We've compiled a list of ideas with 50 things you can do, see and experience this summer. For many we can vouch for ourselves, while for others we share what we've heard from the grape vine. You will find ideas for everyone. From singles to families with small and grown up kids alike. From venues requiring formal attire to places where no attire is needed at all. Things for the staunch conservative and for the most liberal of souls out there. And don't even try to find a rhyme or reason in how we listed these things. Just like travel and exploration brings the thrill of adventure and discovery, that's how our selection of seemingly unconnected things to consider for this summer brings the element of excitement and surprise. Enjoy!
1. Go to the zoo
The penguins arrive at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
Things are a little cooler this summer with the opening of Penguin Plaza until September 30
Four African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) have moved into their new summer home at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport with the opening of the Penguin Plaza exhibit. Three males, Tubbs, Sal, and South, and one female, Squirt, will be zoo guests until September 30. The birds will splash and play in a new temporary exhibit featuring a 30,000-gallon pool located next to the Peacock Café. Visitors will enjoy wild adventure animal shows, Animal Bytes storytelling, and scavenger hunts designed to help visitors learn and care about penguins.
"This is the first time Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo has featured penguins," explained Gregg Dancho, zoo director. "It's an incredible opportunity for our guests to see these adorable and fascinating animals up close and personal."
The zoo is taking part in a Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) conservation project benefitting penguins through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The birds live at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Florida in the off season. Penguin Plaza is sponsored by Durant's Party Rentals, Rita's Italian Ice, and Aquarion Water Company. WTNH News 8 is the Official TV Station and WEBE 108-FM is the Official Radio Partner of Penguin Plaza.
The penguin diet includes small fish, such as anchovies, sardines, squids, and crustaceans and they eat about one pound per day.
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $15.00, children (ages 3 -11) is $12 and senior admission (62 and older) is just $11.00, and children under 3 years old are free. Zoo members also are admitted free.
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is located at 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut and parking at the zoo is free of charge.
CeeLo Green will headline Stamford's Alive@Five Summer concert series this year. The singer will perform at the conclusion of the six week Thursday series at Stamford's Columbus Park. Opening on July 7 is O.A.R. (sponsored by Woodloch Resort), July 14 will feature Hanson, Third Eye Blind will perform on July 21 (sponsored by Reckson) and Eric Hutchinson will entertain on July 28 (sponsored by Crowne Plaza Stamford, Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa, Sheraton Stamford Hotel & Hotel Zero Degrees) and Easton Corbin will bring his country music to the local crowd on August 4. New this year: event is open only to adults over 21.
Columbus Park, Stamford
3. Horseback riding
Horseback riding is one of those activities that offer both exercise as well as relaxation. Right in our own backyard, Mead Farm in North Stamford offers riding opportunities for new and experienced riders alike.
107 June Rd Stamford, CT 06903
4. Ridgefield Playhouse
The Ridgefield Playhouse is our area's premier year round venue for world renown artists. Every time you look there is yet another big name getting set to perform. Any time of the year their lineup is amazing and this summer is no exception. This summer's highlights include Jay Leno, Estelle, D.I. Hughley, Kansas, Bacon Brothers, Glenn Miller Orchestra, TOTO, The Bangles and Al Di Meola to name a few.
The Ridgefield Playhouse,
80 E Ridge Rd, Ridgefield, CT 06877
5. Summer Concert Series
Norwalk parks will be the venue for musicians from near and far all summer long. The free concerts will entertain the crowds at Freese Park, Mathews Park and the Tiki Lounge in Calfé Mu at Calf Pasture Beach. There will be music for every taste - from blues to rock, jazz to soul and everything in between.
For complete schedule visit http://www.norwalkct.org/index.aspx?nid=297
6. Go to the beach Fairfield County
We, the people of Fairfield County, work hard. And when you work hard it is easy to forget that you live at or near the beautiful Connecticut coast. There is a beach no more than 20-30 minutes away from wherever you live in
lower Fairfield County. They all have ample parking available
although fees may apply but resident season passes might be
available for purchase at your local town hall.
7. Go fishing
Nothing says “good times” like a fishing pole and good friends or family. Many fresh water reservoirs around the area are stocked by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection seasonally and offer great fresh water fishing opportunities. Or you might want to try your luck with the sea monsters lurking around the fishing piers at Stamford's Cummings Beach or Norwalk's Calf Pasture Beach. Bridgeport's Seaside Park is also a possibility if you'd like to explore the waters a little further from home. Note: fishing license is required and there are regulations on the size of the fish and a limit on the number of fish you can keep. Other regulations and restrictions may apply.
Check www.ct.gov/deep/fishing for more information
8. Movies in the Park
Starting on June 17 until the end of July, the Mill River Park will feature an outdoor movie every Friday this summer from 7 p.m. with the exception of July 1. An opportunity to enjoy the warm summer nights outside in this beautiful park in the heart of Stamford while catching a nice flick.
Mill River Park, Mill River St and West Broad Street, Stamford, CT 06901
9. Stamford Museum and Nature Center
Where else can you check out a science exhibit, stare down a full grown cow after admiring the graceful mud flops of the pigs all while strolling leisurely along a meandering nature trail. The Stamford Museum and Nature Center is an institution in Stamford with year round activities for adults, children and the whole family. This summer, the exhibition at the Stamford Museum Galleries will present some of the tiniest but very important creatures in nature. Farmers, Warriors and Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants will put the visitors into the tiny shoes of these little creatures. Did you know that SM&NC has an observatory? Don't miss the regular astronomy nights with the always engaging presentations and you might even have a chance to check out chosen celestial bodies through the 22-inch research telescope, weather permitting. Visit www.stamfordmuseum.org for more information, event calendar and membership details.
Stamford Museum & Nature Center
39 Scofieldtown Road Stamford CT 06903 203.322.1646
10. Stepping Stones Museum
Ever since Stepping Stones opened in 2000 in Norwalk it has been putting a smile on kids faces while making them fall in love with learning and enticing them to explore. Whether it's the amazing Energy Lab or Build It! section, the Community Garden or ColorCoaster, Stepping Stones will peak a child's curiosity like few places can.
Check out www.steppingstonesmuseum.org for more information on events and membership
11. Mystic Aquarium
Make it a day trip with an escape to Mystic, CT, very close to Rhode Island on the coast of our state. Mystic Aquarium is a world-renowned institution. It has a pretty good number of marine creatures including the only Beluga Whales in New England, penguins, fish, of course, and many others.
55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT 06355
12. Mystic Seaport
Immerse in the olden days with this recreation of an old Connecticut seaport. With actors doing the daily chores of the people form a long gone era you can see for yourself how people lived in the 19th century. Don't forget to see the Charles W. Morgan – the last ship of an American whaling fleet that at some point consisted of 2,700 vessels. Mystic Seaport offers many events throughout the year so make sure to check out the calendar on their website www.mysticseaport.org.
Mystic Seaport, 75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, CT 06355
13. Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
A National Historic Landmark, LMMM is an amazing example of American history kept at its finest. Constantly renovated and refined back to its old glory, the former home of renowned American financier and railroad tycoon LeGrand Lockwood, the mansion inspires to this day. This year the museum marks its 50th anniversary with another season packed with exhibitions and events.
The Lockwood Mathews
295 West Ave, Norwalk, CT 06850
14. Curtain Call
Stamford's Curtain Call is a premier theater company in Stamford with year-round productions. A nonprofit community-based theater, it offers “productions that are presented by and for area residents”. Their theater complex at Sterling Farms in Stamford features the recently renovated Kweskin Theatre with traditional theater seating and The Dressing Room Theatre with a cabaret-style space allowing for BYOE – Bring Your Own Everything – drinks, snacks and full meals if you'd like). Check out their 25th anniversary season lineup including the free Shakespeare on the Green summer production at www.curtaincallinc.com.
1349 Newfield Ave, Stamford, CT 06905
15. Shakespeare on the Sound
The annual outdoor celebration of Shakespeare's works returns to Pinkney Park in Rowayton with a production of Hamlet. Starting June 16 performances run every day through July 3 except Mondays. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday performances are free (with a suggested donation of $20 for adults and $10 for students), but this year Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances require a ticket ($20 for adults and $10 for students).
16. The Glass House
Also known as Johnson House, this architectural landmark is now a historic house museum. It was designed by American architect Philip Johnson for his own use – a rectangular single story house with outer walls made entirely of steel beams and floor to ceiling glass. There are other notable buildings on the property and many exhibits and events.
The Glass House www.theglasshouse.org 199 Elm St, New Canaan, CT 06840
17. Summer ConcertS Ridgefield
Summer evenings are a great time to be walking around downtown Ridgefield, but the place to be every Tuesday is Ballard Park in the center of town. There, CHIRP (Concert Happenings in Ridgefield's Parks) is organizing a weekly concert series featuring local and international artists and bands. Bring a blanket or a chair or sit on the grass in front of the stage. From June 30 until September 1 concerts are also on Thursday.
18. READ A BOOK
How about enjoying a carefree summer day on your deck, patio or in your air conditioned living room with a book or better yet a great magazine in hand. Yes, that's right, no electronic devices, unless it's a book reader of sorts. Just sit back and unwind from the blazingly crazy fast busy bustling schedule that we all live. You are welcome.
19. A movie at the
A historical movie theater in downtown Stamford, The Avon Theatre features movies you won't see anywhere else. Highlights include their French Cinematheque series devoted to the French cinema, Discover Indian Cinema series and their Cult Classics.
The movie theater is located at 272 Bedford Street in Stamford. www.avontheatre.org
20. Fourth of July Fireworks
Around Fairfield County
Celebrating Independence Day with family and friends around the grill is great but the tradition of enjoying at least one of our area's firework displays is what puts the exclamation point on our celebration of our country's birthday.
For a full schedule of the Independence Day fireworks in our area go to Connecticut.Events.
21. Take a hike
Sleeping Giant Park in Hamden, CT is only a short hour away on the Merritt Parkway. With trails for every skill and taste, it appeals to a wide variety of outdoor lovers. From a leisurely stroll along a wide and gently sloping, for the most part looking like a gravel roadway, trail to deep woods paths for the experienced hiker. State park fees may apply.
200 Mt Carmel Ave, Hamden, CT 06518
22. Sheffield Island Lighthouse ferry tour
The Sheffield Island Lighthouse is 148 years old and is one of the more romantic lighthouses you will find out there. You can take the tour ferry operated by the Norwalk Seaport Association during the summer and spend some time on the Sheffield Island where you might notice time slowing down for you.
Visit www.seaport.org for schedule, tickets and information.
23. Crystal Theatre
Take your kids to see their peers perform on stage at Crystal Theatre and they might be inspired to join them in learning this art for themselves. And if that spark is lit, Crystal Theatre offers classes and summer camps so the budding actor or actress will be able to hone in their skill at an early age.
Ben Franklin Performing Arts Center
24. Maritime Aquarium
Rated among the best aquariums in the United States the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a great destination for families and friends. You don't need a business idea to present to the Shark Tank but might want to roll up your sleeves by the Shark and Ray Touch Pool. This summer, flap your wings along with colorful butterflies at the Flutter Zone. Explore more of the colorful insects when you see Flight of the Butterflies at the IMAX Theater, part of the Aquarium organization.
25. Rowayton Arts Center
An arts institution in the community, the Rowayton Arts Center is always abuzz with something new from local and more distant artists.
145 Rowayton Ave, Norwalk, CT 06853
26. Florence Griswold Museum
One of the premier art destinations in Connecticut, the Florence Griswold Museum is not to be missed. Billed as The Home of American Impressionism, the exhibition this summer is The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920.
96 Lyme St, Old Lyme, CT 06371
27. Mashantucket Pequot Museum
Explore Native American history in a recreated 16th Century Pequot village pre- and post- European contact.
110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, CT 06338
28. CAR RACING SIM
Unleash the speed demon inside you in a safe and enjoyable environment where you can learn or perfect your racing skills at Crimson Simulation - a state of the art racing simulation studio right in the heart of Norwalk. Make sure to try the full motion simulator as well. They often have team events where you can race against your friends in the safety of the sim world. It is open by appointment so make sure you call ahead.
25 Van Zant St, Norwalk, CT 06855
29. Guilford ART CENTER Crafts Expo
This year at the Guilford Green, this celebration of the finest crafts is said to bring an upwards of 180 nationally-recognized artists. The expo is open for three days, rain or shine, on July 15,16,17.
The Guilford Green, downtown Guilford
30. Skinny Dip
Woodstock and Sterling
OK, this one's not for everyone, but with so many free spirited open minded people in Fairfield County we thought that you should at least know about this option. Yes, there are places in Connecticut where you can skinny dip legally – there are two nudist resorts where people have been disrobing and enjoying the sun sans clothes for years - Solair in Woodstock and Sun Ridge in Sterling. (But seriously, did you think that a place called Woodstock wouldn't have a nudist resort?) We haven't tried either of them so we can't really offer first hand impressions but you can find a lot of information on their websites.
Caution: both websites are informational about the resorts but might not be suitable for work as some of the photos do show nudity.
Solair Family Nudist Resort
65 Ide Perrin Road Woodstock, CT 06281
Sun Ridge Nudist Resort
131 Calvin French Rd Sterling CT 06377
31. Stay away in town Stamford, Norwalk
One of the many good things that multinational corporations bring to our area are top notch hotels. Anywhere you look there is a nice hotel for every taste. So, if you house is overrun with kids, relatives, friends and other known and unknown creatures of your circle, a little time away from it all may bring the so needed sanity back. Call that babysitter, say bye bye to the in-laws, jump in the car and make the long 5-10 minute ride to your favorite local destination hotel. Let room service indulge you with something delicious, let the maid fix your bed, sit back and enjoy your well deserved mini vacation.
32. Wine trail
Connecticut has great weather for delicious and juicy grapes – a great start for making some flavorful deep bodied wine. With 35 licensed wineries, Connecticut has a lot to offer for the fine connoisseur. The Connecticut Vineyard Winery Association has established a Connecticut Wine Trail with 25 wineries in the state.
Visit www.ctwine.com to find more information on the trail, check out the events calendar and to plan your visit. Of course, don't forget to drink responsibly and make sure to go with a good non-drinking friend as a designated driver.
33. Woodloch resorts
If you are the type that ventures further out there, Woodloch Resort and Spa in Hawley, PA might be the place for you. With kids or just the two of you, Woodloch offers great amenities, entertainment and relaxation options.
Woodloch Resort and Spa
731 Welcome Lake Rd, Hawley, PA 18428
34. Ferris Acres CreAmery
There are many local ice cream shops in our town but if you want to make it a day trip you can try this dairy farm that makes their own homemade ice cream.
144 Sugar St, Newtown, CT 06470
35. Road trip – Montreal Jazz Festival
Montreal, qc, canada
Well, it's not exactly overseas but sure feels so. Montreal is about a 6 hour drive from our area but it might as well be a 6 hour flight across the Atlantic. The people, the atmosphere, the architecture, everything about Montreal screams art and entertainment before you even park your car. And every summer the Montreal Jazz Festival takes over the city. It is one of the premier Jazz Festivals in the world.
Downtown Montreal, QC, Canada
36. Tennis – Connecticut Open
The Connecticut Open is a Women's Tennis Association event that will take place August 19-27, 2016 in New Haven. Among the list of players this year is the Connecticut Open Champion for the past two years and as of May 2016 WTA number 12 ranked Czech Republic player Petra Kvitova. Also on the list are Americans Sloane Stephens (WTA rank 21) and Madison Keys (WTA rank 17).
For more information and tickets
37. Exercise your body and mind –
If you are in the mood for some exercise you should consider Chelsea Piers and its many activities both for kids and adults. With its 500,000 sq ft sports and recreation facility in Stamford it features two indoor ice rinks, an Olympic size pool and an adjacent 6,000-sq.-ft. Splash Zone indoor water park, a 14,000-sq.-ft. gymnastics training center, a three-studio Dance Academy, 11 singles and one hardball doubles squash court, seven indoor hard court tennis courts, an indoor turf baseball/softball training facility and five batting cages, a 12,000-sq.-ft. Adventure Center featuring a recreational trampoline center, a 24-foot high rock wall and a Little Athletes gym for children six months to five years, and a Field House with a 100-yard turf field, four hardwood basketball/volleyball courts and a 1/5-mile track. While membership definitely has its perks, many activities are also open for nonmembers (fees may apply).
One Blachley Road, Stamford, CT 06902
38. Essex Steam Train
Get on board and experience Connecticut in a whole new way. A two and a half hour journey on the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat combines two romantic modes of transportation on an unforgettable trip to nowhere. Caboose weekends and Friday Night Sunset Cruises are available. To learn more, see the schedule and purchase tickets go to www.essexsteamtrain.com.
1 Railroad Ave, Essex, CT 06426
39. Railway Museum
The train museum in New Haven is a short drive or a short train ride away from the coast. Situated right at the Danbury train station, it has an indoors museum with model trains and other railroad artifacts and a large train yard with machines from the golden days of railroading. You can even ride The Rail Yard Local that gives a 20 minute tour of the Danbury Rail Yard and includes a spin on a real operating turntable.
120 White St, Danbury, CT 06810
40. Casino night
Nothing says adult fun like a night at the casino. And it's not all about gambling. Both casinos in Connecticut – Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods – have premier entertainment and many top tier restaurants and high end stores. And if you want to extend your night and not having to worry about what time you would be back in town you can always reserve a stay in their hotels. And even though we don't have to say it, we will – please gamble responsibly. IDEAS: To make it easier not to get carried away, consider gambling a fun activity you pay for, not an activity to try to get income from. Set a time and fund limit and try to always have a responsible friend next to you.
41. Summer Theatre of New Canaan
The Summer Theatre of New Canaan offers productions only during, well, the summer. This year's plays include West Side Story, James and the Giant Apple and Cinderella. The outdoors tent theater offers a unique experience for the audience.
The entrance to the field is located next to Dunning Field Stadium at 11 Farm Road New Canaan.
42. Stamford AT 375
Stamford was settled in 1641 and that makes this year its 375th anniversary. And the people of Stamford haven't forgotten. There are celebrations around town all year long. For more information and events check Connecticut.Events.
43. Storytime at the library
Local libraries have evolved from a place to borrow books to community centers for learning and entertainment. They are a place where a child's imagination and curiosity can make them blossom into amazing individuals. A great way to bond with your kids is storytime where books come alive and stories shape minds. Check out your local library's storytime schedule and take a journey to a world of countless possibilities.
44. Silvermine Arts Center
The Silvermine Arts Center has been a cradle for expression in one way or another since 1908. With student exhibitions, summer camps and workshops this is the perfect destination for every budding or experienced artist.
1037 Silvermine Rd,
New Canaan, CT 06840
45. Bartlett Arboretum
Spend some time among the local flora at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford. With its 93 acres of space, it features landscapes and hiking trails highlighting local plants. It also offers many programs and events so make sure to check their website for an updated information and schedule.
151 Brookdale Rd, Stamford, CT 06903 www.bartlettarboretum.com.
46. Downtown Expressions
The annual Arts in Public Places in Stamford this year is Downtown Expressions and will feature 42 sculptures on loan from 16 artists. The works will be seen all around downtown and the Stamford Town Center.
More information online at
47. Draw outside
Ridgefield and Wilton
Julian Alden Weir was an American impressionist who called this farm in Branchville, CT, home for 36 years. While living there he started focusing his work on drawing the inspirational landscape at the farm. Now aspiring artists and professionals alike can get a taste of the natural setting of Weir Farm and even draw their own impressions of this place.
Weir Farm, Nod Hill Rd, Wilton, CT
48. Visit a Farmer's Market.
Living in a big city doesn't have to mean that you can't eat fresh local
delicious produce at reasonable prices. These days, Farmer's Markets are everywhere and are places where producers from our area offer their top products, often picked the previous or day (sometimes that same morning).
Check connecticut.events for a farmer's market near you.
Treat yourself to something nice from local artisans and merchants. Greenwich Ave in Greenwich, Bedford Street in Stamford, Washington Street in Norwalk, Main Street in Ridgefield, Main Street in New Canaan and many more places in our towns feature many amazing local stores with great and unique finds that will make you the envy of the party.
50. Have a date night at a fine restaurant. Weekly.
Spending time together is one way to reconnect with your better half after a long week of grinding it out at work. Spending time together at a great local restaurant over food that indulges your senses takes it to a whole different level. You, the table, good food, and your partner right across spells romantic on any language. And there are very few excuses not to make this a weekly affair. ?