“Explore Fairfield County” is an informational series that provides a glimpse into the wonderful towns and cities in Fairfield County. Fairfield County is diverse, including 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.
We stumbled upon it.
We had found out about a job relocation to CT while living in Arizona and had to house hunt from afar. We wanted somewhere that felt homey but was also beautiful. It is kid-friendly but has enough restaurants and events to keep adults entertained.
I remember it well: researching houses and areas online, then flying into town for a whirlwind trip with a local realtor. We knew we wanted somewhere in Fairfield County, but we weren’t sure where we wanted to land. Our realtor showed us various areas with decent access to my husband’s Stamford, CT office. None felt quite right for us until we drove down Main Street in Ridgefield. I let out a small sigh of relief and thought, “Yes, it’s just perfect.” Now, over six years (and two houses) later, we’re still thrilled to call Ridgefield home.
Ridgefield is located at the northern end of Fairfield County and borders New York State to the west. The town is well-known for its idyllic historic downtown and its appreciation for the arts. There is much to do, from outdoor events to dining to concerts and theater performances! If you don’t believe me, look at what the New York Times had to say.
The reasons to love Ridgefield are so immense it’s hard to wrap it up into one concise post. Below are the top reasons my family loves Ridgefield — and why, if you’re in the market, you may also want to consider Ridgefield as a home for your family. If you’re happily settled elsewhere, Ridgefield is still a wonderful town to visit.
1. The Basics: Schools & Safety
Ridgefield public schools are among the best in the State of Connecticut. Six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school serve approximately 5,000 students. According to a U.S. News report, Ridgefield High School is ranked 13th in Connecticut. Should you look for a town with excellent public schools, Ridgefield is among the best.
Additionally, in 2023, Ridgefield was ranked the “safest city in America” due to extremely low rates of violent or property-related crime. It’s something important to every family, including mine.
Walking 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 brings residents and non-residents alike to downtown every day. Grab a cup of coffee, visit the library (beautifully renovated in 2014), buy a book at Books on the Common, the independent book store, and grab a sweet treat at the famous Deborah Anne’s Sweet Shoppe or a hot dog at the gourmet hot dog stand. In Ballard Park, five acres right on historic Main Street, my kids used to LOVE the Imagination Station Playground when they were younger. If you have littles, it’s worth visiting Ridgefield for this unique, fully fenced-in play area alone!
3. Small-Town America
Ridgefield is home to 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 Connecticut and the United States. There are countless activities for families and adults alike, including the annual Tree Lighting (with Santa!) and Holiday Stroll in November/December, a giant pumpkin weigh-off and Halloween walk (where local businesses pass out candy) each fall, and a well-loved Memorial Day Parade and Fireworks display each summer.
For fitness enthusiasts, Ridgefield boasts both a bicycle and a running store. Ridgefield Running Company hosts various very popular events throughout the year, including a Mother’s Day Run Like A Mother Race, a fall Half Marathon, a Turkey Trot, and a New Year’s Run.
But don’t be fooled by Ridgefield’s small-town feel. There are many top-notch places to eat, so you won’t have to drive next door to get a delicious meal.
4. The Food
Speaking of the food, there are many delicious spots in town to grab a bite to eat. In fact, Ridgefield has earned the honor of being labeled a bit of a foodie’s paradise.
Ridgefield’s got it all, from high-end spots like The Benjamin, Gallo, and Terra Sol to more casual, family-friendly places like Prime Burger and Bobo’s Cafe. If you want to stray a bit from Main Street, drive over to Route 7. There, you’ll find Hoodoo Brown BBQ as well at the Nod Hill Brewery; both are not to be missed! Nod Hill offers an outdoor beer garden with live music and food trucks during warm months.
5. The Shopping
My kids still beg to visit The Toy Chest. It has an old-time toy store feel, something you can’t get at Target or Walmart. I also love Sammy & Nat for kids’ clothes and Audrey Road for myself. Other favorites include Bella Home, Tiger Sports (perfect for Ridgefield Merch in particular)
6. The Arts
Ridgefield is the place to be if you are a lover of the Arts. The Prospector Theater is one of Ridgefield’s true treasures! It’s not only a beautiful first-run movie theater, but it also runs as a 501-3c nonprofit that provides meaningful employment to people with disabilities. On your visit, you’ll find employees (known as “Prospects”) of a wide variety of ability levels, and each one is professional, friendly, and helpful.
The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art is the only museum in 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 hosts many workshops, tours, events, and school programs. 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. Well-known musicians, comedians, and other acts are frequently on stage there. Additionally, ACT: A Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut and The Ridgefield Theatre Barn often host live theater performances.
The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra hosts live classical performances at 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 Guild is a community-based art organization that promotes visual arts and arts education. Located in a 200-year-old barn, the Guild hosts events and classes for children and adults alike. The Guild also hosts an Art Walk each summer, where local businesses display artists’ work in downtown storefronts. It’s a highlight of the summer for many in town.
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!
While technically in neighboring Wilton, Weir Farm deserves a special mention here. It borders Ridgefield and is a part of the National Park Service. Weir Farm preserves the life and work of Julian (J.) Alden Weir was a leading figure in the American Impressionist movement. The home, studios, and a significant portion of the landscape have been beautifully preserved as one of the nation’s finest remaining landscapes of American art. The park continues to be a source of inspiration for artists and visitors to carry on this artistic tradition. Not only that, it’s a fantastic place to hike and explore. Dogs and kids are welcome! Kids can even earn Junior Ranger badges for the National Park Service during the summer.
7. Parks & Recreation
Ridgefield Parks & Recreation offers various activities for 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 gated water playground), a playground that is handicap accessible, and multiple paved trails for walking, running, or biking. Ridgefield Parks & Rec also offers a Skate Park, multiple athletic fields, and Martin Park Beach, where families can purchase reasonably-priced season passes to play in the water and sand without driving to the coast.
8. The Library
The Ridgefield Library is located in the historic downtown. It 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, accounting 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. A detailed catalog of the town’s open space is available in many local stores.
Incorporated in 1708, Ridgefield has its fair share of history. The Keeler Tavern, a local historical museum 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, all the best that Ridgefield has to offer! Don’t sleep on this quaint New England town!