This past weekend, I threw a birthday party for my newly 5-year-old daughter. 15 adorable little girls showed up in their crinolines and party shoes, and settled into an arts and crafts project that I thought would entertain them for a good 30 minutes or so. 8 empty paint tubes later I popped inside for extra paper towels and returned to find said 15 girls (AND their crinolines AND their party shoes!) knee deep in our muddy stream catching frogs.
The party was a great success (sorry Moms, for all the muddy clothes) and served to remind me that nothing entertains kids like the good old outdoors and all that it offers. Below are several Nature Museums and Nature Centers in Fairfield County where you and your kids can go enjoy this beautiful spring weather. Crinolines and party shoes optional!
Stamford Nature Museum and Nature Center, Stamford, CT
With it's Heckscher working farm, playground, trails and ponds, the Stamford Museum and Nature Center is a place that our family visits over and over. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids (those under age 3 are admitted free), but if you’re planning on being a frequent visitor, consider becoming a member, as it may be more cost efficient. The nature center is open daily from 9-5; on Sundays, the galleries open at 11am.
39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford, CT 06903 203.322.1646
Darien Nature Center, Darien, CT
Right next to Cherry Lawn playground, the Darien Nature Center features animals, trails and an education center. Open Monday through Friday from 9-4, and Saturdays 9-1.
120 Brookside Road, Darien, CT 06830 203.655.7459
Woodcock Nature Center, Ridgefield, CT
Located on 149 acres of conservation land, the Woodcock Nature Center is a great place to enjoy leisurely walks on trails through a variety of habitats. Open every day from sunrise to sunset.
56 Deer Run Road, Wilton, CT 06897 203.762.7280
Discovery Museum and Planetarium, Bridgeport, CT
Visit the Discovery Museum in Norwalk to explore all sorts of exhibits including ones on renewable energy, light and sound, and space exploration, as well as a daily planetarium show. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10-5. Tickets are $9.50 for adults while children 3 and up are admitted for $8.00.
4450 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604 203.372.3521
CT Audubon Birdcraft Museum, Fairfield, CT
The Birdcraft Museum is a 6-acre bird sanctuary – complete with an educational center – run by Connecticut’s Audubon Society. Ponds and fauna have been maintained to attract birds to the area, and more than 120 different species of birds can be found here. The visitor center and store are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9am-1pm, while the adjoining sanctuary is open daily from dawn until dusk.
314 Unquowa Road, Fairfield, CT 06824 203.259.0416
Bartlett Arboretum, Stamford, CT
If you want to be inspired in your gardening efforts – or if you’d like to inspire your kids to become gardeners – head to Stamford’s Bartlett Arboretum. The arboretum features both formal gardens and forest trails, and is open daily from 9am-dusk. Admission will run you $6/adult, while children under 12 are free. If you can plan your visit for a Wednesday, all the better as Wednesdays the arboretum is free to all. The visitor and education center is open daily from 10-4, except on holidays.
151 Brookdale Road, Stamford, CT 06903 203.322.6971
Earthplace, the Nature Discovery Center, Westport, CT
With a natural history museum, 62 acres of protected land, and a multitude of resident animals to view, Westport’s Earthplace is a fabulous place to spend an afternoon. The bird and butterfly museum are big hits, as are the snakes, eagles and turtles that can be visited. Tickets are $7/adults, $5/children under 12. The buildings are open Mondays-Saturdays from 9-5 and Sundays 1-4, while the grounds are open daily from 7am-dusk.
10 Woodside Lane, Westport, CT 06881 203.227.7253