Photo by Ally Noel
Photo by Ally Noel

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. 

Fairfield County 

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 

Pick your own apples at Beardsley’s Cider Mill and Orchard in Shelton, CT, or one of these other great orchards.

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)!

20. Canoe 

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 

Head to Sugar Lane in Newtown and delight in a sweet treat at Ferris Acres Creamery and Castle Hill Farm. 

RELATED: Connecticut Pick-Your-Own Produce and Farm Guide

Pick your own apples. Photo courtesy of Lyman Orchards

 

Hartford County 

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

Cheer on up-and-coming stars at a minor league baseball game! The Bees play in New Britain, and the Yard Goats play in Hartford.

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.

RELATEDFree 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 

Feed your mind at one of New Haven’s Book Cafes. The Book Trader Cafe and Atticus Bookstore Cafe fill tummy and brain in one stop. 

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. 

 

RELATED: 10 Family-Friendly Ski Resorts in or near Connecticut


Get up close to a dinosaur! Photo courtesy of The Dinosaur Place 

Litchfield County 

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.

75. Jumpfest

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.

 

RELATED: Water Theme Parks in and Around Connecticut

Arethusa Farm. Photo by Elizabeth G. Howard

Eastern Connecticut

90. Mystic Aquarium 

Visit Mystic Aquarium; it's fun anytime of the year. The sea lion show is particularly entertaining. While in the area make sure to hit up the fun shops in Olde Mistick Village.

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. 

94. WNBA 

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

Learn about Native American culture and natural history at the 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
 

Sunflowers for Wishes at Buttonwood Farm
Buttonwood Farm - 10:00 AM Pick
Peanut Butter Jam Concerts at the Sherman Green
Sherman Green Gazebo - 10:15 AM Pick
Ride the Lavender Express
Lavender Pond Farm - various times Pick
Mini-Golf on the Meadow
Stamford Museum & Nature Center - various times Pick
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