut’s parks.