Southbury, Connecticut: the sort of quaint, alluring town that makes you want to leave the city and embrace that small-town charm. Nestled in New Haven County, Southbury is home to fewer than 20,000 residents, giving it that cozy, everyone-knows-everyone feel. It’s a place where natural beauty is the norm, particularly along the Housatonic River, where you’ll find two of Connecticut’s largest lakes.
Now, let’s talk uniqueness. Southbury is the only community in the entire United States with its name. Yes, you heard it right. It’s so unique, it made it official with its motto, “Unica Unaque”, which translates to “The One and Only”. And all from a population that would barely fill a sports stadium.
Southbury, Connecticut, has it all:
- Beautiful lakeside hiking trails
- Breathtaking waterfalls
- Bird-watching opportunities
- Locally crafted ales and wines to savor
This town, incorporated in 1787, has a rich history rooted in agriculture and manufacturing industries. Its historic districts are a time capsule of architectural marvels and historic residences.
Southbury is not just another town on the Housatonic River. It’s a natural paradise with state parks, preserves, and lakes offering endless outdoor recreation and leisure opportunities. So, if you’re planning a visit, buckle up! This guide will take you through the best things to do in Southbury, Connecticut.
- Explore Southbury, CT’s unique history & the many activities from hiking at Kettletown State Park to shopping on Main Street Historic District!
- Enjoy outdoor activities like skating and fishing or bird watching at Bent of the River Audubon Center.
- Don’t forget nearby towns and cities Woodbury, Oxford, Middlebury & Newtown for an unforgettable adventure!
A Brief History of the town of Southbury, Connecticut
Oh, Southbury! A town with as unique a history as you’re likely to find in your grandmother’s attic. Including a skeleton or two.
Before European settlers set up shop in the early 18th century, this place was the stomping ground of the Pootatuck people. The tribe used the Algonquian language, fun fact.
Originally part of Woodbury, Southbury was settled in 1673. In 1787, Southbury officially became a town and quickly grew into a hub for agriculture and manufacturing. The town’s growth in the 1800s was powered by water, which drove the mills, tanneries, and distilleries that were its main industries. But as the industrial revolution took hold, many businesses left for Waterbury.
In the 1920s, Russian expats Count Ilya Tolstoy and George Grebenstchikoff set up an artists’ colony called Churaevka. A printing press for Russian and Ukrainian scholars and novelists was at its center. Most of the population has moved on from the spot between Main Street and the Pomperaug River. And yet, St. Sergius Chapel still stands near the Russian Village Historic District.
In 1937, the town found out that Wolfgang Jung had purchased a chunk of land here. He turned out to be part of the German American Bund, an organization of ethnic Germans who were fans of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. The Bund ceased operations when the town changed zoning to bar non-military activity here aside from the USA Army. The organization eventually sold the land.
Over time, Southbury transformed from a rural community into a diverse town. Here, you’ll find a commercial downtown and residential neighborhoods alongside farming communities and vast rural areas. Iconic television personality Ed Sullivan owned a country home in town.
Today, the town is 17% open space, though they’re aiming for 20%. In the early 1990s, Southbury found itself in a legal battle with the Golden Hill Paugussett Indian Nation. The suit tried to claim the land of about 1,200 local property owners. The lawsuit was dismissed in 1993, as the man who filed the suit was not a chieftain and therefore had no standing to sue.
Now that we’ve taken a stroll down memory lane, let’s dive into the top attractions in this charming Connecticut town.
The Best Things to do in Southbury, CT
Southbury has a bounty of natural attractions, shopping spots, and historical sites for visitors to explore. No matter if you’re an outdoor enthusiast seeking tranquility in scenic parks or a history aficionado eager to step back in time, Southbury has got you covered.
Wait no further! Discover the intriguing attractions of Southbury, CT, and begin orchestrating your upcoming escapade!
Kettletown State Park
Ever heard of Kettletown State Park? It’s a 600-acre haven tucked away on the eastern shore of Lake Zoar. This top pick of Southbury parks is a perfect escape for those who enjoy the great outdoors.
Fancy a hike? You’re in the right place! A camping enthusiast? Head to Kettletown State Park! Perhaps you’re more of a picnic person or maybe a freshwater fishing fanatic? Kettletown’s got you covered!
This park was once the stomping ground of the Pootatuck Indians, who cultivated crops like tobacco, beans, and apples. In 1950, the state of Connecticut decided to buy the land, and it’s been a beloved spot for outdoor activities ever since.
Just one tiny, little, itsy-bitsy caveat: swimming is a no-go. Why? Well, we have blue-green algae to thank for that. But hey, who needs swimming when you have so much else to do, right?
Southford Falls State Park
Southford Falls State Park is Connecticut’s hidden gem, offering a smorgasbord of activities that include hiking, picnicking, field sports, fishing, cross-country skiing, and even ice skating. On the Southbury-Oxford line, protecting a portion of the Eight Mile Brook, the park is a testament to Mother Nature’s artistry. It boasts over 120 acres of land, which was once the site of the early-20th-century Diamond Match Company factory. The park is home to a charming covered bridge, majestic basalt ledges, and a pond teeming with trout. So, whether you’re a hiking enthusiast, a picnicking pro, or a cross-country skiing superstar, Southford Falls State Park is the place to be!
Bent of the River Audubon Center
Bird lovers, rejoice! The Bent of the River Audubon Center, located near the beautiful Eight Mile Brook, offers:
- A 700-acre preserve
- Guided tours
- Exclusive bird walks
- River rambles
Come and explore the beauty of nature at the Bent of the River Audubon Center on East Flat Hill Road.
Spot majestic birds like:
- Eastern kingbird
- American woodcock
- Blue-winged warbler
- Field sparrow
In their natural habitat. Grab your binoculars and venture to this bird sanctuary for a memorable experience.
Main Street Historic District
Take a stroll down Main Street Historic District, where time seems to stand still. Boasting stunningly preserved architecture and scenery from the late 1700s to mid-1800s, Main Street is a testament to Southbury’s rich past. Admire the Greek Revival, Georgian, and Federal styles that line the picturesque street.
Don’t forget to visit the Bullet Hill School, the town’s oldest public building, and the David Stiles House and Barn, its oldest barn.
Larkin State Park Trail
Ready for an adventure? The Larkin State Park Trail, a former railroad bridleway, offers 10 miles of breathtaking scenery and outdoor fun. Whether you prefer hiking trails, horseback riding, or cross-country skiing, you can enjoy it at Kettletown Road.
Tie up your boots and traverse the trail for a memorable exploration through Larkin State Park.
Pomperaug Golf Club
Tee off at Pomperaug Golf Club, a public nine-hole course in Southbury, perfect for golfers of all skill levels. With sand traps, water hazards, and stunning scenery along the Pomperaug River, this golf course offers an enjoyable experience for all.
Grab your clubs, hit the greens, and enjoy a laid-back day at Pomperaug Golf Club.
For all you water babies out there, make a beeline for Lake Zoar, a whopping 900-acre man-made lake, masterminded by Stevenson Dam back in 1919. Whether you’re a fishing fanatic, a boating buff, or you just fancy a dip, this picturesque man-made wonder has got you covered.
So, slap on that sunscreen, and get ready for a day of splashing good fun at Lake Zoar!
Shepaug Eagle Observation Area
Witness the majesty of eagles and hawks at the Shepaug Eagle Observation Area near Lake Lillinonah. Managed by Connecticut Audubon volunteers, this observation area is the perfect spot for bird-watching enthusiasts, especially for catching a glimpse of the majestic bald eagle.
FirstLight Power Resources, the current owners of the dam, roll out the red carpet for the public to their spanking new observation deck. They’ve even thrown in some high-tech spotting scopes and binoculars for your bird-watching pleasure.
For the best chance to observe these magnificent birds, plan your visit between December and March on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.
George C Waldo State Park
Prepare to lace up your hiking boots and saddle up your horses! George C. Waldo State Park, tucked away in Southbury, Connecticut, is a sprawling 150-acre wonderland of hills and trails that’s open all year round and won’t cost you a dime to explore. The trail, a modest quarter-mile jaunt, will take you through lush wetlands and dense woodland, with a bit of a vertical challenge – a 50-meter drop, to be precise. Mountain bikers will be thrilled with 4.5 miles of freshly carved singletrack on five interconnected trails, complete with log and rock features for that added adrenaline rush. Whether you’re a hiker, biker, or horseback rider, George C. Waldo State Park promises an exhilarating encounter with Mother Nature that’s anything but dull.
Spend a day at Settlers Park, a lively park in the heart of Southbury, featuring sports fields, walking trails, and picnic areas. With a variety of activities for all ages, Settlers Park is the perfect spot for a family outing or a relaxing day outdoors.
Pack a picnic and venture to Settlers Park for a delightful day under the sun!
Southbury Dog Park
Treat your furry friend to a day of fun at Southbury Dog Park, which offers:
- 14 acres of wooded trails
- A fenced area for small dogs
- Open fields for playing fetch
- A stream for your pooch to take a dip in
At Southbury Dog Park, your canine companion is bound to have an exciting, tail-wagging adventure.
Southbury Public Library
Visit Southbury Public Library, a hub for education and entertainment for all ages. The first public building constructed in a very long time, this is a point of pride for locals. And as a cornerstone of the community, Southbury Library offers a wide range of activities and events, including:
- Book clubs
- Cooking classes
- Movie screenings
- Music events
- Coffee bar
- Meeting rooms, for the emergency meeting you might have while you’re here
With so much happening at the library, there’s always something for everyone to enjoy.
Plus, the library offers free Wi-Fi, computer access, printing, copying, and scanning, making it an invaluable resource for both work and play.
Gloria Cachion Art Gallery
Art enthusiasts will love the Gloria Cachion Art Gallery, showcasing works by local artists and photographers. Located on Poverty Road at the Southbury Public Library, this gallery offers a monthly rotation of artist exhibitions and the impressive Uncle John Ludorf photography collection.
Delve into the local art scene at the Gloria Cachion Art Gallery.
Gainfield Farm Golf Course
Perfect for beginners and children, Gainfield Farm Golf Course offers a nine-hole golfing experience that is both enjoyable and accessible to all. With affordable rates and a laid-back atmosphere, this golf course is perfect for a leisurely day on the greens.
Bring your family together and make your way to Gainfield Farm Golf Course for a day filled with fun and amicable rivalry.
Southbury Strawberry Festival
Who can resist the allure of the Southbury Strawberry Festival? It’s a celebration of the humble strawberry, that tiny red gem that heralds the arrival of summer. It’s a sweet, juicy extravaganza that has Americana and Bluegrass tunes as the soundtrack.
Imagine yourself indulging in a bowl of homemade strawberry shortcake, the red berries bursting with flavor, the cream adding a velvety richness. You’re not just eating dessert; you’re participating in a Connecticut tradition each June.
The festival is as laid-back as a hammock on a Sunday afternoon. Whether it’s the juicy berries that draw you in or the irresistible twang of the banjo, this festival is the epitome of summer.
Oh, and did we mention it’s been going strong for about 50 years? Now that’s a party that knows how to keep the good times rolling!
Shopping in Southbury, CT
Southbury offers a variety of shopping options to suit every taste and budget. From the bustling Southbury Green shopping center to the charming boutiques and unique gift shops, there’s something for everyone in this quaint Connecticut town.
Grab your wallet and prepare for an exciting shopping spree in Southbury, CT!
Southbury Green is the shopping center to beat all shopping centers in Southbury, Connecticut. With stores, restaurants, and entertainment options, there’s something for everyone at Southbury Green. Plus, the center hosts concerts and live performances in August, making it the perfect destination for both shopping and entertainment.
Southbury Farmers’ Market
For fresh produce and baked goods, head to the Southbury Farmers’ Market, held every Thursday afternoon from mid-June to mid-October in front of the Town Hall. Shop for a variety of fruits, vegetables, honey, jams, and much more, all while supporting local farmers and vendors.
The market manager also conducts cooking demonstrations, enabling you to learn how to whip up scrumptious dishes with your newly-purchased items.
Find unique gifts and local items at Newbury Place, a boutique CT gift shop offering a variety of products and artisan goods. This chic boutique features an array of:
Perfect for treating yourself or finding the perfect present for someone special. Unearth the hidden gems of Newbury Place.
The Cottage at Main
Unleash your inner artist at The Cottage at Main, a hub for artisans and craft enthusiasts. Browse the works of local artisans and craft makers, and attend workshops to learn new skills and techniques.
Offering activities ranging from jewelry making to upcycling, The Cottage at Main caters to the creative interests of all ages. Ignite your creativity at this enchanting artisan hub.
Restaurants in Southbury, CT
Foodies, rejoice! Southbury, CT, is home to some of the finest restaurants, offering a diverse range of cuisines and flavors to tantalize your taste buds. Whether you’re drawn to fresh seafood at Lucas Local, craft beer sampling at Black Hog Brewing Co., or wine tastings at Walker Road Vineyards, Southbury caters to a diverse array of culinary preferences.
Indulge in New England-inspired seafood dishes at Lucas Local, a popular oyster bar in Southbury. Sample oysters and craft cocktails while soaking up the chill New England vibe.
And for the landlubbers, fear not – Lucas Local offers meat options to satisfy your carnivorous cravings.
Bring together your friends and family for an unforgettable dining experience at Lucas Local.
Black Hog Brewing Co.
For the beer aficionados, a visit to Black Hog Brewing Co. in nearby Oxford is a must. Sample their seven year-round beers, including:
- Four IPAs
- Nitro Coffee Milk Stout
- Granola Brown Ale
- Hog Lager Pilsner
They also offer seasonal and specialty brews.
And if you’re feeling peckish, food trucks are usually around on weekends, providing tasty bites to pair with your brews. Here’s to an enjoyable day at Black Hog Brewing Co., one of the best CT breweries!
Walker Road Vineyards
Sip and savor at Walker Road Vineyards, where you can enjoy wine tastings and picnics surrounded by beautiful vineyards. Offering a selection of wines crafted from a tantalizing mix of grapes, Walker Road Vineyards is the perfect destination for a leisurely afternoon with friends or a romantic date.
Raise a glass and celebrate a splendid day at Walker Road Vineyards, a top pick among Connecticut wineries.
Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay in Southbury, CT
Southbury, Connecticut, about an hour drive from Greenwich, CT. So Southbury makes a great Connecticut day trip from Greenwich.
But if you’d like to stretch your visit out, there are a few places to stay in and around town.
To avoid talking about the standard chain hotels, the best place to stay here is, obviously, an inn.
I say obvious because this writer is an innkeeper of a Greenwich, Connecticut, bed and breakfast.
Evergreen Inn Bed & Breakfast
This charming and historic town is home to the Evergreen Inn Bed & Breakfast. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill inn, no sir! This stylish pad is comfortably nestled within a 200-year-old Federalist-style home, boasting six guest rooms and shared spaces that would make Martha Stewart green with envy. The dynamic duo, Brian and Jennifer Cascone, took ownership in 2017 and gave the interior a much-needed facelift, showcasing the original architecture and flooring. The Cascones are no strangers to the culinary world, having previously owned a catering business. They’ve swapped out canapés for croissants, with Jennifer whipping up mouth-watering breakfasts each morning from scratch. The Evergreen Inn offers a stone and gunite pool, nestled amongst a lush garden, and a cocktail menu that’s sure to tickle your fancy.
Directions to Southbury, CT
The drive from Greenwich, CT, to Southbury, Connecticut, is about an hour. Take whichever route you’d like to get to I-84 through Central Connecticut.
If you’re coming from I-84 West:
Catch Exit 15. At the end of the exit ramp (at traffic light), swing a right onto Route 67 North/Route 6 East/Main Street North and immediately shimmy over to the far left lane. At the first traffic light, hang a left onto Main Street South. Keep going for about a mile (you’ll breeze past 4 traffic lights.)
If you’re rolling in from I-84 East:
Grab Exit 14. At the end of the exit ramp (at the four-way stop sign), take a left onto Route 172. At the first traffic light, hang a right onto Main Street South. Keep on trucking for about 0.8 miles (you’ll whizz past 2 traffic lights.) Town Hall will be on the right.
More Towns and Cities to Explore Near Southbury, CT
If you’re looking to explore beyond Southbury, there are plenty of nearby towns and cities offering a wealth of attractions and activities. From the charming town of Woodbury to the bustling city of Newtown, there’s something for everyone in the surrounding area.
Why not embark on an adventure and uncover Connecticut hidden gems nestled within these scenic towns and cities?
Discover a variety of attractions and activities in Woodbury, CT, including the Woodbury Ski Area, the Woodbury Historical Society at the Glebe House and Garden, and the Woodbury Public Library. With its rich history and beautiful landscapes, Woodbury offers an array of fun-filled experiences for the whole family.
Explore Oxford, Connecticut, and visit attractions like Jackson Cove Park and the Twitchell-Rowland Homestead Center & Museum. Immerse yourself in the local history, culture, and natural beauty of Oxford, and experience the charm of this quaint Connecticut town.
Grab your camera and set off to Oxford, Connecticut, for a day filled with exploration and discovery.
Have you taken a detour to Middlebury, CT yet? It’s the bee’s knees! This little slice of heaven houses the heart-pounding Quassy Amusement & Waterpark for all you thrill-seekers, and the peaceful St. George’s Episcopal Church for those in need of a little zen. It’s like an all-you-can-experience buffet, with a dish for every palate, especially that wild water park. So, round up the clan and make a beeline for Middlebury, CT.
Visit Newtown, Connecticut, and explore points of interest like the Newtown Historical Society and the Newtown Meeting House. With its rich history and vibrant community, Newtown is the perfect destination for a day trip. Come in June for the LobsterFest, which the Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue Co. hosts each year.
Lace up your walking shoes and set off on a journey through the quaint streets of Newtown, Connecticut.
Southbury, Connecticut, is the little town that could! It’s packed to the brim with attractions and activities that would make even the most seasoned traveler’s heart skip a beat. Looking for that perfect Instagram shot? They’ve got picturesque state parks. Want to shop till you drop? We’ve got unique shopping experiences that would make a Kardashian jealous. Foodie? Our dining options would make Gordon Ramsay do a double take. There’s something for everyone in this charming town, so get out there and get this Southbury adventure started!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Southbury CT a good area?
Southbury has one of the lowest crime rates in the U.S., is located in New Haven County which is one of the best places to live in Connecticut. And you have a chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime that is much lower than the national average. All these factors make Southbury an excellent area to live in.
Is Southbury CT a town or city?
Southbury, located in western New Haven County, Connecticut, is a vibrant town with nearly 20,000 residents. With farms, businesses, shops, restaurants, places of worship and attractions to explore, it’s a great place for both residents and visitors alike. The town offers a variety of activities and amenities, from outdoor recreation to cultural events. There are plenty of parks and trails to explore, as well as a variety of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues
Is Southbury CT affluent?
With a median household income of $112,072, Southbury CT can clearly be categorized as an affluent area.
What are some must-visit attractions in Southbury, CT?
For a truly unforgettable experience, be sure to visit Kettletown State Park, Southford Falls State Park, and Bent of the River Audubon Center – all located in Southbury!