25 Best Things to Do in Waterbury (CT)

Source: Wikimedia / Daniel Case | CC BY-SA 3.0

Waterbury, Connecticut, is a vibrant town filled with the historical and natural wonders of New England. Known as the Brass City, Waterbury was once the epicenter of brass production, particularly clocks and watches. Love of timepieces can be seen throughout much of the architecture in the city’s downtown area.

This once quaint town also boasts a thriving arts and cultural scene, renowned parks, and numerous waterways filled with family-friendly activities, including the revitalized Naugatuck River. Waterbury residents pride themselves in their community identity, which makes this city the perfect hometown retreat. 

Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Waterbury (CT)

Source: Map data @2022 Google

1. Palace Theater

Palace Theater
Source: Wikimedia / Koskenart | CC BY-SA 4.0

The Palace Theater, dubbed “The Most Extravagant Theater in Connecticut“, was initially opened in the 1920s and, to this day, serves as an architectural wonder and a place of gathering for the community.

The theater offers live performing arts, including plays, music, and storytelling, to fit any taste as well as theater tours and community events. Palace Theater also hosts the exclusive Poli Club, offering catered dining and premium bar services before and during theater events. 

2. Mattatuck Museum Arts and History Center

Mattatuck Museum Arts and History Center
Source: Wikimedia / Jllm06 | CC BY-SA 4.0

This museum, opened in 1912, features art and cultural collections focusing on the ancient and modern history of Waterbury and the surrounding area. Mattatuck Museum hosts over 25 different exhibitions each year in addition to their permanent collections.

There are diverse activities and events offered which cater to children and adults of all ages, from art classes, artist lectures, hands-on activities, wellness events, live music, and open bar events, which are available to locals and tourists alike. The museum calendar is jam-packed with these special events, and tours are offered daily. 

3. Hop Brook Lake

Hop Brook Lake-1
Source: Flickr / CorpsNewEngland | CC BY-ND 2.0

This 21-acre recreation pool is open to the public and offers a wide range of activities for the whole family. The lake is filled with trout, panfish, and bass for fishing, and there is a man-made beach and hiking paths around the lake.

Visitors can enjoy non-motorized watercraft, the ball field and volleyball court, and the shaded picnic areas. Bird watchers and nature photographers will love the abundant wildlife living in the Hop Brook Lake ecosystem. In the winter, cross-country skiers and snowshoers can trek the seven miles of trails surrounding the area. 

4. Library Park 

Library Park-1
Source: Carol M. Highsmith | Public Domain

Library Park is one of Waterbury’s favorite green spaces to picnic or take a brisk walk around the trails surrounding the park. The park has been around since 1891 when it was converted from a cemetery into the park and adjacent Silas Bronson Public Library.

The park is sometimes used for events and festivals, such as fundraisers, seasonal celebrations, live music, and open-air performances in the bandshell. For Pokémon Go players, the park also features around six Pokéstops. For a relaxing afternoon, check out a book at the library and read in the park, have a game of soccer or catch in the grassy areas, or just people-watch and enjoy the natural environment.

5. Seven Angels Theatre

Seven Angels Theatre
Source: Flickr / B Rosen | CC BY-ND 2.0

Seven Angels Theatre is the only professional theater company in the region, featuring a wide variety of shows and performances. The theater hosts around 200 events each year. Past events have included comedy shows, magicians, musicals, plays, and live music. Enjoy a pre-show beverage at their Devil’s Corner Bar.

Additionally, the theater partners with numerous local restaurants to offer discounts and specials for diners with show tickets for the night. As a small theater with 295 seats, the view is great no matter where you sit, and the diverse range of performances fit any taste. 

6. East Mountain Golf Course

East Mountain Golf Course
Source: Unsplash / Courtney Cook | CC BY 2.0

East Mountain Golf Course is a public 18-hole golf course with challenging yet fun greens for all levels. The course was founded with the idea that an average player should be able to complete a game in four hours or less. The course includes professional and helpful staff and pros available to give small group or individual lessons.

There is also a driving range, putting and chipping areas to improve short games and a snack bar for lunch after your game. East Mountain even offers full packages to create your own golf outing, which includes your course fee, cart rental, and food offerings for lunch and dinner. Tee times and these packages can be booked online

7. Waterbury Symphony Orchestra

Waterbury Symphony Orchestra
Source: Unsplash / Samuel Sianipar | CC BY 2.0

The historical Waterbury Symphony Orchestra began in 1938 to promote the enjoyment and appreciation for classical orchestral music. Today, the WSO’s 100-person group performs at Naugatuck Valley Community College and other venues within Waterbury and the surrounding counties. They often hold performances in open-air style at the many beautiful parks in Waterbury.

The group performs pieces from Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, and more. They also collaborate with other performance groups within the Northeast to offer vocal talent and quartet music. For an unforgettable cultural experience to celebrate some of the world’s best composers, tickets to the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra can be purchased through their box office website. 

8. Waterbury Green

Waterbury Green-1
Source: Flickr / B Rosen | CC BY-ND 2.0

Waterbury Green marks the spot of the town’s original gathering place and commons from the early 1800s. It has been transformed into a two-acre park still used for town gathering and events, or just a spot for fresh air and relaxation. The park features four-storied monuments, including the Soldier’s Monument to commemorate the Civil War and the Waterbury Clock in the center of the park.

Many events are held in Waterbury Green throughout the year, such as recurring open-air farmer’s markets, tree lighting, live music, block parties, and more. The park is also an excellent spot for picnics or playing games with the family. Waterbury Green is the center of the town, literally, and is a must-see on your visit. 

9. Brass Works Brewing Company

Brass Works Brewing Company
Source: Unsplash / Meritt Thomas | CC BY 2.0

Brass Works Brewing Company This microbrewery started as a group of friends who enjoyed home brewing and has grown into a thriving business offering great beers on tap and canned. Their taproom provides a relaxing and fun atmosphere, with live music and events and personable staff.

The brewery partners with various rotating food trucks from the surrounding area, which can be enjoyed in the taproom or on the brewery’s outdoor patio area, or feel free to bring your own food in. The beers offered are all brewed in-house and rotate seasonally or based on availability. Take home a piece of the fun with the six-packs available. Brass Works has so many choices for all different tastes. 

10. Delavigne’s Gourmet Foods & Gifts

Delavigne’s Gourmet Foods and Gifts
Source: Pexels / Pixabay | CC BY 2.0

Delavigne’s Gourmet Foods & Gifts Formerly known as the Olive Oil Factory, this family-owned retail shop has branched out to offer their diverse collection of flavored oils and vinegar along with gourmet cheese, meat, pasta, snack, and more. Along with their gift baskets and retail offerings, Delavigne’s offers a tasting bar for their full selection of products.

The staff is friendly and welcoming and available to help you find exactly what you are looking for. Every product comes with unique recipes to give you ideas on how to use it. Be sure to check the store’s website, as they are constantly running discounts and unique offerings!

11. Holy Land USA Ruins

Holy Land USA Ruins-1
Source: Flickr / LeanneMarie1215 | CC BY 2.0

For a more obscure, off-the-beaten-path destination, the remnants of religious theme park Holy Land USA delivers. This park was crafted in the 1950s by a religious Waterbury resident who wanted to bring a feeling of peace to all who visited, no matter their religion or creed. The park boasted statues of religious figures, miniature scenes, and recreations of the Garden of Eden and Bethlehem.

There is also a 56-foot cross that can be seen for miles and illuminates the night sky. While Holy Land USA has sat abandoned and privy to vandalism for many years now, the site is still an exciting look into Waterbury’s past. Recent efforts by the town’s government and religious organizations have begun cleaning up the area, and there have even been talks of reopening the park in the near future. 

12. Bank Street Historic District

Bank Street Historic District
Source: Wikimedia / Daniel Case | GNU Free Documentation License

Bank Street is a stretch of buildings within Waterbury’s historic district and represents their bustling industrial past. The four buildings were constructed by some of the leading architects in the area at the time and have since been designated on the National Registrar of Historic Places. The Griggs building within this stretch is a rare example of Queen Anne architecture seen in a commercial building rather than residential.

All four buildings are beautiful and ornate with some original wainscoting and cast-iron features from the 19th century. The Mattatuck Museum offers an illustrious walking tour of Bank Street and the surrounding historic district, ending with a reception at Drescher’s Restaurant along with a glass of wine and informative conversation about the architectural history of Waterbury. 

13. Roller Magic Waterbury

Roller Magic Waterbury
Source: Pixabay / manfredrichter | CC BY 2.0

If you are in the mood for a fun throwback, Roller Magic offers traditional quad roller skating for all ages in their retro-themed rink along with music from the ’70s to current radio stations. The rink has days and times set aside for various age and skill levels, from adult skating to family skate days.

There is an old-fashioned arcade with games, skeeball, air hockey, and a full-service snack bar. You can bring your own skates or rent for $5 extra. The facility and staff are welcoming of everyone from first-time skaters to roller derby pros. Roller Magic offers discount pricing on certain days, and be sure to check out their website for these special events. 

14. Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Source: Wikimedia / Farragutful | CC BY-SA 4.0

This Roman-Catholic church was built in 1924 in the Italian Renaissance style, but its roots can be traced back to 1847 when the parish was first established. The church offers breathtaking religious artwork, architecture, and processionals along with an original restored pipe organ from 1924.

It was bestowed with the title of Minor Basilica in 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI, making it an important landmark for Roman Catholics in the northeastern United States. Whether you are a religious person looking for a place of worship or liturgical events in the area or just an admirer of beautiful architecture and art, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception will deliver. 

15. All in Adventures Escape Rooms

All in Adventures Escape Rooms
Source: All in Adventures Escape Rooms

If you’ve ever wanted the chance to put your detective skills to the test, All in Adventures offers nine themed escape rooms at three different difficulty levels to ensure fun for all ages and abilities. Themes include Alcatraz Prison, Superhero Adventure, Zombie Apocalypse, Treasure Island, and more.

Attendees have 50 minutes to analyze the clues in their room and attempt their escape. This is an excellent activity for team building and memorable photo opportunities, whether or not you beat the room! The escape rooms are a great activity for groups, couples, and families to test their critical thinking skills, and if you beat your room in record time, you can even earn a spot on the “Wall of Fame”.

16. Fascia’s Chocolates

Fascia’s Chocolates
Source: Unsplash / Henry Becerra | CC BY 2.0

Fascia’s Chocolates is a storied family-owned and operated chocolate factory and retail outlet perfect for any sweet tooth. In addition to their store offerings of every kind of chocolate treat imaginable, the outlet offers tours of their facility and plenty of special events open to the public.

Experiences include building your own chocolate bar, an interactive course on the origins and production of chocolate, and for the adults, chocolate and spirits pairing class. Finish off the day with a scoop or two of the hand-made gelato offerings in plenty of flavors. If you haven’t gotten your fix, be sure to sign up for their chocolate of the Month subscription while you’re there for year-round treats. 

17. Lakewood Lanes

Lakewood Lanes
Source: Pexels / Matthias Zomer | CC BY 2.0

Lakewood Lanes has been Waterbury’s premier bowling alley for 50 years. The facility offers 42 lanes for bowling, a game zone with arcade games and prizes, snack bar, and Sports Rock Bar and Lounge for the adults. The lounge features drinks, food, and live music, plus billiards and darts.

For nighttime bowling fun, Lakewood Lanes features galaxy bowling with laser shows, DJs, trivia, and more until 2 AM on the weekends. Bowling games are priced per hour at $10 or per game between $3 and $6 depending on the day and time. Be sure to check the website for the latest discounts and combo packages available. 

18. Extreme Paintball

Extreme Paintball
Source: Pixabay / micahchelf | CC BY 2.0

If your group is adventurous and looking for some real competition, Extreme Paintball offers weekend open play in their immersive woodsy playing field. The facility allows you to choose your preferred package, including gear and gun rental plus whichever number of paintballs you would like, and all include unlimited playtime.

The staff is experienced and works with each player to determine their needs and skill level. If you have a larger group, Extreme Paintball offers private party packages that allow you to have a playing field to yourself. Whether you’re a paintball pro or brave first-time player, Extreme Paintball is a memorable, fun experience. 

19. Laser Planet

Laser Planet
Source: Pexels / Laserblast Laser Tag Equipment | CC BY 2.0

Laser Planet offers an ultimate hide-and-seek experience with high tech multi-level laser tag arenas, strobe and black lighting, and fog machines. In addition to laser tag games, this facility offers a full arcade, mini-golf, virtual reality theater, and galaxy bumper cars, which are fun for the whole family.

Laser tag presents an opportunity for the kids (or adults) to let off steam and practice their aim, with various options available for varying ages and skill levels. Laser Planet also offers holiday specials and discount pricing for multiple games. 

20. CT Virtual Reality Arcade & Golf

CT Virtual Reality Arcade and Golf
Source: Unsplash / Martin Sanchez | CC BY 2.0

CT Virtual Reality offers both virtual reality arcade games and a virtual reality golf simulator, which allows you to experience top courses from around the United States and the world. The gaming rooms allow full access to their catalog of games, which have options for all tastes and skill levels.

The golfing rooms have different options for standard or HD experiences and either 9 or 18-hole playing, and there is even an option to take golf lessons using virtual reality technology. At less than $40 per hour, this is an affordable and unique competition experience that makes you feel like you are really there experiencing the action. 

21. Brass City Raceway & Axe Throwing

Brass City Raceway and Axe Throwing
Source: Unsplash / David Armstrong | CC BY 2.0

Brass City Raceway is an excellent spot to get your adrenaline pumping with its unique blend of adventure-oriented activities. This includes racing, axe throwing, arcade games, and indoor batting cages. Additionally, the Italian-made cars are eco-friendly and allow you to reach maximum speeds without gasoline, which is a plus.

The facility is BYOB for beer and wine, and the offerings are great for groups looking to engage in friendly competition. Brass City Raceway also offers weekly specials and pricing discounts, and you can book their activities online for convenience. If you can beat some of the top racing times, your name gets featured on the website’s scoreboard!

22. Highland Brass Co

Highland Brass Co
Source: Pexels / One Shot | CC BY 2.0

This bar and restaurant is a great neighborhood spot in the historic Town Plot section of Waterbury. Their drink menu is filled with eclectic, diverse choices from mezcal to local Connecticut beers and even alcoholic slushies. Highland Brass Co also offers events, such as Christmas and Halloween pop-up menus, seasonal chef menus, and rotating food trucks.

They also host activities such as art shows, themed parties, and tap takeovers. Their happy hour food and drink menu is generous, and they have weekly specials such as Taco Tuesday and weekend brunch. Find a spot at their outdoor patio and enjoy the view of historic Waterbury. 

23. Shakesperience Productions

Shakesperience Productions
Source: Pexels / Mike | CC BY 2.0

Shakesperience is a non-profit professional theater company serving the Northeast region with productions and classes. The company hosts theater productions focusing on none other than the Bard of Avon himself, of course, with shows being held either indoors in the theater or outdoors such as Library Park.

Their latest endeavor is a show hosted in nearby Hawk Ridge Winery called Neighborhoods, which celebrates Waterbury’s history and includes an auction. They also hold an annual Shakespeare-a-thon, 36 straight hours of programs completely free of charge. Needless to say, this unique company should be on your radar when you visit Waterbury!

24. Western Hills Golf Course

Western Hills Golf Course
Source: Unsplash / sydney Rae | CC BY 2.0

The Western Hills Golf Course is an 18-hole course with immaculate greenery and dedicated staff. The facility offers a pro shop, indoor teaching facility, practice putting and chipping green, is home to one of the best 19th holes in the state- Verdi’s full-service restaurant and bar.

The restaurant has excellent happy hour food and drinks specials and high-quality American cuisine. The prices to play through are affordable. According to reviews on Golf Advisor, the course offers a unique challenge due to its hilly landscape. Tee times can be booked online, adding convenience. 

25. Brass Mill Center

Brass Mill Center
Source: Flickr / JJBers | CC BY-SA 4.0

Brass Mill Center is a shopping mall featuring 130 various stores and plenty to do. Enjoy the Regal movie theater showing the latest releases and have lunch at one of the eclectic sit-down or takeaway restaurants in the food court.

Brass Mill features a Wow Family Entertainment Center with games and activities, multiple salons and barbershops, clothing and accessory stores, jewelry and electronics repair, and many specialty stores such as Ulta, Michael’s Crafting, and Petco.

Stroll around and enjoy some of the in-store demonstrations and activities and end the day with ice cream from Praline’s Gourmet Shop. Be sure to be on the lookout for special events taking place, such as photos with Santa or the Easter Bunny.