Things To Do In Shelton CT: Top 23 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn

Housatonic River at Indian Well State Park

Shelton, CT, is a riverside town with a unique past that’s still a mark of Connecticut history. It was once a powerhouse of a manufacturing hub. Its dynamic history encompasses a thriving manufacturing era, a devastating arson fire, and a modern revitalization. The town now offers picturesque landscapes, outdoor activities, and charming local attractions. Top spots like Wells Hollow Creamery, Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard, and Indian Well State Park add to its allure.

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

Quick hits

  • Discover the hidden charm of Shelton, CT. Begin a journey at Indian Well State Park, Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard, and Wells Hollow Creamery.
  • Find joy and excitement with your family at the Sports Center of Connecticut. Or attend a thrilling live performance at the Center Stage Theatre.
  • Plan a larger getaway to all the wonders that Fairfield County offers.

things to do in shelton ct map Things to Do in Shelton CT: Top 23 Most Unique Spots
Map design by Stanton House Inn

A Brief History of Shelton, Connecticut

Old postcard of Viaduct Square in downtown Shelton, Connecticut

Shelton, a city spanning 31 square miles, is a diverse blend of suburban tranquility, historic charm, gritty former industrial centers, commercial activity, and open spaces. Its neighborhoods each exhibit unique characteristics. White Hills offers panoramic vistas and pastoral farms, while Huntington is famous for its Huntington Green and two 19th-century white-clapboard churches. Major corporations, such as Bis Corporation and Prudential Insurance, have infused a touch of global modernity. And downtown Shelton, situated by the Housatonic River, features a network of greenways and parks that span over 2,700 acres.

 

Colonial Era

The English claimed Shelton, Connecticut, as part of Stratford in 1639. Seventeen years later, the Court of the Colony of Connecticut expanded Stratford’s boundaries to include all land twelve miles inland from Long Island Sound. To further secure their claim, the selectmen of Stratford secured the deeds of transfer from the Golden Hill Paugussett Indian Nation. As a result, the towns of Trumbull, Shelton, and Monroe came under their control. In 1789, locals carved Shelton out of the town of Stratford, CT.

 

In 1882, the borough of Shelton was born, named after the industrialist, Edward N. Shelton. This man was the driving force behind the dam project that created the Housatonic Lake and drove the town’s industrialization. By 1915, the borough had grown into a city. Four years later, in 1919, the town adopted the name Shelton, merging it with the eponymous borough and town of Huntington.

 

Industrial Decline

Old Trolley Bridge in 1913 in Shelton, Connecticut

Shelton, Connecticut, experienced a significant shift in its industrial landscape in 1975. A devastating fire, caused by human action rather than nature, swept through the Sponge Rubber Products plant. Charles Moeller, the man behind Grand Sheet Metal Products, faced trial but was ultimately acquitted. That said, the insurer managed to evade claims on the fire losses in 1988. The courts confirmed the fire was a deliberate act by the company’s executives, aimed at securing insurance money. Eight other individuals were either convicted or pleaded guilty.

 

This catastrophic event marked the beginning of Shelton’s industrial decline. Factories that once thrived along the Housatonic River closed their doors or relocated to areas with lower labor and operating costs. Sikorsky Aircraft followed this trend in 1995, closing a plant that had produced helicopter electrical components.

 

Despite these setbacks, Shelton proved resilient. The completion of Route 8 opened new opportunities for the city. Low business costs attracted major firms such as:

  • Tetley Tea
  • TIE Communication
  • I.T.T.
  • Black and Decker
  • Sikorsky Aircraft
  • Gama Aviation
  • Chesebrough-Pond’s
  • Tetra-Pak
  • General Electric
  • Bunker Ramo

 

The R.D. Scinto corporation built over 2,000,000 square feet of corporate office space in town.

 

Modern Era

The task of reviving 19th-century industrial buildings in the downtown area has started. Some structures too dilapidated for renovation have been replaced with a farmer’s market and the Veteran’s Memorial. The Riverwalk Park occupies a 10-acre stretch of land that once housed the now infamous Sponge Rubber Plant. Developers have rejuvenated buildings along Howe Avenue. Two 19th-century factory buildings on Bridge Street have transformed into luxury condominiums. Streetscape improvements include the addition of brick and cobblestone sidewalks, tree planting, and the relocation of power lines underground.

 

Shelton, Connecticut, in fact, has drawn a lot of positive interest of late. So much so that the New York Times highlighted it, and young people priced-out of other parts of Fairfield County have been sniffing around its real estate.

 

And how does this writer know that? Because he was one of them, fairly recently. But the commute back to our Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast proved to be too long. It’s still a delightful CT day trip, though.

 

The Best Things to do in Shelton CT

A day out at Indian Well State Park in Shelton, Connecticut

Shelton, CT, boasts outdoor attractions, captivating live performances, and much more. If you’re seeking family fun, a romantic retreat, or a quiet sanctuary, Shelton is a great place to explore.

 

Indian Well State Park

Indian Well State Park is a cute pick among Connecticut’s state parks. The Lake Housatonic shoreline creates a sandy beach that is perfect for a leisurely afternoon. And a lovely waterfall cascading into a splash pool here is a sight to behold.

 

On a hot summer’s day, the lake’s cool, clear waters are inviting for a refreshing dip or water activities. Fishers head here for the fishing. You can pull:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Yellow perch
  • American eel
  • Several other species of fish

 

Out of the waters here.

 

The park isn’t just about water, though. It boasts a network of hiking trails winding through Connecticut’s lush landscape. These trails cater to seasoned hikers and casual strollers.

 

If you’re looking for more of the best CT state parks to explore, there are several in the area. Osbornedale State Park in Derby, Silver Sands State Park in Milford, Connecticut, and Kettletown State Park in Southbury are all easily accessible from here.

 

Shelton Lakes Recreation Path

For a fresh view of Shelton’s natural beauty, take a scenic journey along the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path. This trail offers stunning landscapes and historic sites. It’s an ideal spot for walking, jogging, or biking. It’s also a prime spot for bird watching.

 

The path is between 8 and 12 feet wide, making it accessible to those with movement disabilities. The trail begins at Pine Lake and passes through Silent Waters Dam, ending at the Hope Lake Dam overlook. Be sure to stop at the picnic area near Hope Lake to enjoy a meal a gorgeous view.

 

Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard

Picking apples at Beardsley's Cider Mill & Orchard in Shelton, Connecticut

Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard on Leavenworth Road is a paradise of fresh produce and sweet delights. This local orchard is home to a wide variety of apples to pick your own apples in season, including:

 

  • Gala
  • Honey Crisp
  • Empire
  • Liberty
  • Red Delicious
  • And the Enterprise apple

 

But the fun doesn’t stop at Connecticut apple picking! The orchard also offers a wide variety of ciders. Their wares include their own special brew of homemade hard cider, made on the premises of one of the best cider mills in CT. Before you leave, be sure to sample their delightful pastries and other apple-related products. It’s an indulgence that you won’t regret!

 

Jones Family Farm

Christmas trees on the farm at Jones Family farm

The Jones Family Farm has been a labor of love for the Jones clan for a century and a half. This 400-acre farm has been nurtured by each generation. The Jones Family Farm is now one of the most beloved pick-your-own farms in Connecticut. After such a long tenure, grandparents relive childhood memories with kids here.

 

Picking strawberries, blueberries, pumpkin patches – the Jones Family has it all.

 

And when the snow starts to fall, it’s time to pick out Christmas trees at one of the best Christmas tree farms in CT. That said, the experience is not just about the picking. It’s also about savoring the farm’s kitchen and Connecticut winery offerings in the farmers market.

 

Wells Hollow Creamery

Ice cream at Wells Hollow Creamery in Shelton, Connecticut, which includes a corn maze, among other Shelton activities for kids

Wells Hollow Creamery is an ice cream shop where more than 60 ice cream flavors await. Classic vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry meet the unique key lime pie, cannoli ricotta, and baklava.

 

But the fun doesn’t stop there!

 

This place is also a perfect spot for family fun, featuring a challenging CT corn maze and a delightful petting zoo for kids. So why wait? Grab a scoop or two and relax on the patio at Wells Hollow Creamery.

 

Shelton History Center

Exploring the Shelton History Center in Shelton, Connecticut

At the Shelton History Center, exhibits and landmarks bring the city’s history to life. Structures like the Brownson House, Trap Fall School, and Wilson Barn are silent testaments to Shelton’s rich heritage. The Shelton Historical Society, which oversees the collection of history museums, hosts a variety of engaging events. These activities make history fun and include things like the Vintage Vehicles and Classic Car Show, town tours, reading circles, open houses, and a club for youngsters.

 

If you’re interested in even more history, there are additional museums nearby to the Shelton History Center. The PT Barnum Museum and the Fairfield Museum and History Center are just a short distance away.

 

Downtown Shelton, CT

Shelton, once a hard-nosed industrial town, has undergone a transformation. Today, its downtown is a delightful place to spend an afternoon. The Housatonic River paints a picturesque backdrop, enhancing the charm.

 

The old factories have been reborn. They’ve shed their industrial past to become chic loft apartments. You can spot these stylish conversions on Bridge Street and Howe Avenue. These areas have also seen a facelift with renovated sidewalks and newly planted trees.

 

And over the past two decades, the town’s culinary scene has blossomed. Independent eateries like Amici’s on Howe Avenue have sprung up, serving up delectable Italian fare. Caloroso Eatery & Bar is another gem, offering a warm welcome to match its name. Of course, the beloved Billy D’s Full Belly Deli remains a firm favorite for hearty breakfasts.

 

A live performance at Center Stage Theatre in Shelton, Connecticut

Center Stage Theatre

Center Stage Theatre is the heart of Shelton’s art scene. This small stage is a hub of creativity where local talents shine, performing shows ranging from musicals to comedy.

 

So, if you’re in Shelton, don’t miss a visit to Center Stage Theatre, a community hub. It’s a place where you can witness the magic of theatre and join a community passionate about art and their town.

 

Eklund Wildflower Garden

The beauty of Eklund Wildflower Garden in Shelton, Connecticut

Located on Oak Valley Road, the Eklund Wildflower Garden in Shelton, Connecticut, is a serene escape from the daily grind. This garden, on the site of a 1930s upscale log cabin, boasts an array of Northeastern perennials. It invites visitors to explore its trails, either on foot, bike, or by car. It’s a sanctuary for mental relaxation and rejuvenation.

 

Stone Gardens Farm Market

Common Bond Market in Shelton, Connecticut

When you step into the site of the former Common Bond Market on Huntington Street, you’re doing more than just shopping. This place isn’t your average farmers market. It’s a trove of natural, local, and organic items, offering a sensory feast. But there’s more. They also have unique products made in CT and meals that are as healthy as they are tasty.

 

Shopping at the Stone Gardens Farm Market is a meaningful experience in shopping local. Not only will you be supporting the local economy and farms, but you’ll also discover some of the best products Shelton has to offer.

 

Shelton Parks & Recreation Center

Adventure activities at Shelton Parks & Recreation Center in Shelton, Connecticut

The Shelton Parks & Recreation Center, located on Church Street, is another hub of activity. It offers a variety of sports, workshops, and a swimming pool to beat the summer heat. The center organizes recreational classes, sports programs, leagues, and a summer playground program. Whether you’re an experienced athlete or a novice looking for fun, the Shelton Parks & Recreation Center is the place to be.

 

Whitney Farms Golf Course

Playing golf at Whitney Farms Golf Course in Shelton, Connecticut

Whitney Farms Golf Course is just a short distance from Shelton in Monroe, CT. This 18-hole Par 72 course welcomes golfers of all skill levels. From novices to seasoned veterans, everyone can test their skills here. This public golf course is a perfect place to perfect your swing and challenge the fairway.

 

So, why wait? Bring your clubs and experience a day of camaraderie and challenge at Whitney Farms Golf Course. Whether you taste victory or face defeat on the greens, it promises to be a day well spent.

 

Main Street Gallery

A family admiring artwork at Main Street Gallery in Shelton, Connecticut

If you’re an art enthusiast or simply appreciate creativity, then Main Street Gallery is a must-visit. Managed by the Valley Arts Council, this gallery serves as a platform for local artists to showcase their talent. It offers a variety of art forms including soulful paintings, mind-bending sculptures, timeless photographs, and innovative mixed media. The gallery welcomes everyone to explore at their own pace. And best of all, admission is free.

 

Riverview Park

Riverview Park is a verdant playground offering more than just a place for sports. It’s a sanctuary for leisure outdoor activities like swinging, sliding, or simply watching the world go by. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy the baseball fields and the basketball court. The park also houses the War Memorial, erected in 1950. Markers bear the names of those who traded the tranquility of this riverside town for the chaos of the battlefield, many of whom never returned.

 

Veterans Memorial Park

Veterans Memorial Park goes under the Route 8 bridge. And Derby looks far more bucolic from here than up-close.

The Veterans Memorial Park is a charming little space, hosting a variety of public events. The park features a pavilion and a tree-lined path next to the river, known as the Shelton Riverwalk.

 

This serene space was once the scene of a major catastrophe. In 1975, the Sponge Rubber Products Plant, located here, was the victim of one of the largest cases of arson in U.S. history.

 

Today, the park is still a hotbed of activity. It hosts Shelton’s 4th of July fireworks event, the Downtown Sounds summer concert series of live music, the Food Trucks on the River programme, and the town’s farmers’ market. It’s also a venue for outdoor theatre performances.

 

Sports Center of Connecticut

A man playing badminton

The Sports Center of Connecticut stands out in the Shelton landscape. This family entertainment center is a hub of various activities, catering to all ages.

 

You can choose from a range of activities such as ice skating, hockey, mini golf, bowling alley, and laser tag. If you’re seeking something different, try the driving range, batting cages, paintball, or basketball. For those who prefer less physically demanding fun, there’s also a video arcade and pottery classes.

 

Restaurants in Shelton, Connecticut

Shelton, Connecticut, is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide array of dining options and bars in the downtown area. From classic American dishes to exquisite Italian cuisine, there is something delicious for everyone. You can enjoy comfort food at the family-run restaurant Riverdale Diner or embark on a culinary journey to Italy at Amici’s Restaurant. For a taste of Tuscany, Il Palio Restaurant is the place to be. With such a vibrant dining scene, you’re sure to find a meal that delights your taste buds.

 

Hotels & Inns in Shelton, Connecticut

Shelton is a mere 43-minute drive from our charming bed and breakfast in Greenwich, Connecticut. You can easily reach it via Interstate 95 or the Merritt Parkway to Route 8. It’s a great destination for a day trip. That said, if you wish to extend your stay in the captivating Naugatuck Valley, there are several nearby accommodations available.

 

Bed and Breakfasts in Shelton, CT

When it comes to finding a place to rest your weary head, you’ve got plenty of options in the vicinity of Shelton:

 

 

Shelton, Connecticut, Hotels

If you prefer the amenities and conveniences of a chain hotel, Shelton offers several excellent options. These include the Hampton Inn Shelton, Hyatt House Shelton, and Hilton Garden Inn Shelton. Other choices are the Courtyard By Marriott Shelton and Residence Inn by Marriott Shelton-Fairfield County.

 

Each of these establishments provides more than just a place to sleep. They offer amenities such as free Wi-Fi, fitness centers, swimming pools, and on-site restaurants. So, whether you’re visiting Shelton for work or leisure, these hotels will ensure a comfortable stay.

 

Explore More Nearby Cities and Towns in Fairfield County, Close to Shelton, CT

An image showing the beautiful scenic view of Shelton, CT

If you’re eager to explore beyond Shelton, neighboring towns within Fairfield County offer a variety of unique CT attractions and experiences. A few nearby picks include: Trumbull, Stratford, and Fairfield, CT. Each has its unique stories to share. For more urban experiences, Bridgeport, Danbury, and New Haven, Connecticut, are nearby.

 

Each town has its unique charm and hidden secrets. For example, the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport showcases a collection of nature’s finest creations. The Danbury Railway Museum in Danbury stands as a testament to human ingenuity. The Darien Nature Center in Darien allows nature to take center stage. With such a diverse array of sights and sounds, exploring Fairfield County is an ever-fresh adventure.

 

Tl;dr

Dam across the river between Shelton and Derby

Shelton, Connecticut, is a unique spot. It’s packed with thrilling outdoor adventures and culinary delights. Are you seeking outdoor excitement? A taste of culture? Or perhaps you just want to relax and watch the world go by? Shelton has it all. So, don’t wait. Plan a weekend trip to Shelton soon!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Does Shelton CT have a downtown?

Yes, Shelton, CT, does have a downtown area. The main street, known as Howe Avenue, serves as the town’s lifeline. It’s more than just a street; it’s a living, breathing part of the town where the daily hustle and bustle of life takes place.

 

Is Shelton CT a small town?

Shelton, CT, is a charming small town nestled in Fairfield County, Connecticut. With a population of 40,944, it’s a peaceful suburban retreat. The town boasts a variety of eateries to satisfy any food lover, cozy coffee shops for caffeine enthusiasts, and lush parks that are as green as a leprechaun’s hat. In essence, Shelton, CT, may be small in size, but it certainly has a big heart.

 

What are some of the top attractions in Shelton, CT?

If you’re seeking adventure in Shelton, CT, consider visiting Indian Well State Park, Shelton Lakes Recreation Path, Sports Center of Connecticut, and Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard. Each of these places offers a unique experience. The parks, with their rugged trails, allow nature to whisper ancient tales in your ear. The Sports Center offers an exhilarating environment where the thrill of the game is palpable. Beardsley’s Cider Mill & Orchard, on the other hand, offers a sweet surrender to your senses with its earthy fruits. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a lover of tranquil afternoons, Shelton has a story for you.

 

Are there any bed and breakfasts in Shelton, CT?

Unfortunately, there are no bed and breakfasts located directly in Shelton, CT. Nearby options include West Lane Inn, Evergreen Bed & Breakfast, and Stanton House Inn.

 

What types of restaurants can I find in Shelton, CT?

Shelton, CT, is a gastronomic paradise offering a diverse range of culinary experiences. You can enjoy the rustic charm of American classics at Riverdale Diner. If you prefer Italian cuisine, Amici’s Restaurant and Il Palio Restaurant offer tantalizing dishes that transport you to Italy. Truly, Shelton is a banquet of global flavors waiting to be explored.

 

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