April 23, 2018
Stepping off the train in Fairfield, Connecticut, I felt like I was on the set of “Gilmore Girls.” It was a sleepy Saturday afternoon when I traveled there on the Metro North from Grand Central. It was an hour-long journey for my friends and me, but it felt like we had traveled to a different world.
While New York City was uncharacteristically warm that weekend, this Connecticut beach town was not. In shorts and a silk top, I was met by a gust of wind that chilled me to my bones. It was a cool 49 degrees, but the sights of the town and the fresh air made up for the cold.
The train station is right in the center of town, a short walk from the town’s live music venue and an Irish pub. The further we walked, the more we were taken by Fairfield. A large, white gazebo on a grassy field marked the center of town. It’s a popular spot for locals to spend the day in the sun with a blanket and a picnic basket.
I stood for a second and took in the noiselessness. All I could hear when I closed my eyes were the sounds of the birds and the wind — no construction, no sirens, no screaming cab drivers.
It was a a haven — a respite for my tired city mind.
The streets were lined with little shops and restaurants fit for the silver screen. We decided our first stop needed to be for food. We asked a group of local high schoolers sitting in the grass for restaurant recommendations, and they all pointed us in one direction.
“Firehouse is great for sandwiches,” one of them said. “If you’re in the mood for something cheaper.”
We were — especially after dropping $27 on round trip train tickets.
Firehouse Deli — literally a remodeled firehouse — was a bit disorganized. There was no clear place to line up to order; we simply told an employee what we wanted and eventually our food came out on the counter. That oddly made it feel more personal. The most popular burger on the menu, “The Harlem Truffle,” was strongly recommended to us by the manager of the joint, but I decided on an avocado sandwich instead.
What changed the game for me were the tubs of pickles and bacon that customers were free to take from. The french fries and sweet potato fries were also hallmarks of my dining experience.
Shearwater Coffee was the next stop on our meandering journey through the town. It was located in a popular shopping complex, where lines went out the doors for some of the shops. The barista at Shearwater recommended I order a cortado, a tiny coffee drink which was served to me in the cutest little glass cup I had ever seen. My friend ordered an espresso. Both drinks blew my mind.
As a frequent coffee drinker, I can honestly say you would be justified in traveling to Fairfield just to taste a cup of Shearwater coffee.
With caffeine coursing through our veins, we made our way to Penfield Beach to enjoy what we originally thought would be a warm afternoon. As soon as we arrived, I realized how wrong I had been. What was chilly in downtown was freezing by the water, and we had to wrap ourselves in towels to keep warm. The empty beach was beautiful though, and we did briefly enjoy standing by the water as it lapped onto the sand.
We lasted about 15 minutes before we called a Lyft back to the train station.
After an exhausting day of walking, I was ready to be in bed, but I wasn’t ready to go back to the city. I was still caught up in the magic of the town and the escape that it offered me. For a few hours, I felt like I was back home.
I recommend Fairfield to everyone. Even if you don’t feel tired of Manhattan, going to Connecticut will make you realized how much you needed to unwind. Take in the fresh air, recharge and return to life refreshed.