The Best Things to Do in and Around Stamford, Connecticut

If visiting Stamford, make the Glass House a priority on your must-see list
If visiting Stamford, make the Glass House a priority on your must-see list | © B.O’Kane / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Christy Taylor
10 August 2020

A business hub, Stamford is home to the headquarters of three Fortune 500 companies. It has a bustling downtown area with bars, restaurants, shopping and live entertainment. However, North Stamford feels more like a New England town with the Stamford Museum and Nature Center and the Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens, so visitors to the city have the best of both worlds.

Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens

Botanical Garden
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For those looking to slow down a little and appreciate nature’s beauty, Bartlett is the perfect place to stop. It’s hard to imagine that a busy metropolitan city sits just outside this lush, green oasis. Furry four-legged friends are allowed to investigate the 93 acres (38ha), including 12 gardens, and you can take a self-guided audiovisual tour by downloading Bartlett’s app. Miles of trails go past flowing rivers, manicured gardens and wetlands. It’s open to the public every day of the year, and admission is free unless you’re attending a special event or summer concert.

Stamford Museum and Nature Center

Museum
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Originally the summer home of luxury department store founder Henri Bendel, this site now focuses on art, history, nature and agriculture. The art museum has changing exhibits throughout the year, and on the grounds, you can admire several Italian sculptures. The Heckscher Farm is home to an organic garden, a maple sugar house and an array of farm animals, including cows, sheep, goats and even llamas. The Overbrook Nature Center has miles of trails to explore, and kids will love Nature’s Playground. Spend hours watching the playful, wrestling otters at the Edith and Robert Graham Otter Pond.

The Glass House

Architectural Landmark
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In neighboring New Canaan stands the unique structure known as the Glass House. Designed in 1949 by architect Philip Johnson, it’s a single open-plan room surrounded by glass walls. The dwelling is 55ft (17m) long, 33ft (10m) wide and 1,815sqft (167sqm). The only private space within the house is the bathroom, concealed within a brick cylinder. Johnson lived at the house until his passing in 2005. Visitors can also view the Studio, the Painting Gallery and various other structures, art pieces and sculptures on the grounds. Tickets must be reserved in advance.

Half Full Brewery

Brewery
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This cozy craft microbrewery is a bit off the beaten track in an unpretentious industrial building. The tasting room offers 12 brews on tap, complete with limited-release and tasting-room exclusives, and they’re available in pints or flights. The Half Full Brewery doesn’t have a restaurant but rather a partnership with Bareburger, and in the warmer months, various food trucks stop by. Kids and dogs are welcome, and the patio is open to enjoy in the summer. Beer lovers can take a little of Half Full home with branded merchandise such as tees and hoodies.

The Antique District

Shop
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In Stamford’s East Side neighborhood is the Antique District, ideal for those hunting for that unique find. On Canal Street, Greenwich Living is chock-full of quality objects and has supplied pieces for Anne Hathaway, Beyoncé and Tommy Hilfiger. The massive four-story Hamptons Antique Galleries feature collections of items from the 17th century to the mid-century. Nearby on John Street is the surprisingly modern-looking whitewashed exterior of the Collective, a 13,000sqft (1,208sqm) space with both vintage and antique items. On Jefferson Street, the Antique and Artisan Gallery is beautifully curated and well laid out, making it easy to pick that special piece.

FISH Restaurant + Bar

Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
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In downtown Stamford lies this acclaimed seafood restaurant with an outdoor patio. The airy wood-and-glass space has a full-bar area, which offers an extensive drinks menu with a daily featured cocktail and is perfect for enjoying its daily happy hour – voted one of the best in Connecticut. FISH strives to be at the forefront of new American global cuisine. In addition to daily specials, popular favorites include oysters, swordfish lettuce wraps, lobster grilled cheese bites and bouillabaisse. Make sure to try the customizable “Naked Fish.”

These recommendations were updated on August 10, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.