Like some other Connecticut cities (Hartford, CT, comes to mind), Bridgeport, Connecticut’s heyday was in the late 19th Century.
Back then, Bridgeport was one of the most influential cities in America. Politicians were sure to stop here to promote their campaigns. And it seemed like the factories in the Bridgeport area made anything and everything.
A short tour of the city today shows more than a few holdovers from a much more prosperous time:
- Zoos and grandiose parks
- Museums devoted to citizens that made Bridgeport so impressive
- Performing arts centers galore
- Impressive Victorian Era architecture
And all with a not-too-subtle layer of almost romantic decay.
Today, Bridgeport is the butt of jokes, both for locals and Family Guy.
And yet Bridgeport, Connecticut is a hidden gem in New England. It’s not entirely surprising that even the New York Times calls the fifth largest city in New England a ‘diamond in the rough‘.
Personally, Bridgeport, CT, may be up and coming, but it hasn’t up-and-come quite yet. Though it is a delightful place to explore on a CT day trip.
- The iconic Beardsley Zoo
- To the P. T. Barnum Museum of Circus History
- Seaside Park’s scenic walks along the shoreline
- To the downtown streetscape full of entertainment options
You won’t run out of things to do in Bridgeport. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just want to relax and take it easy – explore our list of things to do in Bridgeport CT before you go. There are plenty of hidden gems waiting for you!
The Top 10 Things to do in Bridgeport, CT, this weekend
Are you looking for fun things to do in Bridgeport, Connecticut? Look no further! From beaches and parks to museums and entertainment options – there’s plenty to choose from. Explore our list of the top 10 things to do in Bridgeport CT this weekend. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just want to relax and take it easy – let us help you discover all that Bridgeport has to offer! With its rich history, culture, attractions, and restaurants – Bridgeport is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is the place to get up close and personal with some amazing wildlife. With over 300 species of animals, birds, reptiles, and more – you can learn about the wild things that inhabit our world. Take a tour of the park on a Segway or wander through its lush gardens full of exotic plants. There are also plenty of activities and educational programs to participate in.
Explore all five sections at the only zoo in Connecticut:
- The Walk-Through Aviary
- South American Rainforest
- Alligator Alley
- Pampas Plains
- New England Farmyard
You can get up close and personal with the prairie dogs by crawling through tubes that lead into their homestead. You can watch a black panther and an Amur leopard interact, or watch bald eagles fly over a stream in their outdoor enclosure.
P. T. Barnum Museum of Circus History
Experience the magical world of the circus at the P. T. Barnum Museum. Located in downtown Bridgeport, this museum showcases a unique collection of artifacts from P.T. Barnum’s life and work. It also features items from other legendary circus performers. From costumes and sideshow banners to vintage posters and photographs, you can explore the history of this beloved art form in depth.
Some of the more unique finds here include:
- A preserved elephant
- An unwrapped mummy
- A model of the Feejee mermaid
- A miniature circus
A museum devoted to one of the most famous people of the 19th Century makes the list of one of the most unique things to do in CT.
Unfortunately, a tornado damaged one of the best museums in Connecticut. And it is still under renovation as of 2023.
That said, the People’s United Bank Gallery’s temporary exhibit gallery features personal items from P.T. Barnum and Tom Thumb. It’s right next door, and the unique terracotta structure is worth taking a look at from the outside.
One of Bridgeport’s most popular attractions is its Seaside Park along Long Island Sound. This beautiful park exists in its current glory thanks to P.T. Barnum’s project to develop what was once salt marshes and difficult-to-navigate rocky paths.
There are beaches, 325 acres of lawn, and fields along the three miles of coastline. This lengthy stretch of shoreline is one of Connecticut’s best beaches.
Stroll or bike down the boardwalk for breathtaking views of the Sound and the city skyline. There are also plenty of things to do on land, including:
- And fishing
This park was designed by the same men who created Central Park and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Fayerweather Island, which is also accessible from there, has a natural wildlife preserve and a lighthouse that was in use from 1823 to 1932.
More on that later.
Blue Ox Axe Throwing
The Blue Ox Axe Throwing is another item on the list of fun things to do in Bridgeport CT. With locations in both New Haven and Bridgeport, this unique entertainment destination teaches everything you need to know about the rustic sport!
This axe-throwing facility offers safety lessons so that everyone can enjoy an adrenaline rush without fear of harm. Challenge yourself to hit the bullseye or just have fun trying out this interesting activity. Either way, you’re sure to have a great time at the Blue Ox Axe Throwing!
It’s a great a winter day activity.
The Discovery Museum and Planetarium
Bridgeport’s Discovery Museum and Planetarium are great places to explore science. This interactive museum offers hands-on exhibits that focus on:
- The environment
- And more
Activities like stargazing in the planetarium and creating your robot in the robotics lab are great ways for kids to get involved in the world of science. There are also plenty of workshops, classes, and lectures to attend throughout the year – including a popular summer camp for kids.
What to see at the Discovery Museum and Planetarium
A few of the most popular exhibitions and attractions at the Discovery Museum include:
Exciting exhibits in the Science in Flight section allow visitors to conduct interactive experiments and become scientists. Visitors of all ages can build and launch their own rockets, and visit the flight simulator.
The Hall of Space is where visitors can travel through space and learn about the cosmos using immersive tools. The Sensational Senses area takes visitors on a sensory journey to learn about the body’s capabilities.
For young children, the Teddy Bear Triage section is the most exciting. Visitors who bring their favorite stuffed animals can learn teddy bear first aid here. To help your fluffy friends, you will learn how to perform checks, apply bandages, and use splints.
The impressive Henry B. duPont III Planetarium, which is popular with both children and adults, is also nearby. Performances are held in a full-dome theater with a massive 33-foot-diameter dome. They transport people to a galaxy far, far away.
For about 30 minutes, at least.
Zip through the Trees in The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum
Looking for an exciting adventure?
The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum is the perfect place to get your heart racing!
Head behind the museum to find five acres of wooded land offering a fantastic selection of zip lines, bridges, ropes courses, and more.
Test your skills and challenge yourself as you zip line through a network of aerial trails, bridges, and zip lines set high in the trees. With 15 courses ranging from beginner to expert level, get ready for some thrilling fun in the trees!
You can choose from 11 different aerial trails ranging in difficulty (and height, if you’re that sort of thing makes you nervous). With 161 challenge bridges and 21 zip lines, the 11 trails comprise the largest forest climbing park in New England.
Housatonic Museum of Art
The Housatonic Museum of Art is a large 33,000 square foot facility on the Housatonic Community College campus. It houses a diverse collection of international works from the 18th to the 21st centuries.
The museum’s walls are covered with over 6,000 masterpieces. It was founded in 1967 by director emeritus and art professor Bert Chernow. Every year, the galleries on the first floor of Lafayette Hall host several exhibitions. Paintings by Connecticut Silvermine Guild and Westport Arts Center members, as well as works by:
- Sylvia Stone
- Jeff Koons
- And Alex Katz
Festoon the walls of this bright room.
The museum takes up the first, second, and third floors of Beacon Hall. The student art gallery is here, as well as:
- The Native American Gallery
- Conservation Hall
- And several locations with thematic installations
The museum is open to the public all year and admission is free. The gallery is closed on weekends during the summer and on Sundays the rest of the year. The museum and gallery operate on the same schedule as Housatonic Community College, so if the college is closed, the gallery is closed as well. Check the schedule online before you go.
The Bridgeport to Port Jefferson Ferry
There is no better place to see Bridgeport than from the water on a nice, warm, sunny day. Go to the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company and board their two-level ferry for a scenic ride across Long Island Sound.
You are welcome to join the ride and avoid the stress of traffic, whether you are walking, biking, or driving. Twilight music cruises add atmosphere, and the Steamboat Lounge makes it easy to eat during the 75-minute ride. The upper deck offers the best views. Cars and other vehicles park on the lower level.
Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Best Breweries
Bridgeport’s cheap land until only recently used for industrial purposes benefits local brewers. That’s my best explanation for why breweries appear in abandoned industrial spaces, but yours is equally valid.
Anyway, the top Connecticut breweries in Bridgeport are:
Brewport | Bridgeport
Brewport is a cutting-edge industrial brewery that serves delectable dishes like BBQ pork pizza with beers on tap seven days a week. The Old News Double IPA, with an 8% ABV, is the strongest beer available in our opinion, but the South End Pale Ale comes in a close second.
Aspetuck Brew Lab | Bridgeport
The Bridgeport-based brewery’s modest yet elegant flavors make it an ideal choice for a relaxing afternoon of drinking. The taster flights at Aspetuck Brew Lab are a popular option, allowing you to sample up to six different beers.
Two Roads Brewing Company | Stratford
The largest brewery in the Northeast is located near the Bridgeport border in the Stratford industrial district.
Two Roads Brewing Company converted a former factory into a brewing facility and tasting room. The tasting room features enormous double-hung windows, cool old wooden floors, and a retro industrial vibe.
The frequent special releases justify visits to the nearby experimental Area Two. A sour fruit gose beer aged in oil tankers outside and an Imperial stout honoring the inventor of the helicopter, Igor Sikorsky, were two recent releases.
Athletic Brewing Co. | Stratford
Athletic Brewing Co.’s selection of non-alcoholic beers shows that drinking beer isn’t just for getting wasted. You can drink a few craft beers without getting drunk and still enjoy Connecticut to the fullest. Their product offerings are also quite impressive.
Things to do in Bridgeport, CT, at night
When the sun goes down, things heat up in Bridgeport! The city has plenty of great nightlife options to enjoy. You can catch a show at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre or head over to one of the many bars and clubs along Main Street for some drinks and dancing. There’s something for everyone in Bridgeport at night!
Have a Laugh at the Stress Factory Comedy Club
The Stress Factory Comedy Club is the perfect place to let loose and have a good laugh. Enjoy hilarious performances from some of the nation’s top comedians every week, along with delicious bar food and drinks.
Total Mortgage Arena (formerly Webster Bank Arena)
Sports fans should check out the Total Mortgage Arena schedule.
This entertainment complex is home to:
- Fairfield University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams
- The AHL Sound Tigers hockey team
Whatever time of year you visit Bridgeport or what you prefer, whether it’s:
- A concert (everything from vintage country to Latin music can happen here)
- A WWE event
- Or anything in between
There’s bound to be something of interest to you. After all, more than 100 different entertainment acts perform at the arena each year.
The Downtown Cabaret Theatre
Downtown Cabaret is available year-round and serves-up professional musical theater. Downtown Cabaret Theater draws in performers from Connecticut and New York, delighting audiences from all over. From the lively atmosphere to great entertainment, it’s a great spot for a date night or just a fun night out.
Attend a Concert at the Klein Memorial Auditorium
If you prefer classical music acts, The Klein Memorial Auditorium, which has nearly 1,500 seats, is a great option. Some of the best classical music performers in the area come here.
A dramatic, column-topped entrance and an art Deco-inspired interior welcome visitors into the nearly 1500-seat theater. Built in 1940 with a large Broadway stage, Klein Memorial auditorium provides Bridgeport’s most luxurious concert venue.
A host of musical maestros have delighted Bridgeport concertgoers and enriched the concert experience for many.
Some of the local institutions that call the Klein Memorial Auditorium home include:
- The Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras
- The New England Ballet Company
- The Greater Bridgeport Symphony
- The All Stars Project of Bridgeport
- And the Fairfield County Children’s Choir
Other touring performers at the Klein include the Vienna Boys Choir and the Lincoln Center Jazz Ensemble.
See Wondrous Performances at the Bijou Theatre
The Bijou Theatre, America’s oldest operating theater, has seen a lot of history. The list includes vaudevillian acts, silent films, live music, dance, theater, and more.
The bijou theater was built in 1911, when theaters presented silent movies and performed “vaudéville”. And it still has a reputation for entertaining audiences in films and performances from the very beginning. The Bijou Theatre provided students with ballet and tap classes for waltz, polka, and jazz until 1951. Today, the Bijou offers an open-air theater for:
- Live musical entertainment
- Comedy performances
- And movie screenings
The Bijou, with concessions on-site, is one of the best places to spend a night out in Bridgeport.
Dining & Restaurants in Bridgeport
Bridgeport continues to attract a diverse population, as befits a city with low rents. This includes recent immigrants to the country in particular. And they need to eat, too!
Bridgeport CT restaurants offer a wide range of cuisines, including Italian, Chinese, Thai, and even Jamaican.
Unique and Hidden Gems in Bridgeport, Connecticut
Besides the things to do in Bridgeport CT listed above, the city has plenty of other hidden gems and fun activities awaiting your discovery. Bridgeport is a great place to explore and have fun – get out there and discover what this city has to offer!
Black Rock Harbor Light (Fayerweather Island Light)
Black Rock Harbor Light, originally built in 1808, was destroyed by Hurricanes in 1821. The harbor lights were reconstructed in 1823 to remain in use and illuminate vessels on the sea. Technically the lighthouse is connected via a mile-long rock breakwater to the Seaside Park. In any case, it’s a beautiful place to take a walk along the sea.
When you visit the newly opened Pleasure Beach, you’ll be transported back in time to a Victorian amusement park on the beach.
Actually, it’s the closest feeling this writer has ever had to exploring Jurassic Park.
The park had been abandoned for a long time and is now difficult to visit.
Bridgeport owns Pleasure Beach, the peninsula’s westernmost point. It was originally an amusement park when it opened in 1892. Dandies could ride the steam ferry there to enjoy the:
- Carnival games
And other attractions.
But on June 16, 1996, a fire destroyed the only bridge connecting the peninsula to the mainland. After that, the peninsula could only be reached by boat from Bridgeport or by hiking from a parking lot in Stratford. Long Beach Park in Stratford is 1.8 miles from the Pleasure Beach entrance, and is how this writer got there.
The city fire department ordered the demolition of the carousel and bumper car residences in 2009. After the carousel was destroyed, only the theater and pavilion remained. Many of the abandoned buildings are inaccessible due to the conservation area and general decay.
In 2010, the city received a $1.9 million federal grant to improve docks and infrastructure, clean up the beach, and buy two water taxis.
A brand-new paved walkway leads from the dock to the renovated pavilion, and the boardwalk to the beach has been repaired. In the nearby woods and weeds, turkeys, rabbits, and foxes abound, and ospreys soar overhead on thermals in the summer. Parts of the dunes have been fenced off to protect the nesting areas of piping plovers. Considering the isolation from populated areas and the time it takes for medical or law enforcement help to arrive, don’t go here alone.
Captain’s Cove Seaport
Captain’s Cove Seaport is the place to be on a warm, sunny day. This enjoyable, family-run waterfront location has:
- A marina
- A restaurant
- And a spectacular, breezy, view of Black Rock Harbor
It’s no surprise that it’s one of Bridgeport’s most popular summertime attractions.
This family-friendly attraction has it all for a hot summer day on the water. Whether you want to cool off with a cool drink, eat some tasty fish and chips, or enjoy an evening of outdoor entertainment, you’ll find it here.
Visit Buried Treasures to find your pirate name and get pictures that even Blackbeard would appreciate. Or you can peruse the vibrant shops on the Boardwalk for an afternoon of adventure. Looking for even more enjoyable activities? Shore Thing is the place to go for nautical and beach-themed gifts, jewelry, and candies.
To please your sweet tooth, save room for a delicious treat from Tabitha’s Ice Cream. The Boardwalk shops open at 1pm Wednesday through Sunday, and the Seaport restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Visit a Tiny Lighthouse
Tongue Point is home to The Bug, a tiny black lighthouse measuring only 30 feet.
The small lighthouse, built in the late 1800s, served to warn ships of a large offshore rock formation.
But The Bug’s significance didn’t stop there.
In 1897, a new invention that took advantage of electricity’s infancy was tested there: an electric gong fog signal.
After a year, the invention, which was not terribly successful, was abandoned.
The lighthouse is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mountain Grove Cemetery and Mausoleum
If you’ve read more than a few of my guides, you know by now that cemeteries have a unique appeal to me.
It’s rare that I visit a place without taking a peak at their most famous cemetery, and that’s especially true in historic Connecticut.
P.T. Barnum’s grave is at Mountain Grove Cemetery and Mausoleum. Some other notable people are there as well, especially:
The Grave of Charles Stratton, more famously known as Tom Thumb
Pituitary dwarfism propelled circus performer Charles Stratton, who was born short, to international fame. After P.T. Barnum hired him, he performed under the alias “General Tom Thumb” in stage shows at P.T. Barnum’s American Museum.
His performances made him extremely wealthy, allowing him to buy:
- A luxury steam yacht
- A home in New York
- And a home on Connecticut’s Thimble Islands
He married Lavinia Warren, an event that even President Lincoln celebrated by sending a gift. They moved to Massachusetts and had a mansion built with furniture made to fit their heights. His final resting place is at the same Mountain Grove Cemetery and Mausoleum, close to P.T. Barnum’s resting place. A life-size statue of the three-foot-four-inch man stands on his tombstone.
Other notable people who have died include Cornelius Ball, Fanny Crosby, and others.
Pequonnock River Trail
If you just want to get moving, try the Pequonnock River Trail.
The 12.8-mile journey begins at the Bridgeport Transportation Center on Housatonic Avenue. And from there it continues to the border between Monroe and Newtown.
The trail is ideal for biking, skating, walking, and even cross-country skiing. It is such a beautiful, relaxing walk that you won’t want to leave.
Explore African-American History in Little Liberia
Explore the Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses, two modest houses built in Little Liberia in 1848.
Beginning in the early 1800s, newly freed African Americans settled in this neighborhood of Bridgeport.
They were the first homes built by newly freed African Americans in Connecticut before the state abolished slavery in 1848.
They’re on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you like unusual items, the Mongers Market is a must-see. This unusual establishment inside a warehouse on Railroad Avenue, is one of the best antique and flea markets in Connecticut.
This massive store sells a little bit of everything. From industrial salvage items to the usual china teacups, ceramic vases, antique rugs, and vintage clothing. We’re talking massive fans, old high school lockers, brand-new wood slabs, and all sorts of things you didn’t know you needed.
You’ll find an eclectic mix of:
And the strangest, most unusual things you didn’t know existed but will immediately fall in love with.
It’s a great place to just wander around for fun. That said, if you come here to shop, you won’t be disappointed. At least a dozen incredible finds are sure to inspire you to design something unique or include a cutting-edge addition to your home’s décor.
Although there is a small entrance fee (around $3), children are admitted free of charge. Or go after 3 p.m. for free admission.
Bring your biggest vehicle. You may be tempted to bring something big home.
And if you’d like to keep shopping, some more Connecticut antique stores nearby include:
- Tongue in Chique | Bridgeport, CT
- Stratford Antique Center | Stratford, CT
Saint Margaret Shrine
A charming and serene haven is just off Park Avenue, in the heart of a residential neighborhood. While it may not appear to be much from the road, once you park and begin to walk towards the main fountain, you’ll realize the vast depth of this special haven. The Saint Margaret Shrine, located in a tranquil setting, honors St. Margaret of Antioch.
This lovely area was dubbed an “oasis of prayer,” and the colonial-style St. Margaret Chapel moved in in 1942. Later additions included:
- A grotto
- A shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes
- A nine-foot marble statue of Christ the King
- A nativity scene carved into a hillside
- Our Lady of Fatima
- And many statues and water features
Outside the chapel is a life-size replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà.
It’s easy to spend a lot of time reflecting in this peaceful setting.
For the St. Anthony Feast, the area transforms every June into a fun amusement park with:
- Delectable Italian food
- And music
Saint Mary’s by the Sea
St. Mary’s by the Sea, a charming little waterfront park, offers breathtaking views of Black Rock Harbor and Long Island Sound. Stretch your legs and sit on one of the many benches that face the water.
Or you can stroll along the walkway while taking in the sights and sounds of this adorable park. There are also picnic tables by the water for lunchtime picnics.
FAQs about Bridgeport, Connecticut
Thanks to its fame (or infamy), people do have a lot of questions about Bridgeport, Connecticut. A few of the most common are:
Is Bridgeport CT worth visiting?
Absolutely! From amazing museums and historical sites to quirky markets and beautiful waterfronts, Bridgeport has plenty to offer.
Are there any hidden gems in Bridgeport, CT worth visiting?
Yes! From Beardsley Zoo, The Barnum Museum, and the charming Saint Mary’s by the Sea Park to other unique attractions like Seaside Park and Pleasure Beach, Bridgeport has plenty of hidden gems. Whether you’re looking for a culturally enriching experience or simply some quiet, there are plenty of options for you to explore. Plus, there are plenty of great places to eat in Bridgeport so you can enjoy some delicious local cuisine during your visit.
Is it safe in Bridgeport CT?
The city of Bridgeport is generally considered safe. Nonetheless, as you walk around the city, pay attention to your surroundings.
Are there any beaches near Bridgeport CT?
Yes! Seaside Park is a popular beach located on Long Island Sound in Bridgeport. It’s home to plenty of outdoor activities, including fishing, kayaking, swimming, and more. There are also many smaller beaches nearby for those looking for a quieter experience.
What is Bridgeport Connecticut famous for?
Bridgeport, Connecticut is famous for its industrial past, which made it very wealthy. More recently, it is famous for its prevalent urban poverty.
What is the nicest part of Bridgeport CT?
I’m partial to the Black Rock neighborhood of Bridgeport. The neighborhood straddles the Fairfield and Bridgeport border. It is very walkable with cute shops and restaurants. It’s also where you’ll find the Saint Mary’s by the Sea park.
What is a fun fact about Bridgeport CT?
Bridgeport was once a major producer of phonograph records, scissors, guns, lace, drills, typewriters, fans, underwear, sewing machines, automobiles, and lipstick cases.
What towns are near Bridgeport?
The towns surrounding Bridgeport are: Fairfield to the west, Trumbull to the north, and Stratford to the east.