15 Free Things to Do in Bridgeport, CT

Bridgeport, CT
DenisTangneyJr / shutterstock.com

Bridgeport lies in eastern Fairfield County at the estuary of the Pequonnock River on Long Island Sound.

As the largest city in Connecticut, it also earned the name Park City because of its more than 1,300 acres of public park space.

Established in 1821, the city got its name from the Lenape word “Pequonnock,” meaning “cleared land ready or being readied for cultivation.”

It was initially a part of Stratford.

Did you know that Bridgeport was the birthplace of Sikorsky helicopters?

The city offers many attractions, striking shoreline parks, exciting museums, grand festivals, and more.

Start planning your family getaway and enjoy the free things to do in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Marvel at the Fayerweather Island (Black Rock Harbor) Lighthouse

Exterior of the Fayerweather Island Lighthouse
Allan Wood Photography / Shutterstock.com

The Fayerweather Island Lighthouse stands majestically on the south end of Fayerweather Island and signifies the gateway to Black Rock Harbor.

The harbor used to be a developing shipping center during the 18th century, making it sensible to construct a lighthouse on the island for guiding ships into the harbor.

Erected in 1808, the first Fayerweather Island Lighthouse stood 40 feet tall on a 9.5 acre of land purchased from David Fayerweather for $200.

Jetty trail beside the Fayerweather Island Lighthouse
Allan Wood Photography / Shutterstock.com

Fayerweather Island Lighthouse initially used a whale oil spider lamp from Stratford Point Lighthouse.

In 1830 the system upgraded to using eight lamps, and in 1854, the lantern had a Fresnel lens installed.

You can access the lighthouse grounds from a parking area at the end of Barnum Boulevard, located in Seaside Park in Bridgeport.

Even if the lighthouse isn’t accessible to the public, you can take some pictures or watch different ships come and go.

Scenic view of the Fayerweather Island Lighthouse
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy the Sun and Sea at St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea

View of the sunset from St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea offers scenic views of Black Rock Harbor and Long Island Sound.

Countless outdoor enthusiasts in Bridgeport congregate at the waterfront park to enjoy the sun and the sea.

There are grassy areas where you and your family can sit or lie down to relax after strolling the walkway that extends from Ash Creek to the Black Rock Yacht Club.

St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea is an excellent place for watching sunrise and sunset, fishing trips, and picnics.

Also, don’t forget to bring your binoculars because birds and other wildlife suddenly appear on walkways if you don’t want to miss the chance of seeing them.

Take a Stroll at Captain’s Cove Boardwalk

A ship docked at Captain's Cove Boardwalk
Aubrey Gough / Shutterstock.com

One of the main tourist attractions in Connecticut is Captain’s Cove Boardwalk.

Located along Bostwick Ave, Black Rock Harbor, Bridgeport, you’ll find several eccentric shops lining the promenade.

You can enjoy watching the floating lighthouse Nantucket lightship, committed to keeping a significant part of America’s maritime heritage.

Captain’s Cove Boardwalk is a complete service marina with slip space that can accommodate more than 400 boats.

So put on your sunscreen, wear your sunglasses and start strolling the boardwalk with the whole family while enjoying the warm sunshine on your skin.

Visit the St. Margaret Shrine

If you think you need some peace and to find yourself, you can reflect on your life at St. Margaret Shrine.

Located in Bridgeport, the St. Margaret Shrine might be the only shrine in the United States dedicated to St. Margaret of Antioch.

St. Margaret was an Antioch shepherdess who was martyred at 15.

The St. Margaret Shrine holds many smaller shrines, including Christ the King, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Padre Pio, Madonna Di Bonaria (Our Lady of Fair Winds), and many more.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the National Helicopter Museum

Are you an aviation fan or want to become a helicopter pilot someday?

Then don’t miss dropping by the National Helicopter Museum along Main Street in Stratford, Connecticut, just nine minutes from Bridgeport.

You’ll find the helicopter’s development interesting through a photo essay from a dragonfly, hummingbird, and artificial boomerangs.

You can say that this is the birthplace of Sikorsky helicopters since this is where Igor Sikorsky’s career flourished when he developed his first aircraft.

Robert McCloud and Dr. Raymond Jankowich founded this non-profit museum in 1984.

The National Helicopter Museum is only open every weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Enjoy a Great Family Outing at Jennings Beach

Girls enjoying the sun at Jennings Beach
Julia Ciaccio / Shutterstock.com

If you want a safe and relaxing day with the family, head towards Jennings Beach at Fairfield, Connecticut, 11 minutes from Bridgeport.

It is the biggest beach in town, spanning 27 acres, offering visitors a vast sandy beach with spectacular views of Long Island Sound.

The place is handicapped-friendly and easily accessed with a concession stand,  volleyball poles, sailboat racks, and bathroom facilities.

You’ll find the property located near South Benson Boat Marina, sharing a parking space with the Henry Rowland Memorial Playground, where you’ll also find the Sand Castle Playground and the Skate Park.

Jennings Beach is an excellent site for watching the 4th of July fireworks.

You and the family can also join the Sand Jam Family Fun Dance & Family Movie Nights hosted by the Parks and Recreation Department during the summer.

The best reason for going to this beautiful beach is that it’s free.

However, you’ll need a beach sticker from Memorial Day Saturday to Labor Day.

Go Birdwatching at Long Beach

Seashells on Long Beach shore
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

Situated on Oak Bluff Avenue in Stratford, Long Beach is almost a mile long and is one of the lengthiest barrier beaches in Connecticut.

Cushioned between the Great Meadows tidal marsh and Long Island Sound, this beautiful sandy beach is home to several species of shorebirds and waterfowl.

You might be lucky to see the “endangered” piping plover nesting throughout the summer on the beach’s western part and nest both on the beach and sandy “track” behind the dunes.

Canoes at Long Beach
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

If you need to pass nesting bird areas, observe the governed access area signs and pass between or below the beach’s wet sand area to prevent disturbing these rare species of birds.

If you’re done birdwatching and taking pictures, you can do some fishing with the family as long as it’s outside the specified swimming areas.

This beach is also in Stratford, 12 minutes from Bridgeport.

Barbecue set up at Long Beach
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

Soak up the Sun at Short Beach

View of the sunrise from Short Beach
Andrew W. Scully / Shutterstock.com

If Stratford has Long Beach, it also has Short Beach, 12 minutes from Bridgeport.

Situated on the Housatonic River inlet, this municipal beach offers all amenities for visitors.

You can try different activities while having fun under the sun.

The northern part of the beach provides access to disabled people so they can enjoy the place and see the different nesting birds, including tern and piping plovers.

Geese at Short Beach
Andrew W. Scully / Shutterstock.com

You and your kids can fish in the marine basin to catch snapper bluefish in the summer.

The picnic areas, playground, calisthenics course, and Stratford’s biggest sandbox are on the southern part of Short Beach.

There are a lot of activities that you can do and enjoy for free at Short Beach.

Discover Amazing Flora and Fauna at the Roosevelt Forest

Sitting at the end of Peters Lane off James Farm Rd., this enchanting 401-acre forest is part of Stratford’s brilliant park system.

Inside the Roosevelt Forest lives a wide range of flora and fauna, where you have the chance to see them up close and personal, so don’t forget to bring your cameras and binoculars.

In the forest, you’ll find various mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles, ferns, trees, and wildflowers.

The whole family can enjoy different activities, such as hiking, picnicking, snowshoeing, and snowshoeing.

The park’s objective is to empower residents with recreational opportunities and help protect the wildlife, watershed, and splendor of Roosevelt Forest.

You can find the forest in Stratford, 15 minutes from Bridgeport.

Visit the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center

Marsh at Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center
Jeff Holcombe / Shutterstock.com

Whether you’re a naturalist or not, you’ll learn the beauty of nature at the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center in Milford, Connecticut, 17 minutes from Bridgeport.

Situated in marshland at Milford Point, the center offers wide-ranging views of the adjacent topography.

This 8.4-acre wildlife refuge and bird sanctuary on Long Island Sound features a nature store, exhibit room, and community programs for schools, families, scouts, camps, and more.

Since its establishment in 1995, the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center has sighted more than 300 bird species.

The tour takes about 45 minutes in the exhibit room.

Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

Spend the Day Strolling at Walnut Beach

A pier at Walnut Beach
Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com

Walnut Beach is a stunning sandy beach and a great place to spend your day strolling or people-watching with friends or loved ones.

It’s a resort community that also offers public events and shopping.

You can also go fishing, shellfishing, and grab a bite in the picnic area, so don’t forget to bring food.

Picnic pavilion at Walnut Beach
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

The best time to visit Walnut Beach is from sunrise to sunset, when it’s best to ride your bike and go around the area.

Some walkways head into the sand, making them accessible for disabled people.

This beach is in Milford, 14 minutes from Bridgeport.

A dog playing at Walnut Beach
Mark Kosobiecki / Shutterstock.com

Bring Your Dog to Shelton Dog Park

Do you want to treat your pet to a dog’s day out?

Bring your dog to Shelton Dog Park for some exciting exercises and fun your pet will love from dawn to dusk.

The park features fenced-in and shaded areas for big and small dogs.

Located on Nells Rock Road, Shelton, Connecticut, this less-than-two-acre recreational space for canines allows residents to take their dogs to socialize.

There are waste containers, water, and dog poop bags always available.

Established in 2010, the park lies near hiking trails and other recreational activities.

Remember that you’re responsible for your dog’s behavior.

This park is 15 minutes from Bridgeport.

Explore Silver Sands State Park

Scenic view of Silver Sands State Park
Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com

Silver Sands State Park offers causeways, shore birds, sea shells,  and clean sandy beaches.

Multiple activities await locals and visitors on this sunny beach, such as collecting shells, swimming, and fishing.

You can swim during the day, and anglers may catch fish anytime.

From a distance, you can see Charles Island, which serves as a sanctuary for various bird species.

Wooden bench along Silver Sands State Park
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

You can reach the island on foot during low tide.

However, you must be careful to avoid getting stranded once the tide rises.

Between Charles Island and Silver Sands State Park is a sandbar called tombolo that overwashes daily with tidal flooding, producing risky currents and undertowing.

Your initial visit to Silver Sands State Park will be the last because aside from those enjoyable activities, there are also accessible entrances and free parking.

This park is in Milford, 13 minutes from Bridgeport.

Boardwalk trail at Silver Sands State Park
Jarek G / Shutterstock.com

Spend the Day at Sherwood Island State Park

Shoreline of Sherwood Island State Park
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Sherwood Island State Park is Connecticut’s first state park and remains one of the best.

You and the family will love swimming in Long Island Sound or chilling out on the sandy beach, or watching the marsh life from the observation platform.

Sherwood Island State Park has so much to offer, such as surf and shore fishing, which you can do on the shoreline outside swimming areas.

The sands of Sherwood Island State Park
hs3189 / Shutterstock.com

Your catch on the beach may consist of blackfish, summer flounder, bluefish, little tunny,  and hickory shad.

Fishing on Poquonock Cove, on the other hand, may get you snapper, bluefish, and white flounder.

You can find this park in Westport, Connecticut, 12 minutes from Bridgeport.

Trail leading to Sherwood Island State Park's beach
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Bring Your Family to Indian Well State Park

Scenic view of Indian Well State Park
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

Are you looking for a place to bring your family for a different kind of experience and environment?

Visit the Indian Well State Park and check out its sandy riverside beach and rocky hiking trails.

The family can engage in multiple activities, such as swimming, river fishing, and picnicking.

Welcome sign of Indian Well State Park
singh_lens / Shutterstock.com

The Indian Well State Park got its name from its panoramic waterfall and brook.

If you want to spend a great summer holiday without sunburn, visit the Indian Well State Park and enjoy your day.

This park is in Shelton, only 18 minutes from Bridgeport.

A gorgeous waterfall at Indian Well State Park
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Going to places and doing some fun-filled activities doesn’t mean you have to spend money.

Some places offer free admission and activities.

Who says nothing in this world isn’t free anymore?

Don’t miss these free things to do in Bridgeport, Connecticut!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.