16 Things to Do in Stamford, CT if You’re New to the City

Are you ready to discover all that Stamford, Connecticut has to offer? From the breathtaking natural beauty of its parks and the Long Island Sound, to the vibrant arts and culture scene, this city is a veritable treasure trove of exciting activities and experiences. Whether you’re considering renting an apartment in Stamford, or possibly buying a home in Stamford’s somewhat competitive housing market, there’s something for everyone.

In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through some of the most exciting and unique things to do in Stamford, CT. From visiting world-class museums to exploring the great outdoors, and experiencing the city’s rich arts and culture scene, you’ll be amazed at all the fun and adventure that awaits you. Dive into the vibrant city of Stamford, CT and make the most of your new surroundings.

aerial view of Stamford, CT in the fall

1) See the city’s beautiful local art

One of the many things to do in Stamford, CT is wandering through the city and finding eye-catching murals along the way. “You can explore our many murals across Stamford, including the Stillwater Hummingbird by Alissa Siegal and the refurbished Stamford Arts Association mural located in Downtown Stamford,” says Matt Conway, Executive Director of The RiseUP for Arts, a non-profit organizing focused creating world-class art that is community inclusive and accessible to everyone. 

RiseUP supports artists, cities, other nonprofits, companies, and local community members in making their mural projects come to life by helping create the vision and manage the entire process to beautify communities through public art.

2) Experience upscale dining and Prime Stamford

“I would dare to say that this is one of the best steakhouses in Stamford,” states Tom Cooper, travel blogger at Holiday Parrots. “With its unbeatable view next to the sea, Prime Stamford provides a spacious and elegant atmosphere that is perfect for any occasion. Their menu features steak and seafood entrees, cocktails, and an extensive wine list. I tried their lobster bisque, and it was the most delicious I’ve had. The cocktails are also great, and I would highly recommend the gnocchi.”

3) Visit the Stamford Museum & Nature Center

“One of my favorite things to do in Stamford is spending a few hours at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. It is one of the most beloved attractions in Connecticut with something for everyone,” shares Malerie Yolen-Cohen of travel blog Getaway Mavens.

As visitors enter the Stamford Museum & Nature Center, they are immediately struck by the grandeur of the building, with its intricate lead-glass windows, elegant archways, and majestic Great Hall. This former private residence once belonged to none other than fashion designer and department store owner Henri Willis Bendel, a Louisiana native who rose to fame in the fashion worlds of New York and Paris in the 1920s and ’30s, and amassed a great fortune in the process. The mansion was his dream home, and today it serves as an iconic piece of Stamford’s cultural heritage.

 Also on the property is The Heckscher Farm, a 10 acre rural oasis, where visitors can relax and enjoy a slower pace of life.“The farm has a variety of barnyard animals from bygone days, including a dozen breeds of chickens, pigs, sheep, and bovines,” says Yolen-Cohen. “Nature trails feature sculptures and wildlife. Fantastic programs are offered throughout the year, including “Nights Out” for great date night ideas (painting, tacos and tequila, private gallery tours to name a few). I’ve loved this wholesome place for decades, and consider it one of Stamford’s great treasures.” 

4) Eat like a local at Pellici’s

“One of my favorite things to do in Stamford, CT is to eat at family-owned Italian restaurant, Pellicci’s, operating since 1947,” shares Kim Orlando of travel site SheBuysTravel.

Pellicci’s is known for its authentic Italian cuisine, which is made using the freshest ingredients and traditional recipes. The menu features a wide variety of dishes, including pasta, seafood, and meat dishes, as well as a selection of pizza. The restaurant’s history and heritage are a big part of the appeal, and the long-standing family tradition is evident in the quality of the food and the warm, welcoming atmosphere.

Bowl of pasta with red sauce

5) Learn about Long Island Sound

Another activity Orlando recommends is packing a picnic for a sail on a 19th-century styled schooner at Soundwaters, a teaching vessel that offers education about Long Island Sound.

The sound offers a wide range of activities, from swimming, boating, fishing, and kayaking to beach lounging and sunbathing, that will provide a great opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. It’s also home to a wide variety of wildlife, including various species of fish, birds, and other marine animals, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. 

6) Tour the Hoyt-Barnum house

“One of our favorite things to do in Stamford is to tour the Hoyt-Barnum house, which is Stamford’s oldest dwelling built in the 1600s,” says Stamford Historical Society. “It was located where the police station is now and was moved to our campus in 2016 on 1508 High Ridge Road. The Hoyt-Barnum house has several colonial items like butterchurns, beekeeps, and other tools.”

One of the main reasons to visit the Hoyt-Barnum House is its historical significance. The house has been home to generations of Stamford residents. It is a time capsule of early American history and gives a glimpse into the past, including the daily lives, customs and architecture of the time. The house offers guided tours, lectures, and workshops that allow visitors to learn about the history of Stamford, the Hoyt and Barnum families and the role of the house in the community. 

7) Indulge on pizza at Colony Grill

“No visit to Stamford is complete without a trip to the Colony Grill”, says musician Chapell, originally from Stamford. “My family goes way back with the original owners – they hosted one of my first concerts way back when.”

Colony Grill is known for its specialty thin-crust pizza, which is cooked in a coal-fired oven. The menu also features a variety of salads, sandwiches, and appetizers. The atmosphere of the restaurant is casual and family-friendly, with a vintage decor and a lively atmosphere. It is considered a local favorite and has a loyal customer base.

People taking a slice of pizza.

8) Visit the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens

If you live in Stamford and you’re looking for a peaceful and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens in Stamford is the perfect destination for you. The Arboretum is home to over 90 acres of stunning gardens, woodlands, and meadows, providing visitors with a chance to reconnect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

One of the most striking features of the Bartlett Arboretum is its diverse range of gardens. The arboretum also boasts an extensive collection of rare and exotic plant species, which are sure to delight botanists and plant enthusiasts.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Bartlett Arboretum also offers a variety of educational programs and events throughout the year, such as guided tours, bird watching, and gardening classes – one of the most popular things to do in Stamford, CT. These programs are a great way to learn more about the natural world and the plants and animals that call the arboretum home.

9) Spend a day at Chelsea Piers

If you’re looking for an exciting and action-packed day out in Stamford, CT, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Chelsea Piers. This state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex offers a wide range of activities that are sure to appeal to people of all ages and interests.

One of the main attractions at Chelsea Piers is its world-class athletic facilities. The complex features a wide range of sports fields and courts, including soccer, baseball, basketball, and volleyball. It also has a fitness center, and an ice rink for skating and hockey.

Beyond sports, Chelsea Piers offers a wide range of other activities to enjoy. For kids, there’s a huge indoor playground, as well as an adventure course. Adults can enjoy bowling, rock climbing, and even a driving range. There’s also a variety of shops and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat or do some shopping.

10) Take advantage of the outdoors

“Despite its city stature, Stamford has over 40 parks and recreational areas, with many including access to Long Island Sound, featuring a marina, tennis courts, softball fields, horseshoe pits, playgrounds, skating rink, picnic areas, fishing, and more,” states Noelle Stevenson, Director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism. “Mill River Park has become a mini–Central-Park in the heart of Downtown Stamford, with various events throughout the year in a beautifully landscaped park. One of the most anticipated events of the year, Alive@Five is an outdoor summer concert series in Stamford’s Columbus Park that brings in big names each year, such as Cee Lo Green, Plain White T’s, Third Eye Blind, Sugar Ray, and much more.”

spending time at Mill River Park is a popular thing to do in Stamford, CT

11) Take a day trip to Bridgeport

The bustling city of Bridgeport offers a wide range of activities and attractions that are sure to make for a memorable day out. From its rich history and cultural landmarks to outdoor recreation and delicious dining options, Bridgeport has something for everyone.

Take a stroll through the beautiful Seaside Park and enjoy the fresh sea breeze while taking in the stunning views of the Long Island Sound. Visit the historic Housatonic Museum of Art and explore its impressive collection of American art. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a walk on the wild side and visit the Beardsley Zoo, home to over 300 animals from around the world. The city is also a shopper’s paradise, with plenty of boutiques and specialty shops to explore.

12) Catch a show at the Stamford Center for the Arts

The Stamford Center for the Arts is home to the Palace Theatre, a historic venue that hosts a wide variety of performances including theater, dance, and music. The Center also features a rich art collection and gallery, which showcases local and regional artists, adding to the cultural richness of the city. The center also offers educational programs, such as workshops and classes, which provide opportunities for the community to learn about and participate in the arts. 

Whether you are a theater lover, art enthusiast, or just looking for something fun to do, the Stamford Center for the Arts always tops the list for best things to do in Stamford, CT.

13) Walk along the Harbor Point Boardwalk

The Harbor Point Boardwalk is another fun thing to do in Stamford, CT and an absolute must-visit. This picturesque stretch of waterfront offers visitors the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind, and take in the stunning views of Long Island Sound.

One of the main draws of the Harbor Point Boardwalk is its abundance of natural beauty. The boardwalk itself stretches for miles, offering breathtaking views of the water, the nearby islands, and the Stamford skyline. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of quiet spots to sit and enjoy the scenery, as well as plenty of opportunities to spot local wildlife, such as seagulls and dolphins. The boardwalk is located near a number of restaurants and shops, where you can grab a bite to eat or do some shopping after your walk.

spending time at Mill River Park is a popular thing to do in Stamford, CT

14) Explore the South End Historic District

The South End Historic District is a charming and picturesque neighborhood with some of the city’s most beautiful and well-preserved historical homes and buildings. The architectural styles range from Victorian to Colonial Revival, and are truly stunning to behold. Walking through the district’s tree-lined streets, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.

Another great thing about the South End Historic District is its cultural significance. The neighborhood is home to several historical sites and landmarks, such as the Stamford Historical Society, where you can learn about the city’s past and its role in the region’s history. Additionally, the district is home to many art galleries and cultural institutions, such as the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, where you can experience the best of local and international art, music, and theater.

15) Experience all that Stamford has to offer

“Stamford is a diverse and lively city with an abundance of nightlife, revered dining options and entertainment experiences,” states Noelle Stevenson, Director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism.

“To take in the city, Sign of the Whale is a rooftop bar known for its sweeping views of Stamford Harbor,” says Stevenson. “Enjoy a drink as the sun sets, slowly fading away amidst Stamford’s cityscape before dancing the night away at some of the city’s liveliest clubs including The Palms Night Club. Whether you’re enjoying the more than 80 bars and restaurants, walking the 19 miles of shoreline, or hiking the scenic trails of North Stamford, you’ll quickly find that there is never a dull moment in this city.”

16) Shop and dine along Bedford Street

What makes the city so great is that you don’t have to try hard to find things to do in Stamford. The charming and historic Bedford Street is the perfect place to explore the city’s vibrant local culture and discover all that it has to offer. This area has an abundance of local boutiques, shops, and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a new outfit, a special gift, or a delicious meal, you’ll find it all here.

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