100 Things To Do in Connecticut Before Kids Grow Up

Our ultimate family bucket list has all the things to do in Connecticut before kids grow up. Photo courtesy of Lake Compounce
Our ultimate family bucket list has all the things to do in Connecticut before kids grow up. Photo courtesy of Lake Compounce
7/16/23 - By Mary Beth Lawlor

With so many fun things to do in Connecticut, local kids are really lucky! And Moms and Dads will be pleased to find lots of kid-friendly museums, cultural centers, orchards, beaches, trains and lots of history. We've created a list of 100 things to do in Connecticut with 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 why Connecticut is a great place to raise kids.

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!


Things To Do in Connecticut with Kids - 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 and Some Cider Donuts

Autumn brings a lot of fun things, and definitely two of them are choosing a pumpkin and eating cider donuts.

Photo of young girl looking at primate at CT's Beardsley Zoo 
Connecticut's top things to do with kids include some interesting hands-on experiences. Photo by Ally Noel

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 or check  out our own curated collection.

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 

With the major renovations that took place 2022, the Bruce is better than ever. 

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. Visit the Toy Chest in New Canaan

A quaint, old fashioned toy store that stocks all the best goodies for kids!

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

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. Deborah Anne's Sweet Shoppe

Try some of the homemade chocolate and sweets at Deborah Annes. Also, amazing hot chocolate for the cold winter months!

20. Paddle a canoe 

Canoe for an afternoon at Candlewood Lake.

21. Take a bike ride with the kids.

Take the kids biking (or skateboarding!) at one of these fun places.

22. Ride a Ferry 

Hop on the ferry in Bridgeport and head over to Long Island—a beautiful way to see the sound!

23. Take a boat or kayak out with the family.

Kayaking is relatively easy for older kiddos. Some of these fun places have paddleboards too!

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? 

Photo of Sheffield Island - 100 Things To Do in Connecticut 
Explore Sheffield Island for a wonderful family excursion. Photo courtesy of the Sheffield Island Ferry Cruise

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. Indian Well State Park 

On a hot day, dip your toes into the cool waters of the cascading waterfall in Indian Well State Park.  

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

Things To Do in Connecticut with Kids - Hartford County 

28. Visit the Roaring Brook Nature Center 

Explore New England’s woodland environment at Roaring Brook Nature Center.

29. Experience Autumn with the Southington Apple Harvest 

Go on carnival rides, enjoy entertainment, and eat some delicious apple fritters at the Southington Apple Harvest.

30. Awe-mazing 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. 

31. Take in a show at the Bushnell Memorial Theater 

Dress up and enjoy a Broadway show at the Bushnell Memorial Theater. As a venue for a diverse assortment of productions, a night at the Bushnell leaves you singing in your seat with favorites for kids like Wicked, Frozen and Mrs. Doubtfire

32. Elizabeth Park, a Historical Garden 

This gem of a park is tucked away in West Hartford. Enjoy movies, music, ballet, and smell the roses at Elizabeth Park.

Photo of child at CT Science Center - 100 Things To Do in Connecticut 
Explore some wild exhibits while visiting the Connecticut Science Center. Photo courtesy of the Center

33. A Great Kid Destination: Connecticut Science Center 

Indulge your sense of curiosity while exploring the different exhibits at the Connecticut Science Center.

34. Get Outside, 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. 

35. Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry

A one-of-a-kind place to go and see puppets and imaginative puppet shows, the Ballard has a regular calendar of events.

36. We Have Dinosaurs at the Dinosaur State Park 

Dinosaurs once roamed this portion of Hartford County. Nowadays, you can learn all about prehistoric times at Dinosaur State Park.

37. Fun Toddler Programming at the Lutz Museum 

Go to Lutz Museum to see Chuckles the groundhog's spring prediction.

38. The New England Carousel Museum 

Take a look at restored carousel horses in Bristol at The New England Carousel Museum.

39. Pet Some Pigs at Flamig Farm 

Pet the animals and learn all about the famous backward “eggs” sign the Flamig Farm.

40. Root for the Home Teams

Cheer on up-and-coming stars at one of CT's minor league baseball games! The Yard Goats have a packed schedule and several themed games as well. 

41. See Soda Made at Avery’s Soda Factory 

 Go for a tour of the factory and then make your own soda at Avery’s.

42. New England Air Museum 

Sit in the cockpit of an airplane at the New England Air Museum.

43. 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! 

44. 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.

Photo of child sitting in an inner tube - 100 Things To Do in Connecticut 
Grab a tube and hit the Farmington River for family fun before the kids grow up! Photo by Ally Noel

45. A Must for Every Connecticut Kid: Tubing Down the Farmington

Adventure through three sets of rapids when you go tubing down the Farmington River.

46. 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.

47. Ride the Historic Bushnell Park Carousel

This vintage carousel has called  Bushnell Park home since 1914. Featuring 48 hand-carved horses, it delights both young and old riders. 

48. Have Fun at the Old School Playground at 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. 

49. Talcott Mountain State Park 

Enjoy the beautiful ​​hike up to Talcott Mountain State Park’s Heublein Tower. 

50. 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

Things To Do in Connecticut with Kids - New Haven Area  

51. Climb Castle Craig

Climb to the top of Castle Craig and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding town of Meriden. 

Photo of father and daughter picking fruit at Lyman Orchards. 
Make family trips to farms and orchards cherished childhood memories. Photo courtesyof Lyman Orchards

52. Pick Berries and Fruit, Shop the Market and Have Fun at Lyman Orchards

Check out Lyman Orchards' amazing apple picking, corn maze, and tons of festive fall fun! 

53. Lighthouse Point Park 

Whether you take a spin on the carousel or get festive for the holidays, spend some time at Lighthouse Point Park

54. Take a Ride at the 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. 

55. Every Kids Has to Visit the 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. 

56. 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.

57. Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort 

From mountain biking to skiing, you can get your adrenaline pumping at Powder Ridge year round. 

58. Coastal Center at Milford Point

Get a birds’ eye view of Long Island Sound at the Audbon’s Coastal Center at Milford Point. 

Photo of parent and child with camera at Yale Art Gallery 
Head to Yale for art, culture, history, and some great photo ops. Photo courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery

59. Shubert Theater

See one of the children's productions at the famous Shubert Theater. In the 2023-2024 season, shows for kids include: Dinosaurs Live and Annie.

60. It Adventure Ropes Course

Challenge yourself and visit the world’s largest indoor ropes course - IT.

61. Pizza! Apizza! 

Enjoy a slice, or more, of New Haven’s claim to culinary fame: pizza

62. 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. Also, stop by RJ Julia's in Middletown for a great selection of children's books.

63. 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. 

64. 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. 

65. Go Rollerskating 

Indulge your inner 90s kid by lacing up your skates and heading to Roller Magic in Waterbury. 

66. Peabody Museum

Visit the historic and fascinating Peabody Museum which will re-open in early 2024. 

67. Whitney's Ice Cream

Whitney's has been a family owned ice cream business in business for decades and has the most amazing, cold and creamy ice cream flavors.

68.  Yale Art Gallery

Always free, walk the halls of one of the most prestigious art museums in the world.

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

Things To Do in Connecticut with Kids - 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 

Experience the history of American industry at the CT Antique Machinery Museum.

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.

Photo of children at White Memorial Nature Museum in CT. 
While they're still kids, show them some of nature's wonders. Photo courtesy of the White Memorial Nature Museum

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. See a Zebra at 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. See Sculpturedale

Explore 3 Acres of sculpture artwork by Dennis Curtiss.

82. For Something Different, Race Cars at 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

Things To Do in Connecticut with Kids - Eastern Connecticut

Photo of child at Jellyfish tank at Mystic Aquarium. 
Connecticut's top attractions feature some wild beauty. Mystic Aquarium Photo by Jocelyn Sherman Avidan

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.

Photo of child with dinosaur sculpture - 100 Things To Do in Connecticut 
Get up close to a dinosaur! Photo courtesy of The Dinosaur Place 

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. White Sands in Connecticut! 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. Always Free, the 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. 


Originally published January 2016; updated 2021, 2023