12 Attractions in Milford, Connecticut

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled along Long Island Sound, Milford is a vibrant coastal city in New Haven County, Connecticut. This historic town has been a popular seaside getaway since the 19th century, known for its sandy beaches, coastal parks, and quaint downtown area.

Beyond the shoreline, Milford also features a nice variety of cultural attractions, historic sites, and family-friendly activities to delight visitors. Here is an overview of 12 top attractions and things to do in Milford, Connecticut for those looking to explore this charming city.

Walnut Beach

With its sugar-sand shoreline and calm currents, Walnut Beach is often ranked as one of the best beaches in Connecticut. It stretches over a mile along Long Island Sound, providing plenty of space for beachgoers to spread out on sunny days.

The beach has a classic New England vibe with its historic seaside cottages lining the boardwalk. Visitors can go swimming, soak up some rays, build sandcastles, and watch the fishing boats bob along the sound. There is also a large grassy picnic area, a playground, volleyball courts, and concessions stands nearby.

What to Do:

  • Swimming
  • Sunbathing
  • Sandcastle building
  • Fishing
  • Picnicking
  • Beach walks
  • Playgrounds

Silver Sands State Park

Spanning nearly 300 acres along the coast, Silver Sands State Park shelters one of the best public beaches in Milford. The park features a long crescent-shaped beach, dunes, salt marsh, a restored 1930s-era boardwalk, and opportunities for fishing, hiking, and bird watching. Swimming is very popular in summer while fishing and shell fishing are favorite activities year-round.

There are also nature trails winding through the marshland as well as picnic tables, playgrounds, and a food concession. With sweeping views of Charles Island and Long Island Sound, Silver Sands offers beautiful scenery in a pristine natural area.

What to Do:

  • Swimming
  • Fishing – shellfishing
  • Hiking – birdwatching
  • Picnicking
  • Playgrounds

Wadsworth Falls State Park

Covering over 260 acres in Middletown and Middlefield, Wadsworth Falls State Park lets visitors discover the largest waterfall in Connecticut. The falls cascade down along the Coginchaug River, dropping 30 feet into a picturesque rocky gorge.

There are several viewing areas that provide spectacular views of the falls plus 4.5 miles of wooded hiking trails to explore the surrounding landscape. Visitors can hike along the rim of the gorge, fish in the river, picnic in the shade, or enjoy other outdoor pursuits like mountain biking, birdwatching, and geocaching. The state park also features an Interpretive Nature Center with exhibits about the local ecosystem.

What to Do:

  • See Wadsworth Falls
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Picnicking
  • Biking
  • Birdwatching
  • Geocaching

Connecticut’s Shoreline Trolley Museum

Travel back in time with a ride on an antique trolley at Connecticut’s Shoreline Trolley Museum. The museum features an impressive collection of vintage trolleys, streetcars, and buses from the late 1800s to 20th century.

Visitors can take a short ride along the museum’s private right-of-way on a lovingly restored streetcar from cities like San Francisco, Chicago, Brooklyn, and Boston. Exhibits detail the history of electric railways and there are also special events like Thomas the Tank Engine visits. For a nostalgic journey into transportation history, hop aboard a vintage trolley at the Shoreline Trolley Museum.

What to Do:

  • Trolley rides
  • Railway exhibits
  • Special events

Milford Historical Society Museum

To dig deeper into Milford’s local history and cultural heritage, make a stop at the Milford Historical Society Museum. Housed within the 1843 Fowler-Lawrence Homestead, the museum displays artifacts, photos, furniture, tools, clothing and other objects related to Milford’s growth from colonial times to today. There is also a research library and archive plus guided tours and events. Exhibits showcase various aspects of Milford life over the past centuries including its time as an important seaport and shipbuilding center. Visitors can get a glimpse into the area’s rich history at this charming museum.

What to Do:

  • Museum exhibits
  • Historical artifacts
  • Guided tours
  • Events

Milford Green & Parsons Village District

For a taste of old New England charm, head to the Parsons Village District surrounding the Milford Green. This National Register Historic District encompasses many well-preserved 18th and 19th century homes plus sites like the original town hall, shops, and churches clustered around a classic village common. The green itself is a lovely spot to relax under shady trees, people watch, or let kids play.

The First United Church of Christ facing the green was constructed in 1846 while the Eells-Stow House Museum built circa 1700 stands nearby. Take an architecture walking tour or just browse the cafes and boutiques around this quintessential New England square.

What to Do:

  • Milford Green
  • Eells-Stow House Museum
  • Parsons Village District
  • Architecture tour
  • Boutiques & Cafes

Coastal Arts Trail

Combining culture with scenic shoreline views, Milford’s Coastal Arts Trail connects participants with the area’s vibrant arts community. The self-guided trail features 16 different stops from galleries to studios to public art displays along the waterfront downtown as well as wooded parks and beaches. Highlights include the Milford Center for the Arts housed in a converted factory building in Parsons Village. Visitors can chat with local artists at their studios, see paintings, photography, pottery and more while appreciating settings like Holly Pond Park, Eisenhower Park, and Silver Sands State Park.

What to Do:

  • Milford Center for the Arts
  • Artist studios & galleries
  • Public art displays
  • Holly Pond Park
  • Eisenhower Park
  • Silver Sands State Park

Milford Oyster Festival

Oysters have been an integral part of Milford’s culture and cuisine since its early days as an oystering village in the 1800s. Visitors can celebrate this briny bivalve each August at the city’s beloved Milford Oyster Festival. Dating back to 1979, this popular event turns downtown Milford into a giant oyster party with live music, amusement rides, craft vendors, food stalls, and of course oyster shucking contests. Festivalgoers can sample oysters on the half-shell, fried, or in stews as they enjoy a summer weekend packed with free entertainment and family-friendly activities.

What to Do:

  • Oyster tasting
  • Amusement rides
  • Live music & entertainment
  • Arts & crafts vendors
  • Oyster shucking contests

Eisenhower Park

Situated on 270 acres overlooking the Long Island Sound shoreline, Eisenhower Park is one of Milford’s largest recreational greenspaces. The park features extensive sporting facilities including basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, soccer and football fields, beach volleyball courts, a skating rink, miniature golf, and more. There is also a large playground, fitness trail, boat launch, open lawns for games and picnics, and a mile-long walking path along the beach. Birdwatching is popular given the scenic wetlands and salt meadows throughout Eisenhower Park. Festival concerts and events also take place here during warmer months.

What to Do:

  • Sports – basketball, tennis, baseball, soccer etc
  • Skating rink
  • Mini golf
  • Playgrounds
  • Hiking – Birdwatching
  • Boating
  • Festivals & concerts

Lisman Landing State Boat Launch

For boating and watersports activities, Lisman Landing State Boat Launch offers easy access to Long Island Sound. This state facility includes a dock, floating launching ramp, trailer parking, and sailboat dry storage space during the boating season. Visitors can launch vessels like power boats, sail boats, canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards to enjoy Milford’s scenic coastline and waters. There is also shore fishing access from Lisman Landing. Just upstream, canoers and kayakers can paddle along the calm freshwater marshland of the Wepawaug River too.

What to Do:

  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Paddle boarding
  • Fishing

Osprey Nest Observation Site

For wildlife lovers and birdwatching enthusiasts, the Osprey Nest observation platform in Eisenhower Park provides unique viewing opportunities. Between April and September, visitors can watch a family of ospreys nesting, feeding, and raising chicks through a spotting scope from this observation deck. Interpretive signs detail osprey conservation efforts while park naturalists also give educational talks. Watching these magnificent raptors swoop and dive to catch fish makes for a memorable nature encounter during a spring or summer visit to Milford.

What to Do:

  • Birdwatching – osprey nesting
  • Educational talks
  • Wildlife viewing

Stonebridge Walking Trail

Pair scenic vistas of the coast with some exercise along Milford’s Stonebridge Walking Trail in Eisenhower Park. This 1.1 mile trail forms a loop that crosses over several stone bridges with views of the wetlands fringing Anchor Bay and Long Island Sound. Hikers and joggers will enjoy the combination of coastal landscapes from the salt meadow to open lawns along with woodland and field environments. Interpretive markers describe different native plants and wildlife found throughout the trail. The route also links up with other park trails for those looking to extend their walk.

What to Do:

  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Biking
  • Birdwatching
  • Scenic views over coastline

Conclusion


From its historic downtown and village green to miles of sandy beaches, Milford offers many attractions and activities for visitors to the Connecticut shoreline. Families can soak up the sun and surf at Walnut Beach or Silver Sands State Park, while outdoor enthusiasts have hiking trails and water recreation at their fingertips.

There is local history and culture to unpack at sites like the Parsons District and Milford Historical Society Museum too. And that’s not even mentioning popular events such as the summertime Oyster Festival. With this range of attractions plus a friendly small-town vibe, Milford makes for an inviting getaway full of things to do along coastal Connecticut.

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