Fun Places to Take Kids in Connecticut
Although Connecticut is known for its Ivy League facilities and lavish farm homes of the rich and famous, the Nutmeg State also knows how to unwind and provide kids with fun and laid-back attractions. Whether based in one of Connecticut’s quaint seaside villages, sprawling metropolises or rural country towns, many of these sights provide educational and entertaining experiences.
- Founded in 1927, the New Children’s Museum in West Hartford focuses on science and nature education. Kids can enjoy exhibits that cover such topics as electricity, space exploration and wildlife. There’s also an on-site planetarium that hosts digital projector shows and an animal sanctuary that’s home to such critters as lizards and turtles. Stepping Stones Museum for Children is a large, educational institution in Norwalk. Hands-on exhibits give children the chance to alter the path of water in the Energy Lab, construct miniature structures in the Build It! exhibit and explore the inner workings of the human body in Healthyville. There’s also a community garden where young visitors can roam through butterfly gardens and play with sculptures.
All the World’s a Stage
- New Britain Youth Theater gives stage productions for young children that star young actors. Shows are performed at various locations throughout the city, including YMCAs and elementary schools. Seasons may include up to seven shows. Past productions have included plays and musicals such as “Into the Woods,” “Cinderella” and “Seussical.” Run and organized by university students, Yale Children’s Theater in New Haven produces four shows a year for little theater-goers. Performances take place in Yale’s Dwight Hall and have included such kid-friendly fare as “Peter Pan,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Alice in Wonderland.”
- Open from May through early October, the 20-acre Quassy Amusement and Water Park in Middlebury includes more than 20 rides. Little ones can raft down a water coaster or ride on a miniature train, while bigger kids might enjoy the old-fashioned wooden roller coaster or a plunge on the free-fall attraction. There’s also a water park, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend, which includes body slides, spraygrounds and a sand beach along Lake Quassapaug. Based in Bristol and open from May through December, Lake Compounce is a massive amusement park with more than 40 rides and attractions. Kids can test their iron stomachs on Thunder N’ Lightning, a 60-miles-per-hour steel coaster, or cool off on Thunder Rapids, a white-water rafting ride. For smaller kids, there’s also a carousel, bumper cars and Ferris wheel. Crocodile Cove, the attached water park open from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, has a large wave pool, lazy river and side-by-side racing water slides.
- Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport is home to 300 animals, focusing primarily on wildlife from North and South America. Kids can walk through the free-flight rainforest aviary filled with tropical birds and monkeys; come face-to-face with barnyard animals, including pigs and sheep, at the children’s farm; and observe wolves in the learning facility. The zoo also has a carousel, public feedings and animal-themed arts and crafts sessions for kids. Children can learn more about marine life at the Mystic Aquarium, home to such creatures as beluga whales, African penguins and eels. Interactive exhibits include shark and stingray touch tanks and Scales and Tails, a section of the aquarium where children can feel the scaly skin of various reptiles. There’s also a sea lion stage show and a 4-D theater.