Though one of the most affluent communities in the United States, New Canaan is quintessential New England. With a charming village center, a strong sense of community, historic inns and protected lands, New Canaan is a fusion of modern day chic and tradition.
9 a.m. Rosie
Truth be told, New Canaan is one of those rare towns that has quite a selection of breakfast places, but there is something about Rosie. The food is simply amazing. From the brioche French toast with syrup to the breakfast burritos to the oversized sinfully delicious muffins, it’s a crowd pleaser. Rosie, 27 Elm St., also offers an equally delectable lunch and take-out menu. The place is small and you may have to wait, but it’s worth it. The other really nice thing about Rosie is they serve breakfast all day long, so if you don’t get in on the first try – try, and try again.
10 a.m.Village Center
The Village Center is really the heart of this community. Tree lined streets house unique and interesting shops as well as an array of restaurants. Make Elm Street Books your first stop as it adjoins Rosie. Like so many of the shops in the village it’s an independent store. This bookstore offers a nice selection of books, gifts and other items for adults, children and young adults and hosts author events frequently. The village is also home to two toy stores and a number of children’s clothing stores such as Crewcuts and Littlejohns, which offers a slightly offbeat imaginative selection of playwear and formal wear for boys and girls. The shopkeepers go out of their way to be warm and welcoming, making it feel more like a Norman Rockwell experience than a trip to the mall.
12:30 p.m. Forest Street Deli
The good news about Forest Street Deli, 23 Forest St., is that the staff is friendly and they serve up wonderful sandwiches reminiscent of a New York style deli. The bad news is it closes at 3 p.m. so make sure you stop in before then. What it lacks in size it makes up for in its selection of eggs and omelets, sandwiches and lunch specials. You can create your own sandwich with a choice of bread and lunch meat – great for those picky eaters. Tables are few so order up and take it to go and head out to Waveny Park.
1 p.m. Waveny Park
With your picnic lunch in hand from the Forest Street Deli, head over to the 300-acre Waveny Park. This is the place in New Canaan to relax, have fun or exercise. The park has beautiful walking trails, soccer, baseball and softball fields, as well as paddle tennis courts, an Olympic-sized pool and plenty of open lawn space to picnic or take in nature. The park also houses Waveny House, a beautiful mansion that is used for community events including a 4th of July celebration. The house can also be rented for weddings and meetings. Waveny Park is home to the Carriage Barn where many cultural events like art exhibits and concerts are held, Powerhouse Performing Arts Center, and the Lapham Community Center that includes a Senior Center and other programs for residents. Year round there is something to do at this gem of a park.
3:30 p.m. New Canaan Nature Center
No trip to New Canaan is complete without a stop into the New Canaan Nature Center. This environmental education center and sanctuary’s mission is to increase understanding, appreciation and care for the world of nature. The kids just think they are having fun. The 40 acres of land are also home to attractions such as the Maple Syrup Shed, Butterfly Field, Birds and Prey Exhibit, and a 4,000-square-foot greenhouse. Many of these attractions host living exhibits so spend time looking for the bald eagle, a turkey vulture and more.
5:30 p.m. New Canaan Diner
The diner is on the same street as the Forest Street deli, there are actually a few restaurants on this street, but none as fun and family friendly for dinner as the New Canaan Diner. It’s a fairly new addition, housed in the same spot as Lou’s Kitchen, which was considered an institution in New Canaan, but the diner is holding its own. The owners of this diner know what they are doing as they also own the Darien Diner and the Post Road Diner in Norwalk. The 1950s kitschy décor is evident throughout the place and includes the wait staff that wear throwback uniforms. The menu is classic diner fare with milkshakes that need a spoon and not a straw. There is also a nice selection of Greek food on the menu as well as a few healthier options to suit everyone in the family.
7 p.m. Bow Tie Cinemas Playhouse
The Playhouse is a 1923 movie theater at 89 Elm St. and is now called Bow Tie Cinemas Playhouse. Originally, the theater had a single screen but now it has two screens and shows first run movies throughout the day. The recently renovated theater has new seats and bathrooms and convenient parking in the municipal lot behind the theater. It’s a great and convenient way to catch a show in the heart of the village center and so much nicer than those enormous multiplex theaters. The movie schedule varies but 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. seem to be a popular start time. Right next door to the theater is Crumbs Bake Shop, one of only four in the state. They close at 8 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. on weekends so plan accordingly around movie times because you don’t want to miss one of their supersized delicious cupcakes.
Trista Morin is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.