“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 10 things they love about each local area. To read more in this series click here.
Ridgefield, Connecticut is located at the northern end of Fairfield County and borders New York State. It is bordered to the West by the Westchester towns of North Salem, to the North by Danbury, to the South by Wilton, and to the East by Redding. The population of Ridgefield is approximately 25,000. Ridgefield is well-known for its idyllic historic downtown and its appreciation for the Arts. Most notably, renowned children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak lived in Ridgefield for many years prior to his passing in 2012.
Our family fell in love with Ridgefield the first time we visited. We are excited to be moving there in a few short months. Here are some of the many reasons we love Ridgefield and have chosen it to be our forever home.
1. The Schools
Ridgefield public schools are among the best in the State of Connecticut. There are six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school, serving approximately 5,000 students. According to greatschools.org, each of the nine public schools in Ridgefield has a ranking of 9 or 10. Per the most recent U.S. News report, Ridgefield High School is ranked 4th in the State of Connecticut and 298th in the Nation. Should you be looking for a town with great public schools, Ridgefield is among the best.
Should you walk down Historic Main Street in Downtown Ridgefield, you may think you have entered a Norman Rockwell painting. A tree-lined Main Street with wide sidewalks and adorable storefronts bring residents and non-residents alike to downtown every day. Grab a cup of coffee, visit the library, read a book at the independent book store, and grab a sweet treat at the ice cream shop or a hot dog at the gourmet hot dog stand (yes, you read that right). Or, visit Ballard Park, a five-acre park right on historic Main Street, home to the brand new Imagination Station Playground.
3. Small-Town America
Ridgefield is home to a population of approximately 25,000 but feels so much smaller when you are there. It even has a Newcomers Club for those new to the town. It is regularly touted as one of the safest towns to live in the State of Connecticut and in the United States. There are countless activities for families – attend the annual Nutmeg Festival, judge the local scarecrow competition, trick or treat in downtown in the Annual Halloween Walk, or meet Santa at the Annual Holiday Stroll. Or head over to the Wintergarden Ice Arena and go skating. But don’t be fooled by Ridgefield’s small-town feel: there are plenty of top-notch places to eat, so you won’t have to drive next door to get a delicious meal.
4. The Arts
Ridgefield is the place to be if you are a lover of the Arts. The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art is the only museum in the State of Connecticut devoted to contemporary art, and one of the only non-collecting contemporary art museums in the United States. In addition to displaying amazing contemporary art, the Aldrich is host to many workshops, tours, events, and school programs. Do you have kids? Every third Saturday, the Aldrich hosts open hours for children to make art inspired by current exhibitions.
The Ridgefield Playhouse is a not-for-profit performing arts center that hosts concerts, comedy shows, theater and more. With state funding for the arts shrinking, the Ridgefield Playhouse has made it its mission to make the arts accessible to all, no matter their financial ability. Each year, the Playhouse donates thousands of dollars worth of tickets to those less fortunate.
The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra is host to live classical performances that are held at both the High School and the Playhouse. Members of the RSO also visit area schools, hold programming at the library, and work with Ridgefield’s SPHERE (Special People Housing, Education, Recreation).
The Prospector Theater opened in late 2014 and is Ridgefield’s own first-run movie theater. But, the Prospector is so much more. Operating as a not-for-profit, the Prospector provides meaningful employment to people with disabilities, inspired by its founder’s personal story.
The Guild is a community-based art organization that promotes the visual arts and arts education. Located in a 200-year-old barn, the Guild hosts events and classes alike, both for children and adults. The Guild also hosts an Art Walk each summer, where local businesses display artists’ work in downtown storefronts.
CHIRP (Concerts Happening in Ridgefield’s Parks) is a free summer concert series held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in downtown Ridgefield’s Ballard Park. Come with your family and enjoy music of all kinds all summer long!
5. Parks & Recreation
Ridgefield Parks & Recreation offers a wide variety of activities for both children and adults. The Rec Center itself has an indoor pool (with lap lanes, a water slide, and a zero-entry section for smaller children), the Spray Bay (a 2,800 outdoor and gated water playground), a playground that is handicap accessible, and multiple paved trails for walking, running, or biking. Ridgefield Parks & Rec also offer a Skate Park, multiple athletic fields, and Martin Park Beach.
6. The Library
The Ridgefield Library underwent a major renovation in 2014, which nearly doubled its size. Located in historic downtown, the Ridgefield Library is home to many events for children and adults alike, including author talks, book discussions, toddler story times, STEAM classes for kids of all ages, and Family Game Day.
Ridgefield is proud to have 5,200 acres of open space, which accounts for 23 percent of the town’s total area. If you like to get outside, Ridgefield is the place to do it. There is no shortage of hiking in Ridgefield (here is a detailed catalog of the town’s open space). You can also hit the rail trail or head to the Garden of Ideas, where you’ll find a garden to stroll and sculpture to look at.
Incorporated in 1708, Ridgefield has its fair share of history. The Keeler Tavern, a local historical museum situated on Main Street, still has a British cannonball lodged in its side. You can also visit the Ridgefield Historical Society, where you can learn about the 300-year history of Ridgefield and its architecture.
And there you have it, folks – my favorite things about Ridgefield! We couldn’t be more excited to move to this amazing town.
Have you visited Ridgefield? 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.