About the Old Lyme Arts District

Art, history, and nature lovers have long considered the small town of Old Lyme, Connecticut to be a “must see” destination. Located on the Eastern shoreline where the Connecticut River meets Long Island Sound, a visit to this historic town could include anything from art gallery hopping, to kayaking, to finding just the right music venue for live jazz or acoustic rock.

At the turn of the 20th century, American artists began flocking to Old Lyme for its riverbanks, farmers’ fields, and rocky outcroppings that served as perfect subjects for landscape paintings. An art colony was born and its matron, Miss Florence Griswold, famously housed many of the artists in her home. 

With the newly-formed Old Lyme Arts District, culture-seekers can seek out wonderful cultural events to attend, shop and dine all within walking distance on historic Lyme Street. In addition to the Florence Griswold Museum (home of the original boardinghouse), art galleries include the Lyme Art Association, Cooley Gallery, the Lyme Street Studios, and the outdoors Studio 80+Sculpture Garden. The Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts showcases the works of its students and alumni, and fine public art collections can be seen both at the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library and the Memorial Town Hall. Musical performances can be found at two historic inns on Lyme Street, the Bee & Thistle Inn which serves up a wide range of live music on Sunday and Wednesday nights, and the Old Lyme Inn with its celebrated SideDoor Jazz Club. Local talent can often be found at the Nightingale’s Acoustic Café,  as well as special youth events including the Lyme Youth Service Bureau's annual "The Bizz" talent show. A critically-acclaimed chamber music series, Musical Masterworks, brings international-acclaimed classical music to its audience throughout the winter months.

“Artful” dining takes place at both the Old Lyme Inn and Bee & Thistle Inn as well as the seasonal outdoor Café Flo at the Florence Griswold Museum.

Life-long learning takes place on Lyme Street; with the Lyme-Old Lyme School's main campus here, students can take advantage of the arts and cultural activities within walking distance, in addition to the excellence found in their own arts department. College students from the Lyme Academy College are often seen on sunny days sketching outdoors, and all ages can enjoy art classes and workshops at the Academy, Art Association and Museum. Lectures, book discussions and more take place along this one-mile length of Lyme Street at the Old Lyme Historical Society, library and other venues mentioned above.

The Arts District will produce the Old Lyme Midsummer Festival this July 27-28. Now in its 32nd year, the festival kicks off on Friday night with a free concert on the riverfront lawn of the Florence Griswold Museum, and then on Saturday additional venues provide musical performances, an antique car show, artisan and art sales, food trucks and more, attracting visitors from across the area.

In addition to its art galleries, shopping on Lyme Street includes fine jeweler  E.F. Watermelon, and insider seasonal sales of home decor and table linens by Patricia Spratt for the Home. The Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce actively promotes businesses in Old Lyme.

Watch for year-round promotions by the Arts District by following us on Facebook and checking this website frequently.


Artists of the Lyme Art Association paint "en plein air" on Lyme Street, circa 1925.

Artists of the Lyme Art Association paint "en plein air" on Lyme Street, circa 1925.