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The scene on a quiet Sunday morning in December along Main Street in Ridgefield.

Ridgefield residents describe their town as a best-of-both worlds destination. On one hand, it is a classic New England country town complete with stone walls, historic buildings and a beautiful town green. On the other, it’s only a short train ride or an hour-and-change drive to New York City. It also has enough big-city style, culture and cuisine that one never has to leave town to feel like a citizen of the world.

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The Revolutionary War's Battle of Ridgefield is commemorated by sights marking the locations of the skirmishes, as well as a cannonball, fired by the British and still embedded in the outside wall of the Keeler Tavern on Main Street.

Ridgefield has a population of 25,000 and a median household income of $145,014 as of 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Founded in the early 1700s, it was the site of the Battle of Ridgefield in 1777. In this famous clash (actually a series of skirmishes), Benedict Arnold led American forces and gained much acclaim for his actions, later overshadowed by his betrayal of the American cause.

Today, the Fairfield County town bordering Danbury, Wilton, Redding and New York’s Westchester County attracts many successful residents. Authors like Eugene O’Neill, Cornelius Ryan and Maurice Sendak, and actors such as Robert Vaughn and Giancarlo Esposito have all called the town home at one point or another. Visitors and home buyers are drawn here for Ridgefield’s walkable downtown, as well as its mix of museums, theaters and restaurants regularly ranked among the top in the state.

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The Aldrich Museum is the state's only museum entirely devoted to contemporary art.

Arts & Culture

The Ridgefield Playhouse (80 East Ridge, 203-438-5795, ridgefieldplayhouse.org) is an anchor attraction. The intimate theater, which shows movies on days when there are not live shows, has hosted many rock luminaries including Gregg Allman, Ian Anderson and Blondie, as well as comedians. Upcoming events include a Blazing Saddles screening followed by a Q&A with actor Burton Gilliam (Feb. 22), and a performance by British rockers Procol Harum (March 1). The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra performs there in March and April.

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The Prospector Theater is a modern theater inspired by classic movie houses.

Nearby, The Prospector Theater (25 Prospect St., 203-438-0136, prospectortheater.org) is one of the state’s most beautiful movie theaters. Dedicated to providing employment for adults with disabilities, it is a grand theater inspired by movie houses of old. For live theater lovers, professional theater company ACT (36 Old Quarry Road, 475-215-5433, actofct.org) opened last summer. The theater will stage the world premiere of a reimagined version of Working by Stephen Schwartz (Feb. 14-March 10) that will feature new music by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Downtown is also home to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (258 Main St., Ridgefield, 203-438-4519, aldrichart.org) and the Keeler Tavern Museum (132 Main St., 203-438-5485, keelertavernmuseum.org). Leaving downtown, you can visit Weir Farm, “a national park for art” that crosses between Wilton and Ridgefield (735 Nod Hill Road, Wilton, 203-834-1896, nps.gov).

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The Ridgefield Playhouse plays hosts to hundreds of shows a year, such as Dennis Quaid and the Jets.

Food & Drink 

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The food scene in Ridgefield includes the acclaimed French restaurant Bernard's.

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Nod Hill Brewery serves up beer made with ingredients from local farms.

The restaurant scene here includes French favorites like the acclaimed Bernard’s (20 West Lane, 203-438-828, bernardsridgefield.com), and Luc’s Café (3 Big Shop Lane, 203-894-8522, lucscafe.com), as well as crepe purveyor Sucre Sale (109 Danbury Road, 203-244-5653, chezsucresale.com). Ridgefield is also home to farm-to-table standout Bailey’s Backyard (23 Bailey Ave., 203-431-0796, baileysbackyard.com) and perennial barbecue favorite Hoodoo Brown (967 Ethan Allen Hwy., 203-438-6033, hoodoobrownbbq.com), located outside town off Route 7. Also off Route 7, you can grab a coffee at Tusk & Cup Fine Coffee (51 Ethan Allen Highway, 203-544-0800, tuskandcup.com) or a beer at Nod Hill Brewery (137 Ethan Allen Highway [Route 7], 203-617-1191, nodhillbrewery.com). David Kaye, co-owner of Nod Hill, which opened in 2017, says the town is a great place to own a craft business. “We’ve worked with several Ridgefield farms to get ingredients for our beers, hosted Ridgefield-based chefs for pop-up dinners in our taproom, done beer dinners and tap takeovers at Ridgefield bars, and we continue to work with a local cheese shop, 109 Cheese, who provide the cheese and charcuterie plates we serve in our taproom,” he says. 

Shopping

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Outside Books on the Common on Main Street.

Ridgefield’s Main Street offers many opportunities to shop and stroll. Find new books at Books on the Common (404 Main St., 203-431-9100, booksonthecommon.com) and search for jewelry and clothes at Olley Court (418 Main St., 203-438-1270, olleycourt.com), a boutique showcasing items for the home that also offers interior design services. The sidewalks extend beyond the Main Street area to several nearby shopping centers. Here you’ll find that Ridgefield’s food culture goes beyond restaurants and includes several suppliers of high-end food items including Ridgefield Organics (109 Danbury Road, 203-894-8102, ridgefieldorganics.com), fresh bread and coffee shop Ross Bread + Coffee (109 Danbury Road, 203-438-4822, rossbread.com) and specialty cheese and wine shop 109 Cheese and Wine (109 Danbury Road, 203-438-5757, 109cheeseandwine.com).


LIVING HERE

Ridgefield’s Fairfield County location and relative proximity to New York City and Westchester County come with a hefty price tag. The town is home to multimillion-dollar estates as well as many houses in the $600,000-$750,000 price range. Realtor Polly O’Brien at Keller Williams Realty in Ridgefield says you can also find “a nice home” in the $300,000-$400,000 range. There are also condos available in town for less. 

Real Estate

What we found on the market with O’Brien’s help: 

For $289,000: A 1,494-square-foot condo at Fox Hill with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

For $450,000: A 1,613-square-foot Cape Cod on Old Sib Road sits on 4.3 acres with three bedrooms and two baths.

For $6.75 million: Called Orchard Hill Farm, this 1930s horse farm on West Lane stretches across 13 acres. The main home is 7,541 square feet with six bedrooms, five full bathrooms and two half-baths.

Schools

Ridgefield’s public school system received an A+ rating from niche.com and was ranked the 11th best district in the state. Most of its public schools, which include Ridgefield High School, six elementary schools and two middle schools, received 8 or 9 ratings (out of 10) from Great Schools.

This article appeared in the February 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale here. Send us your feedback on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag, or email editor@connecticutmag.com.

The senior writer at Connecticut Magazine, Erik is the co-author of Penguin Random House’s “The Good Vices” and author of “Buzzed” and “Gillette Castle.” He is also an adjunct professor at WCSU’s MFA Program and Quinnipiac University