Are you looking for a blissful escape from your nine-to-five routine? Get out and explore the lovely coastline of Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Nestled on Long Island Sound, this beach offers 3/4 of a mile of pristine sand surrounded by crisp New England waters. Whether you’re a beach enthusiast or seeking an adventure-filled summer day, Calf Pasture Beach is worth a summer day trip!
Read on to discover why Calf Pasture Beach should be at the top of your list of the best things to do in Norwalk, CT!
Calf Pasture Beach: what you need to know
Nestled on the easternmost point of Norwalk, Connecticut, sits a local favorite, Calf Pasture Beach. Most Gold Coast locals, not just Norwalk locals, have fond memories of being at this beach.
This writer used to visit regularly with his grandparents, Norwalk locals, after a trip to the Maritime Aquarium.
Be sure to take the time to enjoy a glorious sunset, perfectly complementing your day at Norwalk’s very own hidden gem.
Map design by Stanton House Inn
A Brief History of Calf Pasture Beach
Calf Pasture Beach brims with a few intriguing tales and fascinating events stretching back for centuries.
As name implies, it was once a grazing ground for European colonists’ cattle (and calves, I assume).
The beach was a point of disembarkation and camp during the 1779 American Revolutionary War. Following retaliatory raids in New Haven, CT, and Fairfield, CT, William Tryon led 2,600 British soldiers by boat to Norwalk on the evening of July 10, 1779. They made landfall near the Round Beach island on Calf Pasture peninsula, where they spent the night. The following day, they began burning Norwalk.
When all was said and done, only six houses in all Norwalk remained standing after the raid.
In 1917, the Norwalk City legislature granted the city permission to purchase land at Calf Pasture Beach and develop it into a park. Land acquisition via property condemnation began in 1919.
In 1922, the descendants of the Betts, Marvin, and Taylor families, who owned a large portion of the adjacent property, donated their lands to the city. Considering the property condemnation process begun a few years earlier, it sounds like they didn’t have much of an alternative.
While work on the park’s structures and surrounding roads continued, the park opened in 1924.
Norwalk acquired adjoining Shady Beach in the 1960s.
Today, the City of Norwalk still owns and maintains the triad of parks at the end of Calf Pasture peninsula:
- Calf Pasture Beach
- Shady Beach
- Taylor Farm
Things to do at Calf Pasture Beach
Major draws to one of the best Connecticut beaches, include:
- A large guarded beach
- A fishing pier
- A playground shaded by trees, plus a splash pad for the kids
- A small unpaved boat ramp (suitable for cartop boat launches only, no trailers)
- Sand volleyball courts
- Bocce courts
- A skate park
- Baseball diamonds (with lighting for nighttime games)
- Accessible restrooms
- And a seafood restaurant, Ripka’s Beach Cafe, for breakfast, lunch or dinner
In the spring and fall, kart racing takes place in the parking lot at Calf Pasture Beach.
The Norwalk Sailing School at Calf Pasture rents out kayaks and sailboats and provides small craft safety training. Calf Pasture Beach is also a major stop on the Norwalk Islands Canoe/Kayak Trail.
There are also special events planned throughout the season, ranging from amazing free concerts to classic car shows. For example, Norwalk’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display takes place here.
You’ll find even more amenities for your beach day at nearby Shady Beach and Taylor Farm ParK:
Shady Beach Park
Adjacent Shady Beach Park has an unsupervised beach, covered picnic tables, grills, and additional restrooms.
Taylor Farm Dog Park
Taylor Farm Park has a tidal pool as well as grassy and wooded areas for dogwalking. This park offers 4.5 acres of free-range running for your dog to work out his zoomies. The Greenwich Kennel Club hosts its annual dog show here.
How to enjoy a summer day at Calf Pasture Beach (ie: day and parking passes)
The beach is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The splash pad is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Day Parking Permits in Norwalk
Locals must check their license plate number before parking at Shady Beach or Calf Pasture Beach. If you live in Norwalk but your car is registered in another municipality, you can still purchase a Beach and/or Disposal Pass at City Hall.
I added this to emphasize that, like Greenwich beaches, most beaches here are limited, even for locals.
Non-resident parking at Calf Pasture Beach is limited to 130 spaces per day, and all non-resident parking is first come, first served. You can buy day parking passes using the ParkMobile app or one of the two pay station kiosks on the main sidewalk next to the parking lot.
Non-resident parking fees are:
- $40 per car on weekdays before 5:00 pm
- $20 per car after 5:00 pm
- And $65 per car on weekends
Restaurants near Calf Pasture Beach
Aside from Ripka’s Beach Cafe, there’s one more option at Calf Pasture Beach. The Galley offers true waterfront dining at Norwalk Cove Marina. Enjoy the ever-changing scenery and waterfront activity while savoring delicious breakfast and lunch specialties overlooking Norwalk Harbor.
Beyond that, there are an abundance of options among the restaurants in South Norwalk, CT, along Washington Street. It’s only an 8-minute drive inland from Calf Pasture Beach.
Directions to Calf Pasture Beach
Ready for a beach day? The drive from our Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast is only about 30-minutes along Interstate 95. The drive up to the Merritt Parkway and down Route 7 would take longer, but is usually a more scenic drive.
Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay near Calf Pasture Beach
Would you prefer to stay somewhere nearby?
The Norwalk Inn is a short distance away. It’s a mix of a historic inn and a motel.
Hotel Zero Degrees is another nearby Norwalk hotel with comfortable rooms and amenities.
If you’re looking for a nearby bed and breakfast inn, check out the following spots:
- Stanton House Inn in Greenwich, Connecticut
- The Inn at Gray Barns is located in Norwalk’s Silvermine neighborhood
- In New Canaan, Connecticut, you’ll find the Roger Sherman Inn
Find even more things to do in Norwalk, CT after your day at Calf Pasture Beach
Once you’ve finished washing off the sand (or finished that power walk around the peninsula), there are plenty more things to do in Norwalk, Connecticut!
If you feel like stretching your legs, Calf Pasture Beach is the southern terminus of the Norwalk River Valley Trail.
Follow it north to pass through East Norwalk and reach the South Norwalk, CT, neighborhood, home of:
- Washington Street, SoNo’s main street full of shops
- The Maritime Aquarium, a major institution devoted to the study and appreciation of Long Island Sound
- The SoNo Collection, a luxury shopping mall
- The loading dock for the ferry to the Sheffield Island lighthouse, to enjoy a sunset cruise in Norwalk harbor
- The SoNo switch tower museum, if you’re very into trains
Or continue even further north along the Norwalk River Valley Trail to visit:
- The Lockwood-Mathews mansion museum, for a little Gilded Age history
- Or appreciate the local arts scene at either the Norwalk Art Space or the Wall Street Theater
- Sherwood Island State Park in Westport
- Greenwich Point Park in Greenwich
- Silver Sands State Park in Milford
- Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison
But whatever you do, we’re sure that Norwalk is sure to pleasantly surprise you. And for our recommendations on the best things to do here, be sure to read our Norwalk, CT, Visitor’s Guide!