DISTANCE FROM BOSTON: 108 miles
ODD FACT: Amelia Earhart married George Palmer Putnam at his mother’s house here in 1931.
As the crow flies, Noank lies just a few miles across the harbor from Mystic, but the two villages are vastly different. Both belong to the town of Groton but Mystic bustles with tourists and shops and carefully re-created history, while Noank is sleepy and secluded. Noank, however, is far from ordinary. The village was built along a dazzling stretch between Fishers Island Sound and the mouth of the Mystic River. Pequot Indians lived here until the early 1700s, and the name of the village, which sits on a peninsula, came from their word for “neck.” Fishing and seafaring have long ruled this area. The village once was home to one of the largest shipyards for building and repairing wooden vessels on the Atlantic coast. Today, the water is still filled with boats, and the tourists who come here usually show up to eat lobster. In perhaps Noank’s most famous moment, when Amelia Earhart married George Palmer Putnam in 1931, The New York Times summed up the town this way: “Noank is a quaint little village, celebrated in Summer time chiefly for the excellence of the lobsters. . . . In Winter Noank dozes.”