Visiting Norwalk, Connecticut this winter and in need of things to do in the area? We got you covered. To find this information, most consumers (including us) go online and find town websites claiming lists of the “top things to do”. We, locals “rip all the spots” and if you are looking for a guide you have come to the right place. Since we can’t exactly be your chauffeur (unless you are in the market to buy real estate) we put together a list of winter activities/destinations to help you navigate the area. Living in Fairfield County most of our lives you become acquainted with the landscape and secret spots. Whether you are visiting from New York or another state or perhaps local yourself…we have gathered some top destinations that could peak your interest. Let’s get started.
- South Norwalk (SONO)
Arriving in South Norwalk you will find a quaint old downtown that used to be called “Old Well”. Most of the brick architecture is from the late 1800’s and the neighborhood is classified as SONO. Take a stroll down Main Street and Washington Street (main drags) and you will find an array of shops ranging from coffee, clothing boutiques and hip bar/restaurants. There are also art galleries along with beer gastro pubs to a few old school Irish bars as well such as Donovan’s and Oneills’s .
Some of our favorite local spots are:
We give this crew a lot of credit by opening some of the best restaurants not only in Norwalk but Greenwich too. If you are looking for a great dinner or late night dancing and fun with a DJ spinning, you just found it.
Ambiance of The Spread is hip trendy and cool……..Tell the owners above the Dillard’s sent ya. Just don’t put it on our tab!
- Tablao has one of the best happy hours in South Norwalk. Half off tapas, beer, wine and sangria from 3-6pm. Our favorite tapas are the chicken empanadas, steak tartare with quail egg, mussels, meatballs and the calamari.
2. Maritime Aquarium (South Norwalk)
The Maritime is one of the largest attractions not only in Norwalk but the state of Connecticut. Annual attendance averages a little over 500K with roughly 100K from New York State. Make sure to check out their website for ticket information and packages. In addition, make sure to check out all of the exhibits such as “Ocean Beyond The Sound” that plays home to sand tiger sharks among other shark species.
Maritime Main Entrance Festive Front Lobby
3. Maritime IMAX Theater (South Norwalk)
Nothing like seeing a movie in the IMAX Theater which is within the Maritime Aquarium. During the winter holiday months movies such as Polar Express are often featured.
Maritime IMAX Entrance
4. SONO Ice House (South Norwalk)
The SONO Ice House has public skate nights for the family. Another great winter activity. If you like to ice skate outside visit Westport Pal Rink at Longshore (It’s our top pick as you can catch some water views while skating).
5. Sky Zone Trampoline Park (South Norwalk)
Indoor trampoline park featuring freestyle bouncing, dodge-ball, fitness programs & more. Check out their site: Sky Zone
6. Lockwood Mathews Mansion (Central Norwalk – Mathews Park)
Great place to take the family on a tour as the mansion is currently holiday decorated. The mansion was built by railroad/banking tycoon LeGrand Lockwood. The home was used in the filming of The Stepford Wives. If you have seen the movie… remember the staircase? The architecture of this home is simply beautiful and a lost art of the industrial revolution.
7. Stepping Stones Museum (Central Norwalk – Mathews Park)
Stepping Stones is not your typical children’s museum. Over the years we have been to this facility for amazing fundraisers. We love how the museum also gives back to families of children with special needs so that they can have an opportunity to view and enjoy the museum’s exhibits (free admission applies). There are many unique exhibits throughout the museum ranging from exhibits by age, energy lab, build it, tot town, express yourself, color coaster to many more.
Entrance of Stepping Stones Museum
8. Norwalk Historical Society – Mill Hill (Wall Street Neighborhood – Downtown)
Located in downtown Norwalk, the Wall Street neighborhood is located above the Head of the Harbor. The Norwalk Historical Society rests in the old town house which was built in 1835 and is the oldest brick building in Norwalk. The grounds consist of the third oldest cemetery along with an old school house and law office. In addition, you can walk the grounds and there are many sign posts that provide written historical educational information about this great town. The Historical Society hosts many great functions throughout the year that range from Halloween haunting events, rum and beer tastings to many great educational historical lectures. If interested, sign up for their mailing list!
One you are finished visiting the Historical Society…you might want to try a very unique pizza – visit Fat Cat Pie Co. Just walk down the hill on Wall Street going West and it’s on your left. Great wine selection too. Our favorite pizza is served with sausage, seasonal spicy peppers, minced onion, tomatoes and cooked well done. We also get the salad with prosciutto, nuts and cheese. The house dressing is off the charts. YUM. Tell Tony we sent ya.
9. Wall Street Theater (Wall Street Neighborhood – Downtown)
Originally built in 1914 and opened the doors as the Regent theater then later changed hands during the Great Depression and in the 1930’s opened as the Norwalk Theater. The theater had a 50 year run and closed in 1989. Thereafter it changed hands many times as The Marquee, The Globe & The Roxy which eventually closed. The theater sat vacant for a good 15 plus years and was recently renovated to its original former glory. The 700 seat theater has brought in many great acts ranging from Blue Oyster Cult to family oriented shows such as The Nut Cracker. For more information visit their website: Wall Street Theater
If you are hungry after the show you can go directly across the street to Bar Sugo. Excellent Italian food. Our favorite small plates are the meatballs and calamari. If we get pizza it’s always the margherita.
10. My Three Sons (Wall Street Neighborhood – Downtown)
Great place to take the kids as My Three Sons caters to children with over 100 games and simulators and rides.
If you are hungry after letting the kids play and want to visit the best pub in the neighborhood take the family to BJ Ryans. Food is always consistent. If you are looking for a beer and a burger, this is the spot. We favor the chicken nachos, Las Vegas salad & Cobb salad. They have excellent fluffy omelets for Sunday brunch too.
11. Stew Leonards
You can’t come to Norwalk and not visit Stew’s. It’s such an institution in the community. From food specialty items to holiday Christmas trees (you can pick your tree and they will help you load it). As soon as you walk in the store you will be hit with aroma’s of all the baked pastry goods. Makes your mouth water. Their motto is farm fresh and that it is. It’s neat for the kids as they can watch milk being bottled to fun characters singing around the store. It’s the most unique grocery store experience you’ll ever have. So much to look at and so many great treats to buy. Enjoy!
12. Calf Pasture Beach For a Walk (East Norwalk)
During the winter months entrance to Calf Pasture Beach is free. For more information on town beaches you can peruse our blog post about Norwalk Connecticut Beaches….What You Need to Know.
William Clark Fishing Pier Ripka’s Beach Cafe
Ripka’s during the winter is generally open Friday & Saturdays. Make sure to call. What’s cool is that they offer Smore’s nights by the fire.
13. Partner’s Cafe (East Norwalk)
If you are looking for a great dinner or pizza and beer Partner’s Cafe can’t be beat. Old school ambiance with great friendly family service. Even though it’s winter you can still take advantage of their outdoor patio which offers heat lamps and a fire pit.
14. Where to Stay?
There are a few hotels around town. Our top suggestion would be the Norwalk Inn. We have referred many clients and family members. The location is key as the Inn is situated between Downtown and South Norwalk. Rates are reasonable and you can walk to downtown (Wall Street neighborhood). Also on the grounds and a separate part of the Inn is the Historic Guest House which was built in mid 1700’s. It’s one of a handful of properties that survived British General Tryon’s order to set a blaze and burn the town of Norwalk.
Entrance to the Norwalk Inn and The Guest House
This is a great starting point however there are many more suggestions we can provide not only in Norwalk but Fairfield County…just give us a call and we would be happy to help. In addition, if you are thinking about buying a home in Norwalk please read our coverage on Why The Time is Now.