Free Things To Do Indoors in Connecticut: Indoor Places To Play on Cold and Rainy Days

When the weather is cold and rainy, Connecticut's indoor places to play stay warm and bright! Photo courtesy of the New Britain Museum of American Art
When the weather is cold and rainy, Connecticut's indoor places to play stay warm and bright! Photo courtesy of the New Britain Museum of American Art
1/12/24 - By Clementina Verge

The best free things to do indoors are the answer to Connecticut's rainy and snowy weather. If your family is looking for a change of pace that's FREE, Connecticut offers a wide selection of diverting indoor places to meet up with some friends and let the kids stretch their legs. Read on for our guide to the best indoor places to play and free things to do indoors in Connecticut on cold and rainy days. And don't forget to check out your local library!

Many of these spots appear in our roundup of 25 free indoor activities, too. Of course, don't miss our complete Connecticut Indoor Play Guide and Free Fun Guide. To get more free fun at home and in your town delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletters!


Free Things To Do Indoors - Hartford and Central Connecticut

1. Barnes Nature Center - Bristol (Closed till Spring '24 due to heating issues)

The playroom here offers many hands-on learning opportunities for little ones. Between puzzles, toys, and games, preschoolers will be entertained for a couple of hours. The center is open Thursday through Sunday. While in town, you can also check out the Bristol library, another free place to play.

2. Buckland Hills Mall - Manchester 

Adventurers under 42 inches tall will enjoy the little slides and tunnels. This carpeted play area is located in the back of the food court, next to the carousel (not free). Kids will also enjoy climbing different creatures, such as a turtle, a ladybug, and a bunny. 

Exterior photo of Northwest Park Nature Center - Free things to do indoors 
When the weather gets cold, head to CT's best indoor places to play. Photo courtesy of the Northwest Park Nature Center

3. Northwest Park Nature Center - Windsor

This is a huge outdoor park, but the inside nature center and play area is also a great destination. Indoors you can watch the bird-next camera, see live turtles, learn about geothermal heat, and play in the play area. The Nature center has a lookout, books, puzzles, and more interesting things to see. Open daily until 4 pm.

4. Westfield PlaySpace - Meriden

​Kids can climb and explore in a bright, colorful area filled with animal characters and large puzzles. PlaySpace is located on the upper level, near Best Buy and TJ Maxx.

5. New England Carousel Museum - Bristol

The historical Carousel Museum is one-of-a-kind and FREE to children 12 and under all of 2024! The museum is home to many beautiful carousel figures from bejeweled horses to realistic dogs and more.  Experience the Tinker Workshop where creativity and STEAM learning takes place with hands-on activities and interactive play.

6. Connecticut Museum of Culture and History - Hartford

Every first Saturday of the month the CMCH has a free family program on a different theme. The program is always appropriate for all ages and is sure to interest your kiddos. 

Free Things To Do Indoors - Fairfield and Western Connecticut

 Photo of story time at SONO Collection - Free Things To Do Indoors in CT
Norwalk's SoNo Collection features some free indoor fun for Connecticut kids! Toddler Tuesdays photo courtesy of the SONO Collection

7. SONO Collection - Norwalk

Come to the Collection for Toddler Tuesdays, a completely free time for kids to play, interact, enjoy story time, and explore arts and crafts. Toddler Tuesday happens every Tuesday in the M&T Magnificent Room.

8. Danbury Fair Mall - Danbury

Children can ride a pretend train, climb animal sculptures, and crawl and slide in the play area near Torrid. The enclosed area is carpeted and offers abundant seating for parents. A nearby carousel (not free) will add to the excitement. 

9. The Bruce Museum - Greenwich

An amazing museum full of nature exhibits, the Bruce offers free admission on Tuesdays. Also on Tuesdays is the Bruce Beginnings class for children ages 2.5 to 5. Offered twice a day (once in the morning and once in the afternoon), Bruce Beginnings offers children a chance to explore exhibitions through picture books and hands-on activities.

10. Grace Farm Imagination Playground - New Canaan

Grace Farms is an interesting place, and while there is a vast acreage, the farm offers FREE play in their Imagination Playground almost every day of the week. Kids up to age 8 are welcome to play with the collection of extra huge, soft tinker toys. 

Free Things To Do Indoors - East Connecticut

11. Submarine Force Library and Museum - Groton

Always free, this museum is located in the naval corner of the state. Kids can tour a real submarine, see how seamen live, and get a glimpse of historical weapons used during wartime.

Photo of Ballard puppets from best indoor places to play in CT. 
Explore puppet-themed exhibits in Storrs. Photo courtesy of Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry 

12. Ballard Museum of Puppetry - Storrs

Kids love puppets, and at Ballard you can see exhibits dedicated to the art of puppetry for free. There are puppets from all over the world, from history and full-size puppets too! The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday and is linked to the UCONN Puppet Arts Department.

13. Lyman Allan Museum - New London

Free for kids 12 and under, Lyman Allan Museum offers families small group workshops, homeschool classes, Science Saturdays, and more. Wander the museum and see the amazing exhibits like Playthings of the Past, American Perspectives and the Louis Comfort TIffany glassware.

14. Smaland - New Haven

On a rainy day, maybe it's just better to go shopping! And why not go shopping somewhere that offers free babysitting for up to an hour? Drop off the kiddos at Smaland and shop all the Ikea levels. Kids will have playmates, be safe and have fun while you scratch the shopping itch.





This article was first published in October 2017 and is updated annually.

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