Thursday, July 21, 2016
A Variety in Bridgeport, Connecticut
We've all heard a lot about Bridgeport, Connecticut. Unfortunately, most of it isn't good. So, in my in depth study of places to visit and life in Connecticut, I went to Bridgeport, and I spent some time there. So, we all know that there is a prison right in the middle of town. We all know that the city has a reputation for run down neighborhoods, violence, car theft, and so on. I have heard it all, but just as in the cases of Cleveland and Chicago; I thought that maybe we should focus on the positive. So, what did I find in Bridgeport? I did find all the run down neighborhoods, and I did find the prison. I actually had a little trouble finding a lot of things, but when I did; it was worth it.
Bridgeport is a bustling metropolis of around 140,000 people that sits right on I-95. I normally go to Bridgeport to change trains on my way to New York City. It does have one of the bigger train stations in the state. Downtown is just like any other city with tall buildings and green places put in to break up the scenery of glass and cement. The traffic is what I would call normal for the city. There are a lot of shops and restaurants downtown. Nothing spectacular.
One of the more amazing things that Bridgeport does have is the Barnum Museum. That should strike a chord with anyone who's ever been to the circus. That's right. This is the museum that teaches us about and celebrates P.T. Barnum. You will see some really strange sights in there, but that's what we know P.T. Barnum for, now isn't it? Unfortunately, there was a fire a few years ago, and they are still working on refurbishing the historic part of the museum, but the rest is really interesting.
There's an amazing waterfront in Bridgeport. Seaside Park is the main focus of that. It goes for miles and has an amazing view of Long Island Sound. There are many facets of the park from ball fields to beaches to bandshells and more. It's a great place to be, but keep in mind that you need a permit to park inside the park. If you are not from Bridgeport, it can be quite steep. If you're from out of state, it's expensive. Other wonderful parts of the waterfront include: Dolphin's Cove, the waterfront restaurant that's not open on Mondays, two lighthouses, and a ferry to Long Island. The waterfront is a great place to spend some time.
All of the sports activity in Bridgeport is also along the waterfront. They have hockey and the Bluefish professional baseball team. Connecticut does not have major league baseball, but we do have four minor league teams and they are all fun to go and watch.
As I've said before, Bass Pro Shops has a great store in Bridgeport, and in addition to shopping, you can eat and go bowling there. The restaurant is really good and the bowling is black lighted and basically under the sea. But, Bridgeport has many restaurants that are really good, even though many of them are in what a lot of people would call the bad part of town. I say, go and enjoy. There's Mexican, Peruvian, Italian, and so much more along East Main Street. Give it a shot. And when you're done eating, head to Discovery Park for the Children's Museum and the adventure park where you can fly through the trees.
Note: Connecticut is big on adventure parks. Pretty much anywhere you go you are close to one whether it be inside or out. So, if that's you're thing, then you need to come to Connecticut.
But, by and large, the best reason to come to Bridgeport is for the animals. I had never been to Beardsley Zoo. I loved it and I would happily come back again and again. Look at what you see there.
Now, I am an advocate of the more open and safari type zoos, but most of the animals in this zoo are kept because they are endangered and protected or because they have been injured and can no longer survive in the wild. The habitats are really good, and I would visit this place again. It's right in the middle of town, and sits along a riverside park. It's a great place to spend some time with the family. They have programs that the kids can do and classrooms for the programs right on the grounds. They also have a great greenhouse with plants from all over the world.
So, what can I say about Bridgeport? It's not what you'd expect given what you've probably heard. I found a bunch of friendly people and a lovely place to spend some time. It is true that there are no state parks there, but they have plenty to do without them. They also have a growing university in The University of Bridgeport. They've come a long way. It's looking better than ever, and the food is good. Come on down to Bridgeport and see a place that I think will really surprise you. But, bring a map of the city or have it on your phone. They do need better signage for their attractions. Enjoy!