Fairfield County's blend of city, coast & country come together for an authentic New England experience just 30 minutes from downtown NYC. Early American history, a fascinating maritime heritage, magnificent waterfronts, vibrant city centers and peaceful countryside make this is a perfect place to visit and so easy to get to by car, train or ferry.

FINtastic RefurbFISHment: The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk CT has completed its "FINtastic RefurbFISHment," a $4 million makeover with 21 dynamic new exhibits. The main hall, renamed Newman's Own Hall, now boasts a 36-by12-foot map of Long Island Sound – an image about the size of a school bus – with interactive quizzes introducing the Sound. www.maritimeaquarium.org.

Double the Fun: Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk CT has doubled the size of the award-winning children's museum and its hands-on, kid-powered fun and learning. www.steppingstonesmuseum.org.

On The Water in Fairfield County: On a fair summer day, what could be nicer than a scenic cruise, the chance to climb a historic lighthouse, feel the wind on a windjammer sail, get acquainted with some denizens of the deep, or simply to savor the sunset over the water? In Connecticut's Fairfield County, several unique excursions on Long Island Sound make it easy to go to sea.

Cruise to Sheffield Island Historic Lighthouse: Lighthouse tours, picnicking, shell hunting along the beach, and walks to view wildlife in their natural habitat at the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge are all part of the fun of a trip to Sheffield Island, the destination of cruises from Norwalk aboard the 45-foot catamaran C.J. Toth. The Norwalk Seaport Association, the organization responsible for restoring and maintaining the 142-year-old lighthouse on the island, runs these popular cruises and tours daily from Norwalk. The lighthouse tower offers magnificent views of the Sound, and on a clear day, you can even see the New York City skyline from late May through September. Wednesday evening Sunset Harbor Cruises are added to the schedule from June to September and special early morning Bird Watcher cruises are slated on selected dates from June through August. You can also enjoy Thursday evening clambakes on Sheffield Island. For details, see www.seaport.org.

Board A Research Vessel: The Maritime Aquarium offers one of the most interesting cruises, a chance to learn more about the Sound aboard the research vessel, the Oceanic. The Aquarium's marine science educators are on hand on these 2 and a half hour cruises to tell all about life along the shoreline and below the surface of Long Island Sound. Participants can help to collect marine life and inspect the trawl net's harvest. An on-board video microscope gives a closer look at the inhabitants of the Sound. Cruises are offered throughout the year. www.maritimeaquarium.org.

Windjammer Sails: SoundWaters, an environmental education organization located in Cove Island Park in Stamford offers regular sails on the "SoundWaters", an 80-foot three-masted replica of a 19th Century sharpie schooner. Afternoon sails from 3 to 5 p.m. on selected dates from June to October are great for families with children age 5 and up, offering the chance to help hoist the sails and raise the trawl. Sunset Sails on selected weekends and weeknights from June to September are intended for adults, who are invited to bring dinner and favorite beverages and relax while watching the sun go down. www.soundwaters.org.


American Clock and Watch Museum, Bristol, 60th Anniversary

Beardsley Zoo, Bridgeport, 90th Anniversary - www.beardsleyzoo.com

Bruce Museum, Greenwich, 100th Anniversary – www.brucemuseum.org

Litchfield Open House Tour – 65th Anniversary - http://www.litchfieldct.com/cjr/tour.html

Rock Hall Bed and Breakfast – 100th Anniversary- 19rockhallroad.com