On a map, Southwestern Connecticut—also known as the area’s affluent “Gold Coast”—juts out like a rectangle into the neighboring state of New York. Located 30 miles northeast of Manhattan, in Fairfield County, the city of Stamford is among the wealthy estate communities peppering this stretch of the Connecticut coastline.
Geography defines Stamford, known as a gateway between the bustle of New York and the quiet, rural settings of upper Connecticut. Beginning in the 1960s, Fortune 500 companies moved out of New York and set up offices in downtown Stamford. Today, the suburb of 122,000 boasts more corporate offices per square mile than any other town in the U.S.
From Stamford, white-collar commuters board the Metro-North Railroad for the 45-minute express ride to New York's Grand Central Station. Highly affluent and highly educated, nine out of 10 Stamford residents have graduated from high school, and nearly half of the city’s adult population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher.
One of the top things to do in Stamford is peruse the lively downtown district, situated between Main Street and Tresser Boulevard. Young professionals frequent the bars, theaters, stylish restaurants and sidewalk cafés tucked between Columbus Park and Veterans Park. Around the corner, on Atlantic Street, the Stamford Center for the Arts hosts Broadway performances, as well as appearances by the Stamford Symphony Orchestra. Shoppers stroll across the road to Saks Fifth Avenue and Landmark Mall Square Shopping Center.
In summer, folks unwind on Long Island Sound, an eight-minute drive east of downtown. Sunbathers head to Cove Island Park, a small beach with walking trails and picnic-lunch spots in view of the coast. Nearby Cummings Park is popular for its beach and fishing pier, as well as a basketball court and four softball fields. Those visiting the beach at Stamford June through August must buy a seasonal pass or pay a day-use fee.
On the north side of the city lies Stamford Museum and Nature Center, a 118-acre New England farmstead and home to wandering oxen, sheep and pigs. A stone Tudor mansion displays art works by notables such as sculptor Gutzon Borglum, the creator of Mount Rushmore and a long-time resident of Stamford. Nature lovers wander the woodsy walking trails or use the planetarium’s 22-inch telescope to study the stars.
Another fun thing to do in Stamford for outdoor types is to visit Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens, just north of the nature center. In the spring, the 91-acre landscape blooms in vibrant color, thanks to 2,000 varieties of plants and flowers from all over the world. Trails wind past a pond, across a boardwalk, and over to a greenhouse and art gallery.
Baseball fans visiting Stamford should see Jackie Robinson Park, on the west end of town—a recreation area with picnic tables and a stone statue of the legendary Brooklyn Dodger. The first African American player in Major League Baseball history, Robinson called Stamford home during the last years of his life.