12 Things To Do With Family in Norwalk, Connecticut

Last Updated on February 27, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Norwalk is a vibrant coastal city located just 50 minutes from New York City in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Known for its beaches, islands, historic attractions, and thriving arts scene, Norwalk offers visitors plenty of things to see and do with the whole family. From exploring museums and nature centers to trying new cuisines and spending a day at the amusement park, Norwalk has something to delight travelers of all ages.

This article highlights 12 of the top family-friendly activities and attractions in and around Norwalk to help you plan an exciting getaway packed with lasting memories. Whether you want to relax at the beach, learn something new, or ride rollercoasters, Norwalk has it all. Keep reading for the inside scoop on the best things to do in Norwalk with kids.

Visit The Maritime Aquarium

One of Norwalk’s most popular family attractions, The Maritime Aquarium offers fun and education for all ages. Get up close to more than 2,000 marine animals in the aquarium’s exhibits representing Long Island Sound’s diverse habitats. See harbor seals, river otters, sharks, jellyfish, and more.

Don’t miss the new 4D theater, where shows give you a multisensory experience complete with lighting, sound, and water effects. Outside the aquarium, you can book cruises and tours departing right from the harbor. With so much to see and do, you can easily spend a full day exploring The Maritime Aquarium.

Stepping Stones Museum for Children

For an interactive and hands-on museum experience perfect for kids, head to Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk. This creative space is designed just for younger visitors and packed with exhibits and programs focused on science, art, culture, and more.

Kids can exercise their creativity in the art studio, explore sensory experiences, conduct science experiments, pretend play in the numerous themed exhibits, or take part in daily programs and shows. Some visitor favorites include Energy Lab, Pet Vet Clinic, Children’s Village, and Bubble Mania. With Newton’s Ball Factory, an indoor playground, a light and shadows room, and so much more, it’s easy to spend hours engaged in active learning and discovery at Stepping Stones.

Tour Historic Sites

Norwalk has plenty of history, much of which families can explore together at attractions like the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum. Built in the 1860s as a summer estate for a wealthy New York banker, this National Historic Landmark now operates as a museum. Marvel at the 62-room Victorian-era mansion’s grand scale and opulent details on a tour.

Check out the ornate furnishings, intricate railings, frescoed ceilings, and more. Special exhibits and programs make the museum appealing for all ages. For more history, visit Mill Hill Historic Park located on Norwalk’s original town green. Two historic homes built in the 18th century contain period decor and antique furnishings. The free admission makes this a budget-friendly activity your whole family will enjoy.

Spend a Day at the Beach

Living up to its coastal location, Norwalk has several public beaches that allow visitors to swim, relax, and play along the shoreline. Pack a picnic lunch, toys, towels, and sun protection and head to Calf Pasture Beach for a quintessential beach day. The green lawns backing up to the Long Island Sound make this beach seem especially spacious.

Enjoy the playground, picnic tables, snack bar, and bathrooms for comfort and convenience. West Beach has a more secluded, quiet vibe with its rocky coastline and peaceful views. Or check out Shady and Veterans Park beaches to enjoy the beautiful scenery without the crowds. Wherever you choose, Norwalk’s beaches guarantee seaside fun for the whole family all summer long.

Ride the Rides at Quassy Amusement Park

For families who like amusement rides and arcade games, Quassy Amusement Park is the place to be. This lakeside park has been offering thrills and fun for all ages since 1908. Test your bravery on the headline Wooden Warrior roller coaster featuring an exciting series of drops, turns, and speeds. Get in line for favorites like Reverse Time, Musik Express, Free Fall ‘N’ Drop and more.

When you need a break from the rides, try some carnival classics like mini golf, arcade games, or classic rides like bumper cars and a carousel. With so many options for entertainment, Quassy Amusement Park makes for an unforgettable family outing. Admission includes unlimited rides, so you can make the most of your visit without breaking the budget.

Tour Weir Farm National Historic Site

Step back in time with a visit to Weir Farm National Historic Site spanning 153 acres in Wilton and Ridgefield. This site preserves the home and property that belonged to an iconic American artist in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Artists in the family will especially appreciate touring Weir’s studio and seeing where he created many famous paintings now exhibited across the U.S. Nature lovers will enjoy walking the grounds to immerse yourself in beautiful scenery that inspired Weir and other artists who came after him. Various trails wind through wooded areas and meadows, making this both an educational and relaxing family outing. Rangers are often available to answer questions and provide guided walks too.

Try Hands-On Activities at the Discovery Museum

The Discovery Museum is Connecticut’s only museum designed specifically with preschool-aged visitors in mind. Kids ages 1-8 will love the hands-on exhibits related to science, culture, and art. Creative young minds can exercise imagination and problem-solving skills through building and construction activities, interactive science experiments, pretend play scenarios, and more.

Some of the most popular exhibit rooms include Children’s Courtyard with its towering three-story climber, Energy Lab where kids learn about physics through balls and ramps, and Global Village Role Play area. With daily programs and a rotating roster of visiting exhibits, there’s always something new to explore at The Discovery Museum.

See a Show at Wall Street Theater

Dating back to 1925, the Wall Street Theater puts on professional music, theater, dance, and comedy shows perfect for sophisticated family audiences. Musicals like Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia!, and Newsies have graced the historic stage along with tribute bands playing classics from bands like The Eagles and The Beatles.

Around the holidays you can catch Christmas, comedy, or Broadway-style shows too. With reasonable ticket prices, dazzling production value, and convenient parking, Wall Street Theater makes it easy to enjoy a night out with quality entertainment the whole family will appreciate. You can easily grab dinner nearby before the show too.

Explore Cranbury Park

Spread across nearly 900 acres in Norwalk, Cranbury Park offers plenty of natural scenery and recreation for families who want to spend a day outdoors. Mild hiking trails, open fields, and peaceful ponds make up this sprawling park area with facilities for picnics and gatherings.

Keeler Brook provides opportunities for wading and fishing. Two 18-hole disc golf courses challenge players as they aim through the landscape. With so much space, Cranbury Park rarely feels crowded, so families have room to explore while getting fresh air and taking in lovely pastoral valley and mountain views. Easy trail access also connects to the Norwalk River Valley Trail for those who want to walk or bike even farther.

Sample Authentic Cuisines

Thanks to its cultural diversity, Norwalk offers families a chance to sample authentic cuisines from around the world without leaving Connecticut. Washington Street is especially packed with Latin American restaurants to try.

For delicious empanadas, papas rellenas, and more Dominican specialties, stop by Sabor Latino Restaurant or El Pulpo. Nearby, Vieja San Juan transports diners to Puerto Rico through mofongo dishes, rice and beans, and other island favorites. South American cuisine is also prevalent, with Brazilian steakhouses like The Grand Brazilian Steakhouse of Stamford drawing in carnivorous customers.

With its proximity to New York, Norwalk also boasts fantastic Italian restaurants like Ponte Vecchio Ristorante and contemporary American eateries like B.J. Ryan’s. Trying new and traditional flavors makes for a tasty family adventure.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

Between malls, outlet shops, antique stores, and boutiques, Norwalk offers families plenty of opportunities to shop ‘til they drop. Head to SoNo Collection, the second largest mall in Connecticut, to browse stores like Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, H&M, Zara, and everything in between.

The SoNo Marketplace across the street holds a collection of home, fashion, and specialty shops too. Also nearby, Stew Leonard’s grocery superstore provides food and amusement with its animatronic singing farm animals.

For discounted fashion and housewares, the Connecticut Post Mall and the Wall Street Area feature major outlet retailers. Antiquing on Washington Street uncovers vintage treasures. And local artisans sell their wares at the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum Shop. With such a diversity of places to shop, Norwalk keeps families busy for hours.

Watch a Baseball Game at Cubeta Stadium

Baseball fans visiting Norwalk with kids should catch a Norwalk Giants game at Paul F. Cubeta Stadium. This collegiate wooden bat league team offers an authentic, old-fashioned baseball experience perfect for families.

Cubeta Stadium has plenty of lawn seating, so you can bring blankets for picnicking while watching the game. Kids will love seeing baseball played at a historic local field as they cheer on the home team. Between innings, stadium staff frequently toss t-shirts or balls into the crowd too, allowing kids a chance to catch a souvenir.

With tickets starting around $10 per person, catching a Norwalk Giants game makes for inexpensive, wholesome family entertainment during a summer visit. The baseball park atmosphere and excitement of the crowd culminate in a classic American pastime your family will enjoy.

Conclusion

This coastal Connecticut city entices families with its beautiful beaches, abundance of attractions, rich history, and diverse culinary offerings. Museums like The Maritime Aquarium and Stepping Stones promise interactive fun. Historic sites, nature parks, and amusement rides add variety. The thriving arts and shopping districts guarantee more entertainment options for all interests and ages.

With this list as your guide, start planning your own unforgettable family getaway in Norwalk full of lasting memories made through exciting experiences. Whether you choose to ride rollercoasters, explore hands-on museums, or simply relax by the shore, Norwalk offers something special for every type of family.

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