a day in … Ridgefield, Conn.
Ridgefield is rich in history and abounds in shops, restaurants, and cultural outlets. The excellent educational system, wide Main Street and proximity to New York City are just some of the factors that make it frequently featured as the number one small town to live in Connecticut.
Tony’s Corner Deli
Although Tony’s Corner Deli, 622 Main St., hasn’t been here for very long it has already established itself as the go-to place for breakfast sandwiches in the morning. The egg sandwiches are tasty and reasonably priced. The staff is friendly and the service is quick. The deli also offers an array of salads and some amazing sandwiches such as Ranch Chicken Cutlet or Tiger Special. There is limited seating, but ample parking so if the weather is nice take your sandwiches and have a breakfast picnic at Ballard Park, a beautiful five-acre park with gardens and a playground, located nearby.
This Main Street allows you to do everything from your banking to purchasing toys, unique gifts, clothes and jewelry. A hardware store, post office, drug store and several restaurants add to the convenience. A stop into Books on the Common, an independent bookstore owned by two long-time Ridgefield residents, is a must. With more than 18,000 books in stock, both children and adults can find something to read. The children section is complete with games, activities and a story time drop in is offered on Thursdays.
Also on Main Street is the Toy Chest, a toy store filled with games, puzzles and, of course, toys, many with an educational bent. And Art on Fire is a paint your own pottery studio where everyone is an artist.
Ridgefield played an important part in American history and features numerous historic landmarks, many of which are on Main Street, which is called The Museum in the Street. Here panels make up a free-of-charge walking tour lets you learn more about the town and its role in the American Revolution, as well as other historic sites.
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 258 Main St., is known throughout the country as one of the leading contemporary art galleries. There are no permanent collections at the museum so the exhibits are constantly changing. Children will have fun trying to interpret some of the art pieces. The museum offers programming targeted at families with hands-on events and workshops designed for younger children. The museum also offers child-sized water fountains, diaper changing stations and strollers are allowed in the exhibits.
Nature’s Temptations/ Chez Lenard
Nature’s Temptations Organic Market, Deli and Juice Bar, 32 Prospect St., has it all and then some. If you need to grab a few organic groceries or need some natural makeup this is the place, but make sure you make time for lunch. All the deli items are organic and completely nitrate and hormone free. Create a salad at the salad bar or the sandwich board offers vegetarian and beef burgers among other things. But if you prefer to drink your lunch, stop at the juice bar. Children like watching the staff put the whole fruits or vegetables in the blender.
Another option for lunch if you aren’t ready to leave Main Street and it’s not wintertime, is Chez Lenard, a fancy name for a hot dog cart, but not just any hot dog cart, it’s gourmet with a uniquely French appeal. Anyone in Ridgefield will tell you it is part of what makes Ridgefield unique.
Since 1938 the Ridgefield Playhouse has been the cultural and entertainment center not only for Ridgefield but also for much of Connecticut and parts of New York. Performances have included everything from local high school plays and world-renowned conductors to movies. This season, the playhouse has numerous family shows scheduled including Pippi Longstocking in May. There’s also sensory family-friendly movies in April in celebration of Autism Awareness Month. Check the website, www.RidgefieldPlayhouse.org, for exact show times but many performances for families run at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. with some movies at 7 p.m. Preservation of the theater has been a major focus for the playhouse, and the acoustics in the theater make it the perfect place to watch a performance.
Fifty Coins Restaurant
Fifty Coins Restaurant, 426 Main St., is a combination family-friendly restaurant and sports bar. It’s a comfortable setting to take the kids and enjoy a meal at a reasonable price. There is a nice selection of appetizers, burgers, wraps, sandwiches, salads and entrees. The family that owns the restaurant named it in honor of a racehorse they owned years ago. Coincidentally, the horse was born in Ridgefield. Fifty Coins also has a restaurant of the same name in neighboring New Canaan.
Deborah Anne’s Sweet Shoppe
A step into Deborah Anne’s Sweet Shoppe, 381 Main St., is like a step back in time. Deborah Anne’s is a quintessential candy store/ice cream parlor where everyone becomes a kid. Deborah Anne’s makes their own candy and a glass window along the back wall allows visitors to watch the process. There is seating both inside and out (weather permitting) to enjoy your treats. Plenty of novelty gifts are also available for purchase.
Trista Morin is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and mom.