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Norwalk Fall Arts Preview

Things To Do

Norwalk Fall Arts Preview

Photo from the Music Theatre of Connecticut production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story in March 2022.

The city of Norwalk is proud to be known as a community that is enriched by an unmistakable presence of the arts. For people of all ages living in and around Fairfield County, Norwalk’s art atmosphere offers experiences for any taste and liking. Whether you’re looking for a date night destination or an outing for the whole family, there’s sure to be something that’s right for you. Luckily, autumn is expected to bring entertainment and enjoyment in a myriad of different ways.

For lovers of the arts, there’s no question that music owns a unique power that brings a deeper appreciation for the craft. The Norwalk Symphony will introduce this fall’s concert, Mahler, on Nov. 5 to showcase the true beauty and power of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. The historic symphony and orchestra will host a variety of concerts to come throughout the remainder of the calendar year, including Holiday Pops on Dec. 4, a beloved concert of holiday classics fit for the whole family. Be sure to snag your tickets while you still can.

Avid theatergoers will be delighted to learn that the Music Theatre of Connecticut has begun their 36th MainStage season, one that is expected to draw crowds from near and far in celebration of the arts and the melting pot of phenomenal productions. This season started off strong with the Tony Award-winning musical, Sunset Boulevard.

While the theater’s first show nears its close, MTC is gearing up for its next theatrical masterpiece, Lend Me a Tenor from Nov. 4-20, a screwball comedy production that will have audiences laughing until their stomachs ache. The local theater’s MainStage season is widely known across the tri-state area as a place where theatergoers can be transported to a different time and fully immerse themselves within each production. Whether for date night or wholesome family fun, the Music Theatre of Connecticut serves as a meeting place for members of the community to share unique experiences and support the importance of the arts.

Later this year, the Music Theatre of Connecticut will bring Holiday on Broadway to the community from Dec. 9-18, a special production comprised of holiday hits performed by MTC’s best Broadway talent.

Not to be forgotten is the Wall Street Theater, another of the many local go-to spots for laughs, music, and entertainment for all. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization exists to bring joy and enjoyment to its community, and therefore play a part in it that is irreplaceable. In October, the theater will host several comedy shows, musical acts and more. Historic actress and producer Geena Davis will make an appearance at the Norwalk theater on Oct. 12, followed later by Back in Black, an ACDC tribute band, on Oct. 21 for a night of heavy rock ‘n roll. November will draw a substantial turnout as well for the theater, a Paul McCartney tribute band playing on Nov. 8 as well as New Rhythm and Blues Quarter, known as NRBQ, on the 18th. Be sure to view the theater’s event calendar for more details and even more performances.

Aspiring creatives can find their footing with support from the Norwalk Conservatory of the Arts, a suburban sanctuary in the backyard of New York City’s theatrical wonderland. The conservatory’s two-year college program gives students the opportunity to train professionally while also auditioning in the workforce. The conservatory has a myriad of course offerings throughout the year in musical theatre, musical theatre dance, television and film performances and commercial dance. The conservatory, in addition to cultivating vibrant and ambitious talent, exists as an integral component of the Norwalk arts community and contributes to it greatly.

This year, the conservatory is spooked to introduce “Into the Depp” from Oct. 14-31, a 30-minute walk-through haunted house featuring dozens of live actors and enough Halloween spirit to send shivers down your spine.

The Broadway-quality production is inspired by actor Johnny Depp’s various character portrayals, each bringing a unique sense of motion picture familiarity to the experience. All proceeds will support the Conservatory of the Arts’ student scholarship fund that provides support for young artists in their pursuit to attend college and study the arts. Let it be known that all children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult, and there’s no telling just how haunted this house will be – you’ll just have to see it to believe it. The haunted house will run every weekend throughout the month of October. Get ready to scream!

To learn more about events happening in and around the Norwalk area, be sure to check out Visit Norwalk’s events page.

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Romantic Couples Weekend

Things To Do

Romantic Couples Weekend

A romantic coastal weekend awaits in Norwalk!

Norwalk is quickly rising to the top of East Coast destinations for couples with discriminating taste in food, lodging and entertainment. With top-of-the-line dining, eclectic city or shoreline attractions and superior accommodations, couples can experience the romantic weekend of their dreams.

Where to stay

The Even Hotel offers a bit of a fitness oasis just minutes away from the heart of South Norwalk. It’s easy to maintain a healthy routine at this wellness hotel.

For those who prefer to be a bit more off the beaten path, The Norwalk Inn and Conference Center boasts over 120 newly-renovated guest rooms, including 11 extended-stay luxury suites. Guests are treated to a full complimentary breakfast in the on-site restaurant where lunch and dinner are served daily. There’s also a private guest house.

For a full weekend experience, couples with the most discriminating taste will love the Inn at Graybarns. Located along the Silvermine River, privacy awaits in any of the Inn’s six luxurious king rooms, which include full baths and fireplaces. Indulge in delectable dishes at the on-site tavern, splurge on spa and fitness offerings or shop for picnic provisions at the Mercantile.

For more options, visit our Places to Stay info page here.

What to do

Just off the docks of the Maritime Aquarium, beginning Memorial Day weekend couples can take a romantic boat tour out to the Norwalk islands, which is timed to include the setting sun and a dazzling western sky reflecting on the water.

The neighborhood of South Norwalk, or SoNo as it is known locally, offers an entire weekend of options for couples. Stroll down Washington Street for exquisite shops and celebrated dining. While there, check out the vintage SONO Switch Tower Museum, located in the fully-restored Switch Tower, built in 1896.

Rowayton, another neighborhood in Norwalk, is a lovely waterfront village providing gorgeous views of the Five Mile River while strolling through the town’s Pinkney Park.

The intimate Wall Street Theater has become a popular venue for nostalgic acts, such as Gordon Lightfoot, Quiet Riot and many more.

Where to play

Rowayton’s Bayley Beach is a historic, small beach offering a snack bar and beautiful waterfront views. At Shady Beach Park, couples can picnic or go swimming. Non-residents are charged a nominal fee.

Feeling lucky? Book a trip on the Pelagic Beast fishing charter boat. Charters are available for three- to- eight-hour tours.

For hiking fans, check out the Norwalk River Valley Trail. Beginning at Calf Pasture Beach, this five-mile trail takes you past some of Norwalk’s most important landmarks and scenic views.

What to eat

Norwalk offers critically-renowned dining ranging from casual to elegant.

Ripka’s on the Beach is, as its name indicates, right on the beach, serving up incomparable seafood and other offerings in a festive atmosphere.

The Sunset Grille is a seasonal seafood restaurant on the water in the Norwalk Cove Marina, and overlooks scenic Norwalk Harbor.

For a bit of Food Network fame, visit the ultra-popular Valencia Luncheria, which offers fresh-squeezed juices and jumbo plates of empanadas, arepas and casual Venezuelan cuisine.

For a romantic and cozy vibe, visit Tablao Wine Bar & Restaurant. This date night destination offers a taste of Spain, and features an authentic tapas menu, a global wine list and live music.

Also for a romantic evening, visit Osteria Romana for the highest-quality Italian cuisine the city has to offer. The menu boasts homemade pastas, fresh, local ingredients, important Italian wines and unique Italian desserts.

There are endless ways for couples to enjoy the vibrancy Norwalk has to offer, whether you are coming from next door or the next state over.

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Family Fun Weekend

Things To Do

Family Fun Weekend

Families can enjoy endless fun for a weekend away in Norwalk!

Whether you are coming from near or far, Norwalk is the perfect destination for a weekend of family fun.

From the educational, to the creative, to the food, families can find plenty to do while visiting this beautiful and bustling shoreline city based right on the Long Island Sound.

Where to stay

Hotel Zero Degrees — the cool and trendy Hotel Zero Degrees offers incredible on-site dining, a fitness center, and a fabulous roof-top deck complete with a giant chess game and areas to lounge.

The Residence Inn by Marriot — Located in the heart of the exciting South Norwalk area, this inn offers walking distance access to acclaimed dining, fun shopping, museums and waterfront walks and playgrounds. It also offers a rooftop with a spectacular view of the Sound.

For more options, visit our Places to Stay info page here.

What to do

Families with younger children will love Stepping Stones Museum, which offers kids a chance to play and learn — it has standing and changing exhibits to enthrall your little one’s imagination and creativity.

All ages will be swept away by the magic of the Maritime Aquarium in the heart of South Norwalk. Visitors can sit by the large panoramic view of a floor to ceiling shark tank and watch the majestic, finned friends glide by along with their smaller counterparts. Young children will marvel at the magical jellyfish tank and love the interactive touch tanks and live feeding of the seals.

Step into history with a tour of the Lockwood-Mathews Museum, which has served as the backdrop of many blockbuster movies. Built by renowned financier and railroad tycoon LeGrand Lockwood from 1864-1868, the mansion’s unparalleled architecture and interiors illustrates the beauty and splendor of the Victorian Era.

For some shopping and dining fun, the sparkling new SoNo Collection shopping mall offers many opportunities for families, especially at Pinstripes, where visitors can take in some bowling before or after enjoying classic pub food.

Where to play

No visit to Norwalk would be complete without spending time at the stunning Calf Pasture Beach. It offers baseball/softball, volleyball, skate park, a playground, refreshing splash pad, sun and sand sports, the sailing school, bocce, basketball, and 3/4 of a mile of scenic coastline with tremendous views. Non-residents can visit free through May 15, after there is a fee of $40/car on weekdays before 5:00pm, $20/ car after 5:00pm. and $65/car on Saturday and Sunday.

It wouldn’t be a shoreline visit without a scenic boat ride. From May through September, visitors can visit take a three-hour excursion on a 45-foot C.J. Toth to visit the Sheffield Island Lighthouse, which is owned and maintained by the Norwalk Seaport Association.

What to eat

Norwalk offers critically renowned dining ranging from casual to elegant. Families will love the area favorites, like Letizia’s or Colony Grill’s thin crust pizza, or dining on the water at SoNo Seaport Seafood, Rowayton Seafood or Harbor Lights. A variety of cuisines can be found in the center of South Norwalk, whether it be the traditional pub fare at Donovan’s or O’Neill’s, ramen or pho at Mecha Noodle Bar, a culinary visit to Europe at Bruxelles or some sports bar fare at The Blind Rhino.

No matter what your family enjoys eating, they will find the best of it in Norwalk.

There are endless ways for a family to enjoy the vibrant, culturally diverse and stunning city of Norwalk, whether you are coming from next door or the next state.

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Celebrate Norwalk History

Things To Do

Celebrate Norwalk History

The Norwalk Historical Society Museum is located in the former Lockwood House (1973).

Norwalk Historical Society Museum
Located on the Norwalk City Hall campus, the museum is in the former Lockwood House (1973), designed in the Colonial Revival style by architect Margaret Hoyt Smith. The Museum offers self-guided tours, exhibitions, programs, and events to highlight Norwalk’s rich history. The garden offers contemplative views of the Norwalk River from the gazebo.

Mill Hill Historic Park/ Norwalk Historical Society
Located at the top of Mill Hill overlooking the Head of the Norwalk Harbor and adjacent to the Historic Norwalk Town Green, this site includes three pre-1835 historic buildings, a cemetery and colonial herb garden. The Norwalk Historical Society (1890) offers events, programs and exhibitions from May through November. The grounds are open sunrise to sunset.

Norwalk Town Green Historic District
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and centered on the Norwalk Green in central Norwalk, the site includes: the Green, Mill Hill Historic Park, St. Paul’s Place, World War I memorial cannon, a gazebo and 54 buildings – many designed in the 18th & 19th centuries. St. Paul’s on the Green (Episcopal) Church and the First Congregational Church also face the Green. Concerts are held on the Green in the summer.

Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museums
Located in Mathews Park, this magnificent Victorian era mansion (c.1864) is a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of the earliest and most significant Second Empire style country houses in the United States. The museum offers guided tours, award-winning exhibitions, events and programs related to this Norwalk treasure. Open early April – early January.

Center for Contemporary Printmaking
Originally part of the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion estate, the Carriage House (c.1892) is home to the Center for Contemporary Printmaking. CCP is a nationally known, state-of-the-art printmaking facility, studio and gallery space with rotating exhibitions throughout the year. The Gardener’s Cottage (c.1892) is used for the Artist-In-Residence Program.

Sheffield Island Lighthouse
Owned and operated by the Seaport Association, the Sheffield Island Lighthouse was built in 1868 and in service until 1902. A ferry service is available to the Lighthouse from the Sheffield Island dock in South Norwalk. The ferry operates Memorial Day through mid-September.

Fodor Farm
For 200 years, the land at 328 Flax Hill Road has been a farm. The farm was fully restored and is operated by the City of Norwalk Recreation and Parks Department. The site features 300 community garden plots, a renovated venue for events and culinary demonstrations, a historic homestead, greenhouse, tree farm and an apple orchard.

Pinkney House/Raymond Boathouse Museum/Historic Rowayton
Located along the Five Mile River, the Seeley-Dibble-Pinkney House (c.1820), Raymond Boathouse Museum, and Pinkney Park are the headquarters for Historic Rowayton. Through exhibitions, events, and programs, Historic Rowayton preserves the history of this unique seaside village. Closed in August.

Switch Tower Museum
The fully restored New Haven Railroad switch tower (1896) in South Norwalk has the only “Armstrong” switch lever machine in Connecticut. Railroads used towers to house the mechanism of switching trains from one track to another. Guided tours offered May – October.

WPA Mural Trail
The nationally recognized collection of New Deal WPA (Works Progress Administration) art (1935) was restored by Norwalk’s art and history community. Nearly 50 murals are located throughout Norwalk in City Hall, Norwalk’s Public Libraries, Community College, Transit District, Maritime Aquarium, Rowayton Library and the Norwalk Historical Society Museum.

Historic Cemeteries

  • East Norwalk Historical Cemetery c.1655
    O
    ldest cemetery in Norwalk (East Norwalk)
  • Pine Island Cemetery c.1708
    Second oldest in Norwalk (Mathews Park)
  • Mill Hill Burying Ground c.1767
    Third oldest (Mill Hill Historic Park)
  • Brookside Cemetery c.1724 Also known as Five Mile River Cemetery. (Rowayton Ave)
  • Kellogg-Comstock Cemetery c.1813
    (West Norwalk)

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Fabulous Food Trucks

Things To Do

Fabulous Food Trucks

In case you haven’t noticed on the way to work or during your lunch break, food trucks are the new edible phenomenon right now. Ultra-contemporary and diverse dishes, quick service, and reasonable prices — what’s not to love? Some of us luck out and have an entire block of these mobile food establishments parked right outside our door. Others, well, they’re subjected to roaming the streets in hopes of discovering a good food wagon.

Good for you, Norwalk has an abundant selection of delicious meals on wheels.  Below is the current list of City-licensed food truck vendors (October 2022).

Keep on truckin’!

All Aboard Coffee House: Grab ‘n Go; Breakfast and Lunch

Bombar’bq: American BBQ and Latin Street Food

Brown’s Marina Oyster Shack LLC: Copps Island Oysters, Clams, Lobsters

Bubble And Brew Tea: Bubble Tea, Assorted Teas

Caribbean Tacos LLC: Tacos, Burgers, Salads, Paninis, Wraps, Sandwiches

Castillos Catering Services LLC: Mexican Food and Drinks

Chef Tony Delicias: Mexican Street Foods

Copps Island Shuck Truck, LLC: Raw and Fried Oysters and Clams

Cousins Maine Lobster: Lobster Rolls

Dough Girls: Personal Sized Pizzas, Sandwiches, Dessert and Beverages

Edwin’s Food Truck: Jamaican Food

El Azteca Mexican Tacos #1: Tacos, Burritos, Quesadilla, Tex Mex Burgers

El Azteca Don Juan #2: Tacos, Burritos, Quesadilla, Tex Mex Burgers

El Chapin Food Truck LLC: Guatemalan Food

El Placerito Tacos, LLC: Mexican Food

EVERYBODYEATZ: Soul Food

Greek Style Grill: Souvlaki, Gyros, Fries, Salad, Soda

Hot Dogs & Ice Cream: Hot Dogs, Prepackaged Ice Cream, Chips and Canned/Bottled Beverages

Ice Cream Truck 1: Prepackaged Ice Cream

JJB Wood Fire Pizza Truck: Pizza and Pasta, Bottled Beverages

Joe’s Food Truck: Pizzas, Pastas, Burgers, Wings, Salads

Kenny’s Food Truck: Tacos, Burgers, Hot Dogs, Burritos, French Fries, Fried Chicken

Kona Ice Of Stamford: Shaved Ice

Los Poblanos Mexican Grill: Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas, Tortas and Beverages

Meztezo Grill: Empanadas, Tacos, Chicharones, Quesadillas

Mino’s Coffee LLC: Hot Dogs, Sandwiches and Beverages

Nunes Coffee Truck: Sandwiches, Chips, Coffee, Soda

Pau Pau’s Pizza Cones: Breakfast Sandwiches, Burgers, and Pizza Cones

Ripka’s On The Road: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Sandwiches, Lobster Rolls

Ringside Grill: Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Fries, Onion Rings

SeaSide Sliders: Salads, Small Bites, Sliders

Taco Macho Food: Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas

Tacodillas: Mexican Food

Tacos Los Potrillos: Tacos, Nachos, Sandwiches

The Chamo LLC: Arepas, Patacones, Tequenos, Empanadas

The Colombian Hotdog: Hotdogs, Burgers, Tenders, Fries

The Last Taco LLC: Tacos, Quesadillas, Chips, Sodas

Wood Fire Pizza Truck: Pizza

YoungSon Food Co.: Dumplings

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Best Places to Get Oysters

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Best Places to Get Oysters

It’s no secret that oysters are a catalyst for romance. Oyster lovers enjoy this delicacy and have found their favorite spots in Norwalk, affectionately referred to as “Oyster Town” due to its deeply-rooted history as a fishing harbor and waterway. Here are some terrific places to try.

On the Shell:

Harbor Lights
The New York Times deemed Harbor Lights in Norwalk “very good.” Order oysters from their raw bar or find them in other dishes on the menu.

Match
With its “New School Raw Bar,” Match in South Norwalk puts a modern, creative twist on the traditional raw bar.  They use local purveyors for their delicious oysters.

The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood
Tucked next to the seafood market, The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood offers waterfront dining and a seasonal menu. Enjoy their rotating selection of oysters on ice, in seafood platters, fried, or in warm dishes like Oysters Rockefeller.

The Spread
The Spread in South Norwalk has established itself as an oyster destination!  Join them on Tuesdays for $1 oysters from Bloom & Brothers, which is located in Norwalk and gets their shellfish from Long Island Sound.  Oyster dishes regularly appear on their menu.

Washington Prime
Washington Prime’s all day menu boasts a variety of oyster dishes, such as oysters by the piece, Oysters Rockefeller, and a Grand Tower of assorted shellfish.

Off the Boat:

Copps Island Oysters
Oystermen since the 1940s and operating one of the last standing traditional oyster farms in the United States, Norm Bloom and Son is a fourth generation family-owned farm that provides a high quality, consistent and sustainable product to customers nationwide.

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Perfect Weekend Getaway

Things To Do

Perfect Weekend Getaway

These days we all could use a little escape. Spring, summer, winter or fall, Norwalk can offer a weekend getaway that is filled with adventure, fun and romance. Stay in a luxury hotel, a cozy inn, or unique accommodations. Enjoy the local food scene. Stroll the main streets of charming neighborhoods. Pass time along Connecticut’s scenic coastline. Explore Norwalk’s history. Choose the getaway that matches your style for a great weekend away.

Attractions:

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
One of the largest attractions in the state, this Long Island Sound focused aquarium, in a former 1860’s iron works factory renovated as a state-of-the-art educational center, draws over half a million visitors a year.  Live sharks in a 110,000 gallon tank, loggerhead turtles, seals, rays and jellyfish join a cast of other aquatic animals. Some you can pet. Others are best left behind glass. With a state of the art movie theater, traveling exhibits, and Marine Study cruises to Long Island Sound, you can spend the good part of a day learning about the region’s maritime environment.

SoNo Switch Tower Museum
Train historians worked long and hard to preserve “Signal Station 44.” They removed three garbage cans full of pigeon poop from this 1896 Switch Tower to clean it after years of decay. Climb narrow iron stairs to the burnished third floor for a chance to pull the disengaged Armstrong levers (so named because you needed a strong arm to budge them!) that once moved track switches manually on the main line. It’s a fascinating peak at tough railroad jobs before computers took over the heavy lifting. 

Mathews Park
You’ll find two museums, an arts center, a fantastic playground, tennis courts, picnic areas, and a historic cemetery as well as a historic museum. Attractions: Lockwood Matthews Mansion Museum, The Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Stepping Stones Museum for Children and The Norwalk Art Space.

Lockwood Matthews Mansion Museum
This home was built by financier and railroad baron LeGrand Lockwood between 1864 and 1868. It’s considered one of the earliest and most significant Second Empire Style country houses in the United States. 

The Center for Contemporary Printmaking
The CCP features both emerging and established artists. Catch a rising star and purchase a woodcut, etching, silkscreen or lithograph. Sign up for a 6-hour printmaking workshop and create one yourself. The Center is the only one of its kind between New York and Boston. In addition to five gallery shows per year and a slew of classes, it offers services for established artists and a cottage for a selected Artist in Residence. 

Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Stepping Stones was built with a keen eye to what excites and stimulates a child’s mind. Geared toward children 1-10, this small but active learn-through-play center engages even the youngest crawlers. No detail is overlooked. Whimsical water wheels are attached to rain gutters outside big picture windows.  Even when it rains, there’s something to learn. 

The Norwalk Art Space
Newly opened in June 2021, The Norwalk Art Space is an exciting free museum and hub for the arts, promoting local artists, offering free art classes to high school students and providing the public a welcoming space to enjoy art and music.

Sheffield Island Lighthouse Tours
Over 200 years ago, ewes were kept on Sheffield Island to keep them from the boy sheep on Ram Island just across the way. Since then, Sheffield Island has been a compound for cholera patients, a ritzy estate and most importantly, home to the Sheffield Island Lighthouse.

You can visit this decommissioned 10-room granite lighthouse, built in 1868, as well as the rest of the 54 acre island, administered by Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, during a three hour tour run by the Norwalk Seaport Association. A 45-ft. catamaran transports 49 people several times a day in season for a half hour narrated tour of Norwalk Harbor. (You’ll also pass barrier islands and the famous Norwalk oyster beds). Families pushing strollers and picnickers join history buffs for a glimpse into what life was like on this island before electricity.  The lighthouse keeper had to carry two five-gallon pails of oil (40 lbs. each) up to the top floor every four hours to keep the light lit. 

Stew Leonard’s
If Walt Disney had gone into the grocery business, this is what he’d have come up with. Goats bray from the roofs of tiny sheds in the parking lot petting zoo. Parents and kids line up for creamy soft-serve custard ice-cream before grabbing a cart. And animatronic cows and milk-cartons entertain tots as Mom and/or Dad choose fresh produce, meats and fish from overflowing shelves. Locals have been bringing out of town friends here for years.

Factory Underground
If you’ve ever wondered where all the collapsed barns, felled trees, and demolished 1800’s houses in Southern Connecticut have gone, just take a peek into the 7,000 sq. ft. Factory Underground – a recording and video production studio, and private concert and event space. Underground winds through chambers both large and small; offering an industrial kitchen, soundstage rehearsal space, and several recording rooms. If you’re lucky, you might find a book-launch party or another special event happening.

Dining & Nightlife:

Public Wine Bar
Walk through the front door to be greeted by a floor to ceiling wine rack. This “Wine Bar,” however, is not just about the vino. Specialty cocktails rule the day – with concoctions like Public 88 – an “orchid infused Toto’s French topped with Rose Cava,” Blackbird Singing – a sour whiskey blend, and the fiery Hot Blooded Margarita. On the menu, the Spicy Tuna Tartar, Salmon A La Plancha, and Chicken and Wild Mushroom Pappardelle are all excellent.

Magnolia Room at B.J. Ryan’s
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. Ryan’s 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.”

The Spread
This place is so farm to table, the tabletops are reclaimed farm barnwood, and are enlivened by “living walls.” The eclectic “New American” menu reflects Chef Carlos Baez’s heritage (Mexican) and work history (in a sushi restaurant, among others). His Shrimp on Caramelized Quinoa Cake with Chorizo Sauce won “Best of Best Dish” in CT Magazine. Try the Ricotta Gnocchi – with tender stewed veal “meatballs.”

Knot Norm’s
Young chef/owner Jay LeBlanc has got himself a winner in his little extension of an already thriving catering biz. Not only is his mega-chunk warm lobster rolls winning awards, but he’s equally adept with fried chicken, Korean BBQ Brisket, and, incredibly, on-the-spot whipped up vegan dishes. In East Norwalk (across the Norwalk River from the Norwalk Maritime Museum), this tiny place may be hard to find at first. But it’s worth it.

Valencia Luncheria
Why is it that some out of the way restaurants cause such a commotion?  Because they are so excellent, patrons will travel off the path to get to them.  This is the case with this colorful Arepas, Empanada and Burritos emporium.  You can dine on the cheap or try a Platos of the day. And yep, there’s a bar scene. Cocktails with Mexican Coke or Jalapeno infused vodka are fiery awesome.

Places to Stay:

EVEN Hotel 
This hotel brand is devoted to your health and wellness. Rooms feature mini-gyms. And top celebs in food and fitness partnered to make each stay a “wellness” experience.  Surprisingly, this trend in lodging launched in little Norwalk, and you can experience it firsthand as part of your Norwalk escape.  

Hotel Zero Degrees
Sister property to the hot boutique hotel in Stamford, CT – this sleek Norwalk version is roughly a 10-minute drive to the attractions in SoNo. But no worries, they’ve got a complimentary shuttle to get you there. Quilted metallic grey headboards, back-lit mirrors in glossy bathrooms, orange throws and walls for punch – rooms are fresh and fun. Like any all the rage boutique establishment, rates include a bevy of complimentary perks. Enjoy a warm breakfast, wi-fi, covered parking, Starbucks coffee, shuttle to downtown and a very fun rooftop lounge. Drinks will cost you, but table games will not.

The Inn at GrayBarns
GrayBarns has served as a village meeting place, textile factory, artist outpost, and even a speakeasy! Today it is home to a tavern and an inn, which features six beautifully-appointed king suites with luxurious full baths, bedrooms and living areas. This adults-only retreat welcomes guests with contemporary fixtures such as NEST thermostats, Le Labo amenities, SMEG, and Nespresso appliances. Guests of the Inn can enjoy in-room spa treatments, private yoga, bike rentals, and beautiful views of the Silvermine waterfall. Nearby you can tour the Glass House, walk in the Silvermine Nature Preserve, play a round of golf at Pound Ridge, or meet the artists and artisans at the Silvermine Arts Center.

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15 Must Do Things

Things To Do

15 Must Do Things

Norwalk was founded in the mid-16th century, and was burnt to the ground by the British in 1779 during the Revolutionary War. Calf Pasture Beach, the place where the British troops landed, is now one of a few restful places to unwind by the water. Known as Oyster Town, Norwalk has special ties to the sea, and honors its historic oyster industry with a festival at the start of September. In summer you can take cruises out to the little islands just offshore, and there’s a cluster of attractions and museums to pique your interest, like the Maritime Aquarium, the regal Lockwood-Mathews Mansion and the Stepping Stones Museum for Children.  There is a lot to see and explore in Norwalk, so here are 15 recommended must-do things.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
With 75 live exhibits and more than 2,700 marine animals from 300 different species, a visit here will take you on a journey that starts in the rivers and marshes that feed Long Island Sound before you strike out into the open ocean. As you go you’ll meet harbor seals, river otters, jellyfish, sharks and loggerhead turtles. There are touch tanks where you can discover what nurse sharks, sting rays, starfish and all kinds of other animals feel like. Added to all this is an IMAX Theater. What’s more, you can also take birding, seal-spotting or marine life study cruises on the museum’s own research vessel.

Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Working on the basis that children learn best through doing, this attraction in Mathews Park has a series of interactive educational zones designed to spark kids’ imagination, curiosity and interest. The Energy Lab helps little ones learn about the science of energy, through wet and wonderful exhibits, while Express Yourself is all about social-emotional learning, and Build It! get kids acquainted with the basics of construction and architectural design. Grown-ups and children alike will be transfixed by the ColorCoaster kinetic sculpture by artist George Rhoads, and outside Celebration Courtyard has a huge open-air tent and eco-friendly play surface.

Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
The railroad and banking magnate LeGrand Lockwood (1820-1872) built himself this palatial country house from 1865 to1868 in what is now Mathews Park, close to Stepping Stones.

A National Historic Landmark since 1978, the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion is one of the first examples of a Second Empire-style country house in the United States. The property was saved from demolition after a long campaign in the 1960s, and is fully restored inside and out, with exquisite wrought iron crests on its roof and above the elongated porch. In its day, the Mansion was cutting edge, with gas lighting, hot and cold plumbing, ventilation and a central heating system fueled by a ton of coal every day. You can take a guided tour of the refined interiors, learning the story behind every room and the personalities that dwelt here.

Sheffield Island Ferry
Setting sail from a dock on the west bank of the Norwalk River, opposite the Veterans’ Memorial Park, a ferry will take you out to the Norwalk Islands in the Long Island Sound.

At the height of summer there are services every day of the week. It will take 45 minutes to glide past the various little islands in this archipelago, before you land at Sheffield Island.

On the voyage the skipper will point out the various landmarks on both sides of Long Island Sound, as well as the Manhattan skyline if conditions are right. After that you’ll have 90 minutes on Sheffield Island, which you can spend visiting the lighthouse, picnicking, walking trails and combing the shore for shells, sea glass and horseshoe crabs.

Sheffield Island Lighthouse
The main goal of the ferry ride to Sheffield Island is this grand lighthouse, which in its current form dates to 1868. At that time a sturdy limestone house was constructed here, with a beacon in its gable, replacing a tower that had been erected in 1828. Since 2011, the light has been running on solar power and is aimed at the Norwalk side of Long Island Sound, purely for its symbolic value. You’ll be given a tour of the building and can go to the rail at the top to see the Manhattan skyline off in the distance on a clear day.

SoNo
A separate city until 1913, South Norwalk is a diverse and vibrant neighborhood, and the place to go for dining, arts, shopping and entertainment. All of the museums above are in SoNo, together with lots of galleries and studios, all opening their doors for the SoNo Arts Festival in August. There are more than 30 places to eat in SoNo, and the offer is very international, whether you’re hankering for sushi, empanadas, clam chowder, fish tacos, baklava, roti or a comforting grilled cheese. What will also grab you about this part of town is just how many independent retailers there are on these streets, at design stores, specialty food shops, jewelers and more.

Norwalk Oyster Festival
On the first weekend after Labor Day, Oyster Town celebrates the long history of its oyster industry and raises money for all sorts of good causes. The Norwalk Oyster Festival is now in its fifth decade and promises three days of live music, arts and crafts, lots of fun activities for little ones, and, of course, oysters galore. There’s an international food court, a craft beer tent and even an oyster slurping contest. You can catch a Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show and a stunt show by the Nerveless Nocks. A line-up of fairground rides and amusements is in store, not to mention Kids’ Cove, which has its own rides, games and entertainment just for children.

Sunday is Family Day, with discounts on entrance, rides and food for families with kids. Just by way of intro, some of the names to have played the Norwalk Oyster Festival are Little Richard, Tito Puente, Willie Nelson, The Monkees and Cheap Trick.

Norwalk Historical Society Museum
This museum mapping Norwalk’s past is based at the red brick Georgian Revival former Lockwood House, which was funded by Manice de Forest Lockwood and his cousin Julia Belden Lockwood, and built in 1973. The collections were relocated in the 1990s and then brought back here with the opening of the Norwalk Historical Society Museum in 2015. In 2019 there was a series of interesting, simultaneous exhibitions, dealing with mid-20th-century African-American Migration from the South, valuable porcelain from the Farrington-Lockwood Collection, photography in 19th-century Norwalk and the building’s architect Margaret Hoyt Smith. “Form, Function & Family” displayed silver from the historical society and City of Norwalk collections, while “Norwalk Collects” is a display of 30 representative objects from the museum’s deep collections.

Mill Hill Park
The Norwalk Historical Society has a second location on the east bank of the Norwalk River.

Mill Hill Park is a living history museum made up of three buildings up to 280 years old. The most prominent of these is the Town House, constructed in 1835 as a place for civic meetings, and one of the first buildings in Norwalk to be made of brick. The Town House is still a mainstay of the community, hosting social events, meetings and displays of historic memorabilia. A rare survivor from the 1779 Burning of Norwalk is the Governor Thomas Fitch Law Office (1740), part of the kitchen wing from Governor Thomas Fitch’s house and furbished with an 18th-century Chippendale desk and other fittings to give a sense of what Fitch’s office would have looked like. The Downtown District Schoolhouse dates to 1826 and was relocated here when the I-95 was built through East Norwalk. East of these buildings is the third-oldest cemetery in the city, where family plots were provided with the property grants issued to Norwalk’s earliest settlers.

Wall Street Theater
Opened way back in 1915, the Wall Street Theater has been reborn a few times in the last century, changing hands between a multitude of owners. In its earliest days stars like Lilian Gish, Mary Pickford and John Barrymore graced this stage. In the 1930s it was remodeled as a movie theatre, but was also booked for boxing matches and concerts by the likes of Elvis Presley. In its latest incarnation the Wall Street Theater is mainly a live music venue, booking well-known touring bands and solo artists from all genres, as well as a big helping of tribute acts.

Calf Pasture Beach
Norwalk’s annual 4th of July fireworks take place at this historic beach and park on the peninsula of the same name. In the 17th century, Calf Pasture was used by Connecticut colony settlers as grazing land for cows, while in 1779 during the Revolutionary War the beach was a landing point and encampment for a raid by 2,600 British troops led by William Tryon and resulting in the near-complete destruction of the city. The big draw here is the large beach, complemented by a fishing pier, playground, splashpad and spaces for softball, volleyball, skating and bocce. The Norwalk Sailing School also rents out kayaks and sailboats, and provides a small craft safety training program.

Compo Beach
Just across the boundary in Westport, this beach backed by 30 acres of parkland is barely 15 minutes in the car from Norwalk’s main attractions. Bounded to the west by the Saugatuck River, Compo Beach has a boardwalk, a big wooden playground, lockers, bathrooms, a concession stand and two beach volleyball courts. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day. There’s also a wealth of sports facilities behind the beach, including two lit basketball courts, a skate park, open skate area and a softball field.

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 you’ll be met by an original switch tower preserved next to the tracks as a museum. Rail fanatics can visit from 12:00 to 5:00 PM on weekends, when you’ll get to see the only Armstrong surviving levers to be found in Connecticut.

Oyster Shell Park
Gazing at the harbor and the waterfronts on both the east and west banks of the Norwalk River, it’s hard to imagine today, but up to 1979 this space, catching the breeze from the water, was a working landfill. Today it is threaded with the Norwalk River Valley Trail, and has a hilltop plaza, a children’s playground and a well-tended disc golf course, all a brief walk from the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion and the Maritime Aquarium.

Norwalk Boat Show
At Norwalk Cove Marina, in the landward nook of Calf Pasture Peninsula, the Norwalk Boat Show is another milestone in the city’s events calendar. Across four days towards the end of September you can watch demonstrations by high-speed racing boats, take part in stand-up paddleboard and kayak sessions at the Try it Cove and boost your boat-handling skills through on-water clinics. There’s plenty going on for kids. too, at a special mini-lake boating lake, or at boat-building workshops dreaming up and crafting their own vessels.

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A Family Daytrip Adventure

Things To Do

A Family Daytrip Adventure

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:

  • Valencia Luncheria is a gorgeous Venezuelan restaurant that is very approachable, lively and delicious.
  • Overton’s Seafood is a seafood shack right on the water known for fried seafood baskets and burgers in a family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Mr. Frosty’s Ice Cream Shop is a one-minute walk from Overton’s Seafood, located right on the water and a local favorite for summertime treats. 

    Tips for this trip:

    • The Aquarium and Harbor Loop are stroller friendly. Sheffield Island is not so much for very small children and babies. You can bring food into the Aquarium and on the Ferry tour.
    • Make sure to bring appropriate clothing and footwear on the Island tour, the boat ride gets quite cool even in the hot summer months. Flip flops are not allowed because of the very rocky shore.

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