Updated: Nov 7, 2019
We’re always on the hunt for a great spot for a weekend getaway, so we were really excited to check out the Southern part of Norwalk, CT! SoNo, as it’s called, is only about 1-1/2 to 2 hours from Central New Jersey and it’s a fairly straight shot up the Parkway and over the Tapenzee bridge. It’s a coastal town with a lot of great restaurants and bars with some really fun attractions! We likened it to a quintessentially Connecticut combination of Asbury Park and Red Bank.We’ve summed up what we did on our weekend in SoNo with some tips to keep in mind when you’re planning your visit!
Donovan’s is an old-timey saloon that was established in 1889. With a classic Irish pub vibe and photos of boxers on the wall, it’s a great place to pop in for a pint and a bowl of their award winning New England clam chowder!
Washington Prime has a sophisticated meets rustic vibe and a great bar. Although the dinner menu looks incredible, we went for some drinks and a quick bite to eat. Their appetizer & drink menu is extensive and anything with a * next to it is ½ off during Happy Hour. We guzzled down some refreshing Rose Sangria and devoured the spinach & artichoke dip with bubbling cheese with cream. We ALWAYS leave room for dessert, so we opted for the chocolate truffle bomb, which was so silky and smooth. It only lasted on our table for about 30 seconds
Walking by Cask Republic, it’s hard not to notice the festive alley way with Edison light bulbs strung and inviting tables & chairs. The restaurant has great energy and a cool vibe, but the food is also top-notch. We ordered the grilled bratwurst sandwich on a pretzel roll served with housemade apple bacon sauerkraut & German potato salad, which was unreal. They also have a great selection of desserts; we really enjoyed their chocolate crème brulee!
Tablao Wine Bar
If there is anything us Dopes love, it is a great wine bar! Tablao Wine Bar is a Spanish-Mediterranean inspired joint that’s dimly lit, with gorgeous brick walls and large cast iron candle holders. We a respectable wine menu, and an array of specialty cocktails, you can quickly lose a few hours sitting at this swanky bar.
SoNo Bakery is simply incredible! When we travel, we typically avoid repeat visits, but this bakery is so good we couldn’t resist going back for more! The man behind the magic John, who has an impressive culinary resume and even worked with Connecticut legend Marth Stewart. The freshly baked artisan breads are fantastic, our favorite being the sunflower and flaxseed sourdough! We also devoured freshly baked tomato tarts, ham and cheese croissants! If you’re dining in, we’d recommend the stuffed brioche French toast, or the avocado toast, but there probably isn’t a bad choice.
We had a blast at the aquarium. It really is a great spot to hit, regardless of age! We walked through the whole thing in a little over an hour, but with kids you can easily spend the great part of an afternoon here. They have hypnotizing jelly fish display and really adorable otters and Meer cats. The Meer cat exhibit has a little tunnel for children that allows you to crawl underneath the exhibit and pop up in the middle, surrounded by these adorable little creatures. We shamelessly crawled on our hands and knees to get the full aquarium exhibit, and got a few strange looks while doing it!
Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion is a cherished second empire style country house on the east coast that celebrates the extravaganza and glamour of the Victorian era. The mansion was closed for a private event when we were in Norwalk so we were unable to explore inside, but the outside was beautiful!
Sheffield Island Lighthouse
The Sheffield Island Lighthouse is about a 45 minute boat ride from the shores of Norwalk. We boarded the ferry, which was packed with couples, families and picnic baskets. Once we arrived at the island, we saw the gorgeous lighthouse in the distance and couldn’t wait to begin exploring. But, just like a scene from a horror film, chaos quickly ensued. Before we could snap a decent photo of the lighthouse, we were attacked by hundreds, if not thousands, of mosquitos. No one was safe. Within minutes, kids were crying, picnics were abandoned and people scattered to find shelter from the bugs. As we write this, days later, we are still scratching at the welts covering our bodies. We found shelter on corner of the island where the winds were strongest swatting away the bugs. As we sat counting down the minutes until the boat would take us back, we looked back at abandoned yard games, and a lighthouse in the distance that was too treacherous to visit. We are not sure if we will ever go back, but if you’re really motivated to visit this lighthouse, make sure you pack lots of bug spray and go on an incredibly windy day.