15 Best Things to Do in Shelton (CT)

In the lower Naugatuck Valley, Shelton is an amiable riverside town that has been reborn since the 1980s.

From the 1860s until recently, Sheldon relied on heavy industry, the remnants of which survived in huge brick factories, some of which are now luxury apartments.

A small section of the waterfront has been cleaned up and turned into Veterans Memorial Park, where there’s always something fun going on in the summer, and there’s a farmers’ market open on Saturday mornings.

If you find yourself admiring the fall foliage in Sheldon, the country farm has apples and pumpkins you pick yourself, as well as pressing cider, making wine and baking a variety of treats.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Shelton:

1. Jones Family Farm

Jones Family Farm

Located in White Hills, Shelton, Jones Family Farms was established in 1848 on 400 acres and is located at three different locations.

Much of the land is devoted to Christmas trees, but the farm also grows blueberries and strawberries, which you can pick in summer, and pumpkins in October.

During pumpkin season at Pumpkin Seed Hill Farm, kids can meet farm animals, ride hay and solve corn mazes, while adults soak up fall foliage and buy apples and pumpkins.

On top of that, Homestead Farm’s historic barn houses a winery that produces a range of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat, Vidal Blanc from the land grown , Ceval Blanc and Cayuga white wines, as well as most red wines are made from varieties grown in California.

On summer weekends you can sit and drink a drink or two on the spacious terrace, which features a full programme of live music.

2. Indianville State Park

Indianville State Park

There’s a lot to enjoy in this rugged woodland on the western shore of Lake Husatonic.

Non-Connecticut residents must pay high fees to use parking locks, especially on summer weekends.

However, once you’re in, you can take a short hike to the beautiful Horsetail Falls, 4.6 meters high, into the splash pool.

In the summer, Indianville State Park is Sheldon’s favorite place to cool off because of the lakeside beaches that are patrolled by lifeguards during high season.

The kids will be happiest here, as the water in the designated swimming area never exceeds waist height.

On the hottest days, you can retreat to the water’s edge for a picnic in a shady grove.

3. Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard

Beardsley's Cider Factory and Orchard

Another local business launching in the fall is this cider factory, which produces non-alcoholic cider that is UV-treated rather than pasteurized to preserve its flavor.

You can buy cider here all fall and late winter, but there’s more to this farm’s bowstring.

During the weekends from mid-September to late October, you can visit your apples and choose from more than 15 varieties, including Gala, Honeycrisp and Macou at the beginning of the season, and Granny Smith, Winesap and Braeburn at the end of the season.

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There’s a farm shop open 7 days a week, selling the farm’s famous cider doughnuts, as well as a variety of homemade pies, cookies, fruit breads, honey, jellies and jams.

4. Downtown Shelton

Amici's

Considering Shelton was an industrial town until a generation ago, downtown is a great place to spend an afternoon.

There is Riverside Park, which we will discuss below, and some old factories have been preserved and reused as residences.

Bridge Street and Howe Avenue are good examples, with sidewalks being rebuilt and trees planted throughout the CBD.

Over the past 20 years, many independent eateries have sprung up, such as the well-regarded Italian restaurants Amici’s and Caloroso Eatery & Bar on Howe Avenue, partnering with longstanding establishments like breakfast shop Billy D’s Full Belly Deli.

5. Wells Hollow Creamery

Wells Hollow Creamery

On the now fifth-generation family-run dairy farm, an ice cream parlour is open every week in the spring and summer.

Wells Hollow Creamery offers a menu of dozens of homemade flavors, from traditional flavors like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry to more exotic creations like key lime pie, ricotta and baklava.

You can choose between cups and cones, as well as sorbet and fat-free options.

There is a shaded outdoor patio where you can enjoy your spoon, and smaller family members will have a great time watching the farm’s cows, chickens and goats.

6. Pogoset Trail

Bogset Trail

The 9.2-mile Blue-Blazed trail passes through Sheldon and some Monroe, connecting most of the natural spaces on our list, including Indian Wells State Park, Mount Weber Park, and the southern shore of Lake Zoll.

The main route runs from southeast to northwest, roughly parallel to the Husatonic River, pouring into view every now and then.

During the walk, you’ll see the long-forgotten mill, boulders, Indian Well waterfall and the entrance to an ancient silver mine.

One of the memorable parts is the hard climb on Princess Winona Avenue, where steps take you up a steep incline between two suburban houses.

7. Sheldon Riverview Park

Sheldon Riverview Park

The town’s oldest official park is located on a cliff top next to Derby-Shelton Dam, with views of man-made waterfalls and the wooded hills on the Derby side of the river.

Overlooking the dam since the end of the 19th century is the “Boy with Fish” statue, cast in zinc, standing on a granite fountain.

At Fort Hill, you’ll find the site of Sheldon’s last fenced fort, which belonged to the Native American Ptatoks.

The place is marked with a boulder with an inscription.

Another interesting piece of history can be found in the descendants of Hartford’s famous Charter Oak, which became a symbol of American independence.

Complementing the scenery, Riverview Park is a great place to work out, with baseball and basketball courts and hiking trails.

8. Connecticut Sports Center

Connecticut Sports Center

For families who can never agree on what to do, this versatile attraction has something for everyone.

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The first thing the Connecticut Sports Center will say is that it has a full-size double-decker rink for free skating and catch hockey, plus kids can learn figure skating skills and sign up for a youth hockey league.

But beyond that, there are plenty of other activities, including a delightful 18-hole miniature golf course, bowling alley, driving range, batting cage, paintball, laser tag, basketball court, video arcade and virtual reality games.

There’s also a pottery studio where you can make, fire and glaze your own creations, but this needs to be booked in advance.

9. Veterans Memorial Park

Veterans Memorial Park

Shelton hosted a series of public events at this riverside park, which is home to the town’s stately granite war memorial.

Veterans Memorial Park is a wide expanse of grass and vegetation, with gazebos and tree-lined trails along the river (Shelton Riverwalk). In 1975, the now peaceful space was the site of one of the largest arson attacks in U.S. history, when a sponge rubber products factory was set on fire and exploded.

Today, Veterans Memorial Park hosts the July 4th Shelton Fireworks Show, as well as the Downtown Sounds Summer Concert Series, a riverside food truck program, the town’s farmers market and outdoor theater performances.

10. Sheldon Lake Recreational Trail

Sheldon Lake Recreation Trail

The Shelton Lakes Greenway Network has 11 miles of trails on more than 450 acres that meander into the town’s rural hinterland and around a series of tranquil reservoirs surrounded by woodland.

The most popular path in the network is the multi-purpose Shelton Lakes Recreation Path, which has a gravel surface to accommodate bicycles, wheelchairs and strollers.

Completed in 2012, the 4.1-mile trail begins at Pine Lake near the center of town and takes you west up a gentle slope, along the top of the dam at Silent Waters, overlooking Lake Hope Dam.

11. Whitney Farm Golf Course

Whitney Farm Golf Course

Even golfers who have seen it all will be put to the test on this 18-hole par-72 championship course, a 10-minute drive from Shelton.

Whitney Farms is a private club, but open to the public, with exhilarating views from its tee boxes and expansive fairways.

Where the course gets tricky is its small, undulating greens, so your hardcore game needs to be in place.

If you need to rediscover your touch, there is a driving range and practice green.

Green fees start at $41 for 18 holes of the week, and Sand Trap Grill & Bar sends a cart out onto the course for refreshments on busy days.

12. Zor Lake

Zor Lake

Just before it flows through Shelton, Housatonic is dammed to form the reservoir Zoar Lake, which covers more than 900 acres, making it the fifth largest lake in the state.

The hydroelectric Stevenson Dam is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was constructed in the 1910s to cross Roosevelt Avenue (Route 34) across the river.

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Zor Lake is open to the public and people visit the Zor Trail, a circular route that starts at the end of the North Shore Broadway Road and climbs to the rocky summit of the Bogosett State Forest.

On the water, the lake is a popular spot for water skiing and jet skiing, and although there are no fish here, plenty of trout swim on the Pomperaug and Pootatuck rivers, along with an abundance of bass, bass, white catfish and pike

13. Webb Mountain Discovery Area

Webb Mountain Discovery Area

Just on the town line with Monroe, there are more than 300 acres of wilderness on rugged terrain, spanning two separate areas.

About halfway is Webb Mountain Park, which connects steeply with the Hausatonic River and is a destination for hiking, rock climbing on schist walls, and camping.

Further down the river is the Webb Mountain Discovery Area, an outdoor learning facility for children in 170 acres of woodland.

The Discovery Zone offers after-school programs involving science and nature, as well as special seasonal enrichment programs in the spring, summer, and fall, all of which encourage children to experience the natural world.

If you come here on a normal day, you can hike, observe freshwater species at the spring pond, have a picnic, birdwatch at the feeders and bird pots in the Discovery Area, and take part in a free guided treasure hunt.

14. Sheldon History Center

Shelton History Center

To gain insight into Shelton’s past, the town’s historic society has gathered some buildings on the corner of Ripton Road and Cloverdale Avenue.

The Bronson House (1822) and Trap Fall School (1872) have been relocated to the site, while the Wilson Barn (1860) is in place and houses the museum’s permanent exhibit “Three Centuries of Sheldon— From Agriculture to Industry and Beyond”. When the Sheldon History Center opens, you can tour the complex, which also includes a wagon barn and its wagon collection, as well as an authentic outhouse and cornbed.

The association is also very active in the town’s community, organising events such as vintage and vintage car shows, as well as town tours, reading circles, open houses and youth clubs.

15. Sheldon Farmers Market

Shelton Farmers Market

It’s a sign of Sheldon’s transformation, which once housed a sprawling factory and now has a lovely farmers’ market next to Veterans Memorial Park, which is open on Saturdays throughout the spring and summer.

Come and shop from 09:00 to 13:00 for fresh produce, locally roasted coffee, farm-raised meats, eggs, bread, cookies, muffins, flowers and crafts, all direct from the producers.

Of course, in addition to the knowledge you’ll be helping the local economy, you’ll meet face-to-face with producers and they’ll get tips on how to get the most out of their inventory.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Shelton, CT (CT)
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