12 Parks in Stratford, Connecticut

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Stratford, Connecticut is a charming town located along the Housatonic River near Long Island Sound. With its rich history dating back to 1639 and picturesque New England scenery, Stratford has become a popular place to live, work, and play.

An integral part of what makes Stratford so livable are its numerous public parks and open spaces. The town boasts over a dozen parks ranging from small neighborhood playgrounds to expansive spaces with sports fields, nature trails, beaches, and more. These outdoor recreational areas provide the perfect setting for Stratford residents and visitors to relax, exercise, reflect, and make lasting memories.

In this article, we will explore 12 of the best and most popular parks found in Stratford, Connecticut. For each park, you will learn about its history, amenities, recreational facilities, and any special features that make it stand out. Whether you are new to town or a lifelong resident, this guide will help you discover new favorite green spaces to enjoy throughout the year. Let’s start with Stratford’s crown jewel park and work our way through 12 must-visit public parks in Stratford.

1. Roosevelt Forest Park

The most well-known park in Stratford, Roosevelt Forest Park is a sprawling 400 acre space with wooded areas, open meadows, a beach, sports fields, playgrounds, walking trails, and more. It is considered the town’s flagship park.

Originally called Patterson’s Woods, the land was owned by the Patterson family until they sold it to the Roosevelt family in the late 1800s. The Roosevelts used it mainly for hunting until donating 223 acres to the town in the 1920s. More land acquisitions grew the park to its current size today.

Some highlights of Roosevelt Forest Park include a swimming area along the Housatonic River, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, a popular dog park, an 18 hole disc golf course, the historic Roosevelt Forest Pavilion event space, and access to the Huntington Trail – an 8 mile trail network through the woods.

With so much to see and do, you can easily spend an entire day enjoying different activities at Roosevelt Forest Park with your family. The wooded areas provide plenty of shade on hot summer days or brilliant fall foliage in the autumn.

2. Short Beach Park

Located along Long Island Sound just below Roosevelt Forest Park, Short Beach Park contains 13 acres of sandy beach area, a large picnic ground, basketball and tennis courts, baseball fields, and a playground.

The site began simply as a short stretch of shoreline purchased by town residents in 1914 seeking access to Long Island Sound for swimming and recreation. Over the decades, more improvements like picnic tables, baseball diamonds, bath houses, and the other amenities were added.

A beer garden and concession stand operate during the summer months when Short Beach is most popular. Lifeguards oversee the designated swim areas which are divided by age group. low tide reveals an expansive intertidal zone filled with tidal pools teeming with small marine creatures. Young children delight in catching tiny fish, crabs and more in buckets.

Between its sandy beach fun, rolling waves, and recreational facilities, Short Beach Park has become a cherished locale for generations of Stratford residents to gather and make happy memories over the years.

3. Boothe Memorial Park

Established in the 1940s when Stratford resident Katherine Boothe bequeathed her family’s 188 acre estate to the town, Boothe Memorial Park offers residents and visitors scenic landscapes and historic sites to enjoy year-round.

Stately gardens surround the Boothe homestead where guided tours are available. Walking paths meander through the manicured grounds past a tranquil lily pond and legislation recognizing Stratford’s historical significance during the Revolutionary War period.

The park also includes the picturesque Platt House dating back to 1695 which displays historical artifacts about early American life in Stratford. People come to Boothe Memorial year-round whether to go sledding on the hillside in winter, have a picnic in the spring, attend a summer concert on the lawn, or take in brilliant fall colors.

With its historic homes and buildings along with well-maintained grounds, Boothe Memorial Park is a lovely place to step back in time and glimpse Stratford’s roots.

4. Russian Beach

Nestled on Long Island Sound between Short Beach and Birdseye Beach rests a small stretch of sand known as Russian Beach.

The origin of the beach’s name is unclear, but rumors say in the early 20th century Russian fishermen would dock their vessels offshore and camp on the beach while seeking productivity fishing grounds and selling their haul in town. Their encampments gave rise to the name Russian Beach.

This tucked away beach is popular with residents seeking a quieter shoreline experience away from the busier neighboring beaches. To access Russian Beach, visitors must descend a steep set of stairs leading to a thin gold sand beach dotted with rocks and tidal pools.

Parents should supervise children closely as the abrupt drop off into deep tidal waters poses safety issues for young swimmers. During low tide, beachcombers explore the exposed sea floor for shells and marine life stranded in tidal pools until the sea returns.

With limited amenities beyond a small parking area and short stretch of sand, Russian Beach offers a scenic, off-the-beaten path shoreline experience in Stratford.

5. Longbrook Park & Nature Center

Formerly a dairy farm, Longbrook Park and Nature Center spans over 160 acres of open meadows, wetlands, and wooded trails perfect for nature lovers, families, and outdoor enthusiasts. The park also features tennis courts, a playground, and picnic pavilions.

Longbrook contains over 4 miles of trails weaving through the property showcasing native flowers, plants, and wildlife. An on-site Nature Center houses live animals, natural history exhibits, and information about resident and migratory species found throughout the park.

Special events and programs take place year-round like summertime butterfly catching, bird watching meetups in spring and fall when migration peaks, the Winter Solstice Lantern Walk through the woods, and more. School field trips provide educational opportunities for children to learn about local ecosystems and their inhabitants.

Whether hiking the trails, attending a program, or having a picnic, Longbrook Park and Nature Center connects Stratford residents more deeply with the natural world all around them through its stunning natural landscapes and wildlife.

6. Great Meadows Park

Once home to the vast Lordship Farm owned by the famous Shakespearean actor E.H. Sothern, today over 140 acres make up Great Meadows Park alongside the Housatonic River. Open green space, woodlands, and wetlands offer an abundance of recreational opportunities for town residents and visitors.

Athletes utilize the park’s soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse, and tennis facilities extensively during spring and summertime. Children climb and swing to their hearts delight at two different playgrounds. Dogs socialize and exercise within the dedicated dog park area.

Six miles of trails attract joggers and walkers seeking scenic riverfront views and observations of birds and other wildlife known to frequent Great Meadows. Observant wanderers may spot deer, foxes, muskrats, painted turtles, herons, ospreys and more native creatures.

Great Meadows also connects directly to the Huntington Trail which runs 8 miles through some of Stratford’s most beautiful natural landscapes. With so much to do for nature lovers, families, pets, and sports teams, Great Meadows lives up to its name as a fantastic open space providing something for everyone.

7. Chapel Street Park

Nestled along the Housatonic River near downtown Stratford lies a small but well-appointed park bearing the straightforward name Chapel Street Park.

The nearly one acre park contains both passive and active recreation features including walking paths, a playground, skating ramp, open field space, and fishing access along the river. Mature trees offer ample shade in warmer months for picnicking families who come to relax by the water.

Local skateboarders and BMX riders flock to the cement skating ramps to practice tricks and stunts. Brave souls test their balance skills on the slacklines stretched between trees. Fishermen cast their lines into the passing waters hoping to reel in bass, perch, trout and other local freshwater species.

Chapel Street Park packs an impressive variety of recreational opportunities into its petite riverfront footprint that residents living nearby deeply appreciate having close access to right in their neighborhood.

8. Paradise Green Park

Honoring Stratford’s reputation as “The Paradise of Connecticut”, Paradise Green Park encompasses a full city block in the center of town featuring gazebos, monuments, and open green space encircled by quaint shops and restaurants.

Historic homes and buildings face the triangular park where community events like summer concerts, holiday celebrations, craft fairs and civic activities frequently take place on the central lawn, pavilion, and gazebo stages. Visitors will also find memorials honoring local veterans.

Benches tucked under mature trees lining the park’s perimeter offer weary shoppers and diners a shady respite to enjoy takeout food from nearby eateries. Families photograph their little ones by the “The Paradise of Connecticut” sign featuring Stratford’s iconic nickname.

Whether pausing to hear an impromptu musical performance or resting in a quiet corner with a good book, Paradise Green Park both embodies and inspires Stratford’s paradise persona through its idyllic village green atmosphere.

9. Wooster Memorial Park

Formerly the Wooster Cemetery dating back to 1671, today over nine acres make up Wooster Memorial Park which honors Stratford’s founding families and earliest history. The central memorial features commemorative stones and plaques designating the original plot of Thomas Fairchild, one of Stratford’s first settlers.

Surrounding grassy areas, benches, and walkways now replace most burial plots but a few ornate gravestones still stand marking the final resting places of town pioneers like the Judson, Beach, and Wooster families. The park contains a stone wall entrance built in 1935 by Works Progress Administration workers.

Shade trees and open sight lines looking out over the park create an atmosphere of reflection and repose for current residents to contemplate those brave souls who established Stratford over three centuries ago. Interpretive signs describe aspects of early life for the Puritan settlers.

With strong roots running back to Stratford’s earliest origins, Wooster Memorial Park provides a touching tribute to the town’s long history.

10. Sterling House Community Center

More than simply a standard local community center, the Sterling House incorporates the historically significant Perry-Sterling Homestead built in 1725 flanked by formal terraced gardens and lawns that serve as gathering sites hosting concerts, classes, celebrations and more. Indoors the center offers meeting spaces, a gymnasium, and recreational activities year-round.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the stately manor home built by David Perry features distinctive Dutch architecture from its era. Terraced grounds were added in the 1920s to accommodate events when it operated briefly as a hotel called Grey Manor. Stratford residents worked to restore the neglected buildings and grounds prior to its rebirth as Sterling House Community Center.

Today popular events range from outdoor summer theatre performances on the terraced lawn to senior exercise programs in the gymnasium. The historic architecture paired with community camaraderie and events at Sterling House make it a beloved institution in Stratford spanning centuries.

11. Birdseye Street Boat Launch

As a town situated along the Housatonic River near Long Island Sound, it comes as no surprise Stratford has several access points for launching vessels of all sizes to enjoy the region’s prime boating opportunities. Birdseye Street Boat Launch provides one such convenient site to put in for a day of fishing, watersports, or sightseeing on the water.

Located slightly upriver from the river’s mouth where it empties into Long Island Sound, the launch area includes a paved lot with enough trailer spaces able to accommodate up to 40 vehicles and boats. A handicapped accessible floating dock eases boarding. Nearby Birdseye Beach provides restrooms and a playscape when boaters come ashore.

The strategic location makes Birdseye Street Launch a popular starting point for saltwater and freshwater fishing charters seeking to reel in Long Island Sound species like striped bass and bluefish or river dwellers like catfish and perch. Kayakers and paddleboarders frequent the launch as well exploring the shoreline and Wooster Island located offshore.

Whether motoring down to the Sound or paddling upriver past verdant wetlands, Birdseye Street Boat Launch serves as the perfect gateway to enjoy Stratford’s marine playground.

12. Wooster Island Open Space

Sitting in a crook of the Housatonic River just off shore from Stratford lies 29 acre Wooster Island forming a peaceful oasis accessible only by boat. Designated open space, the island remains completely undeveloped with rolling meadows, winding walking paths, and remains of stone walls built by early settlers. Visitors can still see vestiges of old building foundations and apple trees dotting the landscape dating back to its prior inhabitation.

Today the island operates as a haven for recreation and wildlife. Boaters dock on its rocky edges while seeking refuge on longer journeys up and down the river. Fishermen cover the shoreline casting lines for bass and perch. Birdwatchers comb the woods spying great blue herons, owls, hawks, and even occasional bald eagles that call Wooster Island home. Families disembark on its banks for scenic island picnics and and nature walks.

Feeling a world away yet visible by sight from Stratford, Wooster Island lets residents and visitors discover the wilder side of this riverside town while serving as a treasured place marking special occasions and memories. With mainland parks and protected open spaces like these, Stratford truly lives up to its “Paradise” nickname for both people and wildlife to thrive side-by-side.

Conclusion

Stratford’s vast park system offers over 12 beautiful landscapes where the community gathers for wellness, entertainment, and connection with nature. From Short Beach sunsets to Boothe Homestead’s hiking trails, visitors discover abundant recreation options spanning hundreds of acres across town.

Stratford’s commitment to nurturing so many vibrant open spaces ensures future generations can enjoy the natural assets that make living in coastal Connecticut special.

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