Norwalk is a city in Connecticut that has a lot to offer visitors. Historical landmarks, clean beaches, and a booming tourism industry fuel the activities that abound. Norwalk sits on the site of the original colony from the 1700s. The first settlement burned to the ground during the Revolutionary War. There are plenty of other things to do in the popular tourist destination. If you’re planning a trip to Norwalk, check out our mini-guide that points out the twenty best things to do in Norwalk so you won’t miss out on some of the best things in the city.
20. Visit the SoNo Switch Tower Museum
The SoNo Switch Tower Museum is open to guests on weekends from Noon to 5 pm. The museum tells the story of the New Haven Railroad. The original switch tower from the 1890s is near the tracks. It houses the artifacts and exhibits from the 1800s through the late 1860s. The museum tells the story of the Railroad. It connected over 2,000 miles of track during the early days of the railroad network in Connecticut. It’s a must-see for all railroad enthusiasts and history buffs.
19. Spend the afternoon at Calf Pasture Beach
If you’re in Norwalk on the fourth of July, Calf Pasture Beach is the home of the city’s annual holiday festivities. It’s a historic site originally used to graze cows during the 17th century when early settlers built their farms and homes in the new country. A Park is located on the peninsula with plenty of amenities to keep you entertained. You can rent sailboats and kayaks at the Norwalk Sailing School or fish on the pier. There’s also a playground with places to skate, play volleyball, softball, or bocce, with a playground for the kids and a large beach for enjoying the sun and water. You can also learn interesting facts about the Revolutionary War from plaques that detail how 2,600 British troops landed at this spot and razed the city in 1779.
18. Visit Wall Street Theater
Norwalk is home to the historic Wall Street Theater. Its history goes back to 1915, when John Barrymore, Mary Pickford, and Lilian Gish performed on its stage. The theater opened in 1915. It was a concert and event hall and a movie theater. Today it’s a live music stage with some of the biggest names in the nation appearing to entertain the visitors and residents of Norwalk. While you’re in the city, book your tickets ahead and catch an evening concert at the Wall Street Theater.
17. Tour the Norwalk Historical Society Museum
The Norwalk Historical Society Museum is in the former Lockwood House in Georgian Revival style with red brick. It’s a recently constructed building from 1973 that houses several exhibitions of 20th-century African-American migrations to the northern states and freedom from the enslaved south. Here you’ll find various collections of objects supplied by the historical society, like the valuable porcelain from the Farrington-Lockwood collection. See photographs of the city as it appeared in the 19th century.
16. Visit the Sheffield Island Lighthouse
The Sheffield Island Lighthouse dates back to 1828 as a tower rebuilt in 1868 of limestone. They converted the light system to solar power in 2011, but the original building from the 1800s still stands. You can schedule a ferry ride to Sheffield Island or book one of the many tour cruises available to see this historic landmark. Guests can walk to the rail at the top of the lighthouse for magnificent views of the Manhattan skyline appearing in the distance.
15. Book a Ferry tour
The Sheffield Island Ferry runs multiple times each day to sail with guests from the Norwalk River to the Norwalk Islands populating the Long Island Sound. It’s a popular service in the summer, running seven days a week. A 45-minute trip takes you through the small islands, arriving at Sheffield Island. The skipper gives a guided tour of the landmarks located along the way. You can pack a picnic to have lunch on Sheffield Island, do some beachcombing and enjoy walking the public trails on the island before your return trip to Norwalk.
14. Tour the Lockwood Mathews Mansion
the Lockwood Mathews Mansion is another must-see tourist attraction in Norwalk. Tours are available to see the former home of LeGrand Lockwood, the banking and railroad tycoon who built the structure. Construction began in 1865 and concluded in 1868. The Second empire-style architecture is fully restored and complete with gas-powered lighting, ventilation, a coal-powered heating system, and period furnishings. It’s a historic landmark that offers guided tours from April through January. Hear the stories of the former residents from tour guides at the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum.
13. Take the kids to the Maritime Aquarium
The Maritime Aquarium is an adventure for the entire family. It’s in the SoNo neighborhood. Here you’ll find various aquatic life on display in tanks. You’ll enjoy the touch tanks filled with sharks, sea stars, jellyfish, and stingrays. Over 7,000 fish and marine mammals call the aquarium their home. The venue offers study cruises aboard a catamaran, educational programs, and various exhibits.
12. Take the kids to the Stepping Stones Museum for Children
The Stepping Stones Museum for Children is the ideal place to visit for families with young children. It’s a museum dedicated to the education of kids. It provides hands-on interactive exhibits that involve them actively in learning activities. Kids enjoy science exhibits like the Energy Lab and the Build It exhibits to explore the science of energy and the world of architectural design and construction in terms that are easy to understand. They can also learn about energy, motion, color, and gravity in the kinetic mechanical toy that is 27 feet tall and whirls, lights up, and spins. Hours of fun await the kids at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children.
11. Have fun at the Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Older kids and teens will enjoy the Sky Zone, Trampoline Park. The Sky Zone is an adventure venue with a giant trampoline with climbing walls, areas for working on balance, trapezes, swings, vertical obstacle courses, jousting arenas, and much more.
10. Enjoy a brew at SoNo 1420 American Craft Distillers
Adults over 21 will enjoy an afternoon or evening visiting SoNo 1420 American Craft Distillers. It’s the best in the area, winning multiple awards for its spirit labels. Visitors may come and learn about the distilling process with a guided tour or participate in a tasting. The building is on a historic landmark site. Anyone over age 21 is welcome to tour and enjoy samples of the products. They sell whiskeys, gins, and vodkas. The Distillery also serves tasty cocktails.
9. Play a round of golf at Oak Hills Park
Oak Hills Parks is home to an 18-hole golf course in one of the most scenic parts of Norwalk. It’s a part of the park that maintains exceptionally well-manicured grounds. The park has walking and hiking nature trails. You can play tennis at the Oak Hills Tennis Center. There is also a Pro Shop at the park and a restaurant.
8. Tour Gallagher Mansion
Gallagher Mansion is in the middle of Cranbury Park, a 227-acre wonderland. The mansion is stone blocks in a Tudor-Revival style matching Norwalk’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. See the stained glass windows and tour the inside of the spacious Great Depression-era mansion. Tours of the interior are available to learn more about this historic attraction. Visitors may also walk the park trails, enjoy the sculpture garden, and enjoy lunch in the picnic area. Kids can also play on the adjoining playground.
7. Have dinner and a drink at the Tavern at GrayBarns
The Tavern at GrayBarns is an eating establishment in Norwalk. The eatery serves New American cuisine prepared by Chef Ben Freemole. The establishment is in a historic building with the ambiance of days past. The food features fresh produce from the Hudson Valley with an extensive menu of entrees, appetizers, house cocktails, wine by the bottle or glass, and craft beer options on tap.
6. Sample the fare at O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Restaurant
O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Restaurant serve pub-style food with a choice of alcoholic beverages. It’s a popular place for couples to have dinner and drinks with its carved wooden bar, stone fireplace, and intimate environment. The standard fare includes ribs, Ale-battered fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and sandwiches and sliders. It’s one of the best places for Sunday brunch and a return on Sunday evenings for live music. Learn more about the schedule by visiting the official website.
5. Test your skills at the Panic Room Amusement Center
The Panic Room Amusement Center offers tons of fun for adults and older teens who want to put their problem-solving skills to the test. The Panic Room has a choice of games and challenges for groups who must solve complex riddles to find the keys to help them escape the panic room. You can choose from various room themes for an immersive experience for everyone in the group.
4. Visit the Fairfield County Antique & Design Center
The Fairfield County Antique and Designs Center is a special place for people who enjoy antiques. The Center offers many quality decor pieces with more than 78 antique dealers to assist in finding fine antiques, art, and home decor. You can find the perfect accessories to complement your home decor. Even if you’re not ready to purchase, it’s fun to look through the antique selections. The prices range from affordable to through the roof. While you’re there, see the photos, sculptures, and paintings in the adjoining art gallery. The Center holds antique auctions every Wednesday Evening for bidding on your favorite pieces. Learn more by visiting the official website for the schedule and upcoming events.
3. See the Norwalk WPA Murals
The Norwalk WPA Murals are a must-see for all art and history buffs. The Norwalk Historical Society is happy to arrange tours of the historic depression-era art murals dating back to the 1930s and ’40s. You will find more than fifty murals. Many of the murals are visible from City Hall. The murals are an artistic way of telling the history of Norwalk, Connecticut.
2. Have dinner at SoNo Seaport Seafood Restaurant
SoNo Seaport Seafood Restaurant is a historical eatery that began as a fish market on Norwalk Harbor. The restaurant opened in 1984, serving the best ocean bounty with oysters, clams, shrimp, fish, clams, and lobsters cooked in various styles. They also serve New York strip steak and an extensive seafood menu. The food is top-rated and the establishment provides seating with lovely views of the harbor. It’s essential to try the seafood when you’re in Norwalk.
1. Take the family to the Norwalk Oyster Festival
The Norwalk Oyster Festival is an annual event that happens on the first weekend after Labor Day in September. The city of Norwalk celebrates the long and storied history of the oyster industry with three days of live music, activities for everyone in the family, arts, crafts, food, and more. If you’re in Norwalk the weekend after labor day, plan on attending the annual event.