The Best Fairfield County Destinations To See
Connecticut is not at the top of lists of places to visit.
And Fairfield County even less so.
But theres a surprisingly diverse number of attractions, activities, and things to do in the area.
If you combine the string of Fairfield County destinations into one trip, it would pack a visit as much as one to Charleston, SC. And the more famous attractions in Charleston are spread over just as wide of an area as the Connecticut shoreline.
Plus, Charleston has so been discovered, spoken from experience.
Fairfield County, Connecticut, offers a lot of diversity for such a small region. A less positive example is the extremes of wealth. Fairfield County hosts the wealthiest and poorest per capita towns and cities in Connecticut.
But there are less depressing examples of variety, too!
The towns along the Connecticut shoreline range from elegant and expensive to cute beach communities. And inland features towns with a more rustic, classic New England feel.
In fact, more than a few of the towns on this list are regularly rated the most cute towns in Connecticut.
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Cranberry Park And Gallagher Estate
At the heart of the 227-acre Cranberry Park, the stately and historic Gallagher Mansion is a sight to behold. The beautiful Tudor-Revival mansion is built almost completely out of stone blocks. It was modeled on the towns St. Pauls Episcopal Church and is adorned with beautiful hand-printed stained glass windows and a slate roof. The massive house was built during the Great Depression and featured many technological marvels which were not then commonplace these including an intercom system, an elevator and an incinerator. Most visitors come to enjoy the surrounding park trails, playground, picnic area and sculpture garden but interested visitors can book a guided tour of the mansion.
Cranberry Park and Gallagher Estate, 300 Grumman Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-854-7806
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Connecticut Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum
Did you know that the Birdcraft Museum is home to the largest collection of bird wings in North America? At the Connecticut Audubon Society, things are always hopping. We offer a variety of educational programs for children and families including guided tours as well as interactive exhibits that will have everyone learning about birds and maybe even getting some exercise.
William Benton Museum Of Art Storrs Ct
Located on UCONNs campus, visit the William Benton Museum of Art, which features exciting visiting exhibitions as well as a permanent collection. The collection features over 6,500 art works from the 15th through 21st centuries. During your visit to the William Benton Museum of Art, consider taking advantage of one of UCONNs free campus tours or other free events.
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Make Tracks With Santa Claus
In Connecticut, Santa Claus makes his way around the state early, and he is a particular fan of train travel and sometimes boats! Book your tickets early to see him on the Santas Trolley in East Haven or the Santa Express at the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston. And find cheer aboard Winterfest and the Tunnel of Lights at the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor. Dont miss Santas Walking Wonderland in Bristol, or find more ways to see Santa here. Click Learn More to find other places to visit for the holidays in December.
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Be One With The Birds At The Connecticut Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum And Sanctuary
Mabel Osgood Wright founded the Connecticut Audubon Society in 1898 as a place to conserve the state’s birds and their habitats. In 1914, 10 acres of land were donated to the society by Annie Burr Jennings. These were used to create America’s first private songbird refuge â Birdcraft Sanctuary.
The sanctuary was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993 and covers six acres of land. Here, you’ll find gardens designed to attract butterflies and birds, a large pond, the museum, and a caretaker’s cottage.
A wooden walkway rounds the edge of the pond, and a small lookout offers a closer look at the wildlife that call this area home. The museum itself is small and houses displays to enlighten visitors about the region’s creatures and their natural habitats. Behind it, you’ll find a number of rescued birds including owls, raptors, and hawks.
Address: 314 Unquowa Road, Fairfield, Connecticut
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Bask In The Sun At Penfield Beach
A hidden gem lies beside Fairfield Beach Road, enticing visitors to sprawl themselves across its vast, sandy expanse. With three and a half acres of space to enjoy, there’s no shortage of spots to unfurl your towel, set up a chair, and pop open your beach umbrella.
Flanked by a large pavilion, this pristine strand exudes a 60s summer beach holiday vibe. You’ll find running kids, sunbathing adults, charcoal grills, and picnic tables aplenty on the grounds, as well as kayak and sailboat racks.
If you don’t fancy getting sand in your lunch, head to the picnic tables or seek shade in the pavilion. There’s a concession stand, rental lockers, and restrooms on-site as well, which make it easy to spend a whole day here.
A small playground lies near the entrance, created in memorial to Jessica Rekos, a Sandy Hook victim. This is one of 26 play areas created as part of The Sandy Ground: Where Angels Play Project, which honor Sandy Hook victims throughout the state.
Although only residents can buy the beach sticker required to visit between Memorial Day and Labor Day, daily passes are available for purchase by non-residents.
Address: 323 Fairfield Beach Road, Fairfield, Connecticut
Treat Yourself At Saugatuck Sweets
Saugatuck Sweets is a local gathering place for kids celebrating everything from school concerts to sports games to birthdays. Some evenings, the line can be right down the street. The second of two shops owned by Westport resident Al DiGuido, this store brings families together.
Al is a highly valued member of the community. In his spare time, he works diligently as a philanthropist, raising money to support children suffering from cancer and rare blood diseases. His charity, “Al’s Angels” has helped families throughout the state.
In addition to a wide selection of ice creams , Saugatuck Sweets sells baked goods and candy to tempt every palate. It’s located on Reef Road, beside Sherman Green, which serves as a great place to take a load off and enjoy your treat in the fresh air.
Address: 28 Reef Road, Fairfield, Connecticut
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Romanacci Cafe Norwalk Connecticut
Romanacci Café is an authentic Italian restaurant that brings a slice of Italy to the heart of Norwalk. Owned and operated by brothers Graziano and Maurizio Ricci, owners of Osteria Romana, Romanacci Café is a casual eatery that offers a range of quick, distinctly Italian bites, snacks, light meals, and coffee. Meaning from Rome in Italian, Romanacci Café is a family-friendly establishment and the place to go for delicious homemade pizza, pasta, pastries, Panini, and freshly brewed coffee to enjoy with friends and family.
Pizzas are handmade and cooked to perfection in a wood-fired oven, pasta is spun from ancient Roman recipes and served with mouthwatering sauces, and sandwiches are stacked with layers of fresh meats, cheeses, salads, and vegetables. Freshly baked pastries are delicious and a small bar menu features selected wines and beers from Italy.
250 Westport Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-956-7103
Romantic Getaways In Ct: The Whalers Inn
Located in the heart of Historic Downtown Mystic, just half a block from the Historic Bascule Drawbridge and scenic Mystic River, restaurants, shops and the world famous Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea, The Whalers Inn is the largest inn in this historic charming village. It has a range of different rooms and suites located in five beautifully maintained Victorian-style houses in downtown Mystic.
The rooms are beautifully and uniquely decorated with period touches and have private bathrooms, free wifi and flat-screen TVs. Some rooms feature fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and/or sitting areas. Gourmet continental breakfast is served in the Hoxie House, the main inn building, in a cozy hospitality room. The inns own Four-Star Restaurant Bravo Bravo serves excellent Italian food.
20 East Main Street, Mystic, CT 06355, 860-536-1506
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Other Points Of Interest
- Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Fairfield 6 miles of boardwalk nature trails in a wildlife sanctuary of 160 acres with a nature center
- Fairfield Museum and History Center displays on local history, art and decorative arts, and a library on local history
- Gallery of Contemporary Art at Sacred Heart University holds five exhibitions each year
Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company
The Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company started long before Mark and Ann Sievers actually planted their olive grove the company started with a grandfathers respect for traditional agriculture and his passion for making his own wine for his family. Those values were passed down from generation to generation when the Sievers decided to add the olive grove to their already flourishing land which is filled with fruits and vegetables. You can visit the grove, better understand the companys history and process, and indulge in some of their internationally acclaimed, award-winning olive oils. The company is renowned for their single varietal oils from Spanish, Italian, Greek, and French varietals.
2625 Mankas Corner Road, Fairfield, CA 94534, Phone: 707-864-1529
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South Norwalk Historic District
South Norwalk, also known as SoNo, is an eclectic neighborhood in Norwalk where classic waterfront meets urban hip to create a jazzy, vibrant hub. Originally a settlement called Old Well, South Norwalk is today a colorful, bustling area of the town and is home to over 30 restaurants serving all kinds of cuisine from Mexican to Asian, buzzing bars and nightclubs, trendy stores and boutiques, an array of museums, theaters, and galleries, and sightseeing attractions. If you are wondering what to do in Norwalk CT today, this is a great place to start exploring.
Anchored by The Maritime Aquarium where visitors can explore the watery world of the earths ocean and rivers, SoNo boasts beautiful scenic walks along the Norwalk River and Harbor, which visitors can explore by bike or on foot, as well as an array of beer gardens, pubs, and wine bars in which to relax over drinks with friends and watch the world go by.
Stamford Museum & Nature Center
The Stamford Museum & Nature Center is a great place to spend some time! Youll be able to see things like dinosaurs, animals from around the world , natural history exhibits, and more. They offer programs for children as well which are also perfect for families- things to do in Fairfield County CT with kids.
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Things To Do In Fairfield This Weekend
So the weather this weekend could be good, could be bad. But that doesnt mean your weekend in Fairfield cant be bright. Here are some things going on around town:
Girls just want to have their day. The Pequot Library and Greens Farms Academy will sponsor a screening of the new documentary, Girl Rising, in honor of the United Nations International Day of the Girl. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday and again at 2 p.m. Saturday at the library, 720 Pequot Library. To register online, visit www.pequotlibrary.org. For more information, call 203-259-0346, ext. 15.
Its hunting season ghost hunting season, that is, and the Connecticut Paranormal Research Society will give a spirited presentation at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Fairfield Woods Branch Library, 1147 Fairfield Woods Road. Advance registration is required. Call 203-255-7308 or visit www.fairfieldpubliclibrary.org
If youve scred up an appetite, head over to Fairfield Grace United Methodist Church, 1089 Fairfield Woods Road, on Saturday for an all-you-can-eat spaghetti buffet dinner that includes three sauces, salad, bread, desserts and beverages. The hours are 4:45 to 7 p.m. and the cost is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for children under 12. If youre the lucky 100th diner, your dinner is free. Call 203-374-6528 for more information.
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Fairfield University Art Museum
For a blast of high culture Fairfield University has a superb little art gallery on the lower level of the palatial Bellarmine Hall, which dates to 1921. These galleries are open Tuesday to Thursday in summer, and Tuesday to Saturday for the rest of the year.
You can view Italian Renaissance and Baroque painting in the Meditz Gallery, designed like an early-Christian basilica.
To the side of this hal is the universitys captivating collection of historic plaster casts of important works of sculpture from Ancient Greece and Rome, including pieces from the Parthenon.
Theres also a display of African masks, pre-Columbian vessels and sculpture from South East Asia, as well as a remarkable facsimile of the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript, produced at a Columban monastery in Britain or Ireland in the 9th century CE.
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Relax On Jennings Beach
Once you step foot on Jennings Beach, you’ll see why it’s been deemed one of the best beaches in Connecticut. Iconic white lifeguard stands are dotted along its long, wide shoreline. The calm, azure water sparkles its welcome, enticing little ones to jump in for a swim.
The pristine sand is often packed with families enjoying a day of picnicking, sandcastle building, and frolicking. Picnic tables offer a less messy spot to enjoy your packed lunch, while the northern fishing pier serves as a perfect backdrop for artsy photos.
Restrooms, a concession stand, and other amenities are on offer, but you’ll have to bring your own chair and umbrellas. Sit back, relax, and watch boats sail past the grandiose cottages lining the nearby shores.
Residents must buy a beach pass to park here between Memorial and Labor Days. Visitors can purchase a daily pass, but it costs enough that they’ll want to ensure they get a full day’s worth of fun.
Address: 880 South Benson Road, Fairfield, Connecticut
Indian Leap Falls Norwich Ct
This hidden gem in Connecticut is located in such an unexpected location near downtown Norwich. Indian Leap Falls is a stunning waterfall located near old railroad tracks. It is completely free to visit this park and there is a small parking lot available next to an informative sign about how Indian Leap Falls got its name.
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Fairfield County Antique And Design Center
Visitors who enjoy spending time admiring and seeking out beautiful one-of-a-kind décor pieces are going to love spending a few hours at the Fairfield County Antique and Design Center. The center is home to more than 80 individual dealers specializing in fine antiques, art and home décor. Here you can find just about anything you need to beautify your home in styles to suit all tastes and budgets. There is also a brilliant art gallery which features sculptures, paintings and photos by artists from all parts of the country. The Wednesday evening antique auction is the ideal opportunity to try and pick up a bargain.
Fairfield County Antique and Design Center, 39 Knight Street, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-826-8575