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

Reflective windows at an art museum, one of the fun things to do in Wallingford, CT

Wallingford, Connecticut, is a historic town. It was once famous for its cutlery and silverware industries. And yet it has since transitioned into high-tech industries over the past two decades. For guests, the town’s charm lies in its abundant nature, rural businesses, and the stunning Metacomet Ridge. It’s home to the Toyota Oakdale Theater and the Trail of Terror, two of the most popular attractions in central Connecticut. Founded in 1670, Wallingford is a unique blend of history, outdoor activities, and cultural experiences. The town boasts a variety of attractions, both manmade and natural. And visitors are always welcome to explore Wallingford’s top attractions and hidden gems. The town of Wallingford is an ideal destination for nature lovers, history buffs, and food and wine enthusiasts.

 

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

 

Quick hits:

  • Take a journey through Wallingford, CT, to discover its history and attractions such as vineyards, theaters, and trails.
  • Experience unique adventures from wine tastings and go-karting to outdoor recreation galore.
  • Immerse yourself in the rich culture of New Haven. Here, you can explore museums, shopping centers, and the prestigious Yale University.

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

A Brief History of Wallingford, Connecticut

Wallingford, CT, in 1830

Wallingford, Connecticut, has been around since 1667 and it’s got some stories to tell. Like any location with a lengthy history, it has some skeletons in its closet, like the last witchcraft trial in 1697. There are ten buildings and districts that made it onto the National Register of Historic Places.

The Connecticut General Assembly brought this town to life on October 10, 1667. It started small, with 126 temporary houses. Over time, it grew to 40 permanent homes. In 1697, a woman named Winifred Benham found herself on trial for witchcraft, not once, but three times. And yet each time, she walked free. The foolishness of the situation was part and parcel of the decline in witchcraft trials.

The town has seen hardship too. In 1878, a tornado tore through Wallingford. It took 29 lives, making it the deadliest tornado in Connecticut’s history.

Old postcard of the Wallingford train station

But Wallingford is resilient. Wallingford’s past is a rich history in manufacturing and design. Companies like Hall, Elton & Co., Simpson, Hall, Miller & Co., and R. Wallace & Sons used to produce silver here.

Today, it’s home to a variety of industries. You’ll find everything from medical and healthcare to hi-tech specialty metal manufacturing and research development. The town even created an Interchange Zone. It’s at the intersection of interstate 91 and Route 68, and it’s the perfect spot for office parks, research centers, and hotels. One notable resident is the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. They set up a research and development facility right in Wallingford’s MedWay Industrial Park.

 

The Best Things to do in Wallingford CT

Scenic Vineyard in Wallingford, CT

Wallingford, CT, is a lengthy list of fun things to do. From vineyards that transport you to Tuscany, to historic theaters echoing with the voices of the past, it’s a town full of surprises. You can find peaceful parks for quiet retreats and adventurous trails for those seeking a thrill. If you’re in need of a quick CT day trip to escape from the daily grind, Wallingford has got you covered.

 

Wallingford Wineries

Wallingford is known for its fertile soil, a gift from the Connecticut River’s shift long ago. This rich soil sustains the town’s farms. And many farmers have ventured into the booze business. Read on for two of the best wineries in Connecticut. And if cider mills and breweries pique your interest, keep reading.

Gouveia Vineyards

This isn’t just any This Wallingford winery is a sprawling farm tucked away in the city’s rural south. A family runs this place, diligently tending to over 32 acres of vineyards. Their hard work yields an impressive 90,000 bottles of wine each year. They’ve mastered the art of winemaking, using techniques imported from Portugal. They grow a variety of grapes here, including:

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Traminette
  • Muscat
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Zinfandel

Perched on the hill, you’ll find the Stone House, where you can sample many of these wines. It’s a hub of activity from spring to autumn, offering wine tastings and cellar tours. The farm’s fertile soils and mild weather create the perfect conditions for grape cultivation. The wines they produce are top-notch. And if you fancy what you taste, you can even take a bottle or two home for those special occasions.

Paradise Hills Vineyard

Paradise Hills Vineyard is a family-run, Tuscan-inspired winery. The Ruggiero family has been growing a variety of grapes like:

  • Vignoles
  • Chardonnay
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Cayuga
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Tramenet
  • Chambourcin

Since 1997. The vineyard’s location offers ideal conditions for grape cultivation, with plenty of summer sun and excellent drainage. Wine tastings are held daily at an elegant indoor bar made of copper. During summer in New England, tastings also take place at an outdoor bar. Visitors can try award-winning red wines such as Landon Noir and St. Croix, as well as the vineyard’s white Traminette varietal. The winery hosts regular live music events. It’s a place that welcomes visitors of all ages. With stunning views and exceptional wines, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon in Wallingford.

 

Nehemiah Royce House

Old framed photo hanging on a dark colored wall in a historic colonial home

This historic dwelling, located at 538 North Main Street in Wallingford, was built in 1672. The man behind its construction was Nehemiah Royce, a local carpenter, joiner, and blacksmith. Royce represented Wallingford at the Court of the Connecticut Colony from 1693. The house offers a unique insight into the lives of its former inhabitants. George Washington visited the house twice. His first visit was in 1775 during the Revolutionary War and the second was in 1789. During his second visit, he addressed the public by an elm in front of the building. Today, the house is on the National Register of Historic Places. A preservation trust owns the building and occasionally opens it for tours.

 

Parks, Hiking, and Walking Trails

Deer along one of the walking trails in Wallingford, CT

Parks line the Quinnipiac River and snake along the hills surrounding town. There’s simply too much to explore in one day.

 

Quinnipiac Linear Trail

Take a leisurely stroll down the Quinnipiac Linear Trail. This well-kept path is nestled between the west bank of the Quinnipiac River and the Wilbur Cross Parkway. You can walk, bike, or skate on this paved route. The trail stretches over a mile from Community Lake in the south.

 

The journey takes you through groves of red maples, cedar junipers, and red oaks. Meadows border the path. The trail crosses the Quinnipiac on an iron bridge and goes underneath the Wilbur Cross Parkway. Your journey ends by the river, a picturesque spot.

 

This landscape is man-made, with Community Lake created by a dam for the local silverware industry. Keep an eye out for local wildlife. You might spot a Wood Duck, Mallard, Rock Pigeon, or a Red-shouldered Hawk.

 

Tyler Mill

This nature preserve in Wallingford is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers hiking trails also used for mountain biking, and wildlife spotting. The preserve was closed for a year due to a 2018 tornado, but it’s now open again. It boasts 1,400 acres of wooded land. The walking trails vary in difficulty and the steep topography makes it a top spot for mountain biking in the area. Some trails lead to beautiful lookouts. The stunning New England landscapes and blue skies are worth the effort.

 

Wharton Brook State Park

fishing on the pond at Wharton Brook State Park

Wharton Brook State Park is a tranquil haven, straddling the boundaries of Wallingford and North Haven. This 96-acre park is a blend of vast forests and the melodious Wharton and Allen brooks. After a tornado and microburst in May 2018, the park closed for over half a year. Luckily, it has since reopened to the public.

 

The park’s centerpiece is the five-acre Allen Brook Pond, encircled by a coniferous woodland. Tall pitch pines, some reaching 30 meters, surround the pond. In summer, the pond becomes a swimming hotspot. It’s regularly filled with trout from Opening Day to Memorial Day weekend, a delight for anglers.

 

The park also has a network of short trails for walking or hiking. It’s a picnic spot for families. Plus, a campsite where nature’s sounds dominate.

 

Mattabesett Trail

stone and trees along the Mattabesett Trail

This 50-mile route snakes through central Connecticut, including Wallingford. The trail takes you through Wallingford on the Metacomet Ridge. This ridge is a 200 million-year-old basalt fault that stretches 100 miles through Connecticut and Massachusetts.

 

Tri-Mountain State Park

A highlight on the Mattabesett Trail is the Tri-Mountain State Park. This park is only accessible by foot on the Mattabesett Trail. It features the 230-meter Trimountain, which merges with Besek Mountain and Fowler Mountain.

 

Shared with Durham, this hidden gem is one of the best state parks in Connecticut. The park boasts forests, rivers, and ridges sprawling over 157 acres. Its towering hills offer stunning vistas of the surrounding region. As a bonus, hikers might spot local wildlife such as black bears, deer, or a variety of bird species. Despite the challenging climb, the park’s steep hills only add to its majesty.

 

Doolittle Park

Playground

Doolittle Park is a haven for families and sports enthusiasts. It boasts sports courts, picnic spots, and a playground. For the competitive, there are baseball fields, tennis courts, and a basketball court. The pavilion, surrounded by benches and picnic tables, offers shade during summer. The playground, recently improved, caters to both toddlers and older kids with an array of equipment. Every Saturday from mid-June to late-September, the Wallingford Garden Market sets up around the pavilion. Here, you can find everything from fresh produce and specialty foods to cut flowers and homemade sauces. Doolittle Park is the perfect spot for sunny afternoons.

 

Sleeping Giant State Park

Hiker admiring the view at Sleeping Giant State Park

Sleeping Giant State Park is tucked on the southwestern edge of Wallingford, bordering Hamden, Connecticut. This natural marvel is named for its unique basalt ridge, which looks like a giant sleeping on its back. The park spans 1,465 acres and boasts forests, steep cliffs, water features, and varied microclimates.

 

It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the best hikes in CT.

 

Atop the tower at the top of the hill, you can enjoy stunning views of the Quinnipiac and Mill River Valleys. The park offers plenty of activities like exploring the summits of Blue Hills and Mount Carmel, rock climbing, birdwatching, and horseback riding.

 

Blue Hill Orchards

Girls with pumpkins

After hiking up Sleeping Giant Mountain, be sure to explore its northern slope. There, you’ll discover Blue Hills Orchard, one of Connecticut’s finest apple orchards. This orchard represents the six generations of hard work and dedication of the Henry family, dating back to 1904.

 

The land spans 250 acres, all dedicated to growing apples. But that’s not all. The orchard also produces peaches, plums, and nectarines. Rows upon rows of fruit-laden trees make for an impressive sight. If you’re interested, you can even take a hayride through the orchard. Just remember to call ahead. Especially during the harvest season, this place is a sight to behold.

 

Choate Rosemary Hall

Wood lockers in a hallway at Choate Rosemary Hall

Choate Rosemary Hall is a private boarding school located in Wallingford, Connecticut. Established in 1890, it was initially two separate schools: Choate School for boys and Rosemary Hall for girls. They merged in 1971. While most of the campus is exclusive to students, certain areas are open to the public.

 

Choate Hockey Rink

Choate Hockey Rink at Choate Rosemary Hall is a vibrant hub of energy and excitement. It’s not only the training ground for the school team. It’s where hockey matches stir up the spirit of competition and community. Public skating times transform the rink into a spectacle, a dance on ice that captivates both residents and visitors. But remember to pack a warm jacket, as the rink can get quite chilly. When you need a break from the cold, the in-house concession stand is ready to serve up a hot chocolate and a bite to eat.

 

Paul Mellon Arts Center

Wedding at the Paul Mellon art museum at Choate Rosemary Hall

This center is a stage for theater, music, and dance, bringing art to life. The center has two wings: the Theater Wing and the Triangle Wing. The Theater Wing houses a 760-seat proscenium theater where local artists and students showcase their talents. The Triangle Wing serves as a space for practice and learning. The crown jewel of the center, however, is its art galleries. These galleries exhibit the works of students and local artists in a variety of mediums such as:

 

  • Paintings
  • Photos
  • Sculptures
  • Installation art

 

Fun things to do in Wallingford, CT, at night

So, you’ve had a busy day in Wallingford. You’ve hiked, admired art, and sampled some fine wines. As the sun sets, you might be wondering what’s next. Don’t worry, Wallingford has plenty to offer. Forget about the typical movie theaters. This town’s nightlife is so much fun.

 

Toyota Oakdale Theater

Visiting a concert venue, like Oakdale Theatre, is one of the fun things to do here

The Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford offers a variety of performances. It began as a simple, open-air stage. Over time, it evolved into a large venue with an auditorium and a smaller Dome. The theater underwent changes such as the addition of a wooden dome in ’72 and a $21m renovation in the mid-90s. Today, it hosts a diverse range of shows including touring artists, tribute acts, dance companies, sports entertainment, and kids’ shows. It has welcomed big names like Avril Lavigne and Maren Morris. If you’re visiting town, a live performance at the Oakdale Theatre could be a thrilling capstone to your visit.

 

Trail of Terror

Cobwebs on a chandelier in a haunted house

This spooky spot has been frightening visitors for over 25 years. This CT haunted house opens annually around Halloween and is entirely run by volunteers. Each year, they invent a new theme, story, and costumes, adding a touch of humor to the scares. As you walk through one of the best things to do in CT in October, you’ll encounter about 30 different interactive scenes filled with costumed actors. The entire experience lasts approximately an hour. Tickets go on sale as early as August, and the lines can sometimes be up to two hours long. If you love a good scare form ghosts and monsters, and appreciate a well-told story, the Trail of Terror is the place for you.

 

Blue Trail Range

Blue Trail Range is a premier shooting range. It caters to both seasoned shooters and beginners. The facility offers firearm rentals, training, and hosts various events. It features different areas including an outdoor range, a private spot, a shotgun field, and an indoor range. The range isn’t solely about shooting targets. It also offers private lessons, certificate training, and classes on safe firearm handling. For children as young as nine, there’s a beginner’s course. The range also houses a shop for renting or purchasing guns and accessories, including ammo and safety gear. Blue Trail Range welcomes all gun enthusiasts, including minors. It provides a safe and enjoyable environment to hone skills and learn from experts.

 

Splat Art Studio

Splat Art Studio is a creative gem that has been fostering artistic expression in Wallingford since 2007. This vibrant space welcomes people of all ages to delve into the world of art. It offers a range of classes, workshops, and events. The studio provides high-quality materials and encourages you to let your creativity soar. From children’s camps to private paint parties, there’s something for everyone. The studio offers a wide array of art mediums to explore, including watercolors, colored pencils, charcoal, acrylic paint, oil pastels, and paper mache. The studio itself is a clean, brightly lit space that inspires creativity. It’s a place where you can learn, grow, and unleash your inner artist.

 

Yale Billiards

Billiards

Yale Billiards of Wallingford is a hub for both serious and casual players. The air is filled with the clatter of pool balls and friendly chatter. The place offers pool tables, leagues, and tournaments. The experience includes games and darts, internal leagues and professional pool player tournaments. There’s a bar for refreshments, happy hour specials, and a catering menu. It’s a place for unwinding, enjoying friendly competition, and making new friends.

 

Shopping in Wallingford, Connecticut

Wallingford is a shopping hub with a variety of stores, including quaint bookshops, clothing stores, craft shops, antique stores, and boutiques. These stores offer unique items, handmade goods, and home decor items. As you explore the streets, you’re sure to find something that catches your interest.

 

Farmer Joe’s Gardens

Goat at Farmer Joe's Gardens

Farmer Joe’s Gardens in Wallingford is a treasure trove of fresh, organic produce. Here, you can find seasonal fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, dairy, preserves, honey, maple syrup, spreads, and sauces. It’s not just a market, though. The farm also features a petting zoo, perfect for families. Children can interact with friendly pigs, goats, and chickens. Although there’s no official farmers market, Farmer Joe’s Gardens acts as a gathering point for local farmers. These farmers believe in organic and ethically produced goods. Shopping at Farmer Joe’s Gardens is a memorable experience in Wallingford.

 

Redwood Country Flea Market

Redwood Country Flea Market is the oldest flea market in New England, with over 40 years of history. Open year-round, one of the best flea markets in CT offers free admission and parking. Collectors come to add to their collections of antiques, tools, jewelry, coins, books, DVDs, games, and more. Other shoppers find clothing, groceries, and baked goods to entertain themselves.

 

Restaurants in Wallingford, Connecticut

Homestyle Southern barbecue

Wallingford is a culinary haven. It offers a wide range of dining options, from simple to sophisticated. The town is a melting pot of global cuisine, ensuring a memorable dining experience.

 

Restaurants along Colony Road

Once you’re hungry, head to Colony Road in downtown Wallingford, a bustling artery of the city. Here, a myriad of eateries await your discovery, each possessing its own unique charm:

 

  • Wood-n-Tap offers a robust mix of drinks and American cuisine

 

 

  • Knuckleheads is a straightforward spot for classic American fare and refreshing beers

 

Each of these establishments has a unique character and story to share. They stand ready to serve you a memorable meal. So, settle down, dig in, and enjoy. Bon appétit!

 

Breweries in Wallingford, CT

Craft Beer Tasting at Brewery in Wallingford, CT

Places like the New England Cider Company and the Center Street Brewing Company serve as sanctuaries for the craft of hooch making. These are places where you can relax with a pint, enjoy the company of friends, and savor the unique flavors of Wallingford’s finest brews.

 

New England Cider Company

New England Cider Company has mastered the art of cider-making. It was started in 2013 by friends who had spent years brewing in their basements. Now, they run a taproom that’s open from Thursday to Sunday. Here, you can enjoy six different ciders on tap. The options at one of the best cider mills in Connecticut include:

 

  • Strawberry
  • Ginger Hibiscus
  • Pineapple
  • Viva La Cider
  • Double Fresh

 

The company caters to families too, offering games for the kids. The laid-back vibe makes everyone feel at home. If you’re hungry, they’ve got a selection of cheese and charcuterie to satisfy your cravings.

 

Center Street Brewing Company

Center Street Brewing Company is a cornerstone of Wallingford’s craft beer scene. The brewery hosts lively events and provides a cozy taproom for relaxation and conversation with fellow beer enthusiasts. Whether you’re a Wallingford local or just passing through, this place offers a chance to unwind and enjoy one of the best breweries in CT.

 

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

Bedside setup at a hotel near Wallingford, Connecticut

If you’re visiting from Greenwich, CT, Wallingford is merely an hour’s drive away. It’s a great destination for a day trip from our inviting Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast.

 

For overnight stays, the town offers several chain hotels. However, if you’re looking for a unique experience, it’s worth mentioning that the Wallingford Victorian Inn closed in 2021. But don’t worry, there are other charming places nearby:

 

The Silas W Robbins House is just a 20-minute drive away, located in the historic town of Wethersfield, CT. It’s a delightful Victorian era bed and breakfast.

 

A short 17-minute drive will take you to The Inn at Middletown. It’s situated in a beautifully restored 19th-century building in the heart of Middletown, Connecticut.

 

For more lodging options, consider heading north on I-91 to Hartford or south to New Haven.

 

Directions to Wallingford, CT, from Greenwich, CT

Train Station in Wallingford, CT

If you’re in Greenwich, Connecticut, and considering a trip to Wallingford, you have two simple options. You could drive via the I-95 N and CT-15 N, which should take about an hour, depending on traffic. Or you could opt for public transportation. Catch the Metro-North Railroad from Greenwich to New Haven, then grab a connecting train to Wallingford. This route takes longer, approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, but saves your car some wear and tear. Either way, the journey from Greenwich to Wallingford is pretty straightforward.

 

More Towns and Cities to Explore Near Wallingford, Connecticut

Fall colors around a lake in Meriden, CT

Don’t restrict yourself to Wallingford alone. Connecticut is brimming with fascinating locations to discover. Each neighboring town possesses its own unique charm and beauty. Step beyond the town of Wallingford’s borders and immerse yourself in the many unique things to do in Connecticut.

 

Middlefield, CT

Wadsworth Falls

Middlefield, Connecticut, is a small town brimming with charm. The Mattabesett Trail is perfect for nature lovers. Lyman Orchards and the Lyman Orchards Golf Club showcase the land’s bounty. Wadsworth Falls State Park offers a tranquil escape from the daily grind. From here, a view of the Connecticut River Valley will captivate any nature enthusiast. If a peaceful retreat is what you seek, the attractions, activities, and things to do in Middlefield, CT, is your destination.

 

Meriden, Connecticut

Just south of Wallingford, you’ll find a diverse array of attractions in Meriden, Connecticut. It boasts parks, museums, shopping centers, and a tantalizing dining scene. One of its highlights is Hubbard Park, a tranquil green space with a castle atop a ridge. For history enthusiasts, the Meriden Historical Society provides fascinating insights into the town’s past. So, consider a detour to Meriden on your Wallingford day trip.

 

New Haven, CT

Interior of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven, CT

Known for its diverse food scene and the esteemed Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, is a destination for its museums as well. The Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History alone could keep you busy for days. New Haven is more than a city to pass by; it’s a destination in which to fully immerse.

 

Tl;dr

Wallingford, Connecticut, is a historic town with a rich blend of outdoor activities, cultural experiences, and a vibrant history. This New England town features picturesque vineyards reminiscent of Tuscany, historic theaters with stories to tell, serene parks for relaxation, and adventurous trails for thrill-seekers. Wallingford offers a diverse range of attractions to suit everyone’s taste. Don’t wait any longer, come and discover the unique charm of Wallingford, CT.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Wallingford CT known for?

Wallingford is a diverse town known for its tech companies and heavy manufacturing industries. It was once renowned for its silver industry. It’s also the childhood home of Raoul Lufbery.

 

Is Wallingford a wealthy town?

Wallingford is a town with a moderate level of wealth. The average household income stands at approximately $80,793.

 

What is the race population in Wallingford CT?

The majority of Wallingford, CT’s population is White, not of Hispanic origin, accounting for about 68.5%. The second largest group is Hispanic individuals who don’t identify with any other race, comprising about 11% of the population. White individuals of Hispanic origin make up about 8.02%. Non-Hispanic Asians represent around 4.47%. Finally, individuals identifying with two or more races of Hispanic origin make up about 4.17% of the population.

 

Is Wallingford a good place to live?

Wallingford is a versatile town that caters to a wide range of people. Whether you’re raising a family, value safety, seek quality education, or are drawn to a strong economy, Wallingford has it all. Recognized as one of the best places to live in the United States, it provides the perfect balance of city life and suburban tranquility. Its location is also ideal, being just close enough to the vibrant life of Manhattan for those who crave city experiences.

 

How far is Wallingford from New York City and Boston?

Wallingford is conveniently located approximately 90 miles from the busy life of New York City. If you’re considering weekend getaways from Boston, it’s about a 125-mile journey. Quite manageable distances, wouldn’t you agree?

 

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