15 Best Things to Do in Newtown (CT)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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A small town in southwestern Connecticut’s Fairfield County, Newtown has a history dating back to the beginning of the 18th century. At that time the land was purchased by English colonists from the Pootatuck Native Americans who had lived by the Housatonic River for centuries.

A local claim to fame that I discovered in Newtown is that the game of Scrabble comes from here. It was adapted from an earlier board game and manufactured by resident James Brunot (1902-1984) in the years following WWII.

On the agenda are pick-your-own farms, a classic New England creamery, a town hall with a cinema inside. You can also take hikes on Blue-Blazed trails by the Housatonic River’s picturesque lakes.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Newtown:

1. Newtown Borough Historic District

In the old heart of Newtown, I’d take the time to do a little exploring. Here, a stretch of Main Street, from Hawley Rd. to Academy Ln, is preserved as an historic district. 

Mostly residential, with a few public buildings sprinkled in, this part of Newtown has architecture going back to the 18th century. Take the Caleb Baldwin Tavern (1763) at 32 Main Street, or the Matthew Curtiss House (1750), home of the local historical society at No. 44.

In the Colonial Revival style there’s Edmond Town Hall (1930), while the Glover House (1869) at No. 50 is in the Second Empire style. This was in several generations of the same prominent family from construction up to 1977.

The lofty hardwood trees in the district also bestow plenty of grandeur, as does the Newtown Meeting House (1792). Now a wedding chapel, this is thought to be the only functioning meeting house in CT standing at its original Colonial location.

2. EverWonder Children’s Museum

EverWonder Children's MuseumSource: EverWonder Children's Museum / facebook
EverWonder Children’s Museum

This cherished attraction for kids was the brainchild of a group of local mothers who wanted to recreate a children’s museum experience closer to home.

The museum was set up in 2011 and recently moved into new digs. EverWonder encourages kids to grapple with big scientific concepts through hands-on experimentation.

The exhibits were developed by major regional science museums, like the Rochester Museum & Science Center and the Sciencenter of Ithaca. These include a science lab/makerspace, weather exhibits, a theremin, a scale model of Newtown, main street, and more. 

Added to that are live animal exhibits, like a ball python, bearded dragons and albino African clawed frogs. Elsewhere you’ve got an iPad table, a LEGO table, a Digital Media Lab & Studio, Tinker Stations, a Magnet Wall, and far more than I could possibly list here.

3. Edmond Town Hall Theater

Edmond Town Hall TheaterSource: Edmond Town Hall / facebook
Edmond Town Hall Theater

The wealthy Newtown resident Mary Elizabeth Hawley left a lasting impression on the town when she passed away in 1930. She funded amenities like the public library and the striking Georgian Revival Edmond Town Hall.

Few town halls feel quite a part of their local community as this building. It combines municipal offices with function rooms, meeting rooms, and a gymnasium, all of which can be rented by residents.

More than that, the space doubles as a cinema/performing arts venue, screening classics and first-run, while also booking plenty of live music.

Best of all for me is the pricing. When I was here, movies were as cheap as $3—that’s less than any other theater in Connecticut.

4. Ferris Acres Creamery

Ferris Acres CreamerySource: Ferris Acres Creamery / facebook
Ferris Acres Creamery

This farm has been worked by the same family since 1864, and over the last 30 years has branched out into making ice cream.

The creamery has been such a success that sweet treats have become the main business at Ferris Acres.

And it’s not hard to understand why when you see the menu of more than 30 regular flavors of ‘hard’ ice cream. There are also specials, sorbets, sugar-free and vegan options.

Just to paint a picture of how decadent things can get, Elvis Dream is vanilla with peanut butter, banana pieces and dark chocolate. Meanwhile, my pick, Salty Cow has salted caramel swirls and chocolate-coated pretzels.

There’s a choice of fall and winter flavors, as well as milkshakes, sundaes and ice cream sandwiches.

5. Blue Jay Orchards

Blue Jay OrchardsSource: Blue Jay Orchards / facebook
Blue Jay Orchards

Come autumn this local farm is a whirl of activity, opening up to the public for a pick-your-own apple season letting you choose a pumpkin at its patch.

Blue Jay Orchards grows 15 apple varieties, and these are ready from early August to mid-October.

If you time your visit for the second week of September there’s a wide choice. Ripe for picking Jonagold, Ida Red, Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji and Cortland.

When I came it was impossible not to be tempted by the farm market. This is stocked with honey, maple syrup, jams, jellies, cider, and a whole assortment of baked goodies from cookies and pies to apple cider donuts.

6. Collis P. Huntington State Park

Collis P. Huntington State ParkSource: Emily Read / Flickr
Collis P. Huntington State Park

In the 1920s the railroad heir Archer Milton Huntington acquired this land with his wife, the eminent artist Anna Hyatt Huntington.

They moved here in 1939 and used it as a base to pursue their passions: Hers, realistic sculpture and his as a patron of the arts.

The property was donated to the state after Anna passed away in the 1970s, and the park was named after Archer’s father, Collis P. Huntington.

A reminder of the Huntingtons remains in the eye-catching sculptures of bears and wolves greeting you at the entrance.

They also took great care to preserve the untamed character of the land. So you have more than 1,000 acres of field, deep woodland and ponds to discover. The mountain biking here is some of the best in Connecticut, with many miles of technical single-track trails.

7. Rowanwood Farm

Rowanwood FarmSource: Rowanwood Farm / facebook
Rowanwood Farm

Something I didn’t picture myself doing in Newtown was hiking with llamas. And that’s just what’s on the menu at Rowanwood Farm, which has trails in unblemished forest and woodland.

This is the only USDA licensed and approved llama hiking adventure company in the state.  A walk alongside these tame, fluffy creatures is not something I won’t soon forget.

You’ll begin with a llama handling class and some interaction before setting off on your hour-long hike. There are plenty of opportunities to stop on the way for photos.

8. Newtown Arts Festival

Every September the community comes together for a three-day celebration of the arts. Held in September, the Newtown Arts Festival offers a platform for all kinds of creative expression. 

There’s live music, dance, visual arts, and a host of other experiences at the Freeway-Activity Zone. This might be painting demonstrations, make & take workshops, a knit-and-chat, all paired with great food and drink.

EverWonder Children’s museum also puts on a schedule of activities, at the intersection of art and science. The year I wrote this article, there was salt painting and paper towel tie-dye. 

Across three days you can peruse up to 80 artisan booths, featuring anything from woodturning and sculpture to homemade treats like jams and jellies.

9. Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary

Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal SanctuarySource: Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary / facebook
Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary

The name Newtown also evokes a tragedy, the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting of 2012. One of the 27 victims was six-year-old Catherine Violet Hubbard. She had a love for animals and her dream was to run an animal sanctuary when she grew up.

In her memory, the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation was set up to found a sanctuary, as “a place of peace and compassion for people to come together and connect with animals and nature”. When I went to press, the foundation had already helped rehome hundreds of animals through its programs.

In 2014 the foundation received a 34-acre plot in the center of Newtown from the State of Connecticut.

This expanse of rolling meadows bounded by woodland will be the setting for the sanctuary facility. This will be made up of a wildlife rehabilitation center, farm animal refuge and adoption center.

For the time being, the site is a peaceful place of quiet contemplation, open to the public, while staging a variety of seasonal events.

10. Paugussett State Forest

Paugussett State ForestSource: Paula Stephens / shutterstock
Paugussett State Forest

On the west bank of the Housatonic River there’s a Connecticut state forest at two separate locations. It all adds up to around 2,000 acres of wilderness to discover.

At both spots the river has been impounded to form Lake Lillinonah (the second-largest lake in the state) at the Upper Paugussett State Forest and Lake Zoar at the Lower Paugussett State Forest. The latter is a few miles downriver in Sandy Hook.

Hikers and cross-country skiers in winter can tackle two Blue-Blazed trails, one in each section.

The Lillinonah Trail in the upper portion merges in places with Newtown’s Al’s Trail. On the way it passes a boat launch, and the foundations of long lost houses, climbing to a highest point of 492 feet.

The 6.5-mile Zoar Trail hugs the tall ridge on the west bank of the Housatonic/Lake Zoar. Every now and then I was treated to awesome views across the valley.

11. Sticks & Stones Farm

Opening up to the public for relaxing outdoor experiences, Sticks & Stones Farm has more than 60 acres of land with open fields and lush woodland.

If you want to stay overnight you can rent a luxury cabin or even a houseboat. Meanwhile Sticks & Stones Farm is also open to the public on any given day for walks in rugged terrain with arresting vistas. 

Bring your swimming gear on hot days as there’s a summit pond fed by a cold spring. Naturally I would consider leaving a donation to help with trail maintenance.

The farm has a packed schedule of happenings, most with a holistic theme, from a monthly drum circle to shamanic rock reading.

12. Cyrenius H. Booth Library

Cyrenius H. Booth LibrarySource: Cyrenius H. Booth Library / facebook
Cyrenius H. Booth Library

Passing along Main Street, you could easily miss Newtown’s public library. When it was built in the early-1930s it was designed to blend in with the surrounding historic architecture.

But the building’s traditional appearance belies just how high-tech it was for the time. Amenities included a centralized vacuum cleaner, and a built-in humidifying unit.

The library is fireproof, and was given sound-proof ceiling tiles and cork floors to quieten footfalls.

If you’re a non-resident I think you have to take a peek. For one thing, the interior boasts furnishings and decorative arts that belonged to its main funder, Mary Elizabeth Hawley (responsible for the town hall). 

There are little alcoves with comfy leather chairs where you lose yourself in a book. There’s also an entire floor devoted to children.

Lastly, during regular hours you can check out temporary art exhibitions in the Olga Knoepke Memorial Room.

13. Town Players Little Theatre

Town Players Little TheatreSource: Little Town Players / facebook
Town Players Little Theatre

For community theater with a lot of skill and dedication, the Town Players Little Theatre has been a fixture of the town for close to 80 years.

The Town Players have something for all tastes each season. Shows take place at a compact hilltop venue with around five rows of seating.

On the program when I wrote this list were Boeing Boeing, Moon Over Buffalo, and the always powerful I Never Sang for My Father.

Seating is first come-first served, and it’s worth making a reservation if there’s a show that catches your eye. Wine or soft drinks are available, served with complimentary snacks.

14. Kettletown State Park

Kettletown State ParkSource: LBSimms Photography / shutterstock
Kettletown State Park

Facing the Lower Paugussett State Forest from the Southbury side of the Housatonic River is Kettletown State Park. What you get here are more than 600 acres of beautiful waterfront scenery.

This land was originally inhabited by Pootatuck Native Americans. Their main occupation was farming, raising squash, apples, beans and tobacco.

They were also known for their innovative drum communication system. This sophisticated method allowed them to pass a message over 200 miles in only two hours.

People continue to find arrowheads on this land, but the site of the Pootatucks’ village here was submerged with the construction of the Stevenson Dam in 1919. 

You can come for hikes, fishing, camping and picnicking. Although there are beaches, swimming was still suspended when I was in town after the discovery of blue/green algae a few years back.

15. Dickinson Memorial Park

This well-appointed local park has amenities for people of all ages. There are two playgrounds, for smaller and bigger kids, as well as a Funspace creative play area. A recent addition when I compiled this article was an awesome zipline for youngsters.  

For sporty types there’s a newly built basketball court, a skate park, five tennis courts, and a softball field.

The park also has a pavilion that can be rented out for special occasions. If there’s a drawback it’s that Dickinson Park is open only to Newtown residents, and a park permit is required to use the parking lot.

15 Best Things to Do in Newtown (CT):

  • Newtown Borough Historic District
  • EverWonder Children's Museum
  • Edmond Town Hall Theater
  • Ferris Acres Creamery
  • Blue Jay Orchards
  • Collis P. Huntington State Park
  • Rowanwood Farm
  • Newtown Arts Festival
  • Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary
  • Paugussett State Forest
  • Sticks & Stones Farm
  • Cyrenius H. Booth Library
  • Town Players Little Theatre
  • Kettletown State Park
  • Dickinson Memorial Park