Norfolk is a charming New England town in the Litchfield Hills of the Berkshires. It is a must-visit destination for history buffs, art enthusiasts, and nature lovers. Founded in 1758, it has a population of around 500 people and is known as “the icebox of Connecticut” due to its unseasonably cooler climate. The town has a sophisticated warm welcome in a relatively untouched slice of New England Americana. It’s attracted artists like Ezra Pound, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Mark Twain for centuries. With farm stays, outdoor activities galore, charming cafes, and historic inns, Norfolk is perfect for a weekend getaway. Visitors from anywhere in the Northeast are sure to enjoy it. The town’s unseasonably cooler climate makes it an ideal destination for those seeking a unique experience. And there are plenty of things to do in Norfolk, CT, to keep you busy while you’re here.
- Explore Norfolk, CT’s centuries-old history & attractions like the Opera House and Dennis Hill State Park.
- Experience unique art galleries, restaurants & seasonal events in this charming corner of Connecticut!
- Discover nearby towns for more outdoor adventures and cultural experiences.
A Brief History of Norfolk, Connecticut
Founded in 1744 and officially incorporated in 1758, Norfolk’s history spans centuries. Originally a farming community, the town’s early years saw the development of small factories and mills. The local industry used the fast local streams and iron mines to make tools and farming implements.
In the late 1800s, Norfolk became a popular vacation spot. People from Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts came to the small town in the summer.
Norfolk’s cultural and artistic significance grew, with attractions like the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and Opera House. They feature world-class musicians and local artists even today. Before the Second World War, the New York firm Taylor designed over thirty buildings in Norfolk, CT. These buildings enhance the town’s architectural charm. His work was a major contribution to the town’s unique regional architecture.
The state’s coldest-ever temperature was recorded there in 1943. Even in the summertime, this place is cooler than the surrounding area, which makes it a popular destination.
As you stroll through Norfolk’s streets, you’ll be captivated by its historic places, natural beauty, and artistic inspiration. This town is a gem in Connecticut’s northwest corner.
Top Things to do in Norfolk, CT
Norfolk, CT, offers a variety of attractions and activities aside from the Norfolk Historical Museum and the Opera House. The state parks are a major attractor to the area. The Rails to Trails committee has converted abandoned tracks into cycling and hiking paths. Wood Creek Pond offers boat launches, kayaking, canoeing, and bird whispering workshops. Aton Forest is a private woods with 1,300 acres. It is a place for ecological research and hosts Fran Zygmont, known as the “bird whisperer.” Zygmont teaches bird identification through their songs.
Norfolk Historical Museum
The Norfolk Historical Museum is located in the Willoughby-Baylor House, a historic building. It provides an interesting view of the town’s past. Exhibits showcase a wide range of records and artifacts, telling the stories of:
- the town’s artistic history
- its literary history
- its natural history
- its civic history
The museum works with the Norfolk Historical Society to keep and share these stories with the community.
Exploring the Norfolk Historical Museum and the Norfolk Library reveals works by local Norfolk artists. it offers a unique insight into the town’s vibrant creative scene.
The Town Hall in Norfolk, CT, is an architectural landmark designed by George Keller in 1888/1889, showcasing the town’s rich history. The building connects to the town’s cultural scene. It hosts world-class musicians during music festivals and serves as a village hall. Other renowned architects like Alfredo Taylor, Ehrick Rossiter, and Stanford White worked here, too.
Norfolk Station, built in 1921 by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company, was a significant part of the town’s development. Today, the building has been converted into offices and a cozy café.
Norfolk Chamber Music Festival
Every year, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival is a major draw to the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. They invite excellent musicians to perform classical and new compositions for small groups. The event takes place at the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate and attracts art and music lovers to Norfolk, CT.
The Opera House in Norfolk, CT, built in 1883, now houses Infinity Hall, an intimate music hall. The building has been restored and is used for concerts and performances all year. It combines history and modern entertainment. The opera house upstairs offers an intimate setting for performances. The Opera House transports visitors back in time, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Norfolk, CT.
Norfolk, CT, is a vibrant artistic hub with numerous galleries nearby including:
- Shoestring Antiques and Gallery
- The Wish House in West Cornwall, CT
- Whiting Mills in Winsted, Connecticut
- Lauren Clark Fine Art in Great Barrington, Massachusetts
- Artwell in Torrington, Connecticut
- Vault Gallery in Great Barrington, Massachusetts
These galleries showcase a diverse range of art, from classic paintings to modern and contemporary pieces.
Dennis Hill State Park
Dennis Hill State Park in Norfolk, CT is a must-see for nature lovers. It has hiking trails, bird watching, and great views. The CT state park‘s vibrant fall foliage makes it an unforgettable hiking experience. Pack a picnic and enjoy the stunning scenery while exploring this beautiful corner of the Litchfield Hills.
Haystack Mountain State Park
The main draw to Haystack Mountain State Park is a stone turret. The top will reward you with panoramic views of the Berkshires and Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. The 34-foot-tall Haystack Mountain Tower is perfect for leaf peeping in the fall and for the mountain laurel bloom in June. The park also features trails for hiking and nature enjoyment.
Campbell Falls State Park Reserve
Campbell Falls State Park Reserve is a serene escape from daily life. It offers hiking trails, fishing opportunities, and a 50-foot waterfall. On a hot day, visitors can enjoy swimming in the waterfall’s pool. The surrounding and soothing sounds of nature and the stunning Connecticut landscape are sure to impress. This secluded and tranquil destination is perfect for a tranquil escape.
Beckley Furnace Industrial Monument
Visit the Beckley Furnace Industrial Monument, a 19th-century iron-making blast furnace in Burr Pond State Park, for history buffs. This site showcases the town’s industrial past, showcasing the ingenuity and craftsmanship behind iron goods production that fueled the local economy. It offers a glimpse into the town’s bustling activity.
Great Mountain Forest
The Great Mountain Forest spans over 6,000 acres. Its size along makes it a natural wonderland ideal for hiking, wildlife observation, and outdoor recreation. It features diverse flora and fauna, as well as charcoal mounds reflecting the town’s industrial past. In winter, you can go skiing and snowshoeing here, which is amazing for hikers and people looking for a peaceful getaway.
If you prefer downhill skiing, we recommend Mohawk Mountain in nearby Cornwall, CT. It’s one of the best places for skiing near NYC.
Connecticut Freedom Trail
The Connecticut Freedom Trail is a trail that explores over 130 sites in over 50 towns. Each represents a unique piece of Connecticut’s journey towards justice and equality. It serves as a reminder of the state’s rich history and honors the achievements and contributions of African Americans. And it passes through the town of Norfolk.
Norbrook Farm Brewery
Norbrook Farm Brewery offers much more than a variety of local brews. It also has a disc golf course, and mountain biking trails. It’s a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a fun and challenging experience for both seasoned and beginner players. And after a day of outdoor activities, you can relax and enjoy a pint of their finest brews from one of the best Connecticut breweries.
Seasonal Events in Norfolk, CT
Norfolk, CT, offers a variety of seasonal events, including the lively Winter Weekend. During the summer, Yale Summer School students enjoy the Summer Music Concert series. If you’re looking for an excuse to visit Norfolk, Connecticut, you’re welcome!
Winter Weekend in Norfolk, CT, is a two-day festival in February that features:
- Live music
- Art exhibits
- Winter sports
- And more
It offers a variety of activities for the whole family, allowing them to enjoy the beauty of winter and immerse themselves in local culture.
Fall Foliage Hikes
Autumn in CT is a season of vibrant colors, making the landscapes breathtaking. Experience the beauty of fall by joining a guided hike through popular state parks near Norfolk. Visit Campbell Falls State Park, Dennis Hill State Park, and Macedonia Brook State Park.
Summer Music Concerts
Norfolk, CT, is a vibrant destination for music lovers in the summer months. Local and visiting musicians perform at beautiful outdoor settings during the Summer Music Concert series. The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival commissions new works. Recent additions included a tribute to police brutality survivors. Over 30 concerts are held by world-class musicians teaching and mentoring Yale students. Most happen at the Music Shed, a performance hall located on the Ellen Battell Stoeckel estate to the west of the village green. Experience Norfolk, CT’s vibrant musical culture, a unique and inspiring destination worth seeing.
Shopping in Norfolk, Connecticut
Some of the more unique finds here include:
- The Guilded Artisan, which features local artists
- And Joseph Stannard, an appointment-only antique shop with items dating back to the 17th century
The Art Barn Gallery exhibits the work of dozens of local artists, too. The gallery also hosts free Saturday drawing classes.
Restaurants in Norfolk, CT
The culinary scene in Norfolk, CT, offers a delightful mix of local favorites and unique eateries. You can find both classic comfort food and complete dining and entertainment options in this corner of Litchfield County.
Exploring the town, make sure to sample the diverse range of cuisines and flavors that make Norfolk, CT, a paradise for food lovers.
Berkshire Country Store
Norfolk, CT’s Berkshire Country Store is a must-visit destination for food lovers. The store offers a variety of classic goods and classic food, including sandwiches, pizza, hot dogs, burgers, soups, salads, and sides. The deli menu includes popular items like maple-glazed sausage-egg-and-cheese biscuits and meatloaf-and-bacon sandwiches. The six-meat pizza is a local legend. The store also features a popular maple-glazed sausage-egg-and-cheese biscuit and meatloaf-and-bacon sandwich.
Infinity Music Hall and Bistro
Infinity Music Hall and Bistro is in the Opera House in Norfolk, CT. It offers a special experience for dining and entertainment. This small venue has over 200 live shows each year for a memorable night out.
Infinity Music Hall opened in 1883 as a saloon, barbershop, and opera house. Now, it hosts live music. You’ll find delicious dinner options like crispy goat cheese crêpe with roasted beets, lobster risotto with gouda, or ribeye with cilantro-lime butter.
Both music and food enthusiasts can enjoy a memorable experience at the bistro. The cozy atmosphere, delicious food, top-notch sound system, and modern amenities create a wonderful setting.
Norfolk Farmer’s Market
To better appreciate the community, visit the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from June to October. On the first Saturday of each month, chefs give cooking demonstrations to show how to make dishes using the market’s produce. Recent recipes demonstrations included chilled soup, picnic sandwiches, and chorizo tacos.
Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay in Norfolk, CT
After a day of exploring all that Norfolk, CT, has to offer, rest your head at one of the town’s cozy accommodations.
Manor House Inn
The nine-room Tudor-style Manor House Inn, built in 1898, offers a modern retreat for quiet getaways and memorable moments. The inn offers electric bike tours of local covered bridges and is perfect for rest, retreats, and romance. The inn is perfect for special occasions or simply for a change of scenery. Enjoy the picturesque New England countryside and Adirondack chairs on the lawn.
Some more local bed and breakfasts and hotels near Norfolk, CT include:
The Blackberry River Inn, once a colonial mansion constructed in 1763, has been revamped to include a swimming pool for guests to enjoy.
- The Mountain View Green Retreat is a lovely restored 1890s home. It is furnished with period antiques and has six fireplaces to keep you warm.
Directions to Norfolk, CT
Norfolk, CT is easily accessible by car, bus, or train, making it a convenient destination for travelers from nearby towns and cities. It’s an hour and 42 minute drive from our Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast. It’s also:
- A two-and-a-half-hour drive from Providence, Rhode Island
- A three-hour drive from New York City
- And a three-and-a-half hour drive from Boston
The town offers scenic drives through New England woods, gorges, and rivers. You’ll need a taxi to get here from flights to Hartford airport or trains to Wassaic. Norfolk is largely walkable and bicycle-friendly once you’re here, though.
More Towns and Cities to Explore Near Norfolk, CT
If you want to explore beyond Norfolk, CT, there are many nearby Litchfield Hills towns and cities with unique attractions and experiences. Nearby towns and cities include Lakeville, Torrington, CT, Great Barrington, MA, Millerton, and Sharon, CT. Also consider visiting:
- Litchfield, Connecticut
- Southwick, Massachusetts
- Plymouth, CT
- Westfield, Massachusetts
- Bristol, Connecticut
- Watertown, CT
- West Hartford, Connecticut
Each destination offers a chance to explore the beauty and charm of its surroundings. Be sure to download a copy of the free Connecticut Travel Guide for all the unique things to do across the state.
Norfolk has a lot to offer on a CT day trip. It has a rich history and vibrant cultural scene. The landscapes are stunning and the accommodations are charming. There are so many things in this charming New England town, like visiting attractions, joining events, or enjoying the beauty of nature. Plan your visit to Norfolk, CT, today and discover the magic that awaits you in this hidden gem of a destination.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Norfolk CT known for?
Norfolk is a town in the Connecticut Berkshires, established in 1758. It is known for its monthly newspaper, library, museum, clubs, market, inns, and restaurants.
What county is Norfolk CT in?
Norfolk, Connecticut is in Litchfield County. Litchfield County is in the northwestern corner of the state. It is part of the Litchfield Hills region. It is a town in New England, incorporated in 1758.
What are some must-visit attractions in Norfolk, CT?
Head to the Norfolk Historical Museum, Town Hall, Opera House, and state parks such as Dennis Hill State Park and Haystack Mountain State Park.
What seasonal events can I enjoy in Norfolk, CT?
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Norfolk, CT, during the different seasons you can enjoy Winter Weekend and Summer Music Concerts at the Music Shed.
Where can I find delicious dining options in Norfolk, CT?
If you want tasty food in Norfolk, CT, try the Berkshire Country Store and Infinity Music Hall and Bistro. They have lots of options that everyone will enjoy.