Locals Love: Norwalk Last Updated: January 2021
Welcome to another Connecticut town spotlight from our Locals Love series! We've gathered lots of inspiring ideas from local "insiders" of things to do in Norwalk — the best of the town from those who know it best. These recommendations came from millennials and boomers, singles and couples, young families and empty nesters — all living in Norwalk for anywhere from 5 to 45 years. So if you want to experience Norwalk like a local, check out the suggestions below for starters. Then visit Discover Norwalk for even more ideas.
As always, be sure to check with each location before venturing out as hours may change due to COVID-19.
How to Get Here
Just 45 minutes from NYC by train, Norwalk is located on Connecticut's coast in scenic Fairfield County. This waterfront town combines historic New England traditions like fishing and boating with a cosmopolitan flair. From foodies to history buffs, culture vultures to nature lovers, singles to families, you'll find plenty to things to do in Norwalk.
Where to Stay
Ask locals where to stay and many recommend the stylish Hotel Zero Degrees, a hip boutique hotel that gets high marks for its upscale comfort and artistic appeal. Other enthusiastic recommendations include The Norwalk Inn, the Courtyard by Marriott and the Doubletree by Hilton — all affordable, convenient bases for exploring Norwalk.
Where to Hang
To those in the know, South Norwalk’s historic downtown district of galleries, shops, dining and bars is referred to as simply SoNo. Just a stone’s throw away from the South Norwalk Train Station, the heart of the district is Washington Street, where you will find lively spots filled with locals soaking up the seaport lifestyle. From the stylish cocktails and creative cuisine of Match to the comfort classics of SoNo Harbor Deli & Café just around the corner on Water Street, there’s plenty to sample and savor here.
Where to Play
The popular Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is always a crowd pleaser for explorers of all ages. Locals recommend its highly interactive exhibits, IMAX movies and more. And if you want to grab lunch afterwards, go for a harbor-front table at Sono Seaport Seafood, just up the street. Or rent a bike at Pedego SoNo Electric Bikes and head to Calf Pasture Beach, a great spot for scenic views in virtually every season.
If it’s a water adventure you seek, the Sheffield Island Ferry takes you out to tour the 1868 lighthouse with amazing views of the coast and Long Island Sound.
Of course, visiting a grocery store may be the last thing on your mind, but what about one with a farm animal petting zoo in the parking lot? Stew Leonard’s Norwalk store on the Westport Road (Route 1) was the first of its kind, part dairy, part grocery, part “Disneyland.” Walking through this unique and playful store, kids can’t help looking up at all of singing barnyard characters while adults enjoy the farm-store quality.
Not far from Stew’s, turn onto Main Street and head for Valencia Luncheria, a local favorite for mouth-watering Latin specialties.
Where to Find a Hidden Gem
For the back story of this pre-Revolutionary-era “oyster town," be on the lookout for the reopening of the Norwalk Historical Society, where you can also see New-Deal-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) murals. Norwalk City Hall has one of the country’s largest collections of authentic Depression era artwork, and it’s a unique and memorable step back in time. You can find more ideas about Norwalk’s historical sites, including walking tours and WPA mural tours, at Discover Norwalk.