Fondly referred to as “Oyster Town,” Norwalk has a deep-rooted history in oystering dating back to the late 1800s. With plentiful oysters and a bountiful assortment of local seafood, Norwalk offers visitors a trendy foodie culture in the hip, urban SoNo (South Norwalk) neighborhood. Within commuting distance to New York City, Norwalk is transforming into a great spot for residents and guests to enjoy a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of work-day life. The charming SoNo waterfront community with its historical architecture and fabulous restaurants is a fun spot for a perfect weekend getaway.
Things To Do In Norwalk
Norwalk offers residents and guests opportunities to enjoy the ocean, history, and great outdoors. When you add wonderful cuisine and charming stays to the mix, you have the perfect weekend adventure.
Explore Norwalk’s Maritime Aquarium
The Maritime Aquarium on the Norwalk River takes you through an underwater journey along Long Island Sound. Spanning the transition from freshwater to deep ocean, the aquarium offers guests over 75 unique exhibits featuring almost 7,000 sea creatures. Aquarium guests will discover the coastal area and get an in-depth look at the local marine life and how the environment affects their habitat.
The show-stopping Pinniped Cove exhibit is the new home to its harbor seals. You will be enchanted by their playful antics as they swiftly glide through their watery abode.
Enjoy a fun and educational cruise of Long Island Sound on the aquarium’s R/V Spirit of the Sound. The research vessel is the perfect vantage point to view the above water habitat while exploring the effects of nature on the animals that live in the waterways.
Wander The Halls At Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum was completed in 1868 for Le Grand Lockwood and his family. Sadly, he died only a few years later in 1872. In 1876, Charles Drelincourt Mathews and his wife Rebecca purchased the mansion and the family lived there until 1939. They were the only two families to ever reside in the beautiful manor.
The vestibule immediately sets the tone of grandeur. The cavernous space with marble columns perfectly showcases the collected statuary. As you sweep into the grand hall with soaring ceilings and intricate craftsmanship, you feel immersed in luxury.
The mansion you visit today was saved in 1962 by a group of Norwalk citizens after it was being used for everything from storage to city offices. If it weren’t for the work of these dedicated historians, the mansion would have been demolished. Now the mansion and expansive grounds are available for visitors to enjoy.
Soak Up The Sun At Calf Pasture Beach
The crowning jewel of Norwalk is the beautiful Calf Pasture Beach. Covering most of the tip of the Norwalk area peninsula, Calf Pasture Beach has all the toes-in-the-sand focused fun you desire. Sports courts, skate park, splash pad, and other fun-by-the-beach activities will entertain the athletic crowd. Of course, if your heart’s desire is to soak up the glorious sunshine, then you will love the soft sandy beach with beautiful views; perfect for chilling on a blanket with a great page-turner novel.
Non-resident parking is limited to the first 100 vehicles, no reservations accepted. Many guests arrive early and spend the entire day, so the parking lot fills up quickly on a beautiful day. Non-resident parking passes can be purchased at one of the kiosk stations next to the parking lot or on the ParkMobile app.
Sail Out To Sheffield Island Lighthouse
Sheffield Island Lighthouse can be accessed by a harbor ferry from late May until late September. The Seaport Association offers weekend, weekday, and sunset tours where guests will enjoy beautiful views of Norwalk harbor and Long Island Sound on their trip out to Sheffield Island. Guests will enjoy a lighthouse tour and time to explore the island trails before heading back to Norwalk harbor.
Built in 1868, the lighthouse is a beautiful backdrop for the Tuesday night clambake cruise; a classic coastal New England experience. Order tickets online for the clambake and extend your getaway stay an extra day or two.
Explore The Norwalk River Valley Trail
The Norwalk River Valley Trail encompasses 30 miles of trails across Fairfield County. The Norwalk section covers 5 miles of accessible trails (hard surface and stone dust) beginning at Calf Pasture Beach, past the Maritime Aquarium, the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, and Union Park.
The Norwalk path provides gorgeous water views along the beach. As the path weaves through the city and along the riverbed, walkers are treated to strategically located overlooks, charming bridges, and shaded wooded paths. It is a lovely stroll where you can stop and enjoy the river views.
Stop At The Switch Tower Museum
The SoNo Switch Tower Museum is a unique and curious item. The museum showcases the switches housed in towers along the railroad routes. These switch towers controlled the rail tracks which kept the trains from colliding. They also controlled the mechanics for switching the trains from track to track. Admission to the 1896 Switch Tower Museum is free. It provides an interesting view of how far advancements have come in railway mechanics.
Best Restaurants In Norwalk
Cruise over to the Washington Street area and explore the SoNo exploding restaurant scene. With a wide variety of cuisine options, you will love wandering the neighborhood perusing all the menu offerings. A mixture of enticing restaurants and charming shops occupy first-floor storefronts along streets with historic brownstones that have converted loft and condo spaces on the upper floors. The cool, urban vibe is evident in the shop fronts and hip clientele.
Located on a corner spot on Main Street, Caffe Social is a trendy, urban coffee bar where you can enjoy enticing coffee, delicious breakfasts, or lunchtime fare. Legendary breakfast items include the expertly prepared Avocado Toast or the decadent Sweet and Savory, a homemade waffle sandwich filled with bacon, sausage, egg, and cheese with a maple syrup dip.
Caffe Social is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to cure your specialty latte fix.
Perfectly charred steaks, expertly prepared seafood and tantalizing cocktails served in a casual dining space with an upscale appeal, Washington Prime is the SoNo spot for meeting up with friends or enjoying a fun date night.
The must-try appetizer is the north Australian lobster tail. When a coastal New England town serves lobster from down under, you know it’s going to be amazing. Equally delicious is the assortment of Oysters which can be followed up by a shift in geography with the prosciutto and fig crostini. The land and sea collection of entrees is enticing and the extensive wine list has the perfect complementary vintage.
Match is everyone’s favorite type of restaurant; sophisticated without being stuffy. By the way, it offers exceptionally delicious cuisine. The perfect spot to share plates, you can sample several dishes with your dining companions without having to commit to just one.
Start with a local classic, Carpetbaggers (fried oysters served with a truffle trio: cream, steak tartare, and aioli). Shared plates of octopus “frites,” foie gras, and a wood-fired bacon, potato, and egg pizzette will keep you munching happily with snippets of conversation between delectable bites.
Ripka’s Beach Cafe
When you are lounging your day away at Calf Pasture Beach, plan to dine at Ripka’s Beach Cafe. The beach view is only enhanced by the delicious choices. There are burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas of course, but also full-on, gorgeous seafood fare.
The raw and steam bar features local oysters, littlenecks, top necks, and other glorious gifts from the sea. The clam and oyster options offer everything you want for a toes-in-the-sand dining adventure. The Oyster Po’Boy with a spicy remoulade is the perfect blend of New England seafood and Southern spice.
Best Hotels In Norwalk
Beautiful romantic getaways, luxury suites with all the comforts of home, and cozy cottages by the sea; you will find the perfect spot for your getaway stay in the Norfolk area.
The Guest House at the Norwalk Inn is a lovely alternative to a traditional hotel stay. The guesthouse offers spacious vacation luxury with all the comforts of a cozy and well-appointed getaway stay. Beautiful suites are a quiet oasis retreat after a day exploring the town.
A romantic escape to the Delamar Southport is a wonderful option for couples looking for a luxurious, relaxing getaway. Located in nearby Southport, the Delmar offers you classic charm paired with beautiful suites, fine dining, and spa services all wrapped up in a quaint New England coastal town.
Cottage In Westport
For a great on-the-beach experience, this
Pro Tip: You will love exploring Norwalk, this beautiful coastal area is a wonderful spot for a quiet getaway.