Get Ready For Summer Staycation!

Mother Nature may be stalling, but summer is almost here. That means “summer vacation” is right around the corner. Plenty of places beckon: The Hamptons. The Cape. The West.

And, of course, Westport, Weston and the rest of Fairfield County.

“Staycations” – staying right here, and enjoying all the offerings many of us moved here for – are fun. They’re stress-free. And they’re a great way to save money. (For that next visit to the Hamptons, the Cape or the West?)

You can start with Weston Historical Society’s “Music at the Barn” series. June 25th is Otis and the Hurricanes – they rock! There are shows July 23 and August 27 too, all at the Coley Homestead at 5:30 p.m. Bring a lawn chair and picnic, then just chill.

More Weston music is available at Lachat Town Farm – in the meadow – along with pickling, Native American Culture class and a Farmer’s Market.

Of course, Westport has its own outdoor music scene. The Levitt Pavilion rocks (and swings, and be-bops) six nights a week, all summer long. It’s a 40-year riverside tradition, and after a recent renovation the sound and setting are better than ever.

Westport also has a long-running Farmer’s Market. Every Thursday, the Imperial Avenue parking lot (adjacent to the Levitt) offers your fill of fresh produce, meats, baked goods and much more (honey, pizza, ice cream, entertainment and cooking demonstrations, to name just a few).

Speaking of eating, you can spend an entire summer staycation enjoying al fresco dining, and never hit the same spot twice. Westport’s outdoor restaurants include Arezzo, Rive Bistro, Pearl at Longshore and the newest addition, The ‘Port. In Fairfield there’s Artisan, Quattro Pazzi, Molto, Café Madeleine. And those are just to whet your appetite.

Looking to walk off all those meals? Weston’s Devil’s Den is a big, beautiful and protected preserve, filled with woodlands, wetlands, rock ridges, valleys, streams and swamps. It’s perfect for hiking and bird-watching.

There are dozens more outdoor spots to explore, from town preserves to the granddaddy of them all: Sherwood Island State Park. (No lie: It was the very first state park in Connecticut.) Encompassing over 230 acres just off I-95 in Westport, Sherwood Island offers a broad beach, picnics, trails, a Nature Center, even a model airplane base.

Explore the Saugatuck River with kayak and stand-up paddle rentals from DownUnder on Riverside Avenue, or Long Island Sound on kayaks or catamarans from Longshore Sailing School.

You can also rent wheels from The Bike Lady. She leads tours; can direct you on your own – and even delivers bikes and helmets to your door.

All of these ideas are in addition to the great public golf courses in Fairfield (Smith Richardson and Fairchild Wheeler); Longshore tennis and golf (the course was recently renovated); a barbecue on South Beach at Compo, and Westport’s huge fireworks party to celebrate Independence Day (this year it’s July 3rd; tickets available at the police station and Parks and Rec office).

No staycation story would be complete without the Westport Country Playhouse. One of the oldest and most storied summer theaters in the country, the handsome red building is where to see shows before they hit Broadway – and actors who may already have been there.

And don’t forget downtown Westport. The annual Sidewalk Sale is set for July 7-9. The following weekend (July 15-17), the 44th Fine Arts Festival draws artists, photographers and sculptors from around the East to the banks of the Saugatuck River.

Have we missed your favorite staycation idea? Email us: