25 Things to Do With Kids in Litchfield County, CT

There are plenty of rocks to scramble on within 205 acres of this wildlife preserve. Photo courtesy of Pratt Nature Center
There are plenty of rocks to scramble on within 205 acres of this wildlife preserve. Photo courtesy of Pratt Nature Center

With tons of open space and charming New England main streets, Litchfield County is day-trip heaven for Connecticut families. Although it’s the state’s largest county, the northwestern corner of Connecticut has the lowest population density in the state. This makes it an ideal location to plan a family “getaway” without spending hours on the road.  

From farms and flowers to skiing and skating, Litchfield County is the perfect spot to take a deep breath, recharge your batteries, and make some family memories. 

2020 note: Several attractions will have or could implement reduced hours or capacity restrictions due to COVID-19, and many annual festivities and events are postponed to 2021. Be sure to check in with each venue before visiting, and pack your mask and be sure to follow social distancing guidelines whenever out in public.

From berries to apples, fruit is ripe for picking at Ellsworth Hill. Photo courtesy of Ellsworth Hill Orchard

1. Farms Around Litchfield County 

Litchfield County definitely has a farm that is perfect for a visit any time of year. You can go apple picking at scenic Averill Farm in Washington Depot, find your pumpkin at Angevine Pumpkin Patch in Warren, pluck strawberries and blueberries at Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm in Sharon, or spend a Saturday afternoon go for a farm tour at the lovely Arethusa Dairy farm.

2. Institute of American Indian Studies

You can walk through and experience a replicated Algonkian Village at the Institute of American Indian Studies. Check out one of their scheduled events to watch history come alive. If you are up for a bit of a challenge, check out the Wigwam Escape escape room

3. Audubon Society in Sharon

The Sharon Audubon Center protects more than 2,100 primarily forested acres in Northwestern Connecticut. With raptor aviaries, pollinator gardens, a butterfly house, and a working sugarhouse, guests can enjoy nature year-round. 

4. Sculpturedale 

Local sculptor Denis Curtiss displays hundreds of pieces of sculpture around 3 acres of gardens. Visitors are welcome to stroll the gardens and see if they can get a sneak peek of the artist at work.  

5. Flanders Nature Center

Located in Woodbury, Flanders Nature Center offers 2,100 acres of open space to hike, cross country ski, or just roam. Make sure to check out the  Flanders Nature Center’s Sugar House, where you can learn how maple syrup was discovered and see how it is made 

6. Kent Coffee and Chocolate

Kent's decadent chocolates are as beautiful as they are delicious. Get hot cocoa with a truffle or other special treat.

7. Jumpfest 

Salisbury is home to Satre Hill, Connecticut’s only ski jump. During the annual Jumpfest, visitors come from all over to watch ski jumpers fly into the sky at the Salisbury Ski jumping event.

8. Bank Street Movie Theater

Check out the latest movies at the quaint Art Deco Bank Street movie theater in New Milford, and then take a walk across the street to a great toy store, PLAY. 

9. Ice Skating 

When the temps go down, it’s time to strap on your skates and go ice skating during open skate at The Gunnery, Kent School, or South Kent School.

Mohawk Mountain is a great place to learn to ski. Photo by Ally Noel

10. Mohawk Mountain

Connecticuters know that Mohawk Mountain is the perfect spot to learn how to ski. Goggles the Yeti is known to frequent the mountain during family-friendly events. 

11. John J. McCarthy Observatory 

Visit a model solar system built to scale at the John J. McCarthy Observatory in New Milford.

12. White Memorial Nature Center

Located in 4,000-acres of the White Memorial Foundation, the White Memorial Nature Center offers year-round programs like family hikes, special events, and a wide variety of children’s programming. 

Laurel Ridge daffodils bloom in April. Photo by Ally Noel

14. Laurel Ridge Daffodils 

You can’t predict nature, but usually, sometime in April, daffodils make their appearance on Laurel Ridge. Make sure to pack your camera for picture-perfect vistas filled with these beautiful blooms.  

15. Clarke Outdoor River Guides

Even beginner paddlers can spend a day rafting down the scenic Housatonic River with Clarke Outdoor River Guides. Clarke has a variety of rafts, canoes, and kayaks to pick from. Once you have completed your 10-mile journey down the Housatonic, guides will come to pick you up. 

16. Action Wildlife 

Go on a drive-through safari where you may drive your vehicle through a 50-acre, fenced-in exotic wildlife park at Action Wildlife. Keep an eye out for zebras and buffalos.

Lake Waramaug is fun to visit for a paddle or just to gaze out over the calm waters. Photo by Ally Noel

17. Lake Waramaug

I challenge you to find a Connecticut lake that is quite as scenic as Lake Waramaug.  This pristine spot really shines in the fall, when the foliage is mirrored in its calm waters. In summer, you can rent a kayak or canoe and paddle around 680 acres of Lake Waramaug.

18. Litchfield Jazz Festival

Sit on the sprawling lawn and listen to Jazz during the Litchfield Jazz Festival. The festival has been bringing music to the Litchfield hills since 1996. Enjoy music from new and upcoming musicians as well as  

19. Kent Falls State Park

Kent Falls is probably one of Connecticut’s most well-known parks. It's most popular for its waterfall, and families enjoy the easy hike up to the top of the falls. The trail up is well established and provides several viewing platforms of the 250-foot waterfall.  

20. Sloane-Stanley Museum & Kent Iron Furnace 

Eric Sloane was an artist, author, illustrator, and a collector of Americana, specifically hand tools. Guests can visit a replica of a pioneer cabin as described by Eric Sloane in a journal dating back to 1805. Works of art by Sloane are also on display. 

21. Pratt Nature Center

Splash in the East Aspetuck River at Pratt Nature Center in New Milford. This 205-acre wildlife preserve encompasses a mountain, meadows, woods, wildlife, gardens, farm animals, a stream, a pond, and wetlands. With lots of opportunities for outdoor fun, you can spend the day hiking, bird watching, or partaking in one of the many family programs the center offers.

22. Mount Tom State Park 

Hike up to the lookout tower and enjoy the view at Mount Tom State Park, and then, if it's warm, visit the sandy beach for a swim on Lake Tom.

23. Railroad Museum of New England

Take a step back in time in a restored 1920s train coach while taking a scenic 20-mile round trip ride on the Naugatuck Railroad.  Hop aboard the  Easter Bunny Express, the Northern Lights Limited, or even indulge in a sweet treat in the Chocolate Decadence Express.

24. Warner Theater 

This art deco gem is a little piece of Connecticut history. Built in 1931 by Warner Brothers Studios, Torrington’s Warner Theater is often described as “Connecticut’s most beautiful theater.”  After a full restoration in 1983, the theater reopened as the performing arts center it is today. 

25. Covered Bridge Electric Bike Rental

Nothing is quite as “New England” as covered bridges. Take a trip over the Cornwall covered bridge while riding an electric bike. Drivers need to be 18 or over, but kids can ride along on a cargo bike. 

An earlier version of this post by Mary Beth Lawlor was published on January 30, 2017.

Places featured in this article:

Intstitute for American Indian Studies

Three Monkeys and Me Boutique

Flanders Nature Center

John J. McCarthy Observatory

Litchfield Hills Farm Fresh Market
Sensory Sunday @ Chuck E. Cheese
Chuck E. Cheese - I-Drive - 10:00 AM Pick
Early Groundhog Day Hike
Roaring Brook Nature Center` - 1:30 PM Pick
Essex Ed on Parade
Essex Village - 2:00 PM Pick
Essex Ed Parade
Downtown Essex - 2:00 PM Pick
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides