Let's be real here: keeping our kids busy often costs a small fortune. So, when this mother hears the word "free," her heart skips a beat or two. Really, that four little word brings immeasurable joy to us parents. We have rounded up 50 Free indoor things (yes 50!) to checkout across the state. You're welcome.
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1. Head to the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium for the (mostly) free planetarium shows presented Tuesday nights at 7 pm and 8 pm. Entrance into the planetarium is on a first come basis and is free for kids age 13 and under.
2. Marvel at the gigantic dinosaurs, artifacts from ancient Egypt, and impressive dioramas filled with everything from Polar Bears to Hawks. Enjoy free admission to the Peabody Museum on Thursday afternoons from 2 pm to 5 pm, September through June.
3. Enjoy free crafts for kids each Saturday at Lakeshore Learning in Hamden from 11 am to 3 pm. Children age three an older are invited to participate.
4. Learn, play, and visit animals in the Children's Studio at the New Britain Youth Museum. The museum focuses on the history, art, and cultural heritage of the diverse people of Central Connecticut. Activities include puppet theater, construction toys and games, and the Dinosaur Room.
5. Peruse portraits of governors, browse the Colt Firearms collection, study American coins from the 17th century to the present, and check out other important state souvenirs at the Museum of Connecticut History.
6. Got a bookworm? Barnes & Noble holds events throughout the year. Some are regularly scheduled story and craft times while others are author visits and readings/book signings. Check the website for details.
7. Located at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, the Copernican Observatory and Planetarium offers amazing free shows while learning all about the stars and planets.
8. On the first Thursday of every month between 5 pm. and 8 pm, head to Stepping Stones to explore exhibits like Energy Lab, ColorCoaster, Build It!, and Express Yourself, the newest addition.
9. Have you ever seen a 4,000-year-old mummy? Circus enthusiasts will enjoy exhibits including artifacts that belonged to P.T. Barnum, Tom Thumb, and others. The Barnum Museum is open Thursday and Friday from 11 am to 3 pm.
10. Enjoy miles of trails, a beautiful newly-constructed playground, and a nature center that is home to snakes, lizards, crustaceans, an owl, and more at the Ansonia Nature Center
11. Arrive at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art between 10 am and 1 pm on the second Saturday of each month and enjoy free admission for the day.
12. Your children will love to climb the spiral staircase to the lookout tower overlooking Long Island Sound at the Coastal Center at Milford Point. Immerse yourself in the area’s delicate ecosystem and observe Osprey nests through the center's telescopes. Entrance to the center is free. Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10 am-4 pm, Sunday, 12 pm – 4 pm.
13. Enjoy free daily admission to the Yale University Art Gallery. On the second Sunday of each month from September through May, the gallery hosts a family friendly Stories and Art program with plenty of hands-on art activities. Closed Mondays.
14. Open the second and fourth Sunday of every month, the New England Civil War Museum was established by Civil War descendents who have donated personal wartime relics.
15. Open every day except Tuesday, the Submarine Force Library and Museum contains a comprehensive collection of submarine artifacts. As the only submarine museum operated by the United States Navy, it includes thousands of documents, photographs, and artifacts. The best part? Your kiddos can descend into the USS Nautilus and explore its many rooms.
16. Enjoy free admission on the third Thursday of every month at KidCity, between 5 pm and 7 pm.
17. Step back in time within the walls of this 6,000 square foot farmhouse. The Pardee Morris House in New Haven is only open seasonally so check the website for full details. Admission is free.
18. On the first Saturday of the month, Home Depot offers free projects for kids at all locations. Your kids will love earning a new badge each month for every project they complete.
19. Enjoy free admission to the galleries at the Connecticut Historical Society during the first Saturday of every month and enjoy special family programs.
20. A trip to the Husky Heritage Sports Museum will make any UCONN fan happy with a collection of team photos and national championship logos, and the National Champions Gallery.
21. Enjoy free admission on Tuesday and enjoy the Bruce Museum’s collections of art, textiles, science, history, and ethnology. Learn about changes in our land, life between the tides, the earth's minerals, and community connections.
22. The National Helicopter Museum features photographs, multiple models, a helicopter simulator, and a model of the first helicopter flight in Stratford 75 years ago.
23. Learn all about the American Flyer trains designed by A.C. Gilbert at the Eli Whitney Museum in Hamden.
24. Have a blast at the Toe Jam Puppet Band Winter Variety Show at the Windsor Public Library.
25. See a life-sized beaver lodge or a fluorescent rock cave at the White Memorial Conservation Center (adults have to pay admission, but children are free specific weeks - check website).
26. Let the kids get some energy out by climbing in the McDonald's playscape in Milford.
27. Take a free one-hour guided tour of the state capitol on Mondays through Fridays.
28. On Tuesdays, visit the Derby Neck Library for toddler science where your kiddos will love experimenting and exploring the world around them through chemistry and physics.
29. Often an overlooked museum in the Elm City, the Knights of Columbus Museum is dedicated to the history of Catholicism but additionally offers a rotating exhibit on its first floor. Currently, the museum features a WWII exhibit.
30. Open to the public every Wednesday from 8 to 10 pm, if the skies are clear, The Observatory at the Westport Astronomical Society boasts the largest telescope available to the public in the state.
31. Located on the University of Connecticut campus, you can stop by the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry to learn about the curious history of puppetry and enjoy free cutting-edge shows.
32. Housed in the historic Holly House in Cove Island Park, the SoundWaters Coastal Education Center is devoted to the aquatic life of Long Island Sound. SoundWaters Coastal Education Center is home to hundreds of species with special tanks for horseshoe crabs and diamondback terrapins, a touch tank, a learning lab, and environmental displays.
33. Tickets for the Stamford Symphony's Sunday afternoon Orchestra Classics concerts are free for anyone under 18, one ticket per accompanying adult.
34.The Kids Calendar at the Westport Public Library is packed with programs for all ages. Ongoing programs including Toddler Mother Goose, Rhythm and Rhyme, and Storybook Art. The library also hosts a monthly Family Maker Art workshop, a Tinker Shop, and Friday films.
35.Third Saturdays at The Aldrich are totally free for everyone, and include family workshops from 10 am to 3 pm. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Note: Children 18 and under are FREE at The Aldrich any day, with an admission-paying adult. Closed Tuesdays.
Photo courtesy of The Bruce Museum
36. Enjoy free admission to The Bruce Museum on Tuesday and enjoy all the museum has to offer: its collections include art, textiles, science, history, and ethnology.
37. Free Arts & Crafts with the Artsy Mom at Black Rock Library - Bridgeport Every Wednesday afternoon, Artsy Mom Lisa Lupa brings a new craft project to the library for kids age preschool and up.
38. You will know for sure this wonderful little railway museum is open when you spot Thomas the Train outside its door. Run by volunteers, the Boothe Memorial Railway society hosts a monthly open house with scale model trains. This is worth setting a reminder for! Open the third Saturday of the month, from 1 pm to 4 pm.
39. Shelton Tweens and teens can explore their artistic side and learn new techniques while working on creative projects at this weekly free art drop-in at Life is Art at Plumb Memorial Library on Thursdays from 6 pm to 7:30 pm.
40. The Norwalk Public Library welcomes up to 80 kids and parents each Monday evening at 5 pm for a sweaty good time at Zumba for Kids & Parents. Shake it off and burn off some energy together. Bring water and check the calendar for library open times.
41. Visit the discovery center and an impressive live birds of prey exhibit at the New Canaan Nature Center.
42. Sit and sip an iced latte as your children investigate a new rain forest-themed Play Space at the Westfield Shopping Center in Trumbull.
43. The Stamford Town Center offers an indoor Looney Tunes Children's Play Area on Level 7 right in the center of the Food Court, which is quite large and clean. Stamford's Kids Club offers free membership to all children age 3 through Grade 6. Kids Club members receive invitations to special events, educational incentives, family health programs, store discounts, contests, and more.
44. Visit New Haven Museum and check out the Puritanical roots of this New England city on the first Sunday of every month.
45. The Housatonic Museum of Art offers a perfect venue for the whole family to take in art at your own pace. Free and open to the public all year long, except weekends.
46. The Fairfield University Art Museum boasts free permanent rotating exhibitions spanning the globe and time. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm.
47. Check out the free exhibits, nature activities, and workshops at the Kellogg Environmental Center in Osbornedale State Park in Derby. The center offers special programming and events throughout the year. Check the calendar for details.
48. The Fairfield University Bookstore often offers free children's programming with a story and simple craft for ages three and up on the weekends. Make a whole afternoon out of it and check out the nearby cafes and shops in downtown Fairfield.
49. Head to your local library, a timeless center for free and educational children's programs from story time to crafternoons to Lego clubs.
50. Visit The Benton, a Connecticut State Art Museum open seven days a week with more than 6,500 works of art reflecting the 15th through the 21st centuries. The museum offers ongoing special events like Carefree Drawing, every Friday between noon and 2 pm.
Cover photo courtesy of Stepping Stones Museum