For years, I glanced periodically at the website of the Stamford Museum & Nature Center and thought idly, this looks intriguing but…what is it, exactly? A park, a gallery, a farm, a children’s education center, a historic home? And then one day recently, I finally decided to go there and find out, and the answer is: yes. It is all of that, and a little more: a surprising, multi-faceted place you could spend many hours exploring.
On the bucolic Heckscher Farm, goats, cows, donkeys, camelids, and other animals live in hilly pastures between rustic barns. Nearby, ducks glide across one pond while river otters play in another. A Tudor-inspired mansion, built in the 1930s for the designer and department store owner Henri Willis Bendel, overlooks manicured grounds dotted with Italian sculptures. Inside, galleries with rotating exhibits let visitors glimpse the grandeur of the home along with the art. Trails extend through the woods, including one that climbs stone steep stairs past a fanciful rock tower and one that is fully accessible, a pretty boardwalk beside a brook.
The trails connect to the Bartlett Arboretum, another not-so-hidden gem of North Stamford. Though not as large or impressive as the Connecticut College Arboretum, it’s a serene setting to walk through a cluster of small themed gardens or follow various pathways through the trees.
Address: 39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford, CT, 06903
Website: Stamford Museum & Nature Center
Museum and farm hours vary. See website for hours, prices, and information about exhibits and events.
The Bartlett Arboretum is free.