FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. To people who live here full time, Fairfield County may not be an obvious summer vacation hot spot. But attractions, beaches and proximity to the city make it an attractive destination for others.
Its absolutely a place people come to visit in the summer, said Janet Serra, executive director of the Western Connecticut Convention and Visitor Bureau, which promotes tourism in Fairfield County and the Litchfield Hills. Whats interesting to me is, with Fairfield County, we get to promote hills, lakes and coast.
Visitors to Weston and Easton enjoy hiking and bird-watching at local preserves, including Devils Den, the largest Nature Conservancy preserve in Connecticut at 1,756 acres. Hikers can spot more than 500 types of trees and flowers, and bird-watchers can see over 140 species, including wood duck, ruffed grouse and pileated woodpecker.
Randalls Farm Nature Preserve, 34 acres of meadows, wetlands and forests that recently opened in Easton, is home to a variety of butterfly species.
Weston also offers Bisceglie-Scribner Pond, a freshwater swimming locale ideal for families, with a shallow area and playground that are great for kids. Theres a sandy beach and picnic area, too.
History buffs are welcome to Easton on July 21 to celebrate the 151st anniversary of the Civil War at a Civil War Encampment Day at the Bradley-Hubbell House. The event is sponsored by the Historical Society of Easton.
The biggest attractions in Fairfield County are the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport and the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Serra said. Other big draws include Norwalks Sheffield Island, Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, SoundWaters in Stamford, the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan and the Stamford Museum & Nature Center.
Connecticuts major tourism market is from within the tri-state area, Serra said. Fairfield Countys greatest strength is its accessibility.
Its so easy to get to Fairfield County by train, and the towns are generally walkable, she said. Norwalk, for example, is very walkable, so in many cases, people can just get out off the train and walk around. Its harder to do that in other parts of the state.
Although its hard to track numbers of tourists coming and going, Serra said that last year the Fairfield County tourism website had the most number of page visits of any regional website, including Mystic Country.
So far this year, Serra said, theres a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in website activity and inquiries. Since Fairfield County is such an important part of Connecticut tourism, were certainly delighted by this increase, she said.
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