Things To Do In Milford, CT: Top 15 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn

Civil War Memorial statue on the Milford green

Milford, Connecticut, is a coastal gem. It’s known for its expansive coastline and diverse shoreline, a haven for outdoor activities. You can go paddleboarding, kayaking, or embark on cruises. Every August, the city celebrates its oystering heritage with the Milford Oyster Festival. In the heart of the city, you’ll find a uniquely long green, lined with restaurants.

 

You can enjoy water recreation, launch boats, or visit city beaches. The Milford Lisman Landing Marina and Silver Sands State Park are worth a visit. The Milford Historical Society hosts tours and special events throughout the year. And don’t miss the historic homes, like the Eells-Stow House and the Bryan-Downs House.

 

Ready to explore the best things to do in Milford, CT? Let’s get into it:

 

Quick hits

  • Maritime history is deeply embedded in Milford, CT. It offers a wide array of attractions, from historical landmarks like the Liberty Rock to quaint neighborhoods such as Devon and Woodmont.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy Silver Sands State Park or Walnut Beach. If you’re interested in shopping and dining, explore the vibrant downtown area. If you’re a history buff, step back in time with the Milford Historical Society.
  • Beyond its rich history, Milford also hosts annual events like the Milford Oyster Festival. It boasts a lively nightlife and is easily accessible from nearby cities. The surrounding areas offer additional cultural and recreational opportunities.

A Brief History of Milford, Connecticut

Historic menhaden fishery in Milford, Connecticut

Indigenous groups migrated in and out of these lands for thousands of years. As later Europeans would discover, Milford Point was prime ground for oystering.

 

Colonial Era

Milford, Connecticut, came into existence in 1639. It quickly made a name for itself in shipbuilding, farming, and oystering. English colonists bought the land that make-up mordern day Milford, Orange, and West Haven, CT, from the New Haven Colony.

 

The colonists harnessed the water power and built a grist mill by the Wepawaug River in 1640. When the Revolutionary War came, Continental forces blockaded the Milford section of the Boston Post Road. To safeguard the town, locals constructed Fort Trumbull.

 

19th Century

By 1822, what would later become Orange and West Haven, CT, split-off and became the Town of Orange. The remaining section (Milford proper) continued its growth through shipbuilding, farming, and oystering for the next century and a half.

 

Its location on Long Island Sound turned Milford into a beach resort for New Haven and Bridgeport, CT, residents. The last mill over the Wepawaug closed in 1894, and the “Memorial Bridge” replaced it in 1899.

 

The Oatmeal Lots

In 1902, Quaker Oats had a unique promotional idea. They placed coupons inside their oatmeal boxes. But these weren’t ordinary coupons. These were for land – a small plot in Milford, Connecticut. Each lot was tiny, measuring around 10 feet by 10 feet. They were all part of a 15-acre tract in a yet-to-be-built subdivision named “Liberty Park”. A few savvy kids, or more likely their parents, collected these deeds and began paying the minuscule property taxes. The developer behind this scheme hoped these new landowners would hire him to construct homes. That said, the lots were too small for building without combining several of them. By the mid-1970s, town officials had had enough. They condemned almost all of the property in a single legal action. This freed-up the land for its eventual development.

 

Post World War II

Charles Island, off the coast of Silver Sands State Park

After World War II, Milford saw significant suburbanization. The Milford section of Interstate 95 was completed in 1958. The following decades saw the construction of the Connecticut Post Mall and extensive commercial development.

 

The commercial development along the Post Road is what saved Milford’s charming downtown. All those unattractive strip malls occupy a separate part of town, paying all the taxes. As such, the downtown area wasn’t heavily developed in the same way that other towns suffered in this period.

 

Several multinational corporations, such as the Schick Shaving company and Doctor’s Associates, Inc., made Milford their headquarters.

 

The Best Things to do in Milford, CT

Silver Sands State Park

Milford offers a buffet of attractions. Each provides a unique slice of the city’s charm and diversity. Some of the top attractions include:

 

  • Silver Sands State Park: a tranquil park with beautiful beaches and walking trails
  • Downtown Milford: a bustling area with shops, restaurants, and entertainment options
  • Milford Historical Society: an enriching experience that showcases the city’s history and heritage

 

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, shopping and dining, or a glimpse into the past, Milford has something for every kind of explorer.

 

Silver Sands State Park

Summer Exploration at Silver Sands State Park

Stepping into Silver Sands State Park is like stepping into a natural paradise. This popular destination is a tapestry of a boardwalk, beach, and woodland, making it an ideal spot for year-round exploration. A walk along the boardwalk reveals breathtaking views of the Long Island Sound, while the beach invites you to relax and soak up the sun.

 

Charles Island, a protected bird nesting ground within the park, piques the curiosity of visitors, accessible by a sandbar during low tide. This island is also known for pirate treasure legends, adding a hint of mystery to your visit. The stories earned the island a spot on our list of the most haunted places in CT. Birdwatchers will delight in spotting:

 

  • least and common terns
  • snowy owls
  • short-eared owls
  • rough-legged hawks

 

Walnut Beach

Relaxing at Walnut Beach

Follow the boardwalk from Silver Sands State Park all the way to its end. There lies Walnut Beach. This Long Island Sound beach offers:

 

  • A sandy stretch that invites you to unwind
  • The Walnut Beach Coffee House, which offers delicious treats to sweeten your day
  • The annual Sand Sculpture Contest, a favorite tradition for over 50 years
  • The Walnut Beach Concert Series, where you can enjoy free music every summer Sunday afternoon
  • The Walnut Beach Creamery, because how could a beach town exist without a decent ice cream stand
  • The Firehouse Gallery, a hard to miss spot on Walnut Beach’s Main Street, covered in a bright mural
  • Fig, offering cooking classes on Walnut Beach’s main drag, a fantastic CT date night idea

 

For the adventurous at heart, kayaking and paddleboarding offer a rush of adrenaline. And if you’d rather explore on land, renting motor scooters and bikes from Scoot & Paddle lets you discover the area at your own pace.

 

Downtown Milford

Exploring Downtown Milford from one of the lagoons of the Wepawaug River

Downtown Milford offers:

 

  • Picturesque scenery
  • Busy streets
  • A lively hub centered on a classic New England Town Green
  • Shopping
  • Dining
  • Special events, depending on when you go

 

Historic Milford Green, a lush green space in the heart of downtown, often hosts events like Artisan Markets and a Spring Fair. And the Eastbound Theatre, part of the Milford Arts Council, provides a platform for local entertainment.

 

Milford Historical Society

Memorial Bridge crossing the Wepawaug River as it enters Milford Harbor

At the Milford Historical Society, you can tour three Colonial-era homes, including the Eells-Stow House, dating back to around 1700. Each house narrates a chapter of the town’s rich history, allowing you to witness the evolution of Milford through the centuries.

 

The society’s Country Store & Gift Shop offers a variety of quirky items, from Colonial-style hats to classic games like pick-up sticks and dominoes. Be sure to take a look at the herb garden located next to the Bryan-Downs House. The garden is designed in the style of an 18th-century formal garden.

 

Milford Oyster Festival

Sign for the Oyster Festival in Milford, CT

The annual Milford Oyster Festival is a grand celebration of the town’s oystering heritage and the bounty of Long Island Sound. Started in 1975, this festival draws in about 40,000 people every year, offering a fantastic blend of food, music, and activities.

 

The festival happens each year on the baseball fields and basketball courts of Wilcox Park, across the Wepawaug River from downtown Milford.

 

From canoe and kayak races to main stage concerts and an arts and crafts show, this top pick among CT summer festivals promises a day of fun and entertainment, including the summer concert series. And of course, there’s plenty of delicious food, including the star of the show – oysters!

 

Eisenhower Park

Milford City Hall from W River Street

Eisenhower Park, situated in the north of Milford, is a fantastic place for some exercise away from the beach. The park underwent a significant makeover in the 2010s. It now boasts riverside walking trails for a peaceful stroll. For sports enthusiasts, there are tennis courts and soccer fields. Horseback riding trails offer an adventurous escape. The park also features a baseball field, known as Foote Field, a recently expanded dog park, and pickleball courts.

 

For the younger visitors, Eisenhower Park provides an excellent accessible playground. A particular highlight is Bodie’s Place. It features an enormous new splash pad that is sure to win over kids. As the year progresses, the park transforms into a beautiful spot to appreciate the fall colors. Right across North Street from the park, golfers will find the nine-hole, public Orchards Golf Course.

 

Coastal Center at Milford Point

The Coastal Center at Milford Point is a sanctuary for nature lovers. The Coastal Center offers:

 

  • A bird sanctuary
  • A wildlife refuge, also known as a wildlife management area
  • A nature center
  • Walking trails
  • Educational exhibits

 

Situated within the Devon neighborhood of Milford, the Coastal Center at Milford Point offers stunning views of the estuary at the mouth of the Housatonic River. From observation platforms, visitors can watch a variety of birds, making the center a favorite spot for birdwatchers.

 

Tribus Beer Company

Meet Tribus Beer Co., the brainchild of Matt Weichner, Sebastian D’Agostino, and O’Neill. They’ve set up their brewery in an industrial corner of town. The space is vast and lively, featuring a taproom and a game room. Garage doors open up to an outdoor area, perfect for drinking beneath the sky.

 

Weichner and D’Agostino are no strangers to brewing. They honed their skills at the Woodbridge brewery New England Brewing Co. and Cisco Brewery in Nantucket. Now, they bring their expertise to make Tribus one of the best breweries in CT. They craft popular IPAs, stouts, sours, and pilsners. The brewery offers a wide selection of beers and craft cocktails. They also host a variety of events for a perennially fun atmosphere.

 

The patio is a highlight, especially during the warm summer and fall months. The beers are consistently good and the atmosphere is inviting. Tribus is arguably one of the best breweries in all New England. After all, with a great vibe, delicious beers, and a fun food truck, what more could you need?

 

Milford Point Brewing

Milford Point Brewing is a small business brought to life in December 2016 by Chris Willett and his friend Jerry Candido. They opened their doors on April 7th, 2018, also known as National Beer Day. Their beers carry the names of Milford’s points of interest, a tribute to their local roots. The staff is friendly and the tasting room, though small, is full of character. Along with a diverse beer selection, they also host food trucks. The ambiance is just right for enjoying a pint.

 

Shopping in Milford, Connecticut

Taylor Memorial Library in downtown Milford

From big-name retail chains to quaint local boutiques, Milford offers a diverse shopping scene. The Connecticut Post Mall, the largest mall in the state, houses over 200 tenants, ensuring a wide array of shopping and dining options for all tastes.

 

Not to be overshadowed, Downtown Milford boasts charming local boutiques and unique CT gift shops, offering unique finds that you can’t get anywhere else. The local shopping scene embodies the spirit of Milford – a harmonious blend of the big-city feel with small-town charm.

 

Restaurants in Milford, CT

Bistro Basque on River Street in downtown Milford, CT

When it comes to food, Milford doesn’t disappoint. With over 100 eateries within a 5-mile radius, you’re spoiled for choice. Whether you’re craving a quick bite or a lavish dinner, there’s a restaurant for every palate and occasion.

 

Some of the most unique restaurants (in an extensive list) include:

 

  • Bridge House Restaurant is a unique gastropub. It’s nestled near the Housatonic River, serving sophisticated American pub fare. Think of steak and fish dishes with a twist.
  • Bin 100 Restaurant is a stylish spot. It offers a creative Mediterranean-focused menu in a sleek, modern space.
  • Bistro Basque & El Barrio is a vibrant eatery. It combines Spanish tapas and paella with French bistro classics. They also offer a multilingual wine list.
  • Gusto Trattoria Italian Restaurant is a cozy place with a homey atmosphere. They serve pasta, brick-oven pizza, and veal entrees. All are familiar Italian dishes. They also have a lovely patio.
  • The Lazy Lobster is a counter-serve nook. It features a patio and offers lobster rolls and other New England-style seafood. They also serve BBQ ribs. You can find it in Walnut Beach.

 

Directions to Milford, CT, from Greenwich, CT

Getting to Milford from our Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast is a breeze. The quickest route is via I-95, a toll-free highway that will get you to Milford in under an hour. The drive is straightforward, but do remember to check the traffic conditions for a smooth journey.

 

If you’re not in a rush, the Merritt Parkway offers a scenic alternative. This 41-mile drive meanders through picturesque landscapes, making the journey as enjoyable as the destination. And it ends right as the highway crosses the Housatonic River into Milford.

 

Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay in Milford, Connecticut

If you’re looking to extend your visit to Milford, Connecticut, beyond a CT day trip, you’ll be a bit limited for options.

 

There are chain hotels, of course. But that’s not why you read this blog.

 

  • Head back across the Housatonic River to the Surfside Hotel, a beachfront spot in the Lordship section of the town of Stratford, CT

 

 

 

More Nearby Cities and Towns to Explore Around Milford, CT

Once you’ve had your fill of Milford’s charm, there’s more to explore in the surrounding cities and towns along the Housatonic River and Long Island Sound. Each offers its own unique Connecticut attractions and experiences, promising more adventures just a short drive away.

 

New Haven, CT

The Yale campus is close enough to count as one of the best things to do in Milford, CTKnown for its illustrious Yale University, New Haven, CT, is a hub of academic and cultural richness. The university’s affiliated galleries and museums, including the Yale University Art Gallery and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, are worth a visit for their impressive collections.

 

New Haven also boasts some unique shopping experiences. From A’s Unique Boutique to English Building Markets, you will find a treasure trove of unique items and souvenirs. Don’t miss out on the city’s events and festivals, which celebrate performing arts and local culture.

 

Stratford, Connecticut

Stratford, across the Housatonic River from Milford, boasts a range of attractions. From the Two Roads Brewing Company to the Lordship Seawall, there’s plenty of things to see and do in Stratford, CT. Some highlights include:

 

  • The Two Roads Brewing Company
  • The Lordship Seawall
  • Stratford Antique Center
  • Bohemian High

 

History buffs will appreciate the town’s colonial history, while shoppers will enjoy exploring these unique stores.

 

And for outdoor enthusiasts, Stratford offers several options. You can explore Roosevelt Forest, delve into aviation history at the Connecticut Air & Space Center, or simply enjoy the beautiful views at the Lordship Seawall.

 

Shelton, CT

Exploring the Housatonic River in Shelton, CT, close to Milford, ConnecticutKnown for its diversified industries, Shelton, CT, offers a mix of outdoor activities and family-friendly attractions. Some highlights include:

 

  • The Jones Family Farm
  • Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard
  • Indian Well State Park
  • The Sports Complex of Connecticut

 

These attractions are perfect for a day out with the whole family and offer tons of fun for all ages.

 

And when you’re done exploring, Shelton’s restaurant scene offers a variety of dining options. From the Spotted Horse Tavern to the Little Barn, you’re sure to find something that tickles your taste buds.

 

Tl;dr

Milford, Connecticut, is a treasure trove of attractions. With its rich history, vibrant downtown, pristine beaches, and lively festivals, it offers a unique mix of experiences. It caters to a range of interests, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, foodies, and shoppers alike. Each visit to Milford promises a memorable experience.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is Milford CT walkable?

Yes, Milford CT is walkable, with a dynamic downtown area and numerous natural areas to explore. So, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for enjoyable walks.

 

Does Milford CT have a downtown?

Yes, Milford CT does have a downtown with restaurants, shops, a historic New England Green, Milford Harbor, and a Metro North Train Station.

 

How many beaches are in Milford CT?

There are about 15 main beaches in Milford, CT, offering a variety of options for enjoying the shore. The beaches include pristine spots like Walnut or Woodmont Beach, as well as areas with retaining walls and rock walls.

 

What is it like to live in Milford CT?

Residing in Milford, CT, provides a coastal lifestyle filled with stunning beaches and opportunities for boating and fishing. The town fosters a strong sense of community, evident in the numerous events and festivals held throughout the year. With its dense suburban atmosphere and top-rated public schools, Milford is a wonderful place to call home.

 

What are some must-visit attractions in Milford, Connecticut?

When visiting Milford, Connecticut, there are several must-visit attractions. These include the beautiful Silver Sands State Park and Walnut Beach. Downtown Milford is a bustling area worth exploring. The Milford Historical Society provides a glimpse into the city’s rich past. Additionally, the annual Milford Oyster Festival is a cultural highlight of the area.

 

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