100 Things To Do with Kids in Connecticut Before They Grow Up
Raising children in Connecticut comes with lots of perks—the Nutmeg State is packed with kid-friendly museums, cultural centers, orchards, beaches, and more. To help narrow down the options for family fun, we've created a list of 100+ things to do with your Connecticut kids before they grow up. Even if you do just one thing a month, you have years of ideas to work with! We hope this list inspires you to experience all that Connecticut has to offer you and your family. And don't forget to check out our guides: museums, indoor play, daytrips, and more on our homepage. Enjoy, and have fun creating wonderful memories for you and your children.
How about a handy checklist to put on the 'fridge or family bulletin board? We've made a printable version of this list that features 50 of our fave Connecticut-based family activities.
1.Listen to the Band
Enjoy a concert at the Ridgefield Playhouse—check the website for a list of current performers.
2. Sip Some Cider
3. Life is a Cabaret
Pack a lunch and head over to the Downtown Cabaret Theater to watch one of the Theater for Young Audiences performances.
4. Watch a Parade
Be a spectator at the annual Thanksgiving Parade in Stamford–complete with floats and enormous balloons.
5. Ride a Historical Train
Visit the Danbury Railway Museum, which offers history lessons, train rides (seasonal) and hands-on learning. Fun for train fanatics and their parents!
6. Find a Pumpkin
Pick a pumpkin and enjoy a hayride at Warrup's Farm in Redding.
7. Beardsley Zoo
It’s all happening at the zoo! Connecticut’s only zoo is home to wolves, tigers, prairie dogs, and so much more. Don’t forget to save time for a ride on the carousel.
8. Go Skating
Take the kids skating outdoors! When it gets colder, check in with some town recreation departments to learn when and where local ponds are open for skating; until then, head on over to Wesport’s outdoor PAL rink.
9. Go on a Train Ride
Take the train into NYC; the ride can be a treat for little ones! A tip: hop on at an end station like New Canaan where you’ll have no problem getting a seat.
10. Visit with Reindeer
Check out the live reindeer (yes, you read correctly!) in December at Greenwich's Reindeer Festival.
11. The Bruce Museum
While the major renovations won't be complete until 2022, visitors can enjoy features of the "New Bruce" today.
12. Head to the Palace
Enjoy a kid-friendly concert or show at The Palace in Stamford.
13. Cruise the Sound
Head out in Long Island Sound on one of the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium's Spirit of the Sound cruises.
14. The Glass House
Go on a tour of renowned architect Philip Johnson’s famed Glass House in New Canaan.
15. Aldrich Museum
Tucked away on Main Street, the Aldrich Contemporary Museum of Art in Ridgefield offers a robust schedule of children’s programming.
16. Stepping Stones Museum
Splash your day away while getting some hands-on learning at Stepping Stones Museum’s popular Energy Lab exhibit.
17. Stamford Museum And Nature Center
From the cows on Heckscher Farm to giant blue slide at Nature’s Playground, it’s easy to spend a day at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center.
A trip to the zoo is always memorable. Photo by Ally Noel
18. Stew Leonard’s
A trip through Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk provides more entertainment than your average grocery store. Slurp on a Stew Leonard’s Milk Shake–you just can’t go wrong with the chocolate…
19. Lobster Rolls
Enjoy a lobster roll at Knapps Landing in Stratford (bring extra napkins)!
Canoe for an afternoon at Candlewood Lake.
21. Head to the Polo Grounds
Take in a polo match at the Greenwich Polo club…really!
22. Ride a Ferry
Hop on the ferry in Bridgeport and head over to Long Island—a beautiful way to see the sound!
23. Levitt Pavilion
Wednesdays are Free Children's Concert Series nights at the Levitt Pavilion.
24. Jones Family Farms
From Christmas trees to blueberries, and everything in between, spend a day picking at Jones Family Farms.
25. Weir Farm National Historic Site
Did you know that Connecticut’s only national park, Weir Farm, is also the only national park dedicated to American Impressionist Painting?
26. Sheffield Island Cruise
A 30-minute cruise from Norwalk Harbor will bring you to the historic Sheffield Island where you can picnic, explore a historic lighthouse, and search for shells along the rocky coast.
27. Silverman’s Farm
In addition to its pick-your-own orchards, Silverman’s Farm animal farm has a wide variety of animals to get up close and personal with.
28. Indian Well State Park
On a hot day, dip your toes into the cool waters of the cascading waterfall in Indian Well State Park.
29. Eat an Oyster
Sample the freshest oysters at Hummock Island Oyster Farm
30. Enjoy the Farm Life
Pick your own apples. Photo courtesy of Lyman Orchards
31. Roaring Brook Nature Center
Explore New England’s woodland environment at Roaring Brook Nature Center.
32. Southington Apple Harvest
Go on carnival rides, enjoy entertainment, and eat some delicious apple fritters at the Southington Apple Harvest.
33. Hot Air Balloon Festival
Gaze in awe at the Hot Air Balloon Festival. Fireworks and hot air balloons grace the skies above Plainville once a year.
34. Bushnell Memorial Theater
Dress up and enjoy a Broadway show at the Bushnell Memorial Theater. From classics like My Fair Lady to modern favorites like Hamilton, a night at the Bushnell leaves you singing in your seat.
35. Elizabeth Park
This gem of a park is tucked away in West Hartford. Enjoy movies, music, ballet, and smell the roses at Elizabeth Park.
36. Connecticut Science Center
Indulge your sense of curiosity while exploring the different exhibits at the Connecticut Science Center.
37. Go Skiing
Have a family ski day without ever leaving the state. Nearby Mt. Southington is the perfect place to put some miles on those skis.
38. Hartford Stage
Go see The Christmas Carol or another great show at the Hartford Stage.
39. Dinosaur State Park
Dinosaurs once roamed this portion of Hartford County. Nowadays, you can learn all about prehistoric times at Dinosaur State Park.
40. Lutz Museum
Go to Lutz Museum to see Chuckles the groundhog's spring prediction.
41. The New England Carousel Museum
Take a look at restored carousel horses in Bristol at The New England Carousel Museum.
42. Flamig Farm
Pet the animals and learn all about the famous backward “eggs” sign the Flamig Farm.
43. Root for the Home Teams
44. Avery’s Soda Factory
Go for a tour of the factory and then make your own soda at Avery’s.
45. New England Air Museum
Sit in the cockpit of an airplane at the New England Air Museum.
46. Lake Compounce
Ride the roller coasters at Lake Compounce in Bristol. Young and old alike can find rides they enjoy. In the warm weather, water rides are always a hit!
47. The Old State House
Stand on the very spot where Connecticut’s democracy was born. Learn about the history of this great state at The Old State House.
48. Go Tubing
Adventure through three sets of rapids when you go tubing down the Farmington River.
49. Hit an Old-School Drive-In
Take a step back in time and catch a flick on a warm summer's night at one of Connecticut's classic drive-in movie theaters.
50. Bushnell Park
This vintage carousel has called Bushnell Park home since 1914. Featuring 48 hand-carved horses, it delights both young and old riders.
51. Wickham Park
Excite all your senses at Wickham Park’s Sensory Garden. Make sure you save time to explore one of the three playgrounds, nature center, and museum.
52. Talcott Mountain State Park
Enjoy the beautiful hike up to Talcott Mountain State Park’s Heublein Tower.
53. Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park
Spend the day zip lining, wakeboarding, and cliff jumping at Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park in Manchester, CT.
RELATED: Free Connecticut Museum Days
Photo by Ally Noel
New Haven Area
54. Castle Craig
Climb to the top of Castle Craig and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding town of Meriden.
55. Lyman Orchards
Check out Lyman Orchard's amazing apple picking, corn maze, and tons of festive fall fun!
56. Lighthouse Point Park
Whether you take a spin on the carousel or get festive for the holidays, spend some time at Lighthouse Point Park.
57. Railroad Museum of New England
Travel on a journey to Santa's Train Workshop courtesy of the Railroad Museum of New England. Santa boards and greets everyone during the hour-and-a-quarter ride on an antique coach. There is a festival of light display inside and outside the train.
58. Kid City Children’s Museum
Bring your 1 to 8-year-old to Kid City Children's Museum in Middletown. Make sure you head to the basement and explore the Toddler Sea Caves—an area designed specifically for guests 2 and under.
59. Quassy Amuseument Park
Spend the day at Quassy Amusement Park, enjoying good old fashioned rides, a small water park, and a lake with a beach.
60. Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort
From mountain biking to skiing, you can get your adrenaline pumping at Powder Ridge year round.
61. Coastal Center at Milford Point
Get a birds’ eye view of Long Island Sound at the Audbon’s Coastal Center at Milford Point.
62. Yale University
Learn something new while exploring one of the 10 galleries, museums, and libraries on Yale’s Campus.
63. It Adventure Ropes Course
Challenge yourself and visit the world’s largest indoor ropes course - IT.
64. Pizza! Apizza!
Enjoy a slice, or more, of New Haven’s claim to culinary fame: pizza!
65. Book Cafes
66. Sleeping Giant State Park
The one-and-a-half-mile trail in Sleeping Giant State Park offers stunning views of Long Island Sound and the New Haven area at the peak of Mt. Carmel.
67. International Festival of Arts and Ideas
There is nothing quite like New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas. This annual festival is an explosion of creativity including performances, art shows, and so much more.
68. Go Rollerskating
Indulge your inner 90s kid by lacing up your skates and heading to Roller Magic in Waterbury.
Get up close to a dinosaur! Photo courtesy of The Dinosaur Place
69. Institute of American Indian Studies
Experience a replicated Algonkian Village at the Institute of American Indian Studies.
70. Railroad Museum of New England
Relax and take a step back in time in a restored, vintage 1920s train coach while taking a scenic 20-mile round trip ride on the Naugatuck Railroad from Thomaston Railroad Museum of New England.
71. Kent Boarding School
Go for a mellow, scenic 10-mile family bike ride starting at the Kent Boarding School, winding along an Indian Reservation and the Appalachian Trail, before reaching Bulls Bridge, one of the few working covered bridges in CT. Check out the beautiful and powerful waterfall while there.
72. Angevine Farms
Find your pumpkin at Angevine Pumpkin Patch in Warren.
73. Warner Theater
Go see a show at the art deco Warner Theater in Torrington built in 1931.
74. Kent Coffee & Chocolate
Get hot cocoa and a salted chocolate caramel at Kent Coffee and Chocolate in Kent.
Watch ski jumpers fly into the sky at the annual Salisbury Ski jumping event—Jumpfest!
76. Bank Street Movie Theater
Check out the latest movies at the Art Deco Bank Street movie theater in New Milford, and then take a walk across the street to great toy store PLAY.
77. Arethusa Dairy
Ice cream just tastes better when it comes from happy cows. On a Saturday afternoon go for a farm tour at the lovely Arethusa Dairy farm in Litchfield.
78. White Memorial Nature Museum
See a live snake habitat and fluorescent rock cave in the children’s room at White Memorial Nature Museum, and then take a hike along a boardwalk trail through a wetland environment.
79. Go Rafting
Spend the day rafting down the scenic Housatonic River with Clarke Outdoor River Guides.
80. 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 buffalo.
81. Lee’s Riding Stables
Go on a horseback trail ride or pony ride at Lee’s Riding Stables in Litchfield.
82. Lime Rock Park
Picnic on a hillside while watching race cars speed by at Lime Rock Park, touted as “The Road Racing Center of the East.”
83. Lake Waramaug
Rent a kayak or canoe and paddle around the scenic 680-acre Lake Waramaug.
83. Litchfield Jazz Festival
Head out to the Goshen Fairgrounds and listen to jazz during the Litchfield Jazz Festival.
84. Kent Falls State Park
Hike up to the top of Kent Falls. This beautiful waterfall is one of Connecticut’s most famous landmarks.
85. Sloane-Stanley Museum
Visit a replica of a pioneer cabin as described by Eric Sloane in 1805 at the Sloane-Stanley Museum & Kent Iron Furnace.
86. Pratt Nature Center
Take your kids to splash in the East Aspetuck River at Pratt Nature Center in New Milford.
87. Mount Tom State Park
Hike up to the Lookout Tower and enjoy the view at Mount Tom State Park, and then jump in for a swim at the sandy beach on Lake Tom.
88. Waldingfield Farm
In the summer, check out the thousands of sunflowers at Waldingfield Farm in Washington.
89. Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm
Pick your own strawberries and blueberries at Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm in Sharon.
Arethusa Farm. Photo by Elizabeth G. Howard
90. Mystic Aquarium
91. Foxwoods Casino
Spend the day (or night!) at Foxwoods Casino. Indoor pools, fun restaurants like the Sugar Factory, shopping, arcade games, and more make this a perfect staycation destination.
92. Clyde’s Cider Mill
Through late December, visit the oldest steam powered cider mill in the US, B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill in Mystic.
93. Dinosaur Place
See life-sized dinos, splash around in New England’s largest splash pad, and dig for gold at the Dinosaur Place in Oakdale.
Cheer at a Connecticut Sun's game; it's especially fun for little girls to see the women of the professional basketball league!
95. Groton Long Point
Visit the little beachside community of Groton Long Point and wander over to the "casino" (a penny candy store).
96. Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
All aboard! Join Thomas the Tank Engine or Santa on a festive ride on the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat.
97. Ocean Beach Park
Visit Ocean Beach Park in New London on Friday nights for swimming, rides, and fireworks.
98. UCONN Campus
Pack a picnic basket and blanket and head for the beautiful hills of Storrs/Mansfield at the University of CT. Your family can park under a tree at Horsebarn Hill, then enjoy an ice cream cone at the renowned UConn Dairy Bar, run by the School of Agriculture.
99. Nautilus Submarine
The USS Nautilus was the world’s first nuclear powered submarine. Visitors in Groton can take a tour of this impressive piece of naval history.
100. Mystic Seaport
Step back in time and explore the 17-acre open air museum at Mystic Seaport.
101. Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center
102. Fort Trumbull State Park
History buffs love exploring Fort Trumbull State Park’s museum and visitor center. Watch history come to life through 3D models and displays explaining the fort’s 225 year history.
Photo courtesy of Farmington River Tubing
Originally published January 2016