Woog's World: Westport offers loads of summer fun for newcomers

We’re number one!

As Realtors throughout town — and “Woog’s World” — have noted, Westport has gained more new residents (buyers and renters) than any other place in Connecticut.

They fled cramped quarters for big houses with many rooms and lots of lawn. They traded five-figure private school tuition for free (well, paid for by property tax dollars) public schools. They were attracted by beaches and tennis courts and golf courses they didn’t have to schlep to.

Still, you never know what a new place is like until you’ve lived there a while. Realtors give a place their best pitch (and they know how to give you the grand tour without getting stuck in traffic). But — like buying a new car — there’s a big difference between kicking the tires, and getting behind the wheel every day.

What’s truly remarkable is: They haven’t seen us at our best.

A couple of months ago, I previewed some summer attractions for our newcomers. I wrote about the upcoming Memorial Day parade, the July 4 fireworks (upcoming in 2022), the Levitt Pavilion and the library.

Now, as newcomers continue to stream in, joined by the annual flock of summer renters, I offer up Part Two of my get-acquainted recommendations. Call it “Woog’s World Guide to Wonderful Westport.”

Start at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. The pop-up drive-in movie series that began last summer continues this year. Comedies, classics, horror films — all are shown on a big screen. The Remarkable Theater’s name is an homage to a long-ago beloved book store, but it’s an apt description of the entertainment. Click on www.remarkabletheater.org for schedules.

Every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the same parking lot transforms into a farmer’s market. There’s fresh fruit and vegetables, but also bread, meat, pizza, kombucha, pet food, ice cream, and much more. Plus there’s entertainment, food trucks and information about sustainable agriculture. For a list of vendors, visit www.westportfarmersmarket.com.

Our town takes the arts as seriously as we do food. The Westport Country Playhouse — one of the most famous summer theaters in the country — celebrated its 90th anniversary last month.

Most live programming has been pushed back to 2022. But previous shows are available for streaming. And the doors will be open for special events, like cabarets, throughout the summer. The Playhouse is a sometimes overlooked, but not-to-be-missed jewel. Learn more at www.westportplayhouse.org.

Westporters’ passion for the arts is matched by an environmental sensibility. It’s on full display at Wakeman Town Farm. The Cross Highway “sustainability center” includes a working farm, animals (alpacas!), a summer camp, educational events, farm stand,pizza oven and lots more. It’s family friendly and fun. Find out more at www.wakemantownfarm.org.

At the other end of town, Earthplace sponsors its own camps and courses. There are animals and hiking trails too. Don’t miss the adjacent Wadsworth Arboretum. More information is at www.earthplace.org.

Open space opportunities and hikes can also be found at the Aspetuck Land Trust’s preserves (www.aspetucklandtrust.org). For water activities, head to Longshore Sailing School (www.longshoresailingschool) and Westport Paddle Club (paddleboat and kayak rentals, with a very beachy vibe — westportpaddleclub.com).

Most newcomers have probably discovered Compo Beach. They may not know though that South Beach (from the cannons to the mouth of the marina) is one of the few beaches in Connecticut that allows alcohol (no glass bottles). It’s Westport’s favorite spot for cookouts and sunsets. Not far from South Beach are two pickleball courts, and a skatepark.

There are other beaches besides Compo. Old Mill — a short walk away, on Hillspoint Road — is quieter.

There’s a kayak launch a few feet away, on beautiful Sherwood Mill Pond. Burying Hill in Greens Farms is also low-key. It’s eroding quickly, but the view from the top — next to a severely underused barbecue grill — is one of the best in town. Between Old Mill and Burying Hill lies Sherwood Island. Connecticut’s first state park boasts 232 acres of beaches, walking paths, a Nature Center (and plenty of other wildlife), the state’s 9/11 memorial, fishing, disc golf, a model airplane runway, and more.

There’s so much else to Westport — golf and tennis at Longshore; ice cream at Saugatuck Sweets and two Main Street gelato shops; outdoor dining on Church Lane, the Post Road and elsewhere; lobster rolls at Hook’d and Joey’s by the Shore … but that’s enough for now.

You really should stop reading. It’s time to enjoy Westport. Even if we’re still not at our best.

Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at dwoog@optonline.net. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.