Waterbury, Connecticut is Connecticut’s 5th largest city, located in the western part of the state on the Naugatuck River. The “Brass City” is known for its waterways and was once the heart of the American brass industry, employing over 50,000 brass workers in the early 1900s.
Waterbury was once part of the Mattatuck Plantation, so it is fitting that the museum, situated directly across from the Waterbury Green, that celebrates the history of the area is called the Mattatuck Museum. The museum showcases the industries, culture, arts, and history of Waterbury and the surrounding Naugatuck Valley area with three floors of exhibits and rotating displays.
Five Exhibits Kids Will Enjoy at the Mattatuck Museum:
- Watch old, industrial machines used in the Waterbury factories in the exhibit on Industrial Expansion with the Naugatuck Railroad. (Camp History Gallery)
- Listen to the stories of people growing up during different generations in Waterbury. (Camp History Gallery)
- Scan the QR codes to learn how to make various ethnic meals, representing over a dozen different cultures that make up Waterbury neighborhoods. (Camp History Gallery)
- Check out the extensive (we’re talking hundreds!) of buttons showcased in the Waterbury Button Museum. The manufacturing of buttons was a booming industry in Waterbury in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The museum showcases buttons made locally in a variety of materials, including glass, porcelain, pearl, wood, and metal, as well as buttons from around the world. (3rd floor)
- During warmer months, take a peek out on the Rooftop Terrace, used for special events and programs. There is also a classroom for family friendly programs, like printmaking and art workshops, yoga for kids, and storytime. See the full calendar here. (2nd floor)
Nearby (less than three miles and a five minute drive) is the famous Fascia’s Chocolates retail store, factory, and event space. Locals know, and love, Fascia’s chocolates, and we had heard about their chocolate making classes for a while. So when in
Rome Waterbury, you must stop at Fascia’s 19,000 square foot facility to at least shop for some of their 100+ items (see hours here– the shop is often closed on Sunday and Monday), but ideally, bring the kids for a chocolate bar experience class or chocolate painting class. For adults only, there’s also the chocolate decadence train ride or beer and wine pairing class.
The Chocolate Experience class is perfect for the whole family. The one hour class ($10 per person, and we recommend registering ahead of time, as they do sell out) includes a great view of the production floor (guests are not allowed inside) and the story of the company as told by a family member (we met the son in law of John and Helen Fascia, the owners who began making chocolate in their Waterbury home in 1964). Guests will learn about cacao pods and beans, the difference between a chocolatier and a confectioner (spoiler: just about everyone who says they are a chocolatier is actually a confectioner), the best temperature to melt chocolate (spoiler: it’s 98 degrees) and what happens if the temperature is too high or too low. The workshop also includes the complete step by step instructions on where and how chocolate is made and guests have the chance to sample three types of chocolate during the presentation.
The best part? Making your own chocolate bar. Each guest can choose two toppings for their bar, which the staff sets and packages to bring home. Head’s up: Guests will have exposure to nuts during the class and Fascia’s is not a nut free facility.
Looking for other adventures around Connecticut? Check out our index of dozens of places, our Hartford City Guide, our New Haven City Guide, our Coastal Connecticut City Guide, and our Mystic City Guide. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.
Disclosure: Our family was given a media pass to explore the Mattatuck Museum. All opinions expressed are my own.