Home to four of Connecticut’s
largest cities, Fairfield County is known for its seemingly never ending list of attractions and points of interest. Whether you’re here to stay or just passing through, we profile 10 cultural things to do and see in Fairfield County.
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
Unlike any other aquarium, the Maritime Aquarium focuses on one body of water: the Long Island Sound. Exploring related animals and conservation issues from around the world and with 34 exhibits featuring more than 1,200 marine animals of 259 species, the Maritime Aquarium strives to inspire people of all ages to appreciate and protect the Long Island Sound ecosystem as well as the global environment. Close encounters with intertidal creatures such as jellyfish, sharks, and rays educate visitors about the aquatic life of Long Island Sound and its watershed. Friendly and knowledgeable staff and volunteers offer visitors personal interactions like no other. Climb aboard the country’s only hybrid-electric vessel for an educational cruise around Long Island Sound. Be sure not to miss the one of a kind larger-than-life movie experience at Connecticut’s biggest IMAX Theater. This theater helps to extend the aquarium’s educational themes by showing films such as National Parks Adventure and A Beautiful Planet, in addition to exciting blockbusters.
The Maritime Aquarium, 10 North Water Street, Norwalk, CT, USA +1 203 852 0700
Shark Tank at The Maritime Aquarium | Courtesy of the Maritime Aquarium/Flickr
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo
Take a walk on the wild side at Connecticut’s only zoo. For over 90 years, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has been committed to the preservation of endangered animals. As a proud participant of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), the Beardsley Zoo is dedicated to heightening the importance of conservation and preservation of animals. Featuring over 300 animals (primarily North and South American species) as well as several endangered species, a tropical rainforest with a free-flight aviary, and a New England farmyard, zoo-goers have the opportunity to see rare animals such as an endangered Amur (Siberian) tiger, Andean Condor, Ocelots, and more. Knowledgeable staff and volunteers will enhance your experience. Before you leave, be sure to stop at the carousal for a spin. Choose from the menagerie of animals like the panda bear, tiger, puffin or your traditional rabbit. Bring the family – it’s sure to be a hit for everyone.
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, CT, USA +1 203 394 6565
Viktor | Courtesy of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo
Connecticut Audubon Society
The Connecticut Audubon Society’s 19 sanctuaries offer a range of ecosystems and habitats, in which you can be one with nature. As you observe birds and wildlife, hike on trails where signs are provided for additional information, insights, and unique perspectives. Most of the sanctuaries are open to the public every day year-round, from dawn to dusk. All centers offer educational programs as well as events for adults and children alike. Established in 1914 by Mabel Osgood Wright, conservationist and founder of the Connecticut Audubon Society, the Birdcraft Sanctuary in Fairfield is the oldest private songbird sanctuary in the United States. It is also the headquarters of the Connecticut Audubon Society. This six-acre site began as a refuge to attract, harbor, and feed migratory and resident birds. Over 120 bird species have been recorded on its grounds. Travel up the road to the Center of Fairfield, conveniently located on Burr Street. Here you can walk through the Birds of Prey Compound, relax in the butterfly garden, and learn about local conservation through live education animals.
The Birdcraft Sanctuary, 314 Unquowa Road, Fairfield, CT, USA +1 203 259 0416
Center at Fairfield, 2325 Burr Street, Fairfield, CT, USA +1 203 259 6305
Bird Craft Museum | Courtesy of the Connecticut Audubon Society
If you’re visiting Fairfield County, this is the place to be. Stamford Downtown is vibrant and inviting with its broad array of shops, restaurants, services, arts, education and events, along with great music, great dancing, and great times all year round. Be sure to check out the outdoor concert series, the perfect place for that after work crowd. Their concerts include live music from national and regional headliners like Third Eye Blind and O.A.R. Come be part of the scene.
Downtown Stamford, CT, USA +1 203 348 5285
Westport Country Playhouse
What was originally built as a tannery in 1835 has ‘splendidly’ transformed into the nationally-recognized Westport Country Playhouse. Founded in 1931 by New York theater producer Lawrence Langner, the Westport Country Playhouse is open for enjoyment and community events year-round. Some of these events include live theater experiences of the highest quality, family festivities, Script in Hand play readings, and special performances for students and teachers. This beautiful and historic playhouse has stayed true to its mission to enrich, enlighten, and engage the community through the power of professionally-produced theater worth talking about. Today, the nonprofit Westport Country Playhouse serves as a cultural nexus for patrons, artists, and students, and is a treasured resource for the State of Connecticut. Call for more information on events and performances.
Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport, CT, USA +1 203 227 4177
Michael Urie in Buyer & Cellar at Westport Country Playhouse (2016) | © Carol Rosegg
Jones Family Farms
Farmers' Market, American, $$$
Jones Family Farms
Nestled in the White Hills of Shelton, Jones Family Farms impresses visitors with its 19th-century dairy barn and homestead farmhouse. The farmers of the 400-acre working farm invite families to visit and harvest seasonal crops such as strawberries, blueberries, pumpkins, Christmas trees and more. For a unique culinary experience check out Jones’ kitchen and winery classes. Standing firmly by their mission: ‘Be good to the land and the land will be good to you’, the beautiful countryside, with its neat stone walls and well-maintained fields, are the result of efforts by several generations of Jones family farmers.
Jones Family Farms, 606 Walnut Tree Hill Road, Shelton, CT, USA +1 203 929 8425
Consistently voted the ‘Best Museum in Fairfield County’ by the local media, the Bruce Museum of Greenwich offers a changing array of exhibits and educational programs that promote the understanding and appreciation of art and science. In 1998, the Bruce Museum received accreditation from the American Association of Museums – an honor granted to fewer than five percent of all museums. This regionally-based world-class institution plays an integral role in the cultural life of area residents, attracting approximately 70,000 visitors annually. Sitting high on a hill overlooking Greenwich Harbor, this museum offers permanent galleries such as Life Between the Tides, Formation of Our Land and The Earth’s Minerals.
Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT, USA +1 203 869 0376
Place de Rome at Night, by Theodore Earl Butler | Courtesy of the Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection
National Helicopter Museum
The birthplace of the American Helicopter Industry and home of Sikorsky Aircraft Company, Stratford’s National Helicopter Museum is a must-visit. This museum collects and exhibits images and objects related to the long history of the aviation and helicopter industry in Stratford. The museum traces the evolution of the rotary wing starting from the simple design of the boomerang to early motorized experiments to modern helicopters of today. Other exhibits include current photos and models of aircraft by Bell, Boeing, Kaman Aircraft, Robinson Helicopter, and Sikorsky. Visitors can discover their inner pilot in the working cockpit that features actual gears and peddles of the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter.
National Helicopter Museum, 2480 Main Street, Stratford, CT, USA +1 203 767 1123
helicopter | © Steven/Flickr
Soaring Adventures of America
Let your spirit soar at Soaring Adventures of America. This unique and exciting business offers hot air balloon rides, skydiving and glider rides for those who crave a little more adventure. What started out as a small network of gliderports up and down the East Coast has grown into the largest recreational aviation network in the country, headquartered in Wilton, CT. Fly above the treetops in a hot air balloon and enjoy a champagne toast upon landing, an old ballooning tradition. Take a ride in a sleek silent glider, equipped with dual controlled joysticks for the chance to do part of the flying, or climb up to 13,000 feet and jump out of a plane with an instructor for the rush of a free-fall. For more unlimited excitement go to their website.
Soaring Adventures of America, 112 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT, USA +1 800 762 7464
This 5.9-mile hike will take you through the upper block of Paugussett State Park in Newtown, CT. Lillinonah Trail is considered an easy hike with few sections of rugged terrain. Some notable features include the Pond Brook inlet, Lake Lillinonah, The Great Oak, Shepaug Dam, Maple Sugaring and on occasion eagles. The picturesque Housatonic River looms in the background through the forest. This trail is open year-round and primarily used for hiking, backpacking, picnicking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Lake Lillinonah is named for the legend of a tragic romance between a Native American of the Pootatuck/Paugussett tribe maiden and a European white colonist. This trail is part of the Blue-Blazed hiking trail system in the lower Housatonic River valley in Fairfield County, located entirely in Newtown.
Lillinonah Trail, Upper Paugussett State Forest, Fairfield, CT, USA +1 860 424 3000