I’m no mathematician, but 3 little girls x2 weeks of summer camp x3 weeks of swimming lessons x3 new bathing suits = a whole lot of money. So I’m on the hunt for summer activities that won’t (further) break the bank. Happily, there are lots of options here in Fairfield County for summer fun that aren't prohibitively expensive!
In Your Neighborhood
Almost every town offers these awesome, inexpensive summer fun options:
Summer Concert Series - New Canaan, Stamford, Trumbull, Danbury, Stratford
Amongst our favorite summer activities are the summer concert series that many area towns sponsor. Bring a picnic, a blanket, and spend an evening with friends and family enjoying music in some lovely venues. Concerts are held weekly in New Canaan, Stamford, Trumbull, Stratford and Danbury and feature a variety of musical styles including jazz, country, pop and classical.
Open House Day - Multiple locations
Each year the State of Connecticut tourism bureau sponsoring Open House Day! Many museums and historic sites statewide will be offering free admission. Amongst the participating museums are the Bruce Museum, the Danbury Museum and Historical Society, and the CT Audubon Society.
Summer Reading Programs - Multiple Locations
Reading is a must for all - and lots of local libraries have great summer reading programs for kids. Check out the programs offered via the libraries of New Canaan, Brookfield, Ridgefield, and Darien.
Summer Fireworks Displays - Multiple Locations
My smallest editors (my children) are aghast that I've yet to mention the 4th of July fireworks that are in the area. Not to worry! There are several firework displays! New Canaan, Fairfield, and Norwalk, all host Independence Day fireworks. Check town schedules for times and rain dates.
Farmers' Markets - Multiple Locations
We love visiting nearby farmers' markets-- it's fun to pick out produce for the week and try new foods. And I can usually be talked into buying a lemonade for the kids...happiness all around! The Fairfield Green Food Guide offers a comprehensive list of area farmers' markets - we've found that the markets in Ridgefield, Darien and Greenwich have all been fantastic.
Camping Under the (Falling) Stars - Your Backyard
Family outdoor fun doesn't just have to happen under the sun either ... what's better than a summer night under the stars?! Consider camping out in the backyard for one of two massive meteor showers. The kids will never forget it (unless the streetlights interfere ... it'll be fun to try anyway)!
Gone Fishin'! - Multiple Locations
Of course, there's the Sound, but if your little ones would like to see what can happen with a $10 Spiderman or Barbie pole, hit up the Trumbull VFW youth fishing pond. You'll catch some sunnies or small bass -- it'll be thrilling! Or enjoy the shade, bring a picnic and check out river fishing at Indian Wells State Park in Shelton.
Bowtie Cinemas Summer Kids' Series (Free Movies) - Stamford & Trumbull
Every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m., Bowtie Cinemas at Landmark 9 (Stamford) and Marquis 16 (Trumbull) offer a free movie.
Annual Summer Fun in Lower Fairfield County
Check out these great summer events in and around lower Fairfield County:
Photo courtesy of Shakespeare on the Sound
Shakespeare on the Sound - Rowayton
If you enjoy the theater, there are a few summer events to consider. Shakespeare on the Sound, a renowned summer theater company, performs annually, June and July, at Pinkney Park in Rowayton. The performances are outside - bring a blanket and picnic! - and admission is free, though donations are requested.
Summer Theatre of New Canaan - New Canaan
Also offering delightful theater is the Summer Theater of New Canaan. Tickets are somewhat costly, but if you opt for lawn seating, tickets can be in your budget. Check the website for this season's performances.
CT's Beardsley Zoo - Bridgeport
This zoo is the perfect size for a family outing. After meeting the animals, unpack your lunch and chill out while the kids climb around the popular playground area.
RCA Rowayton Fun Run - Rowayton
Get out and stretch those legs! Choose either a 4 mile run, or a 2.2 mile run (kids under 15 can only do the shorter run). Adult registration is $10, children's registration is $5.
Summerfest - Fairfield
What's summer without a fair or two? We suggest kicking off the summer with Summerfest by Grace United Methodist Church in Fairfield. The FunFest features bouncy houses, arts and crafts, and a magic show.
Sport Hill Farm - Easton
Feed the chickens and take in the pure beauty (smells!) of this sustainable family farm.
Photo courtesy of the Norwalk Seaport Association
Oyster Festival - Norwalk
At the tail end of summer, head out to Norwalk's Oyster Festival, which is a a fantastic carnival offering Ferris wheels, roller coasters, and carnival games, as well as tons of fair food.
Garden Story Time - Fairfield
What kid doesn't love digging in the dirt? Let the librarians at Fairfield Woods guide them with Garden Story Time? The Fairfield Woods Branch will read stories and plant a garden with helpers age 2-5 (registration required).
Sand, Jam and Family Movie Nights - Fairfield
Kick off your evening at 6:30 p.m. with music and dancing on the beach, followed by a family friendly movie when the sun goes down. Whose kids wouldn't sleep well after an evening like that?
Peanut Butter Jam Concerts Picnic Performances for Kids - Fairfield
The younger kids (and you!) will enjoy interactive musical foot stompin' performances on the Sherman Green every Wednesday this summer. Pack a picnic! All shows start at 10 a.m.
Norwalk Historical Society's "Hunt for History" - Norwalk
The main event may be over, but you can still download the society's scavenger hunt map and and "Hunt for History" at the Norwalk Historical Society. A great way to keep the kiddos minds work over the summer.
Annual Summer Fun in Upper Fairfield County
Check out these great summer events in and around upper Fairfield County:
Outdoor Family Movie Night - Shelton
One of my kids' all-time favorite things to do on a summer night is head to an outdoor movie. Several Fairfield County towns offer outdoor movie screenings in the summer. The Shelton Youth Service Bureau sponsors a weekly outdoor summer movie starting July 14th. Movies start around 8:30 p.m.; bring blankets and food!
Trumbull's Summer Tunes - Trumbull
Every Tuesday at Noon at the Old Mine Ruins, bring a picnic, blanket and the kids to enjoy live music and fun.
Captain's Cove Seaport - Bridgeport
Do a little shopping, eating, and dancing with the live music at Captains' Cove this summer. They've added Saturday afternoon entertainment, and while strolling the boardwalk, you'll feel like you've been teleported to Key West!
Photo courtesy of Webb Mountain Discovery Zone
Webb Mountain Discovery Zone - Monroe
For when you are ready to spend some time outside, the nature center and trails at Webb Mountain are good for all ages.
Pequonneck River Valley State Park - Trumbull
If you're after a mellow afternoon outside, head to the tranquil Pequonneck River Valley State Park. For those who love to fish, you may just reel in a nice trout or two. And if fishing ain't your bag, enjoy the beautiful, shady hike and bike path instead. Perfect for a hot day.
Summer Fun at the Library - Bethel
Up in Bethel, the library offers 'Summer Craft Day' series for kids 7 and under, and a Summer Tie Dye event for 6th through12th graders. Dates to be announced. (registration required).
Kids love hiking... and it's free! (photo by Elizabeth Howard)
Hiking Local Trails
- Danbury and Shelton
If you enjoy wildflowers, lake views, and bird watching, follow the orange trail at the beautiful Bear Mountain Reservation
. Or try out one of the six color-coded trails have been developed and mapped with difficulty ratings from moderate to advanced at Tarrywile Park.
In Shelton, there are multiple trails, everything from an easy stroll to sweat-inducing challenges. Visit the Shelton Trails website for maps
Boothe Memorial Park and Museum - Stratford
This hidden gem in Fairfield County, Boothe Park is an idyllic spot for the kids to play, explore, run and picnic. Visit the playground, put on your own play in the sunken garden, and stroll through the rose gardens. The historic buildings are open summer afternoons for tours, with the Boothe Railway Society open summer Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m.
CT Free Shakespeare - Bridgeport, Guilford, Old Saybrook
Since 2000, Dandelion Productions has produced Connecticut Free Shakespeare at Beardsley Zoo. In recent years they've added venues at the Historic Guilford Green and in Old Saybrook on the town hall green, adjacent to the Katharine Hepburn Performing Arts Center. Check their Facebook page for updated listings.
SummerStage at The Danbury Fair Mall - Danbury
Every Tuesday morning, July through the middle of August, the Danbury Fair Mall offers the best in CT children's entertainers. Check the website for details.
So there you have it...some free and inexpensive events to enjoy this summer in Fairfield County. Happy summertime!
Main image courtesy of the writer - Elizabeth Howard.