In Greater Bridgeport, Trumbull is a well-heeled suburban town on the Pequonnock River, which flows through a succession of parks in a long green corridor.
As it happens, Trumbull has more open space and recreational areas per capita than any town in the state of Connecticut.
Many of these parks are threaded by the Pequonnock River Trail on its 16-mile route from Long Island Sound in Monroe.
For millennia up to the 17th century the area was home to the Native American Golden Hill Paugussett tribe, which retains a reservation in the town.
Some of Bridgeport’s biggest attractions, like the Discovery Museum and Beardsley Zoo, are just a whisker from the Trumbull town line and are included on this list.
1. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo
Bridgeport had seemed destined for a zoo since the days when P.T. Barnum was mayor in the 1870s.
He would walk his circus animals through the streets around the time that Beardsley Park was being laid out, to a design by Frederick Law Olmsted.
The zoo eventually opened in 1922 and today is made up of nine main areas.
To highlight a couple, there’s the magnificent Rainforest Building, providing habitats for South American Species like golden lion tamarins, Hoffman’s two-toed sloths, Brazilian agoutis, Yacare caimans and a red-tailed boa.
Along the Hoofstock Trail you’ll come across animal native to America’s Great Plains like bison, black-tailed prairie dogs and pronghorn deer, while a pack of Mexican wolves await at the W.O.L.F. exhibit.
In 2017 a pair of Amur tiger cubs were born at the Predator habitat, and when we wrote this article work was underway on a new designated enclosure for the zoos tigers.
2. The Discovery Museum and Planetarium
A destination for STEM learning programs, but also a tourist attraction in its own right, the Discovery Museum has upwards of a hundred hands-on exhibits.
These are found in zones like MoonBase Discovery where kids can drive a lunar rover, Nano, to explore nanoscale science, Energy Network, to learn about energy sources and conservation, Science on a Sphere, bringing planetary science to life, and Dare to Discover, where young learners can test scientific principles through experiments.
In 2019, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing there was a neat, space-themed mini-golf course all through the museum.
The recently upgraded Henry B. duPont III Planetarium holds presentations for all ages every day of the week, using a high-res Spitz 512 Projector on a 10-metre dome, and a state-of-the -art sound system.
3. The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum
After a mental workout at the Discovery Museum there’s active outdoor fun in the woods around.
There are 13 high ropes courses to tackle, with around 200 treetop platforms linked by transitions like zip-lines, cables and bridges of every description.
Naturally you’ll be given a full safety orientation before setting off, and will be wearing a harness that will constantly be “locked on” thanks to a system of carabineers.
The trails are colour-coded by difficulty and there will be an experience to suit everyone aged five and up.
4. Pequonnock River Trail
Trumbull is on a 16-mile multi-use linear trail that traces the course of the Pequonnock River, from Long Island Sound at Seaside Park in Bridgeport up to Centennial Watershed Forest in Monroe.
In Trumbull alone the trail meanders through nine parks, reserves and wildlife areas, and you can walk or ride the length of the town under a canopy of foliage for almost the entire way.
In the south is the Pequonnock River Valley State Park, with five miles of riverbank with granite boulders deposited in the last Ice Age, beside rapids and quiet reaches that hardly seem to move at all.
At the Helen Plumb Building (Trumbull Chamber of Commerce) you can pick up a rail trail, on the bed of the Housatonic Railroad along the west bank.
This railroad served the industry in the Pequonnock Valley from 1840 and was incorporated into the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in the 1890s.
The last train passed through in 1935 and now the broad, flat path is a hit with families.
5. Indian Ledge Park
The most visited of all of Trumbull’s green spaces is Indian Ledge Park, which has served the town’s young people for decades.
The park has a high reputation for its BMX racing track, one of the best in the state, while some major acts have played the amphitheatre, like Chicago, Creedence and Hall & Oates.
The amount of facilities on hand is long, but to sum up you’ve got two multi-purpose fields, a floodlit softball field, a teen youth centre, bocce courts, a sledding hill in winter and a playground with picnic area.
Like a lot of local parks Indian Ledge Park has a parking lot only for residents, but is served by the Pequonnock River Trail.
6. Old Mine Park
For about 100 years from 1828 this park on the Pequonnock River was the site of hugely productive tungsten mine.
The Hubbard Tungsten Mine at Long Hill was a source of 60 other minerals and crystals, such as tormaline, topaz, opal and beryl before a fire put an end to operations in the 1910s.
In 1937 the site was landscaped and Old Mine Park is a place for rest and recreation.
There’s a walking trail crossing the river on a cute footbridge, a picnic area, two pavilions and a multi-use field, all enclosed by hushed mixed woodland which is stunning in fall.
7. Downtown Cabaret Theatre
If you’re in the mood for live entertainment, there’s a thriving, intimate live performance venue with a programme chock full of plays, musicals, live music and children’s shows.
Look out for the Main Stage Theatre Season each year, running from September to May.
In 2019-20 this features runs for Mamma Mia!, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Bodyguard and Matilda.
There are basic concessions in the lobby, but unless stated all shows allow you to bring your own beverage and picnic, which is handy because there are a few great dining options in the area, like a pizza joint just a block away.
The children’s programme has won awards for its inventive takes on fairy tales and classic stories.
8. Veracious Brewing Company
On Route 25 a couple of minutes north of Old Mine Park is a craft brewery with a big line-up of its beers on tap.
The convivial taproom at Veracious Brewing is open ’til 21:00, Thursday to Saturday, as well as Sunday afternoons outside the summer season.
Some of the brews to investigate include Freddie, a powerful American stout, Golden Summer, a Belgian-style single pale ale, Pedestrian Pale Ale, Noella, a sweet and bitter winter saison, and Bloobs, a traditional American wheat ale but with a subtle blueberry flavour.
Veracious Brewing Company is firmly part of the community, welcoming food trucks every Friday and Saturday, putting on karaoke nights and booking lots of local musicians.
9. Asylum Distillery
A family-run distillery making artisanal spirits from top-quality ingredients, Asylum Distillery welcomes visitors to take a peek behind the curtain.
Producing gin, whiskey and vodka (including ginger and cinnamon infusions) in small batches, distiller Rob Schulten never adds sugar and uses only non-GMO grains.
On a tour given by Rob you’ll find out where Asylum sources its ingredients and be talked through every stage, from mashing to fermenting and distilling.
You can then try a 2oz sample and browse Asylum’s range, which includes a luxurious aged corn whiskey with Connecticut maple syrup, or unaged Fifth State Moonshine, which mixes well in sours, mules, gimlets and mint juleps.
10. Tashua Recreation Area
This community park in the north of Trumbull comes with a public pool with a covered toddler pool, as well as a children’s playground and floodlit tennis and basketball courts.
Tashua Recreation Area has the added advantage of a highly-rated public golf course.
Tashua Knolls is an 18-hole par 72 championship course in a typical rolling New England landscape of mature trees, old stone walls and even a 200-year-old church and cemetery.
11. Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park
Families with restless children should look no further than this indoor trampoline park, part of a chain with locations all over the United States.
In a safe, padded environment, Trumbull’s Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park has a small world of attractions like a ninja course, a foam pit, a basketball court where even kids can make dunks, a climbing wall, trapeze and the main jumping zone, the Open Jump Arena.
There are dedicated time slots exclusively for children under the age of six, and during Neon Jump Night on Fridays and Saturdays the park turns on the black-lights and strobes for a jumping party for kids.
12. Barnum Museum
The famed circus mogul P.T. Barnum (1810-1891) made a lasting impression on the city of Bridgeport, and became its mayor in 1875. During this time he helped found the city’s hospital, improved the water supply and installed gas lighting on the streets.
The eccentric Barnum is remembered at this museum in a stately Eclectic building from 1893, with Romanesque and Byzantine influences.
The building was badly hit by a tornado and series of storms in the early 2010s, and though it’s currently going through renovations, you can visit Thursday to Saturday.
On the tour you’ll hear all about Barnum’s career, Jumbo the elephant and the stories behind a hoard of Barnum-related artefacts.
The Hugh Jackman musical about Barnum, the Greatest Showman (2017) will of course come up, and your clued-up guide will explain what the movie got right and wrong.
13. Trumbull Historical Society
The old Abraham Nichols Farm at 1856 Huntingdon Turnpike houses a museum about Trumbull’s 300-year history.
Abraham Nichols is thought to have been the first Englishman to have settled in Trumbull, at some point around the turn of the 18th century.
The farm was in the Nichols family until Florence Woods (born Nichols), passed away in 1973 and the land was bequeathed to the local Methodist church and then sold to Trumbull a year later.
The museum has patchy opening times – first and third Sunday of the month, 14:00-16:00 – but maintains a large assortment of historical costume, original images of Trumbull, decorative arts and fascinating details about the town’s development.
14. Bow Tie Cinemas Marquis 16
For a date, family treat or night with friends the Bow Tie cinema in Trumbull is the best place to watch a movie in the Bridgeport area.
A lot of that boils down to the large, plush reclining seats, installed in a recent upgrade.
So you’ll never have to worry about getting up as people pass by or knocking knees.
You’ll also have tray tables, as well as a little bar area so you can order something a bit stiffer to go with your popcorn.
The BTX auditorium is the choice of movie buffs, equipped with a massive screen, 4K projection and a 30,000-Watt sound system.
15. Westfield Trumbull
Bridgeport has a downtown in good health, with local restaurants, bars, an art supply shop, jewellery boutiques and a yoga studio, but sometimes you can’t beat the convenience of a mall for a shopping trip.
Westfield Trumbull at 5065 Main Street was the first enclosed shopping centre in the state when it was opened by the Frogue Corporation in 1964. The anchors today are Target, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Lord & Taylor, and among the scores of stores you’ve got Foot Locker, Sephora, Lush, Apple Store, H&M, Hot Topic, Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch.
When it comes to food there’s a no-nonsense selection of chains like Panda Express, Dunkin, McDonalds, Popeyes, Subway, Taco Bell and The Cheesecake Factory.