A Brief Introduction To Norwalk Ct
Norwalk is located in an idyllic spot on picturesque Long Island Sound in western Connecticut. Its an easy drive or train ride from the New York metropolitan area.
Norwalk is deceptively bursting with history.
It is hard to imagine, for example, that the now peaceful setting at Calf Pasture Beach was the landing point for British troops. Seeing as it was the Revolutionary War, those troops proceeded to burn the original mid-16th century town to the ground in 1779.
Today, Norwalk is affectionately known as Oyster Town, as a nod to its links to the countrys historic oyster industry.
Like many other charming CT towns, Norwalk features neighborhoods with their own unique history and feel:
- East Norwalk
The lovely shoreline, town and surrounding area offer a long list of things to do in Norwalk, CT.
Best Things To Do In Norwalk Ct
Norwalk, CT is a small town in the county of Fairfield, Connecticut that offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city and boasts an array of attractions. Visit the Maritime Aquarium or spend some time at the National Historic Landmark of the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, one of the best surviving examples of Second Empire style country houses in America. Best things to do in Norwalk, Connecticut with kids include Stepping Stones Museum for Children and the SoNo Switch Tower Museum. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
Ping Stones Museum For Children
Stepping Stones Museum for Children is one lovely place to visit, especially for the younger folks. It provides a space that encourages lifelong learning for children through diverse educational-based displays, exhibits, and programs.
The museum aims at enriching the lives of the children through education as well as improving their understanding of the world. You will find an array of hands-on, interactive exhibits that children to inquire, discover, explore, and learn.
Special exhibits Coaster, a mesmerizing 27-foot kinetic gigantic mechanical toy that imploys energy, gravity, color, motion, and light to spin, whirl, and captivate visitors of all ages.
Others include Energy Lab, a million-dollar exhibit that offers an excellent way for kids to learn about the science of energy, and, Build It!, which enables children to delve into the world of architectural design and construction in a fantastic structure.
There is something for the entire family in this museum, from professional development courses to school and groups programs.
Address: Mathews Park, 303 West Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06850
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Norwalk Community College Art Galleries
The NCC is home to two separate art galleries which are open to the public free of charge. You will find the main NCC Art Gallery on the first floor of the East Campus, where you can admire a collection of contemporary art works by regionally and nationally-recognized artists. The second gallery is called the West Campus Gallery and here you can visit exhibitions which are usually focused around local issues. Each of the galleries hosts about 5 exhibitions each year, including a Student Art Exhibition and a High School Art Invitational. Check their website for more details.
Norwalk Community College Art Galleries, 188 Richards Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854, 203-857-7191
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The 20 Best Things To Do In Norwalk Connecticut
Norwalk is a city in Connecticut that has a lot to offer visitors. Historical landmarks, clean beaches, and a booming tourism industry fuel the activities that abound. Norwalk sits on the site of the original colony from the 1700s. The first settlement burned to the ground during the Revolutionary War. There are plenty of other things to do in the popular tourist destination. If youre planning a trip to Norwalk, check out our mini-guide that points out the twenty best things to do in Norwalk so you wont miss out on some of the best things in the city.
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Head Out To Sea On The Sheffield Island Ferry
This cruise tour starts off on the Norwalk River, a few steps from Washington Street in South Norwalk.
The ferry leaves the dock and heads out to the picturesque islands that dot the waters in the Long Island Sound.
This is a peak summer attraction with service running every day.
The 45-minute ferry ride allows you to explore the archipelago of little islands before landing at Sheffield Island. Youll learn about the local various landmarks and take in the breathtaking views of the distant Manhattan skyline when conditions allow.
Once you disembark on the island, you can explore the trails, lighthouse and shoreline for 90 minutes before heading back to town.
The Sheffield Island Lighthouse is the main attraction for most people who take the tour. Dating back to 1868, the limestone house was a beacon letting ships know they were nearing land.
The site of the original light is now underwater, but it had a thirty foot tall tower erected in 1828. That said, the original keepers house still stands, with 19th-Century furnishings to take visitors back in time.
Fun fact for sustainability fans: the lighthouse now runs on solar power.
A tour of the building includes a trip to the top where on a clear day you can see the Manhattan skyline. So if the sun is shining, and the skies are blue, this could be one of the best things to do in Norwalk CT today.
Sheffield Island also hosts one of the most unique things to do in all of Connecticut: a Sheffield Island clambake.
Visit The Fairfield County Antique & Design Center
The Fairfield County Antique and Designs Center is a special place for people who enjoy antiques. The Center offers many quality decor pieces with more than 78 antique dealers to assist in finding fine antiques, art, and home decor. You can find the perfect accessories to complement your home decor. Even if youre not ready to purchase, its fun to look through the antique selections. The prices range from affordable to through the roof. While youre there, see the photos, sculptures, and paintings in the adjoining art gallery. The Center holds antique auctions every Wednesday Evening for bidding on your favorite pieces. Learn more by visiting the official website for the schedule and upcoming events.
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Stepping Stones Museum For Children
Stepping Stones Museum for Children is a great place for families with young children to visit! Located in South Norwalk, the museum features tons of exhibits to keep children entertained for hours. The exhibits include a construction exhibit, an outdoor playground, a community garden, an energy lab, and much more! They have different exhibits geared towards various age groups, from babies to elementary aged children.
The museum often hosts various events for families, such as movie nights and concerts. They also have classes, programs, and camps for children, during summer and throughout the year. They also give you the opportunity to have field trips and birthday parties at the museum. The museum’s website also features a studio, where they stream videos about child development, and various related topics. Stepping Stones Museum is a great experience for children and families!
Visit Wall Street Theater
Norwalk is home to the historic Wall Street Theater. Its history goes back to 1915, when John Barrymore, Mary Pickford, and Lilian Gish performed on its stage. The theater opened in 1915. It was a concert and event hall and a movie theater. Today its a live music stage with some of the biggest names in the nation appearing to entertain the visitors and residents of Norwalk. While youre in the city, book your tickets ahead and catch an evening concert at the Wall Street Theater.
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Explore Norwalks Maritime Aquarium
The Maritime Aquarium on the Norwalk River takes you through an underwater journey along Long Island Sound. Spanning the transition from freshwater to deep ocean, the aquarium offers guests over 75 unique exhibits featuring almost 7,000 sea creatures. Aquarium guests will discover the coastal area and get an in-depth look at the local marine life and how the environment affects their habitat.
The show-stopping Pinniped Cove exhibit is the new home to its harbor seals. You will be enchanted by their playful antics as they swiftly glide through their watery abode.
Enjoy a fun and educational cruise of Long Island Sound on the aquariumsR/V Spirit of the Sound.The research vessel is the perfect vantage point to view the above water habitat while exploring the effects of nature on the animals that live in the waterways.
Visit Norwalk Community College Art Galleries
Norwalk Community College Art Galleries has two individual art galleries open for public access free of charge.
There is the main NCC Art Gallery on the first floor of the East Campus. Here you can admire a collection of modern artworks by artists recognized at the regional and national levels.
The second gallery is the West Campus Gallery, where you can visit exhibitions that are usually circled around local issues.
Every year, each of the galleries hosts about five exhibitions, including a Student Art Exhibition and a High School Art Invitational.
Address: 188 Richards Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854
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Eat/nightlife: Magnolia Room At Bj Ryans
Who knew Fairfield County CT would wholeheartedly embrace a New York style cabaret, complete with prominent Broadway show crooners, an intimate room aglow with votive candles, and dinner service?
Opened in April 2018 in a room above B.J. Ryans pub, the 60-seat Magnolia Room is the brainchild of singer, actor, pianist and music director, Kenneth Gartman.
Musicians and vocalists range from soulful to cheeky. Entertainment has been compared to a Broadway veteran in your living room, singing songs for you and a small group of friends.
Sono Switch Tower Museum
The New Haven Railroad spanned much of the south of New England between 1872 and 1968, operating more than 2,000 miles of track by 1912. A captivating relic from the 1890s can be found on Washington Street in South Norwalk, where youll be met by an original switch tower preserved next to the tracks as a museum.
Rail fanatics can visit from 12:00 to 17:00 on weekends, when youll get to see the only Armstrong surviving levers to be found in Connecticut.
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Tour The Norwalk Historical Society Museum
The Norwalk Historical Society Museum is in the former Lockwood House in Georgian Revival style with red brick. Its a recently constructed building from 1973 that houses several exhibitions of 20th-century African-American migrations to the northern states and freedom from the enslaved south. Here youll find various collections of objects supplied by the historical society, like the valuable porcelain from the Farrington-Lockwood collection. See photographs of the city as it appeared in the 19th century.
Calf Pasture Beach And Shady Beach
If you are wondering where to soak up some sun in Norwalk, Calf Pasture Beach and Shady Beach are two excellent choices. The calm waters of Long Island Sound make these two beaches particularly suitable for family days out. Calf Pasture Beach is located at the eastern point of Norwalk and offers a good variety of outdoor recreational facilities. Here you can make use of the boat launch, go kayaking, play volley-ball, basket-ball or bocce and enjoy a skate park and childrens playground. Just east of Calf Pasture, Shady Beach is great for picnicking and outdoor grills. Both areas are popular with walkers and runners.
Calf Pasture Beach and Shady Beach, Calf Pasture Beach Rd, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-854-7806
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Dropping By At East Norwalk Historical Cemetery
The East Norwalk Historical Cemetery, established about 1655, is Norwalk’s oldest cemetery, and it contains the graves of many of the area’s first immigrants.
Originally known as the East Norwalk Fire District of the Town of Norwalk, the cemetery was owned and managed by the Third Taxing District, which was formerly known as the Down Town School District.
Often, a grave is buried without a headstone because the remains were buried before headstones were common, so there are no marks or traditions connecting the grave back to the family.
Spend The Afternoon At Calf Pasture Beach
If youre in Norwalk on the fourth of July, Calf Pasture Beach is the home of the citys annual holiday festivities. Its a historic site originally used to graze cows during the 17th century when early settlers built their farms and homes in the new country. A Park is located on the peninsula with plenty of amenities to keep you entertained. You can rent sailboats and kayaks at the Norwalk Sailing School or fish on the pier. Theres also a playground with places to skate, play volleyball, softball, or bocce, with a playground for the kids and a large beach for enjoying the sun and water. You can also learn interesting facts about the Revolutionary War from plaques that detail how 2,600 British troops landed at this spot and razed the city in 1779.
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Eat: Donovans South Norwalk
If youre in the mood for a burger, beer, or steaming bowl of clam chowder, theres no better place in South Norwalk than this 130 year old institution. On the corner of Washington and Water Streets, Donovans is everything you can ask for in a pub: clubby interior, casual menu, good brews, and friendly service.
Discover Emerging Artists At The Center For Contemporary Printmaking
Surrounding the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion are a few other historic or simply entertaining attractions, all on the same estate:
- A historic cemetery
- Stepping Stones Childrens Museum, one of the best museums in Connecticut, especially for young families
- The Center for Contemporary Printmaking
The Center for Contemporary Printmaking is a gallery-like no other.
Here, you can explore the works of both emerging and established artists.
It is the only museum of its kind in the area, celebrating the art of printmaking.
You can discover artists work and even take something home with a selection of:
- Intriguing woodcuts
If you fancy yourself an artist, you can actually take a printmaking workshop and create your own print.
There are five gallery shows each year, classes galore, and an intriguing Artist in Residence who has the honor of living in the onsite cottage.
Though considering this is an up-and-coming neighborhood thats still figuring out how to up and come, not sure how much of an honor it is.
Actually, cheap rent anywhere in southern Connecticut is quite a find.
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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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Walk To South Norwalk Historic District
Before heading some of the amazing adventures in Norwalk, lets take a tour to some of the most historical places that are a must-visit.
South Norwalk, commonly known as SoNo, is a neighborhood in the Connecticut city of Norwalk.
Authentic waterfront meets urban cool in SoNo’s diverse hub, serving as the city’s eating, retail, and entertainment district.
SoNo is a bustling metropolis with plenty to do.
Beautiful historical district with a variety of contemporary eateries and adorable boutiques.
In addition to offering a great variety of restaurants, pubs, bakeries, galleries, shops, and other amenities, Sono is also a great place to live, work, and visit.
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