“Explore Fairfield County” is an informational series that provides a glimpse into the wonderful towns and cities in Fairfield County. Fairfield County is diverse in that it includes big cities, small suburbs, beaches, farms, and busy highways. It covers a large geographic area and, because of this, it has a lot to offer families! To help you get the most out of Fairfield County, our contributors have shared the top things they love about each local area. To read more in this series, click here.
Danbury is ranked the 4th most diverse small city in the United States. It is packed with shopping, restaurants, an active downtown, many annual cultural events, yet it is filled with natural park spaces and home to the shores of Candlewood Lake. Many newcomers are drawn to its convenient New York, Stamford, or Norwalk area commute. It is home to Western Connecticut State University’s two downtown campuses.
Whether your preference is sprawling suburbs, lakeside communities, or city living, Danbury has you covered.
The Great Outdoors
Danbury is home to several parks and recreational facilities that give way to a multitude of possibilities! In fact, the city has 1644 acres of open space! There are many opportunities to get outside in this city – a public golf course, hiking trails, two dog parks, Candlewood Lake, sports fields, parks, playgrounds, and three splash pads. Our family’s favorites are Rogers Park Playground, Kenosia Park splash pad, and hiking in Tarrywile Park.
Richter Park is a 230-acre park that hosts an 18-hole golf course and pro shop, marked hiking trails, tennis courts, winter recreation, the Richter Arts Association center, outdoor summer theater, and Cafe on the Green Restaurant, which offers fine dining and patio seating with a grill area.
Candlewood Town Park borders the shores of Candlewood Lake. The park offers benches, picnic tables, a concession stand, playgrounds, a beach, swimming, and a boating dock. Season and day passes are available through the city of Danbury.
Things to Do
Danbury Public Library is located in beautiful downtown Danbury. In pre-pandemic times my children and I would enjoy weekly story times and exploring their children’s section, which is HUGE. Many virtual activities are still being offered, and curbside pickup is available.
Danbury Railway Museum is a fun place to visit with your little engineers. Before the Coronavirus pandemic, they were open for exhibits, operated train rides, hosted birthday parties, and special holiday events such as a pumpkin patch train ride, ride with Santa and the Easter bunny. Check their website for re-opening details.
Danbury Ice Arena offers programs for all ages and abilities, including Public Skate, Learn to Skate, Learn to Play Hockey, leagues, camps, and clinics. They are home to the Danbury Hattricks, the Federal Hockey League Eastern Division champions. The arena has been fully renovated with amenities like a new café and bar, serving craft beer, RTD cocktails, and coffee. Their hours of operation fluctuate, and reservations for public skating are required.
Ives Concert Park is a prestigious, world-class performing arts center. This outdoor amphitheater is situated on 40 wooded acres with a pond, gardens, and public hiking trails and is located on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University. Ives hosts various world-renowned international, national, regional, and local artists and is a truly unique art experience in harmony with a natural environment, where trees and stars become the backdrop for cultural enrichment.
Musicals at Richter is the longest-running outdoor theater in Connecticut. The 2020 summer lineup and youth theater program was canceled; however, check their website for announcements regarding the 2021 season.
Jumpz Indoor Trampoline Park is taking reservations for jumping, laser tag, and arcade. Mini birthday party packages are also available. Next door to Jumpz is Thrillz Adrenaline Park, which offers axe throwing, laser tag, gyro tumbling, and an arcade.Create Escape is a pottery, art, and craft studio with so many different projects to choose from. They have walk-in hours, host birthday parties, and have many paint your own to-go options for home activities.
Danbury Duckpin Lanes has been entertaining residents for 40 years. Located in Hatters Park, this is a perfect activity for a rainy day. The smaller balls used in duckpin bowling are perfect for little hands. Lane rentals are available on weekends by the hour, and the facility also hosts parties.
Shop Small or Big
Danbury is home to so many big retailers, and I am lucky to choose between (or go to both) a Whole Foods AND a Trader Joe’s in my town.
Halas Farm is a fully functioning family farm with deep roots in the community. They saved me with curbside pickup of fresh fruit, veggies, pasta, dairy (Arethusa), and baked goods throughout the pandemic. We visit to purchase plants to start our garden in springtime. In the summer and fall, the farm set up a petting zoo and an old-fashioned candy stand for the kids. At Halloween, they hosted their first community jack-o-lantern drive-through where my children carved pumpkins. They sell fresh pies and Christmas trees during the holiday season and had a beautiful gift boutique set up with so many unique finds. I was able to check many gifts off my shopping list here!
This past summer, we loved visiting the Danbury Farmers’ Market and picked out fresh fruits and veggies for the week. Located in the Danbury Railway Museum parking lot and looked down upon by a towering restored Uncle Sam statue from the Danbury Fair, it was a highlight of our week!
The Danbury Fair Mall is built on the Great Danbury State Fair grounds, which ran in some capacity from 1821 until 1981. A carnival still runs in its parking lot each summer. There is a carousel in the food court, echoing the fairground site the mall was built on.
Danbury Fair Mall deserves a category of its own. It is home to just about any retail store you would need, and if you can’t find what you are looking for there, you can go to either the neighboring shopping centers – Danbury Square or the Shoppes at Marcus Dairy.
The mall was once my favorite place in the colder months to push my babies around in their stroller and get some much-needed time outside of my house. As my children grew, it became a destination for a special day together. A day out at the mall included morning playtime at Kidz Klub, lunch, browsing the LEGO and Disney stores, climbing around the newly remodeled family play space, and a carousel ride to end the day.
I could write a post, or perhaps an encyclopedia on the restaurants in Danbury. There are too many to choose from – fast food, fast-casual, chain restaurants, upscale dining, diverse cultural choices, steakhouses, and BBQ. I’m a local, and I still have a bucket list of places to visit. I will leave you with a small-ish list of favorites:
BBQ – The Cue
Bagel – Bagelman or Stew Leonard’s
My go-to date night or girl’s night pick- MarketPlace
Il Bacio means “the kiss,” and when you walk inside this homemade ice cream store, the walls are covered in family pictures and sweet real-life pictures of couples kissing. The ice cream is delicious, and the store is dangerously close to my house. I love popping in and grabbing quarts of our favorites to have at home. Il Bacio is open from March to November.
Dubl Twister is a family-owned and operated homemade ice cream shop. They have tons of fun flavors and are located close to the WestConn campus.
Grounds Donuts House is an artisanal donut and coffee shop. They mix classic flavors and new fun favorites. Loved by kids and adults alike!
Don’t let the name Mothership Bakery fool you. It is so much more than baked goods! Breakfast, lunch, baked goods, and organic coffee and tea are all served for sit down or takeout.
Stew Leonard’s is a local favorite for grabbing a quick ice cream treat, a prepared meal, or my weekly grocery shopping, or attending a kid’s event. Okay, so you can do just about anything at Stew Leonard’s, but I have included it in sweet treats because it is still one of my favorite, classic soft serves.
Whether you are visiting for the day, the night, or plan on making Danbury your home, there are so many options to keep you busy in this exciting city. I hope you get the chance to explore Danbury soon!
Have you visited Danbury? Do you live here? What do you love about it?
Be sure to read all the posts in our Explore Fairfield County Series by clicking here.
Jamie is a proud member of The Valentini Group – a dynamic and successful William Raveis Platinum Club of agents led by Angelina Valentini. Jamie is also a mom and your neighbor, raising her family in Northern Fairfield County.
Jamie is a trained teacher, holding a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She has held both teaching and administrative positions before following her passion for real estate. In her free time, she loves exploring Fairfield County with her family, running, contributing monthly posts for Fairfield County Mom, and fostering puppies through a local rescue.
Jamie prides herself in helping her clients achieve their real estate goals with open, clear, and honest communication. She works her hardest to turn buying, selling, or renting a pleasant process.
There is a multitude of reasons why NOW is the right time to sell your home! Increased buyer demand means inventory is minimal. Mortgage rates are low, and buyers are looking to take advantage of them. In our local market, this has led to multiple offer situations, fewer days on the market, and higher selling prices for homeowners.
While homeowners may be hesitant to list during a pandemic, Jamie has successfully used technology and virtual tools to dramatically limit the number of in-person viewings to sell properties.
As we have learned from 2020 – there is truly no place like home. Perhaps you need more space, are looking to downsize or relocate. As an agent backed by a strong, knowledgeable local team and the William Raveis Company, Jamie can help you easily make this a reality.