Norwalk is a small town in the county of Fairfield, Connecticut that offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city and boasts an array of attractions.

Visit the Maritime Aquarium or spend some time at the National Historic Landmark of the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, one of the best surviving examples of Second Empire style country houses in America. Best things to do in Norwalk, CT with kids include Stepping Stones Museum for Children and the SoNo Switch Tower Museum.

1. South Norwalk Historic District (SoNo)

South Norwalk Historic District (SoNo)
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South Norwalk, CT, also known as SoNo, is an eclectic neighborhood in Norwalk where classic waterfront meets urban hip to create a jazzy, vibrant hub. Originally a settlement called Old Well, South Norwalk is today a colorful, bustling area of the town and is home to over 30 restaurants serving all kinds of cuisine from Mexican to Asian, buzzing bars and nightclubs, trendy stores and boutiques, an array of museums, theaters, and galleries, and sightseeing attractions. If you are wondering what to do in Norwalk CT today, this is a great place to start exploring.

Anchored by The Maritime Aquarium where visitors can explore the watery world of the earth’s ocean and rivers, SoNo boasts beautiful scenic walks along the Norwalk River and Harbor, which visitors can explore by bike or on foot, as well as an array of beer gardens, pubs, and wine bars in which to relax over drinks with friends and watch the world go by.

2. Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum

Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
© Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum

The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is a magnificent example of a Second Empire-Style country home that illustrates the beauty and splendor of the Victorian Era. Built by railroad baron LeGrand Lockwood in the 1860s, the house is the most significant example of this style of architecture and design and has been a designated a National Historic Landmark since 1971. The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is one of the best things to do in Norwalk.

The mansion is filled with exquisite Gilded Age interiors and antique furniture and features several excellent exhibits, including “The Stairs Below: The Mansion’s Domestic Servants, 1868 – 1938” and a special holiday display of “The Mansion’s Toys and Trains Story.” The museum is open from early April through early January, and it offers guided tours Wednesdays through Sundays.

295 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06850, 203-838-9799

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3. Things to Do in Norwalk, CT: The Maritime Aquarium

Things to Do in Norwalk, CT: The Maritime Aquarium
© The Maritime Aquarium

The Maritime Aquarium (formerly known as the Maritime Center) is a family-friendly aquarium situated in the popular neighborhood of SoNo. The aquarium is home to over 7,000 fish and marine mammals, including sharks, turtles, river otters, seals, and others, all of which are housed in recreated habitats that echo their natural terrain in the Long Island Sound.

The aquarium has three touch tanks where visitors can interact with stingrays, sea stars, sharks, crabs, jellies, and other coastal creatures and a state-of-the-art 169-seat 4D theater. The aquarium also offers an array of fun marine-based activities for visitors to enjoy such as year-round study cruises on the 64-foot hybrid-electric catamaran "R/V Spirit of the Sound," educational programs and special exhibits.

10 North Water Street, 203-852-0700

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4. Stepping Stones Museum for Children

Stepping Stones Museum for Children
© Stepping Stones Museum for Children

Stepping Stones Museum for Children provides an environment that inspires lifelong learning for children through an array of educational-based exhibits, displays, and programs. Aiming to enrich the lives of children through education as well as enhance their understanding of the world, the museum features several hands-on, interactive exhibits that encourage children to explore, discover, inquire, and learn.

Special exhibits include “Energy Lab,” a million-dollar exhibit that presents a wonderful way for children to learn about the science of energy; “Build It!,” which allows children to explore the world of architectural design and construction in a fantastic two-story structure; and “ColorCoaster,” a mesmerizing 27-foot kinetic giant mechanical toy that uses energy, motion, gravity, color, and light to spin, whirl, and fascinate visitors of all ages. The museum also provides a range of educational programs for the whole family, from school and groups programs to professional development courses.

Mathews Park, 303 West Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06850, 203-899-0606

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5. Things to Do in Norwalk, CT: The Spread

Things to Do in Norwalk, CT: The Spread
© The Spread

The Spread is a casual, family-friendly restaurant owned by four friends who came together to share their passion for food and drink. Featuring a modern, open plan dining space with industrial-style décor, exposed ceiling, and gleaming wooden tables and chairs, The Spread has a laid-back and welcoming ambiance.

The daily-changing menu presents dishes made with seasonal, locally sourced cuisine, ranging from delicious sharing platters of charcuterie and cheeses, freshly made soups and salads, small plates and vegetables, mains of various meats, poultry, seafood, and pasta dishes, and delectable desserts. The bar serves signature cocktails, craft beers, and wines from around the world, which can be savored during the vibrant, happy hour at special prices. The Spread also serves a popular brunch on the weekends.

127 Washington St, Norwalk, CT 06854, 203-939-1111

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6. Norwalk Community College Art Galleries

Norwalk Community College Art Galleries
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The NCC is home to two separate art galleries which are open to the public free of charge. You will find the main NCC Art Gallery on the first floor of the East Campus, where you can admire a collection of contemporary art works by regionally and nationally-recognized artists. The second gallery is called the West Campus Gallery and here you can visit exhibitions which are usually focused around local issues. Each of the galleries hosts about 5 exhibitions each year, including a Student Art Exhibition and a High School Art Invitational. Check their website for more details.

Norwalk Community College Art Galleries, 188 Richards Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854, 203-857-7191

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7. SoNo Switch Tower Museum

SoNo Switch Tower Museum
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Located in the beautifully restored Switch Tower originally built in 1896, the SONO Switch Tower Museum showcases the history of the "towers" used by railroads to house the mechanism used to switch trains from one track to another. The museum delves into the story of “Signal Station 44,” and its 88-year old history, as well as the fascinating job and the people behind the operation of switching the tracks.

Signal Station 44, or Tower 44, was a vital cog in the region’s essential service between New Haven and New York City, providing an outlook for train movements and control of track assignments in the Norwalk area. The Tower worked consistently from its inception in 1896 until retirement in 1984 without stopping. The museum provides a fun exploratory outing for anyone interested in trains and the railroad system.

77 Washington Street, South Norwalk CT, 203-246-6958

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8. Norwalk WPA Murals

Norwalk WPA Murals
© Norwalk CT. Arts Commission

Norwalk has a great treat in store for art and history lovers. This is where one of the largest collections of surviving depression-era art murals in the country can be admired. The impressive murals were all created between 1935 and 1941 and were intended to beautify public schools, libraries and post offices. Norwalk is home to no fewer than 50 of these gems and the vast majority can be viewed at the City Hall, which was formerly the Norwalk High School. Informative and entertaining guided tours are offered by the Norwalk Historical Society who would be very happy indeed to show them off to visitors.

Norwalk WPA Murals, Norwalk City Hall, 125 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851

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9. Things to Do in Norwalk, CT: Sky Zone Norwalk

Things to Do in Norwalk, CT: Sky Zone Norwalk

You will be the most popular parents on the block when you take your (older/teenage) kids to spend some time at the Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Norwalk. More than just an enormous trampoline park, Sky Zone has loads of other adventure activities all under one roof. Come rain or shine, Sky Zone is open daily and ideal for parties. You can hone your climbing, balancing, jumping and jousting skills while enjoying activities like Free Climbing, thrilling Trapeze and Swing, Sky Climb vertical obstacle course and more. All the activities are great fun and serious athletes can also improve their skills by taking on all the challenges.

Sky Zone Norwalk, 360 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Norwalk, CT 06854, 203-902-5437

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10. Sheffield Island Lighthouse and Nature Trail

Sheffield Island Lighthouse and Nature Trail
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Built in 1868, the Sheffield Island Light is a historic lighthouse based at the end of the Norwalk Islands using an oil lamp to warn ships of the treacherous shoreline. Visitors can explore the lighthouse and the beautiful surrounding area on a guided walk with the Norwalk Seaport Association’s Friends of the Norwalk Islands, who offer a fascinating insight into the history and heritage of the lighthouse and Sheffield Island.

The excursion includes a scenic 45-minute boat ride to the island and a tour of the 10-room tower before ambling along the nature trail into the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge, adjacent to the Isle, which is home to a variety of waterfowl and other birds. Stroll along the rock beach, beachcomb for seashells, and enjoy a picnic lunch in the beautiful surroundings.

40 N. Water Street, Seaport Dock, Norwalk, 06854, 203-838-9444

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11. Romanacci Cafe, Norwalk, CT

Romanacci Cafe, Norwalk, CT
© Romanacci Cafe

Romanacci Café is an authentic Italian restaurant that brings a slice of Italy to the heart of Norwalk. Owned and operated by brothers Graziano and Maurizio Ricci, owners of Osteria Romana, Romanacci Café is a casual eatery that offers a range of quick, distinctly Italian bites, snacks, light meals, and coffee. Meaning “from Rome” in Italian, Romanacci Café is a family-friendly establishment and the place to go for delicious homemade pizza, pasta, pastries, Panini, and freshly brewed coffee to enjoy with friends and family.

Pizzas are handmade and cooked to perfection in a wood-fired oven, pasta is spun from ancient Roman recipes and served with mouthwatering sauces, and sandwiches are stacked with layers of fresh meats, cheeses, salads, and vegetables. Freshly baked pastries are delicious and a small bar menu features selected wines and beers from Italy.

250 Westport Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-956-7103

12. Things to Do in Norwalk, CT: Match

Things to Do in Norwalk, CT: Match
© Match

One of the first restaurants in the vibrant SoNo neighborhood, Match has been serving patrons excellent seasonal cuisine for more than 15 years. Presenting culinary creativity and consistency in a fun, relaxed environment, Match has won the hearts of casual diners and critics alike. Designed in an urban rustic style, the restaurant features a large and airy dining room that stands at the center of the eatery with walnut floors, exposed brick walls, antique wood surfaces, and industrial-inspired chandeliers.

Owner and Chef Matt Storch presents a menu of seasonal and globally influenced cuisine that has been created with locally sourced ingredients and put together in a unique and unusual way. The uniquely original menu feature classics with a twist such as “Nibbles” of Baja Fish Tacos, “New School Raw Bar” plates of tuna tartare and baked clams, “Smaller Cravings” of Octopus Frites, and “Larger Cravings” of Swordfish, Osso Bucco, and Pork Shank. Match also offers a one-of-a-kind cocktail program featuring a curated list of classic cocktails with a twist as well as the “new school classics.”

98 Washington St, Norwalk, CT 06854, 203-852-1088

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13. Stew Leonard’s Norwalk

Stew Leonard’s Norwalk
© Stew Leonard’s Norwalk

Stew Leonard’s started off as a modest farm dairy store in 1969. These days there is nothing humble about Stew Leonard’s, which has grown by leaps and bounds to become one of the largest dairy stores and grocers in the world. Stew Leonard’s flagship store in Norwalk is a destination shopping venue - families love visiting to see the animatronics farm animals and to stop by the petting zoo to have fun with the real farm animals. Inside Stew’s you will find absolutely everything associated with farm-fresh produce including meat, vegetables, seafood, wines and much more. Stew Leonard’s is open 7 days a weeks.

Stew Leonard’s, 100 Westport Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-847-7214

14. Calf Pasture Beach and Shady Beach

Calf Pasture Beach and Shady Beach
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If you are wondering where to soak up some sun in Norwalk, Calf Pasture Beach and Shady Beach are two excellent choices. The calm waters of Long Island Sound make these two beaches particularly suitable for family days out. Calf Pasture Beach is located at the eastern point of Norwalk and offers a good variety of outdoor recreational facilities. Here you can make use of the boat launch, go kayaking, play volley-ball, basket-ball or bocce and enjoy a skate park and children’s playground. Just east of Calf Pasture, Shady Beach is great for picnicking and outdoor grills. Both areas are popular with walkers and runners.

Calf Pasture Beach and Shady Beach, Calf Pasture Beach Rd, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-854-7806

15. Music Theatre of Connecticut

Music Theatre of Connecticut
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Music lovers can enrich their Norwalk vacation experience by attending a concert of the illustrious Music Theatre of Connecticut. The MTC was formed in 1987 and has been bringing the enjoyment of musical productions to Norwalk locals and visitors ever since. They usually produce an annual series of excellent productions featuring profession musicians from New York (called the MTC Main Stage) as well as several productions by local amateur and student musicians. The MTC also hosts a School of Music for interested children from the age of 4 years to high school. You can check details of scheduled performances and buy your tickets online.

Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-454-3883

16. SoNo 1420 American Craft Distillers, Norwalk, CT

SoNo 1420 American Craft Distillers, Norwalk, CT
© SoNo 1420 American Craft Distillers

You can add an element of fun and surprise to your Norwalk itinerary by visiting SoNo, who produces a range of prime craft spirits using alternative grains like hemp. The award-winning distillery has recently won double-gold at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition, one of the most prestigious spirit competitions in the world. Visitors are invited to come and experience some of their wonderful cocktails and spirits which include vodkas, whiskeys and gins. SoNo Distillery offers tours and tastings, where you will explore their historic premises, visit the apothecary laboratory, see the distillation equipment and taste some of the wonderful end products. Visitors need to be over 21 to partake.

SoNo American Craft Distillery, 19 Day Street, South Norwalk, CT 06854, 203-635-2100

17. Oak Hills Park

Oak Hills Park
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Scenic Oak Hill Park encompasses several attractive recreational facilities. At the heart of the park are the beautifully tended undulating fairways of the Oak Hills Park Golf Course. On this very scenic 18-hole golf course you will find very pretty undulating fairways which mostly follow the lie of the land. Established back in 1969, the golf course features mature trees and well-established gardens as well as some beautiful but challenging water features. In addition to the golf course the park is also home to two walking/hiking/nature trails and the Oak Hills Tennis Center which boasts 8 clay tennis courts. There is also a restaurant and Pro Shop.

Oak Hill Park, 165 Fillow Street, Norwalk, CT 06850, 203-838-0303

18. The Center for Contemporary Print Making

The Center for Contemporary Print Making
© Center for Contemporary Print Making

The Center for Contemporary Print Making represents different things to different people. For local Norwalk residents and visitors the center offers an attractive exhibition space housed in what was formerly an elegant stone 19th century carriage house. If you happen to be an artist or print maker, the center provides a vibrant and inter-active communal workplace where talented painters and print makers can share ideas and inspiration. Up and coming artists can benefit from lectures and workshops hosted by professionals in the print making field. The center has a permanent collection of at least 300 fine works which have been donated.

The Center for Contemporary Print Making, Matthews Park, 299 West Ave, Norwalk, CT 06850, 203-899-7999

19. Cranberry Park and Gallagher Estate

Cranberry Park and Gallagher Estate
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At the heart of the 227-acre Cranberry Park, the stately and historic Gallagher Mansion is a sight to behold. The beautiful Tudor-Revival mansion is built almost completely out of stone blocks. It was modeled on the town’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and is adorned with beautiful hand-printed stained glass windows and a slate roof. The massive house was built during the Great Depression and featured many technological marvels which were not then commonplace; these including an intercom system, an elevator and an incinerator. Most visitors come to enjoy the surrounding park trails, playground, picnic area and sculpture garden but interested visitors can book a guided tour of the mansion.

Cranberry Park and Gallagher Estate, 300 Grumman Ave, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-854-7806

20. Fairfield County Antique and Design Center

Fairfield County Antique and Design Center
© Fairfield County Antique and Design Center

Visitors who enjoy spending time admiring and seeking out beautiful one-of-a-kind décor pieces are going to love spending a few hours at the Fairfield County Antique and Design Center. The center is home to more than 80 individual dealers specializing in fine antiques, art and home décor. Here you can find just about anything you need to beautify your home in styles to suit all tastes and budgets. There is also a brilliant art gallery which features sculptures, paintings and photos by artists from all parts of the country. The Wednesday evening antique auction is the ideal opportunity to try and pick up a bargain.

Fairfield County Antique and Design Center, 39 Knight Street, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-826-8575

21. Tavern at Graybarns, Norwalk, CT

Tavern at Graybarns, Norwalk, CT
© Artem Kudryavtsev/

The Tavern at Graybarns is a destination restaurant headed up by Chef Ben Freemole who looks forward to exciting your taste-buds with perfectly executed farm-to-table New American cuisine. The light and bright dining room and bar area of the historic building is the perfect backdrop to some exciting dishes which have been lovingly prepared using the finest fresh Hudson Valley produce. You can start your dining experience with one of the delicious and unusual cocktails while you choose your favorite dishes from their tempting menu. Wines are served by the glass or bottle, there is craft beer on tap and there are always sweet treats to round off your lunch or dinner.

Tavern at Graybarns, 194 Perry Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06850, 203-580-1900

22. O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant, Norwalk, CT

O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant, Norwalk, CT
© O’Neill’s Pub and Restaurant

The interior of O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Restaurant is very welcoming, featuring a purpose built carved wooden bar, stone fireplace and several intimate nooks for romantic dining. Add to that the legendary Irish conviviality and you have a winning combination. The pub-style food comes highly recommended and is always served with a smile. A few of the house highlights include their fall-off-the-bone rib starter, Shepherd’s Pie, Fish Pie, Ale-battered Fish and Chips and a wide variety of sliders and sandwiches. The Sunday Brunch is very popular and many regulars visit on Sunday evenings to enjoy some live music while they dine.

O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, 93 N Main Street, Norwalk, CT 06854, 203-838-0222

23. Panic Room, Norwalk, CT

Panic Room, Norwalk, CT
© Panic Room

Panicking will get you nowhere at the Norwalk Panic Room, where a clear mind and nerves of steel are required if you want to escape the Panic Room in time. Here you and your group of trusted friends or family have to put your heads together and solve a series of complicated riddles if you want any chance of reaping the rewards. It’s fast and fun and there are separate themed rooms for teens and adult escapees. A Panic Room experience is ideal for birthday parties, corporate team-building events or bachelorette parties. The plots have been carefully composed to offer a fully-immersive fun experience for all participants.

Panic Room, 37 North Avenue #107, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-409-1971

24. SoNo Seaport Seafood, Norwalk, CT

SoNo Seaport Seafood, Norwalk, CT
© SoNo Seaport Seafood

SoNo Seaport Seafood Restaurant is a Norwalk legend which all started with a small fish market overlooking the historic Norwalk Harbor in 1983. By popular demand, the restaurant opened soon afterwards in 1984 and has been drawing in seafood enthusiasts ever since. Oysters and clams have always been the main draw-card and SoNo Seaport is one of the best places to feast on these ocean gems. Oysters, clams, shrimp and lobsters are prepared in a variety of styles; there is always fresh market fish and a (token) NY Strip Steak for committed carnivores. You cannot beat the perfect Harbor-side setting and the food never disappoints.

SoNo Seaport Seafood, 100 Water Street, Norwalk, CT 06851, 203-854-9483

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