In search of the best and fun things to do in Norwalk, CT?
Norwalk is a little town located in the county of Fairfield, Connecticut. It boasts of various attractions and offers a tranquil escape from the bustle of the big city.
Check out the National Historic Landmark of the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, one of the top survivors of Second Empire-style country houses in America.
Don’t forget to visit the Maritime Aquarium and, for the children’s sake, stop by the SoNo Switch Tower Museum and Stepping Stones Museum for Children.
Some attractions require that you make reservations, and some restaurants currently offer pickup only. Here is a list of the best things to do in Norwalk, CT.
Things to Do in Norwalk, CT
1. South Norwalk Historic District (SoNo)Your trip to Norwalk would be incomplete without visiting South Norwalk, an eclectic neighborhood in Norwalk where a beautiful waterfront merges with urban hip to create a jazzy, exciting hub.
Also known as SoNo, South Norwalk Historic District was originally a settlement called Old Well, but today it is a colorful, vibrant area.
SoNo is home to more than 30 restaurants offering all kinds of cuisine from Asian to Mexican, buzzing bars and nightclubs, an array of museums, galleries, theaters, trendy stores and boutiques, and sightseeing attractions.
Hosted by The Maritime Aquarium, visitors can explore the aqua-world of the earth’s ocean and rivers. There are beautiful scenic walks along the Norwalk River and Harbor, which you can explore on foot or bike.
You would also see a distribution of pubs, beer gardens, and wine bars where you can relax over drinks with friends and let the day roll.
If you are wondering what to do in Norwalk, this is a fantastic place to start your exploration.
2. Music Theatre of Connecticut (MTC)
If you are a music lover, you can boost your Norwalk vacation experience by attending a concert at the distinguished Music Theatre of Connecticut.
Since its formation in 1987, the MTC has been bringing the excitement of musical productions to both the locals and visitors of Norwalk.
They usually have an annual series of excellent productions which feature professional musicians from New York (referred to as the MTC Main Stage) and various shows by the student and local amateur musicians.
The MTC is also the host to a School of Music where interested children from the age of 4 to high school attend. Do well to check details of scheduled performances, and you could purchase your tickets.
Address: 509 Westport Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851
3. Check out SoNo 1420 American Craft Distillers
Add a bit of surprise and fun to your Norwalk itinerary by checking out SoNo, which makes use of alternative grains like hemp to produce a massive range of prime craft spirits.
SoNo 1420 is an award-winning distillery that recently bagged double-gold at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition, one of the most prestigious global spirit competitions.
They welcome visitors to come and experience some of their superb cocktails and spirits, including gins, vodkas, and whiskeys.
SoNo Distillery offers tastings and tours, where you will visit the apothecary laboratory, see the distillation equipment, explore their historic premises, and taste some of the best end products.
There is an age restriction; however, you have to be above 21 to partake.
Address: 19 Day Street, South Norwalk, CT 06854
4. Norwalk must-visit: Lockwood-Mathews Mansion MuseumIllustrating the beauty and splendor of the Victorian Era, the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum stands as a superb example of a Second Empire-style country home.
This house was built in the 1860s by railroad baron LeGrand Lockwood. It is the most significant example of this style of design and architecture and has been marked as a National Historic Landmark since 1971.
The mansion boasts antique furniture and exquisite Gilded Age interiors with features of a unique holiday display of “The Mansion’s Toys and Trains Story” and several excellent exhibits, including “The Stairs Below: The Mansion’s Domestic Servants, 1868 – 1938.”
Entrance into the museum is from early April through early January, and guests can take on guided tours from Wednesdays through Sundays.
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is one of the best things to do in Norwalk.
Address: 295 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06850
5. Explore Oak Hills Park
The scenic Oak Hills Park boasts many attractive recreational facilities and is amongst exciting things to do in Norwalk, CT.
In the middle of the park are the beautifully tended joggling fairways of the Oak Hills Park Golf Course. You will find very lovely joggling fairways following the lie of the land on this particular 18-hole golf course.
The golf course was established back in 1969 and features well-established gardens and mature trees, and some challenging yet beautiful water features.
Aside from the golf course, there are two walking/hiking/nature trails in the park. The Oak Hills Tennis Center (having eight clay tennis courts), a restaurant, and Pro Shop.
Address: Norwalk, CT 06850
6. Visit the Maritime Aquarium
Formerly referred to as the Maritime Center, the Maritime Aquarium is a family-friendly aquarium located in the famous neighborhood of SoNo.
This aquarium houses more than 7,000 fish and marine mammals, including turtles, sharks, seals, river otters, and others. These animals have their recreated habitats that replicate their natural terrain in the Long Island Sound.
There is a state-of-the-art 169-seat 4D theater and three touch tanks in the aquarium where visitors can see and relate with sharks, stingrays, sea jellies, stars, crabs, and other coastal creatures.
The Maritime Aquarium also provides diverse kinds of fun marine-based activities for visitors to enjoy, such as special exhibits, year-round study cruises on the 64-foot hybrid-electric catamaran “R/V Spirit of the Sound,” and educational programs.
Address: 10 North Water Street
7. The Center for Contemporary Print Making
To different people, the Center for Contemporary Print Making defines different things.
For visitors and residents of Norwalk, the center offers an interactive exhibition space housed in what used to be a majestic stone 19th-century carriage house.
There is a vibrant and interactive communal workplace provided by the center where artists and printmakers with talent can share ideas and creativity.
Upcoming artists can learn from the workshops and lectures hosted by professionals in the printmaking field.
You will find at least 300 beautiful works in the permanent collection of this center, all of which were donated.
Address: Matthews Park, 299 West Ave, Norwalk, CT 06850
8. Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Stepping Stones Museum for Children is one lovely place to visit, especially for the younger folks. It provides a space that encourages lifelong learning for children through diverse educational-based displays, exhibits, and programs.
The museum aims at enriching the lives of the children through education as well as improving their understanding of the world. You will find an array of hands-on, interactive exhibits that children to inquire, discover, explore, and learn.
Special exhibits Coaster,” a mesmerizing 27-foot kinetic gigantic mechanical toy that imploys energy, gravity, color, motion, and light to spin, whirl, and captivate visitors of all ages.
Others include “Energy Lab,” a million-dollar exhibit that offers an excellent way for kids to learn about the science of energy, and, Build It!,” which enables children to delve into the world of architectural design and construction in a fantastic structure.
There is something for the entire family in this museum, from professional development courses to school and groups programs.
Address: Mathews Park, 303 West Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06850
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9. Enjoy fresh bagels: Sugar and Olives
Trendy, a restaurant in Norwalk, is Sugar and Olives.
Do you know that Bad Ass Bagels, the best sourdough bagels you have ever tasted in your life, happens to be created here as well?
You can imagine consuming a Bad Ass Bagel in 4 minutes or less, which took good four days to prepare from scratch.
The bagels came to light during the Covid 19 Pandemic lockdown and became so successful that they are now the “bread and butter” of Sugar and Olives.
You must anticipate enjoying the freshest local Connecticut produced and served in delicious creative ways. On the other side, you can order bagel pick-ups twice a week.
Address: 21 Lois St, Norwalk, CT 06851
10. The Spread
The Spread is a casual, family-friendly restaurant started and owned by four friends to share their great passion for food and drink with the public.
The restaurant features a modern, open-plan dining space with an exposed ceiling, industrial-style décor, and glowing wooden tables and chairs.
The laid-back and welcoming ambiance at The Spread is second to none.
Another exciting thing is the daily-changing menu. Here, dishes are made with seasonal, locally-sourced cuisine, ranging from freshly made soups and salads smaller to plates and vegetables.
Other are delicious sharing platters of cheeses and charcuterie, mains of various meats, seafood, poultry, and pasta dishes, and delightful desserts.
The bar serves craft beers, wines, and signature cocktails from around the globe, which patrons can relish during the vibrant, happy hour at exceptional prices.
Address: 127 Washington St, Norwalk, CT 06854
11. Learn about the Cranberry Park and Gallagher Estate
Located in the center of the 227-acre Cranberry Park is the stately and historic Gallagher Mansion – an incredible sight to behold.
It is a beautiful Tudor-Revival mansion built almost if not entirely of stone blocks. Modeled on the town’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the mansion is beautifully adorned with hand-printed stained glass windows and a slate roof.
This great house was built during the Great Depression and had several technological marvels as part of its features. They were not commonplace and included an elevator, an intercom system, and an incinerator.
You can join visitors in enjoying the surrounding park trails, picnic area, playground, and sculpture garden though interested visitors go for a guided tour of the mansion.
Address: 300 Grumman Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851
12. Visit Norwalk Community College Art Galleries
Norwalk Community College Art Galleries (NCC) has two individual art galleries open for public access free of charge.
There is the main NCC Art Gallery on the first floor of the East Campus. Here you can admire a collection of modern artworks by artists recognized at the regional and national levels.
The second gallery is the West Campus Gallery, where you can visit exhibitions that are usually circled around local issues.
Every year, each of the galleries hosts about five exhibitions, including a Student Art Exhibition and a High School Art Invitational.
Address: 188 Richards Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854
13. Check out Fairfield County Antique and Design Center
If you enjoy spending time admiring and seeking out lovely top-notch décor pieces, then head to the Fairfield County Antique and Design Center for a memorable few hours.
The center houses over 78 individual dealers specializing in art, home décor, and fine antiques. You will find just about anything you need to adorn your home in styles to match any taste and budget here.
There is also a dazzling art gallery that features paintings, photos, and sculptures by artists from all parts of the country.
Don’t miss out on Wednesday evening antique auction, and it is the perfect opportunity to try and strike a bargain.
Address:39 Knight Street, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-826-8575
14. Norwalk must-visit: SoNo Switch Tower Museum
The SoNo Switch Tower Museum is situated in the wonderfully restored Switch Tower initially built in 1896.
The museum exhibits the history of the “towers” adopted by railroads to house the system used to switch trains from one track to another.
At the museum, you will learn about the story of “Signal Station 44,” and its 88-year old history, as well as the exciting job and those who switched the tracks.
Signal Station 44, or Tower 44, was an essential cog in the crucial service of the region between New Haven and New York City, as it provided an observatory for train movements and track control assignments in the Norwalk area.
Right from its inception in 1896 until retirement in 1984, The Tower worked continuously without stopping. The museum offers a lovely outing for anyone interested in trains and the railroad system.
Address: 77 Washington Street, South Norwalk CT
15. Tavern at Graybarns
The next destination is Tavern at Graybarns, a restaurant led by Chef Ben Freemole. He looks forward to thrilling your taste buds with perfectly prepared farm-to-table New American cuisine.
Its historic building has a bright dining room and bar area that provides a perfect backdrop to some delicious dishes lovingly executed using the freshest and finest Hudson Valley produce.
Feel free to start your dining experience with one of the exciting and peculiar cocktails while you pick your favorite dishes from their enticing menu.
You will be served wines by glass or bottle, and there is also craft beer on tap. In the end, you can always round off your lunch or dinner with sweet treats.
Address: 194 Perry Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06850
16. See the Norwalk WPA Murals
If you are a lover of art and history, Norwalk would be fitting, thanks to its treatment. You will find and admire one of the most extensive collections of the remaining depression-era art murals in the country here.
The murals were all impressive and were created between 1935 and 1941 to beautify public schools, post offices, and libraries.
Norwalk city has no fewer than 50 of these gems, and a great majority can be seen at the City Hall, formerly the Norwalk High School.
The Norwalk Historical Society offers informative and entertaining guided tours. They would be pleased to welcome and show these murals to visitors.
Address: Norwalk City Hall, 125 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851
17. O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant
This city is not short of food spots at all, and we would see here in O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant – one of the fun things to do in Norwalk, CT.
Built with a very welcoming and comfortable interior, O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Restaurant is a purpose-built carved wooden bar, several intimate nooks, and a stone fireplace for romantic dining.
Create a winning combination by adding the legendary Irish conviviality. The pub-style food is highly recommended and is always served with a beaming smile.
Some of their picks include their fall-off-the-bone rib starter, Fish Pie, Shepherd’s Pie, Chips and Ale-battered Fish, and diverse kinds of sandwiches and sliders.
The Sunday Brunch is very popular, and lots of regulars check-in on Sunday evenings because of the live music played while dining.
Address: 93 N Main Street, Norwalk, CT 06854
18. Have fun at Sky Zone Norwalk
As a parent in Norwalk, taking your kids to spend some time at the Sky Zone Trampoline Park would make you one of the most popular parents on the block.
Sky Zone is more than just a massive trampoline park and boasts lots of other adventure activities all in one place.
You can enjoy activities like Sky Climb vertical obstacle course, thrilling Trapeze and Swing, Free Climbing, and more which would, in turn, groom your jumping, jousting, climbing, and balancing skills.
Every activity here is great fun, and serious athletes can also upgrade their skills by taking on challenges.
No matter what the conditions, Sky Zone is open every day and is perfect for your parties.
Address: 360 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Norwalk, CT 06854
19. Play mental games at Panic Room
The Panic Room is an escape game house situated in Norwalk. You need not panic if you want to escape the Panic Room in time; all required is a clear mind and nerves of steel.
Visit here with your family or group of trusted friends, put your heads together and figure out a series of complicated puzzles if you want any chance of reaping the rewards.
There are separate themed rooms for both teens and adult categories, and both are fun and fast.
Consider Panic Room for birthday parties, bachelorette parties, and corporate team-building events. It is an ideal experience.
The plots have been carefully mapped out to render a fully-immersive, fun experience for all participants.
Address: 37 North Avenue #107, Norwalk, CT 06851.
20. Explore Sheffield Island Lighthouse and Nature Trail
The Sheffield Island Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse built in 1868. It is based at the end of the Norwalk Islands and uses an oil lamp to signal ships of the wavering shoreline.
Visitors can check out the lighthouse and its charming surrounding area through a guided walk offered by the Norwalk Seaport Association’s Friends of the Norwalk Islands.
You will get a delightful knowledge about the history and heritage of the lighthouse and Sheffield Island. The excursion includes a tour of the 10-room tower presumed by a scenic 45-minute boat ride to the island
You would also stroll along the nature trail into the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge, which houses a variety of waterfowl and other birds. This refuge is located adjacent to the Isle.
Take a stroll along the rock beach, pick seashells, and have a picnic lunch in the stunning surroundings.
Address: 40 N. Water Street, Seaport Dock, Norwalk, 06854
21. SoNo Seaport Seafood
SoNo Seaport Seafood Restaurant is iconic in Norwalk and started with a small fish market that overlooked the historic Norwalk Harbor in 1983.
Following popular demand, the restaurant kickstarted in 1984 and has been attracting seafood enthusiasts ever since.
Clams and Oysters have always been the top draw-card, and SoNo Seaport exists as one of the best places to enjoy these ocean gems.
Lobsters, shrimp, clams, and oysters are prepared in various styles; there is always fresh market fish, and a little NY Strip Steak dedicated carnivores.
The food here never disappoints, and you cannot beat the complementing Harbor-side setting
Address: 100 Water Street, Norwalk, CT 06851
22. Romanacci Cafe
Romanacci Cafe is an original Italian restaurant in Norwalk that brings a bit of Italy into the city. It is owned and operated by brothers Graziano and Maurizio Ricci, the same owners of Osteria Romana.
Meaning “from Rome” in Italian, Romanacci Cafe is a casual, family-friendly establishment that offers a range of quick, notable Italian bites, light meals, snacks, and coffee.
This eatery is the place to go if you want to enjoy tasty homemade pizza, pastries, pasta, Panini, and freshly brewed coffee with friends and family.
Their sandwiches are piled with layers of fresh meats, salads, cheeses, and vegetables. Pizzas are handmade and prepared to perfection in a wood-fired oven, and pasta is twirled from ancient Roman recipes and paired with mouthwatering sauces.
You would enjoy the delicious freshly baked pastries served with any of the Italian selected wines and beers on their small bar menu.
Address: 250 Westport Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851
23. Take a tour of Sheffield Island Ferry
From the west bank of the Norwalk River, just opposite the Veterans’ Memorial Park, one can pick a ferry guiding to the Norwalk Islands in the Long Island Sound.
It will take about 45 minutes to pass through the various tiny islands in this archipelago before you arrive at Sheffield Island.
During the peak of the summer, guests access services every day of the week, including three on weekends.
While on transit, the skipper will highlight the various landmarks on both sides of Long Island Sound, including the Manhattan skyline (depending on the right conditions).
After that, it’s about 90 minutes on Sheffield Island, where you visit the lighthouse, walking trails, picnicking, and combing the shore for horseshoe crabs, shells, and sea glass.
24. Eat out: Match
The match stands out as one of the first restaurants in the exciting SoNo neighborhood and has been serving superb seasonal cuisine to patrons for over 15 years.
It is amongst the top things to do in Norwalk, CT, as the restaurant presents culinary delight and consistency in a fun, relaxed environment, thereby winning over casual diners and critics alike.
Owned by Chef Matt Storch, this restaurant has a menu of seasonal and globally influenced cuisine that has been prepared with locally sourced ingredients uniquely and uncommonly.
The match is designed in a rustic urban style and features an ample and airy dining room that stands at the center of the eatery. It has a gorgeous interior of walnut floors, antique wood surfaces, industrial-inspired chandeliers, and exposed brick walls.
The uniquely original menu feature twisty classics such as “New School Raw Bar,” plates of tuna tartare and baked clams, “Nibbles” of Baja Fish Tacos,” “Smaller Cravings” of Octopus Frites, and “Larger Cravings” of Pork Shank, Osso Bucco, and Swordfish.
You would also enjoy a rare cocktail program offered here as it features a portioned list of classic cocktails as well as the “new school classics.
Address: 98 Washington St, Norwalk, CT 06854
25. Participate in Norwalk Oyster Festival
The Norwalk Oyster Festival takes place on the first weekend after Labor Day. Here, Oyster Town celebrates the long history of its oyster industry and raises funds for all sorts of good causes.
Now in its fifth decade, the Norwalk Oyster Festival promises three days of arts and crafts, live music, and lots of fun activities for the younger ones, and, of course, oysters galore.
You can witness a Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show and even a stunt show by the Nerveless Nocks.
There’s a craft beer tent, an international food court, and even an oyster slurping contest. On Sundays, visitors can enjoy discounts on entrance, food, and rides for families with kids.
Some of the names to have played at the Norwalk Oyster Festival include Little Richard, Willie Nelson, Tito Puente, Cheap Trick, and The Monkees.
26. See animals Stew Leonard’s Norwalk
Another lovely treat for you is Stew Leonard’s Norwalk. It started in 1969 as a modest farm diary, but these days, there is not close to that.
Stew Leonard now has an expanse of the network, making it one of the largest dairy stores and grocers across the globe.
Stew Leonard’s flagship store in Norwalk is the perfect shopping destination for families. They love seeing the animatronics farm animals and even stop by the petting zoo for interactive fun with the actual farm animals.
In the Stew’s, you will find absolutely everything related to farm-fresh produce, including vegetables, seafood, meat, wines, and more.
They are open seven days a week.
Address: 100 Westport Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851
27. Have fun at Calf Pasture Beach and Shady Beach
If you think of where to spend a sunny day in Norwalk, there are two excellent choices in Calf Pasture Beach and Shady Beach.
The tranquil waters of Long Island Sound places make these two beaches ideal areas, especially for family days out.
Located at the eastern point of Norwalk, Calf Pasture Beach offers a good variety of outdoor recreational facilities. You can enjoy the boat launch, play volleyball, bocce, or basketball, go kayaking, and have fun in the skate park and children’s playground.
Then to the east of Calf Pasture is Shady Beach – an excellent spot for outdoor grills and picnicking.
Both areas make out a list of top things to do in Norwalk, and they are fun-filled with walkers and runners all around
Address: Calf Pasture Beach Rd, Norwalk, CT 06851
Plan your trip to Norwalk
Norwalk is a blessed town and provides almost everything you can think of as a visitor. Just like you have seen, it is full of engaging activities and a place to be.
There is never a dull moment, and you would undoubtedly have a swell time. Why not start preparing for your next vacation in Norwalk.
Don’t forget to include your loved ones in the plan as they would love the experience. Do feel free to check back here in case to need to update your itinerary.
Have a safe trip!