Danbury is a city in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and it is ranked as being one of the best cities to live in in the United States. It was founded in 1685, and it originally had the nickname of Beanfield, as the area was known for growing beans. However, it has had the nickname of Hat City since the nineteenth century, as it became the center of the American hat industry during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. If you visit this city, you will find plenty of attractions relating to its history to enjoy. There are also some amazing outdoor spaces and fun attractions to enjoy, so you will find something to suit your interests. Here are the 20 best things to do in Danbury, CT.
20. See the Art at Gallery at Still River Editions
The Gallery at Still River Editions makes high-quality, fine-art digital prints in color or black and white original artwork. The prints are of such good quality that it is tricky to distinguish between the originals and the prints. People visit the gallery to enjoy the beauty of masterpieces without the need to travel around the world to see them or pay high exhibition fees. There are also regular exhibitions that feature the artwork of local and national artists, with some established and some emerging artists. The works include photography and sculpture.
19. Try the Beers at Charter Oak Brewing Company
If you enjoy a beer or two, then head to the Charter Oak Brewing Company. It is a small-batch brewery that makes between 250 and 280 cases at a time to ensure the quality is maintained. They specialize in creating hand-crafted, innovative beers that use natural and locally-sourced ingredients. Visitors can sample the different beers in the taproom and take a tour of the brewery. There is also a food truck outside.
18. Get Back to Nature at Westside Nature Preserve
The Westside Nature Preserve covers 33-acres, and it is part of the Western Connecticut State University. It is a tranquil place to explore within the city, and it is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. There are two scenic trails in the park that take you through mature forests and around a lake. The preserve is a particularly popular spot for birdwatchers due to the diversity of the bird species that live in the preserve.
17. Have Fun at Thrillz High-Flying Adventure Park
A fun attraction to visit that has something for all the family is Thrillz High-Flying Adventure Park. This attraction’s main features are the virtual-reality rollercoaster, a two-story wipe-out-style obstacle course, trapeze hoops, ax-throwing booths, laser tag, and zip lines. There is also an eSports gaming lounge and a prize arcade.
16. Play a Round of Golf at Richter Park Golf Course
If you enjoy playing a round of golf during your vacations, then the best course to visit is the Richter Park Golf Course. Golf architect Edward Ryder designed the 18-hole course, and it boasts 14 water features. It is open to the public, and visitors can rent the appropriate golf equipment from the shop. Visitors can also rent a golf cart if they prefer riding around the course to walking. There are two practice areas, and people of all skill levels can book private lessons to improve their game.
15. Enjoy a Meal at Barbarie’s Black Angus Grill
There are some outstanding restaurants in Danbury and the surrounding area, and one of the best is Barbarie’s Black Angus Grill. It is also ranked as one of the best steakhouses in Connecticut. Although the highlight of the menu is the house-aged steaks that are cooked to the customers’ liking, there is also a diverse range of appetizers, side dishes, salads, meat entrees, seafood options, and sandwiches. In addition to the main dining room, there is an outdoor terrace where guests can dine alfresco and a private dining room for events. The restaurant’s bar is open until 2 am on Friday and Saturday nights.
14. Watch Musicals at Richter
Those who are fans of musical performances should check out Musicals at Richter’s schedule and book tickets before you embark on your trip to Danbury. Musicals at Richter (MAR) was established in 1985, and their aim is to give the residents of Danbury access to outdoor musical shows. Their performances include musical theater, music revues, and operettas. As well as the shows put on by the seasoned performers, there are opportunities for young people to develop their performing arts skills and get involved in various shows throughout the year.
13. Have Some Family Fun at Monster Mini Golf
A fun activity for the family to enjoy is playing a game at Monster Mini Golf. There is a monster theme at this quirky, 18-hole attraction, and the course is lit with black lights and glow-in-the-dark features. The course is suitable for players of all ages. When visitors have finished their game of mini-golf, they can have fun at the 25,000-square-foot laser tag facility.
12. Go to Wooster Mountain State Park
Wooster Mountain State Park is a 444-acre park within the city limits that was established in 1920. One of the park’s most popular activities is hunting, and there is a shooting range where visitors can practice target, skeet, and trap shooting. For those who are hunting novices, there is personalized instruction available. There are hiking trails through the park for those who are not interested in hunting or shooting, and these take you through pretty forested areas.
11. Try Watersports at Candlewood Lake
Some people prefer physical activities to seeing the local landmarks when they visit a new location, and if you are visiting somewhere near water, then you might like to try some watersports during your trip. If you head to Candlewood Lake, you can enjoy activities such as water skiing, kneeboarding, and wake surfing. There are qualified instructors on-hand for those who are watersports novices.
10. Hike the Ives Trail Greenway
There are multiple trails to hike in Danbury, and each shows you different aspects of the city and the surrounding area. Some of the trails take you through the urban parts of the city, while others take you beyond the city limits to see the surrounding countryside. One of Danbury’s best and most popular trails is the Ives Trail Greenway. It is a 20-mile trail that runs from Bennett’s Pond in Ridgefield to Redding Open Space. The trail takes you across public terrain, over private land, through four towns, along rugged cliffs, and over rolling hills. Some parts of the hike are more challenging than others, so choose the sections that are best suited to your abilities.
9. Enjoy a Wine Tasting at Shelter Rock Winery
Many towns and cities have urban wineries, but Shelter Rock Winery in Danbury is a winery with a difference. It was established by an experienced Italian winemaker who sources grapes from California, and members of the winery’s club can make their own unique wines. Visitors to the city will not have time to make their own wine. However, they can book into one of the tours, wine tastings, or dinners that the winery hosts.
8. Get Active at Danbury Sports Dome
A place where you can get active and have some fun is Danbury Sports Dome. It is the East Coast’s biggest domed sports facility, and it houses a multitude of activities to enjoy. There are drop-in soccer games, indoor fields, lawn bowling, and much more. It is an affordable venue to enjoy sports and a fun option if you are visiting the area with children. The dome is also used as a venue for events, and there are food and drinks outlets where visitors can buy something to eat.
7. Watch an Outdoor Performance at Ives Concert Park
The Crazy Tourist recommends watching an outdoor performance at Ives Concert Park. It is a pond-side park by the Western Connecticut State University campus. The park is named after Charles Ives, the Modernist composer who was born in Danbury. The amphitheater hosts outdoor performances during the summer months that attract up to 60,000 people per show. Even when there are no performances to watch, it is worth visiting the 40-acre park to walk the public hiking trails and admire the gardens. There are also sunset yoga sessions held in the park in the summer for wellness-conscious people who want to exercise in beautiful surroundings.
6. Have Fun at Danbury Ice Arena
The Danbury Ice Arena is a 3,000-seat arena that was built in 1999. It is used for various ice hockey and figure skating events throughout the year. It is also open to the public for public skating sessions, and there are fun DJ skate nights. Furthermore, there are various skating programs to suit various ages and abilities, although you will need to book places at these in advance.
5. Explore Bear Mountain Reservation
Of all the outdoor spaces in Danbury and the surrounding area, one of the best to explore is Bear Mountain Reservation. One of the most popular activities in the reservation is hiking, as there are multiple trails, most of which are easy or moderate. The only challenging trail in the reservation is the Orange Trail, which is a steep and uneven trail. However, it is worthwhile completing this trail if you are up for a challenge, as it leads to Candlewood Lake, and there are spectacular water views. Bear Mountain Reservation has several picnic areas in the shade.
4. Shop at the Danbury Fair Mall
Danbury Fair Mall is one of New England’s largest shopping malls, as this vast shopping destination measures a whopping 1.2 million square feet. The mall first opened its doors to the public in 1986, and there are now more than 200 stores to peruse. There are also multiple restaurants serving various cuisines. There is a double-decker carousel ride in the middle of the food court, which attracts families to the mall. Another reason to visit is the various events hosted in the mall throughout the year, including a two-week-long carnival and many child-friendly events.
3. Visit the Danbury Museum & Historical Society
Those who want to find out more about the local area’s history during their vacation in Danbury should visit the Danbury Museum & Historical Society. It consists of five separate historic buildings, each of which is open to the public. Most of the exhibits are in Huntington Hall, and these include various artifacts, documents, and photographs relating to various aspects of local history.
2. See the Exhibits at the Danbury Railway Museum
A top attraction in Danbury is Danbury Railway Museum. The museum is set in the historic train station, and it chronicles Danbury’s railroading history. Its highlight is the six-acre railyard that is filled with historic railroad equipment and restored carriages. The exhibits inside the main museum include old photographs, railroad artifacts, and model train layouts. If you visit the museum between April and November, you can also enjoy a short train ride that lasts for around half an hour.
1. Go to Tarryville Park & Mansion
According to Vacation Idea, the best thing to do in Danbury, CT, is go to Tarryville Park & Mansion. It is the largest city-owned park in Connecticut, as it encompasses more than 720-acres of hillsides, rocky terrain, forests, and meadows. The park boasts more than 20 miles of historic trails, a picturesque lake, and several picnic areas. There are also two historic buildings within the park. The first is a shingle-style mansion that sits on 11-acres and has a gatehouse and some outbuildings. If you want to take a tour of the mansion, you must book an appointment in advance. The second building on the grounds of the park is the 19th-century Hearthstone Castle.