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Visit Stamford, CT via GetawayMavens.com

The Stamford CT motto – “The City That Works” – suggests more of the Puritan Work Ethic than the Pleasure Principal. The world headquarters of Pitney Bowes and Starwood Hotels, and trading floors of UBS and RBS, among many other multinational corporations, mark Stamford’s skyline.  Worker-bee commuters with commerce on their minds swarm into Connecticut’s 4th largest city (after Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford), just 45 minutes by Metro North train from Manhattan. But there is another side to Stamford – which happens to be this Maven’s home – one that has less to do with profits and more with pleasure. And sometimes weirdness.  We’ve got Jerry Springer, a church in the shape of a fish, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and a surprisingly vibrant nightlife. Vibrant enough to bring New York City dwellers out to the burb’s.  These contradictions are what make Stamford so intriguing as an Offbeat Getaway: that and the fact that the culinary scene is so darn amazing. Of course I’ll let you in on my favorite haunts:

What to Do In Stamford CT

VISIT: The Stamford Museum and Nature Center. This treasure of a local attraction is worth a morning or afternoon, if only to engage in meaningful eye contact with two acrobatic otters that implore you to stay in their homey enclosure.  “Don’t leave us,” their antics beseech. But you must, in order to see all there is to see in this complex that includes an art museum lodged within the former country home of retail mogul Heni Bendel, a “heritage breed” farm housing a corps of barnyard animals from bygone days including a dozen breeds of chickens, pigs, sheep and bovines, nature trails that feature sculptures and wildlife, a “Nature’s Playground” that allows kids (and kids at heart) to sprawl out in an “hawk’s nest,” and an observatory with a 22 inch telescope open to the public most Friday nights.

There’s always some goat or lamb, piglet or calf being born in the Spring, a season that also brings the popular Sheep Shearing Festival.  Programs abound, for kids and adults, but if time is short, stare down “Big Sis” – the resident 800 lb pig, and of course, be sure to say goodbye to the otters when you leave. Heckscher Farm, Daily 9 am – 5 pm; April – October, Daily 9 am – 4 pm; November – March, Bendel Mansion & Galleries,Mon.- Sat., 9 am – 5 pm; Sun., 11 am – 5 pm, $10 adults, $5 kids. 

WALK: Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens. Trails throughout the 91-acre tree sanctuary lead past lawns, woodlands and brooks.  If exotic species of plants and trees are your thing, an afternoon here will offer pure bliss. Open daily from 9am until sunset, $5 donation.

VISIT: First Presbyterian Church AKA “Fish Church.” Yes, this church was built in the shape of a fish, and this out of the ordinary edifice is what most people see when they pass by on busy Bedford Street.  But step inside and you are suddenly in the center of a massive kaleidoscope.  Designed by Wallace K. Harrison – the architect who led the multinational team that designed the UN Building in New York, and who also had his hand in building Rockefeller Center and Lincoln Center  – the stunning sanctuary opened in 1958.

For more on what to do and where to eat in Stamford, CT, you’ll find it on www.getawaymavens.com  


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