12 Things To Do in Milford, Connecticut

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled along Long Island Sound, Milford is a quintessential New England town with a rich history and charm. Once home to famous resident Charles Island where Captain Kidd buried his treasure in the 17th century, today Milford offers visitors a variety of attractions from wildlife preserves and beaches to historical sites, arts and culture.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, want to learn about Milford’s past or simply relax by the water, here are 12 top things to do in and around Milford, CT.

Explore Walnut Beach

Stretching for over a mile along Long Island Sound, Walnut Beach is one of Milford’s most popular public beaches. The sandy beach features a classic New England boardwalk, views across the Sound to Long Island and facilities like restrooms, showers and concessions.

It’s an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing and watching the sunset. Walk out along the pier for gorgeous water vistas. The beach is also dog-friendly in certain areas.

Paddle Milford’s Water Trails

Milford has over 25 miles of mapped water trails perfect for kayaking and paddle boarding. Paddle through salt marshes and along beaches, check out birds and wildlife. Put in at the launch site at the end of Naugatuck Avenue to explore the Wepawaug River.

Another great spot is Fowler’s Mill Pond and Marsh near downtown. Outfitters like Up River offer rentals and tours. For an extra adventure, paddle out to Charles Island at high tide and explore this small island where Captain Kidd reportedly buried treasure in the late 1600s.

Bike or Walk the Farm River Greenway

For a traffic-free outdoor adventure just minutes from downtown Milford, hit the Farm River Greenway. This peaceful walking and biking trail runs for over 5 miles along the Farm River passing through forests, meadows and wetlands.

It’s a birder’s paradise in spring and fall when songbirds stop over during migration. Keep your eyes peeled for turtles sunning themselves along the riverbanks. The trail has several access points and links up to other area paths.

Go Birdwatching

Speaking of birds, the Milford area offers top-notch birdwatching. Right downtown, the Margaret E. Morton Bird Sanctuary is a tranquil 20-acre wildlife and bird sanctuary with walking paths and benches tucked along the Wepawaug River. Nearly 200 bird species have been recorded here.

To spot migratory songbirds and nesting species, head to the McKenzie Farm Property managed by the Milford Land Trust. This 33-acre parcel features meadows, wooded wetlands and a red maple swamp. Favorite feathers include eastern meadowlarks, bobolinks and eastern kingbirds.

Tour Milford Historical Society Museum

To dig into Milford’s rich history, spend some time at the Milford Historical Society Museum centrally located in the 1825 Fowler-Law House downtown. Their collection and archives chronicle Milford’s past going back to early colonial times with Native American artifacts, items from its shipbuilding era and mementoes recapturing Victorian Milford. Check out their latest rotating exhibits or take a self-guided walk to see artifacts in the period rooms of this historic home. Don’t miss the carriage house and gardens out back.

Attend an Event at the MAC

If you’re looking for some indoor entertainment, check out the schedule at the Milford Arts Council or MAC. Housed in the handsomely renovated 1901 Firehouse downtown, the MAC hosts dynamic performing, visual and cinematic arts.

They showcase Connecticut artists and also bring talent from New York and beyond. Events range from concerts and theater to author talks, open mic nights and art exhibitions. Their outdoor summer arts festival is one of New England’s largest.

Go Golfing

Play a round on the links and get views of Long Island Sound at two scenic golf courses in Milford. Situated along the coast, the 18-hole, par 72 Milford Golf Course rolls through inviting terrain with water coming into play on ten holes.

Hone your short game at Great River Golf Course which packs 18 holes into a petite, parkland-style layout with a 1930s clubhouse modeled after an English Tudor cottage. Both courses have pro shops, snack bars and rent equipment.

Tour Silver Sands State Park

Spend a relaxing day by the water at Silver Sands State Park, Milford’s own state park on Long Island Sound. Once the site of an old trolley park from the 1900s, today the park has a lovely crescent-shaped beach with calm waters perfect for swimming.

Nature lovers will appreciate the salt marsh, wildlife and two miles of nature trails that traverse woodlands abundant with birds. Other facilities include a boardwalk and concessions. It’s an unspoiled oasis just minutes from downtown.

Check Out Charles Island

One of Milford’s iconic landmarks is Charles Island, a small tidal island sitting a quarter mile offshore in Long Island Sound accessible via a sandbar at low tide.

Linked to local lore and legends for centuries, today the 14-acre island is uninhabited and part of a 42-acre wildlife preserve protecting shorebirds and other species. While you can no longer access the island itself, the surrounding beach along Gulf Street and views from Silver Sands State Park allow you to glimpse Charles Island and daydream about its fabled past.

Discover Downtown Milford

From its historic town green to Victorian storefronts, Milford has one of New England’s most attractive and lively downtowns perfect for exploring. Get your bearings with a self-guided heritage walk via sidewalk plaques marking key sights like the Parsons Government Center built as Milford’s town hall in 1907.

Pop into boutique shops and cafés. Don’t miss the fanciful animals perched atop the clock faces of the Rosa Parks Government Center. Built in 1883 as the town’s high school, this impressive Romanesque revival building with soaring clock tower makes a dramatic backdrop for Downtown Milford.

Dine Out on the River

Of course no visit to Milford is complete without sampling the local dining scene! For fresh seafood and seasonal New England cuisine, book a patio table overlooking the river at Borough Grill. Situated right above a waterfall on the Wepawaug River, Stonebridge Restaurant blends old factory charm with modern dining featuring handcrafted cocktails and upscale American plates perfected on their oak-fired grill and rotisserie.

Or grab pizza, wings and local craft brews at Orange Ale House with a sprawling deck overlooking a farm river gorge. Wherever you choose, you’ll find year-round river views paired with great food and drink.

Shop Till You Drop

End your adventures browsing Milford’s eclectic collection of shops selling artisan goods, antiques and more. Find whimsical signs, nautical décor and coastal vibes at Dockside Gifts or creative paintings and pottery at Grapevine Artist Collective Gallery.

Vintage buffs will love browsing through Milford Antiques Center with its sprawling selection ranging from iconic brand name items to costume jewelry, china and memorabilia. Take home a sweet treat from family-run Molten Java café and gift shop beloved for their chocolate-dipped pretzel rods. From boutiques to emporiums, Milford offers fabulous finds for shopaholics.

Conclusion

With its scenic coastal location, fascinating past and lively arts scene, Milford delivers no shortage of things to do for visitors. Get back to nature paddling the rivers and marshes, riding along greenways or going birdwatching and wildlife viewing. Dig into Milford’s rich history and small-town character by exploring downtown and cultural attractions.

Enjoy relaxed days at the beach capped by dining with a view and shopping local boutiques and galleries. Through outdoor adventures, foodie discoveries and enriching culture, Milford offers the best of classic New England experiences waiting to be uncovered during your travels.

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