“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.
If you are looking to be transformed to the quaint setting of the show “Gilmore Girls,” then look no further than Ridgefield, Connecticut. I’ve spent a lot of time in this adorable little town as we have family nearby; however, I recommend that everyone takes some time to explore Ridgefield!
Ridgefield is located at the northern end of Fairfield County and borders New York State. The town is well-known for its idyllic historic downtown and its appreciation for the arts. There is so much to do, from shopping to dining to watching a play! 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 that my family loves Ridgefield. I’m sure yours will too!
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 a U.S. News report, Ridgefield High School is ranked 8th in the State of Connecticut (pretty impressive!). Should you look for a town with excellent public schools, Ridgefield is among the best.
When 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 brings 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 famous Deborah Anne’s Sweet Shoppe or a hot dog at the gourmet hot dog stand (yes, you read that right). In Ballard Park, five acres right on historic Main Street, my kids LOVE the Imagination Station Playground. 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. Participate in the town’s Holiday Light Fight, meet Santa at the Annual Holiday Stroll, catch a film at Ridgefield’s Independent Film Festival, or check out one of the many festivals, including Autumn’s in the Air. Or head over to the Wintergarden Ice Arena and go skating. 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 Terra Sol and Bailey’s Backyard to more casual, family-friendly places like Bare Burger and Prime Burger. If you are willing to stray a bit from Main Street, take a drive over to Route 7. There you’ll find Hoodoo Brown BBQ as well at the Nod Hill Brewery, both not to be missed!
5. The Shopping
Every time we’re in town, my kids 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 & Nats for the coolest kid’s clothes around!
6. 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 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. 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. ACT A contemporary Theatre of Connecticut and The Ridgefield Theatre Barn often host live theatre.
The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra is host to live classical performances 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 is Ridgefield’s 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 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!
7. Parks & Recreation
Ridgefield Parks & Recreation offers a wide variety of 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 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.
8. The Library
The Ridgefield Library is located in 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). 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, all the best that Ridgefield has to offer! Don’t sleep on this quaint New England town!