A day in Norwalk feels like going on vacation without having to board a plane or drive for hours. There is a cute historic downtown, awesome beaches full of shells and a beautiful aquarium that is very family friendly, with lots of things to touch. There is always plenty of reasonable parking..
First up on our adventure is The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. There is a large parking garage next door. With lots of opportunities to touch sea creatures, the aquarium also offers daily feedings and interactive shows at the seal and shark tanks.
The next stop on our Norwalk tour is in walking distance of the aquarium, so no need to leave your parking space! A short 3 minute walk takes you to the Sheffield Island Ferry Tour. The Ferry leaves from the dock on weekends three times a day for a three-hour, round-trip tour, to a private island and lighthouse. You can bring a picnic, search for seashells and tour the nature preserve. The ferry only allows 40 passengers at a time so reservations are strongly suggested. You can buy tickets in advance online or at the dock. The ferry ride takes about 45 minutes to reach the island and you can pass the time watching boats speed by or identifying sea birds such as osprey and cormorants. Bring a light sweater, as even on hot days the ferry gets a bit chilly.
Once you reach the island there are lots of things to explore; you can choose to go on a guided tour of the lighthouse (included in your ticket price), you can have a picnic overlooking the Long Island Sound or you can comb the beach for shells. There are picnic tables and beach chairs all around the island that make for perfect places to set up and have a meal with the most amazing views.
After lunch, take a guided tour of the lighthouse, led by interns who spend their summer at the island. They are knowledgeable and friendly, and the lighthouse is full of history with lots to see. Next, head down to the beach. A shell-strewn pathway meanders through the nature area and ends out on the rocky beach. The coast of the island is full of shells, crabs and sea sponges.
The next stop on our Norwalk adventure is The Harbor Loop Trail. A three-mile biking and walking trail that circles Norwalk Harbor. From the Sheffield Ferry dock, you can take the trail a short distance past a playground and some very cool art installations. Still no need to change your parking space and completely free to tour, so why not!? Just look for the round Harbor Loop Trail signs and decide how far you want to walk.
Norwalk is a great place to grab a bite to eat, here are some recommended places: