Dating from 1639, Stratford is a town on the Long Island Sound bounded to the east by the final reach of the Housatonic River.
At the mouth of the Housatonic, and around the coast, you can lie on the public sandy beach or watch the sun set along the picturesque seawall at Lordship.
Stratford has a chapter in aviation history as the place where America’s first viable helicopter, by Igor Sikorsky, was developed in the late 1930s.
To this day Sikorsky Aircraft is Stratford’s largest company.
In summer, some of the city’s dignified old houses welcome visitors for tours, at Boothe Memorial Park and Captain David Judson House.
The city also has a tradition of theater, this day celebrated with outdoor Shakespeare performances on the premises of the storied American Shakespeare Theatre.
1. Boothe Memorial Park and Museum
High on the steep west bank of the Housatonic River is a 32-acre public park filled with historic buildings.
Until 1949, this was the estate of the Boothe family, who had lived here for generations.
In 1914, brothers David Beach Boothe and Stephen Nichols Boothe founded the Boothe Museum, which continues to preserve the 20 buildings that were moved to the grounds.
These include a carriage house, windmill, chapel, Connecticut’s last highway toll booth, trolley station, blacksmith shop and clock tower museum.
Most notable is the Boothe Homestead, built circa 1840 on the foundations of a house dating back to 1663. Tours of the garden buildings take place between May and October, when the rose garden is the venue for the show.
The rest of the year oddities set the scene for a walk to remember.
A milestone on the calendar is the Great Pumpkin Festival in mid-October when there is a hotly contested pumpkin carving competition.
2. Two Way Brewing Company
It feels like every town in Connecticut has a brewery, but few have thrived like Two Roads, which is now starting to export to the UK.
Headquarters is the beautiful old brick US Baird Building on Stratford Avenue, which was once used to make a transfer press.
If you want to see where the magic happens, there are tours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, while the tasting room is open for seven days.
The whole place is beautiful to look at, with bare wood floors, steel beams and large windows flooding everything with light.
Things can get busy on Saturdays, so it’s a good idea to arrive early because once the tasting room is full, there’s a one-in, one-out policy.
Some drinks throughout the year are helles lager, hefeweizen, session IPA, two double IPAs, dry-hopped pilsner and coffee stout, and these are accompanied by seasonal specials and all manner of limited releases.
To top it off, there are new food trucks out almost every day.
3. Hutan Roosevelt
The Stratford patch of forest itself is a remnant of the Great Depression, as a project by the Employment Progress Administration, which was set up to employ millions of job seekers.
Forests, a mix of hardwood trees such as maple and oak, and softwood trees such as spruce and pine.
Paths, some of which are marked, invite you into this relaxing environment, past ponds and through wetlands.
There is a lot of bird life in the forest, as well as deer, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
And to make things even more comfortable, the Roosevelt Forest has amenities like picnic benches, shelter, a cooking area, and a playground for children.
4. Short Beach
Where the Housatonic River flows into Long Island Sound is a picturesque sandy beach, framed by tranquil gardens and athletic fields, and heading east for majestic sunrises.
Among the recreation areas are a playground and sandbox for young children, as well as tennis courts, softball courts, volleyball courts, basketball courts and a link-style nine-hole par 3 public golf course.
Guests can also take advantage of picnic areas and concession stands, and the Beach House Grill by the golf course caters to beachgoers.
Seabirds and waterbirds such as sparrows make their nests on the shore, and peck around tidal zones in search of small fish.
In summer, fishermen also often visit Short Beach to catch blue snapper and bait fish.
5. His Majesty’s Sea Wall
At Stratford’s southernmost point is a restorative area where you can park and enjoy panoramic views of the Long Island Sound.
Seawall isn’t touristy, with only one restaurant, Riley’s by the Seawall, but it’s gorgeous at sunrise and sunset.
Long Island is visible in the distance, and if you have time to spare you can watch the marine traffic travel along the Sound.
There is a small beach area where you can dip into the water and take your dog for an off-season walk.
6. Stratford Antique Center
In a sprawling blue warehouse, the Stratford Antique Center is Fairfield County’s longest-running multi-dealer antique store.
In this space, open seven days a week, there are more than 200 dealers selling all manner of treasures and collectibles, such as antiques, furniture, clocks, ceramics, signage, glassware, jewelry, luggage, fabrics, paintings, photography, lighting, books, comics, vinyl, glassware and many more that we could possibly mention here.
An avid shopper can spend at least a few hours researching options, and that persistence can sometimes pay off with real discoveries.
7. Long Beach
This sandbar stretching west from Lordship has a fascinating past, and is today an important shorebird haven and a place to relax away from the crowds.
Until 1958 there was a small amusement park on the far west end of Long Beach, connected to the East End Bridgeport neighborhood by a bridge.
After the park closed the community of 45 beachfront huts remained, in 1996 the bridge caught fire, cutting off the neighborhood forever.
The lodges are long gone, and the land is left pristine as a public park and an “unrepaired” beach, with no amenities.
You can bathe and fish in the far east, while the central part of the beach is reserved as a prime nesting ground for at least seabirds and plovers.
8. Stratford Center Historic District
The 220 acres surrounding Stratford’s Academy Hill area have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983. We’ll include some of the top sights below, including the 18th-century Captain David Judson House.
Centered on the First Congregational Church and its old burial grounds, the Historic District is made up of a number of historic buildings.
The area remains culturally active, especially in the summer for the drama program at American Shakespeare State Park.
On the west bank of the Housatonic, the park is the site of the American Shakespeare Theatre, founded in 1955 but left empty for decades before being burned down in an early 2019 arson attack . Notable actors, including Katharine Hepburn, James Earl Jones and Christopher Walken, performed in their heyday. theater.
A summer outdoor series by the Shakespeare Academy keeps this legacy alive, and in 2019 Coriolanus and The Winter’s Tale are on the program.
9. Captain David Judson’s House
Dating from the mid-18th century, this stately Georgian house was built for Captain David Judson, then the head of the Stratford militia, tasked with defending the city.
An eye-catching feature on the main facade is the pediment, with a broken roll design, considered one of the best of its kind in the state.
The Judsons have owned the plot since the 1630s, and in all, nine generations of the family lived here until 1888. The house was painted a deep red and is preserved as a museum by the Stratford Historical Society.
All of the furniture has some connection to Stratford, and among the curiosities is a piano that once belonged to William Samuel Johnson, the man who framed the United States Constitution.
10. National Helicopter Museum
This free museum will give you the behind-the-scenes stories of Igor Sikorsky and helicopter production in Stratford.
The National Helicopter Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday in the summer, in the building east of Stratford Railway Station.
There you can trace Sikorsky’s career, learning about America’s first viable helicopter, the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 (1939). Another aviation pioneer, Dr Anselm Franz developed gas turbine engines at Stratford during the 1950s, and pieces of his T55 are on display.
Along with tons of models, photos, and documents, there are some thrilling exhibits, relating figures such as pilot John Olsen who flew a Sikorsky R4 over the Arctic Circle in 1946, or another Stratford inventor, Vincent Bendix, who was responsible for innovation. like a car. self-starter and four-wheel brake.
11. Cream Hollow Wells
Continue through Roosevelt Forest and in a minute or two you’ll be at this charming family-owned dairy farm and ice cream shop.
Wells Hollow Creamery makes more than 50 different flavors here, from Amaretto Cherry to Vermont Maple Walnut, and, in addition to serving cones and cups, offers a menu of sundaes and shakes.
You can also choose from “lean”, frozen yogurt, and sorbet.
More than just a place to grab something and go, the farm opens its doors to visitors and kids will delight in the cows (with calves in summer), goats and chickens.
12. Connecticut Air and Space Center
There is a small museum recording Stratford’s aerospace heritage on Main Street, across from Sikorsky Memorial Airport.
The museum was founded in 1998 after the Stratford Army Machinery Plant closed, and is housed in two buildings that previously belonged to the factory complex.
This makes it one of the few museums in the United States to be found in the original World War II aircraft manufacturer.
You’ll see nine aircraft, in varying preservation statuses, including the 1945 Vought/Goodyear FG-1D Corsair 92460, the 1948 Lockheed TV-2/T-33 Shooting Star (57-6558) and the 1961 Northrop T-38A Talon (60 -0900), the world’s first supersonic jet trainer.
One of the museum’s long-term restoration projects is the 1958 Sikorsky S-60 “Flying Crane” prototype, the last aircraft designed and tested by Igor Sikorsky.
13. Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point
There is a very important shorebird site above the Housatonic in Milford.
At the mouth of the river there is Charles E.
Wheeler Salt Wildlife and Wildlife Management Area.
A total of 315 species of birds have been documented in these tidal ponds, barrier beaches, sand dunes and tidal salt marshes.
At its southernmost tip, on the sandy plains of Milford Point, lies the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Coastal Center.
Inside you can peruse informative wildlife exhibits, and check nest cameras for ospreys and purple martins.
You can birdwatch along the coast of the reserve and peer through the scope above the four viewing platforms.
The abundance of mussels attracts colonies of American oyster and pipe plover, which nest on beaches, osprey nest in marshes.
A number of other waders also flock here in late summer, while snowy owls are regularly seen in the area in winter.
14. Audubon CT di Stratford Point
Since 2015 this 30 hectare site south of Short Beach at the mouth of the Housatonic river has been revitalized as another sanctuary for shorebirds.
Stratford Point already has a mix of habitats to attract nesting and migratory birds, such as open grassland, scrubland, coastal forest and rugged outcrops in the water.
Over the past five years, water parks and migratory trails have been established in partnership with the Stratford Two Way Brewery Company and the Jeniam Foundation, while a dedicated bird park has been planted to attract fall migrants.
This sanctuary is located next to Stratford Point Light, built in 1822 and fenced off in 2019 as a private home, though still visible at close range.
15. Academy Hill
This close and well-maintained public park is located on the corner of Academy Hill and Elm Street, just behind Christ’s Episcopal Church and Captain David Judson’s House.
In manicured gardens with circular paths, this is the site of the Stratford Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and the city’s World War II memorial, an arch with four columns.
There is plenty of cover from the garden’s dense foliage, and the memorial garden has ornamental shrubs, hydrangeas, and rose bushes.
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Stratford, Connecticut (CT)
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