Before pool noodles and beach towels get stored away for another season, and late summer nights are replaced by bedtime curfews and homework, (at least) 25 must-do activities await in Connecticut, a great place to raise kids. So don't pack up the flip flops or exile the picnic basket to storage. There are still a few weeks before school buses begin to line at the curb, allowing us to capitalize on the time left and give summer a proper send-off, making more memories sure to keep hearts warm in the cold days to come.
1. Go on a picnic – Whether it’s in your backyard, at a playground, or a scenic location such as Elizabeth Park or Wickham Park, sit back and bite into a sandwich while watching clouds glide by. Weir Farm, the only national park dedicated to American painting, is such an incredibly tranquil place, it is featured in our Six Perfect Picnic Places in Fairfield County.
2. Visit the zoo – Greet the rad panda at Beardsley, our state's only zoo; if your children are fans of wildlife, you can cross state lines (we won't tell) and admire the elephants at Rogers Williams Zoo, have a rhino encounter at Southwick's Zoo, or explore Tiger Mountain at the Bronx Zoo.
3. Visit Mystic – This is one of the most magical destinations in Connecticut. Visit the aquarium, the seaport, or have tea in the village. You can spend a few hours here, or enjoy a weekend getaway, and still run out of time to explore the area.
4. Spend a day in nature – Hike up to Castle Craig, Talcott Mountain, or Gillette Castle; it’s worth sweating on a summer day (take precautions, of course) and return later in the fall, watching the landscape change through the seasons.
5. Check out a petting zoo – Goats, sheep, horses, and donkeys, oh my! Most children enjoy getting up close to farm animals, so head to Flamig Farm, Westmoor Park, Action Wildlife, or find your favorite farm animals in Fairfield County.
6. Go out for ice cream – Buy an ice cream cake for no special occasion other than to celebrate a beautiful day of life. We even have suggestions for a few extra delicious ice cream parlors in the New Haven area, in New London, and in the Farmington Valley.
7. Spend a day on the water – Take a swim in Lake McDonough, or go canoeing down the Farmington River. Our state parks feature many opportunities for fun in and on the water. Salmon Brook Park in Granby is a fun place to play and relax for the day.
8. Enjoy one more amusement park ride – Or make a splash at one of the five nearby theme parks, including Quassy, Lake Compounce, and Six Flags New England.
9. Visit The Book Barn in Niantic – Now is the time to stockpile the books your children will read in the cold months to come.
10. Get lost in history – Discover the Noah Webster House, walk in the footsteps of Mark Twain, explore the Stanley-Whitman House, or venture north for a day in Old Sturbridge Village.
11. Make hand prints – Each year, their tiny hands get a little bit bigger; find a way to incorporate hand prints into a work of art or imprint them on a lasting heirloom at one of the many Paint Your Own Pottery Places in the area.
12. Host a kid-friendly barbecue – Make watermelon rice crispy slices and bring out the water balloons.
13. Shop a farmers' market – Buy everything you need for dinner that night; cooking from scratch will not only create great memories, but perhaps start a new tradition of cooking and eating healthy together.
14. Break out the chalk art - Before the blacktop gets coated in sticky leaves, spend a day finding your inner chalk artist. Unfold some beach chairs in the driveway, grab lemonade and cookies, and make it an art day.
15. One word: s'mores! - Light up a backyard fire pit, or head to the picnic area in a state park, and don’t be afraid to get sticky.
16. Watch a free movie – Maybe even under the stars? For a nostalgic experience, check out drive-in movie theaters in Southington, Winsted, and Mansfield.
17. Do a puzzle – Have you captured a special moment in a photograph? Turn that photo into a puzzle and assemble it as a family for a one-of-a-kind work of art.
18. Visit a museum – Though small in square footage, Connecticut houses a big art collection. Visit the Wadsworth Atheneum, the New Britain Museum of American Art, or the Lyman Allyn Art Museum; find a masterpiece to discuss, and maybe even to replicate. If you're in the New Haven area, the Yale Peabody Museum is not to be missed.
19. Spend a day in the backyard playing board games. – A picnic table will do or just a blanket. Don't forget snacks and prizes.
20. Visit a nature center – Learn about a new flower or insect at Roaring Brook Nature Center, Ansonia Nature Center, or Meigs Point Nature Center.
21. Visit an orchard – It may not be apple season quite yet, but peaches, nectarines, and other fruits await. A crowd-favorite is Lyman Orchards, but there are many others across the state. Our Farm and Pick-Your-Own listings provide a lot of suggestions, no matter what county you reside in.
22. Take a road trip – Of course, sometimes a staycation just won't do and when that's the case, a getaway does not have to be expensive, extravagant, or very far. Buckle up in the car for a couple of hours and sing along to silly music. We’re close to many fun destinations, including Boston, New York City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.
23. Make time for one last beach day – Make one more sand castle and splash in the waves. Bring cash for the ice cream truck. Some beaches are on the quiet side and great for toddlers, while others, such as Ocean Beach Park make for great day trips because they pack more entertainment.
24. Go camping – Gather around the fire at night and ponder the day's adventures. Campgrounds that are extra fun for kids include amenities like playgrounds and on-site mini golf, or even fun-themed weekends.
25. Make a difference – Pick trash off the playground or a favorite trail, donate clothing or toys to a local charity, or seek a local volunteer opportunity.
If you run out of things to do or want more ideas, you can check our list of 120 Things To Do With Kids in Connecticut Before They Grow Up. As the saying goes, "So much to do, so little time." Enjoy!
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of the Author