Tree-lined Greenwich, Connecticut’s Gold Coast dominates the list of America’s best places to live.
It’s a town with lots of money, home to the richest neighborhoods in the country, and a bastion of investment firms and hedge funds.
To give you an idea of what’s going on in Greenwich, the town has its own polo club, which draws thousands of spectators every Sunday in the summer, a local library and an art gallery.
Greenwich Avenue has lavish shopping and dining, plenty of green space, summer cruises to the islands of Long Island Sound, and the town’s artistic pedigree given to the town by the Impressionists of the Cos Cob Art Colony.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Greenwich:
1. The Bruce Museum
Nestled on a hill surrounded by parks, this fantastic museum is home to textile mogul Robert M.
Bruce’s (1822-1908) condition was to turn it into a museum after his death.
The Bruce Museum blends natural history and art with curated exhibits depicting local and global environmental history, mineralogy, Connecticut’s Native American agriculture, intertidal wildlife (with live ocean tanks), and woodland stereos The primeval forest environment in the model.
The Bruce Museum’s art collection focuses primarily on Impressionist painters who belonged to the Cos Cob art colony, such as Leonard Ochtman, Childe Hassam, and Emil Carlsen.
A daunting collection of sculptures that includes works by Auguste Rodin, Frederick McMonice and Hiram Powers.
2. Greenwich Avenue Historic District
The north-south main line of downtown Greenwich is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features Italianate, Georgian Revival, and Commercial-style buildings constructed from the late 19th century through the decades after World War I of.
As a pedestrian, you can take a leisurely stroll and admire the exquisite architecture and stately monuments, such as the Town Hall (1905) and the Richardsonian Romanesque Havemeyer Building at number 290, dating from 1892. So does Greenwich Avenue stand out as a shopping destination, with upscale boutiques, galleries, design stores and chic bakeries interspersed with familiar names like Apple and Sephora.
Whatever your taste or budget, there will be places to eat along the way.
3. Audubon Center
When established in 1943, it was the first environmental education association of the National Audubon Society in the United States.
The Audubon Center was unique at the time, not only because it protected nature from human invasion, but because it also helped people interpret and understand the natural world up close.
The Audubon Center is responsible for seven different protected areas around Greenwich, totaling nearly 700 acres.
You can explore 7 miles of trails that take you through hardwood forests and historic fields, past lakes, waterfalls, streams and pools.
The Welcome Center features a gallery, gift shop and children’s learning space in the main reserve, and a range of fun conservation-themed events throughout the year, such as the popular Eagle Watch.
4. Bush Hawley House
An exciting part of American cultural history, this sweet clapboard house was the centerpiece of the Cos Cob art colony that served as a boarding house at the turn of the 20th century.
The colony was born around 1889 when John Henry Twachtman settled in Greenwich, followed by many other famous Impressionists, including Theodore Robinson, J.
Alden Weir and Childe Hassam.
They attracted dozens of students to the house, which was originally grown in the late 1720s and first opened as a museum after being purchased from the widow of Elmer Livingston MacRae.
The house is beautifully maintained and you can take a peek Wednesday to Sunday afternoon to learn about its colonial and artistic history.
Amazingly, many of the objects depicted in famous Impressionist works can still be found in this house as if they were here yesterday.
The nearby restored 19th-century Railroad Hotel is an exhibition space for American Impressionist art.
5. Greenwich Corner Park
Greenwich’s four beaches lie on a peninsula that juts out into Long Island Sound, a popular spot for locals and tourists (for a fee) to spend a day in the sun during the summer.
Lifeguards watch the beach all summer, and in addition to changing rooms and showers, there are two snack bars in the back.
The beach is part of a 150-acre park with carved paths and interspersed with historic buildings from the old estate of banker and railroad tycoon John Kennedy Tod (1852-1925). The park houses the Bruce Museum Waterfront Center with exhibits about the beach and touch tanks.
On the water is a designated area for windsurfing, kitesurfing and saltwater fishing, and on dry land you can book shelters, picnic tables and grills.
Sunsets at Greenwich Corner Park are fantastic, and on a clear day you can see the Manhattan skyline from the beach.
6. Island Ferry
From June to September, you can head to the ferry terminal off Arch Street for a boat ride to one of the Greenwich Islands in the Long Island Sound.
These services run hourly or half-hourly, and as you might expect, there are more on the weekends.
Long Island is the best-served of the two destinations, with an impressive granite lighthouse dating back to 1868. After disembarking, you can set off along the island’s oak and hickory forest trails for bird watching, picnic or rest at one of the beach areas.
Island Beach (formerly Little Captain Long Island), also a park donated to the town in 1918, is beloved for its 300-meter sandy beaches on the east and west coasts.
7. Cos Cob Fjord Fish Market
If you want to know the exact source of your fish and seafood, the Fiordland Fish Market is right up your street.
Here’s a selection of high-quality, responsibly sourced cod, scallops, oysters, lobster, salmon, shrimp and more.
You can also choose from delicious freshly prepared takeaways, whether you’re craving fish and chips, oyster or lobster rolls, fillet sandwiches, Cajun halibut bites, grilled salmon, poke or sushi.
8. Diane’s Book
Diane’s Books has been around for 30 years and is a local bookstore the size of a public library.
The store claims to have the largest selection of family books in the U.S. and has a ton of friendly staff happy to answer questions and point you in the right direction.
If you’re just visiting Greenwich, you can arrange for your books to be shipped, and the store also offers free gift wrapping.
Kids will of course be fascinated by Diane’s Books, but there’s plenty for adults to love too, including visits from famous authors.
In September 2018, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White (The Glass Ocean) all visited.
9. Greenwich Polo Club
If a place has its own polo club, you know it’s posh, and the Greenwich Club, established in 1981, hosts high-goal matches for the public throughout the summer.
Located in the idyllic countryside of Connecticut, the venue is one of the world’s leading high-target venues (one of only three of its kind in the United States). The club is home to the White Birch polo team, which has dominated the sport for the past 25 years.
Some of the best players in the world have graced the pitch here, including Mariano Aguirre, Nacho Figueras and Facundo Pierez, and from spring to late summer you can Performers of this caliber have been seen in a series of cups and exhibitions.
Every Sunday more than 2,000 people come to the club to witness the spectacle: the gates open at 13:00 and the games start at 15:00.
10. Montgomery Pines
Montgomery Pines is a densely forested park of over 100 acres that was once the estate of businessman Colonel Robert Montgomery, who planted rare conifers on his land.
The woodlands have trails through magnificent mature trees and are home to an array of specimen plants and wildflowers that come to life in spring and early summer.
There is an ornamental lake, benches, picnic tables and grills that can be booked.
Montgomery Pines is also home to the Greenwich Botanical Center, which is housed in a lovely horticultural building with a conservatory that inspires gardening through special events, classes, exhibits, and volunteering.
11. Neuberger Art Museum
The Art Museum at Purchase College is ten minutes from the state line.
One of the largest university museums in the United States, it was established in 1974 with a donation from financier Roy Neuberger.
From its initial 108 gifts, the collection has expanded to more than 6,000 pieces, focusing on 20th century celebrities such as Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and more.
The museum also houses famous African art, as well as sculptures by Yayoi Kusama, Henry Moore and Isamu Noguchi, among others.
Over the past few years, Andy Warhol, Alex Katz, Congo Kuba Textiles, Ray Spielanger, and video artist Janet Biggs have all presented exhibitions.
12. Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Garden
You can buy a day at another sensational art attraction.
Located on the campus of PepsiCo’s global headquarters, it is named after former Chairman and CEO Donald M. Kendall.
He is responsible for these elegant sculpture gardens, some 168 acres of manicured manicured collections of 45 works by the most important sculptors of the 19th and 20th centuries.
From the end of March to the end of October you can visit Rodin, Alberto Giacometti, Barbara Hepworth, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Claes Orr Stroll among the works of art by Den Burg, Max Ernst, and more.
13. Bruce Park
Located on the shores of Long Island Sound, this charming park belongs to Robert M.
Bruce worked for the Bruce Museum in 1908. Bruce Park is littered with gneiss outcrops that date back 450 million years, appearing around the Greenwich and Coskobe areas.
Among the maples, evergreens, and oaks, there are children’s playgrounds, walking/jogging trails, waterfowl ponds, baseball fields, horseshoe pits, tennis courts, and bowling greens maintained by the Greenwich Lawn Bowling Association.
Bruce Park is stunning in spring with daffodils, dogwoods and rhododendrons in full bloom, and later in the season the Rose Garden is not to be missed.
14. Flynn Gallery
Of course, the public library in Greenwich should have its own art gallery! This exhibition space is non-profit and volunteer-run and showcases art from a variety of media, genres, regions and periods.
The artwork on display is often sold, and the proceeds fund many projects for the Friends of the Greenwich Library.
As we compiled this list in the summer of 2019, the upcoming exhibition showcases the many landscapes given to the library over the years, as well as a selection of prints acquired between the 1950s and 1990s.
15. Putnam Cottage
Dating back to 1690, Putnam Cottage on Old Boston Post Road has a fascinating story to tell.
In the mid-18th century, the home was expanded into a tavern, and there is documentary evidence that George Washington fed his troops here during the Revolutionary War of 1776.
The building earned Putnam’s name because Israeli General Israel Putnam escaped the Red Army on a thrilling horseback, passing through the site to receive reinforcements from Stamford.
Painted bright red, Putnam Cottage has been preserved as a Revolution-era tavern museum, which is usually open for visits once a month.
Where to Stay: Best Inn Greenwich, Connecticut (CT)
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