Winter Day Trips in Connecticut with Kids
When winter doldrums set in—a likelier than ever possibility in 2020 and 2021—a day trip with kids can be just the thing to raise everyone's spirits. With travel restrictions making across-the-border visits complicated this year, we'll be looking for short, safe, family-friendly winter day trips right here in Connecticut. A winter morning or afternoon escape to these nature centers, museums, and adventure parks isn't exactly a tropical getaway, but it can provide a little excitement to an otherwise quiet winter—and a welcome respite from cabin fever.
While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and maintaining appropriate distance. If you arrive at an event that appears too crowded try using the see all locations in this article or “nearby” search feature on our event calendar to find something else to do.
Winter Wonderland Walks are winding down January 6, but Connecticut's only zoo stays open through the winter (with decidedly fewer crowds). Tigers, leopards, otters, owls, eagles, and more stay outside during the colder months, and are available for visitors. Take out Massimo's or Vinny's Pizza on the way home.
The cows don't mind the cold—or some love pats—this winter. Photo courtesy of the Stamford Museum and Nature Center
Stamford Museum and Nature Center—Stamford
There are 80 miles of nature trails at the property to roam, lots of friendly barn animals to visit, and plenty of family programs happening throughout the year—from guided winter strolls (complete with warm cider) in early winter to maple sugaring programs (complete with treats) in early March.
Home to 50 animals, Earthplace features an Animal Hall and Connecticut Birds of Prey exhibit that totally delight kids. Outdoor morning storytimes, which go on in all but inclement weather, complete a visit. A 62 acre sanctuary includes a "nature's playground" to climb around. Snowshoes and skis are often left out for kids to try.
Connecticut Science Center—Hartford
This beloved, mainly indoor science museum is open with timed ticketing policies to maintain safe social distancing. Along with the typical engaging exhibits, the Connecticut Science Center is offering a "STEM in a Box" package that includes three weeks of science projects to do at home with kids.
Photo courtesy of Roaring Brook Nature Center
Roaring Brook Nature Center—Canton
Fun, guided winter hikes for families fill Roaring Brook's calendar, but little visitors will also appreciate the indoor/outdoor animal exhibits, a beaver exhibit, a replica Native American longhouse, and more local natural history to explore.
IT Adventure Ropes Course—New Haven
Currently booking by reservation only, IT Adventure Ropes Course is indoors, but has plenty of space for kids to keep socially distant while climbing and swinging on the various levels of obstacles—includng a "Little IT and Zip IT" for small children.
Try snowbiking at Powder Ridge Park
Powder Ridge Park—Middlefield
This is truly the place to get your winter chills and thrills on in Connecticut—kids can snow tube, snowbike, or hit the Kid's Snow Zone for mini tubing runs and snow play areas. Skiing is on the menu, too, and lessons are available for little beginners.
New England Air Museum—Windsor Locks
With its historic air craft in a large hangar, this is an indoor/outdoor museum that feels especially COVID friendly. Cockpits and some interactive programs are on hold at press time, but the fighter jets and more are still a thrill to observe. Bring home a Build and Fly Challenge Kit to make your own model aircraft at home.
The Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruise passes by a few bald eagle nests along the Connecticut River. Photo courtesy of Visit CT
Bundle up and climb aboard to see eagles and other winter birds on an exhilarating, family-friendly cruise on the river. Captains are full of interesting information about the majestic birds kids will see on th water.
White Memorial Conservation Center—Litchfield
Litchfield is the place to try your hand (feet?) at snowshoeing this winter. White Memorial Conservation Center has 35 miles of trails to explore snowshoe or just foot. Check out the viewing platform on Apple Hill for great views, the Nature Museum exploring different local habitats, and keep tabs on the calendar for family ice fishing lessons.
This gem in Farmington is another great place to snowshoe, as well as or cross country ski, as it's equipped with a trail pass reservation system and all the rental gear you'd need. There are also sledding hills and a skating pond, making it a one-stop shop for outdoor winter exercise.