Let's be real here: keeping our kids busy often costs a small fortune. So, when this mother hears the word "free," her heart skips a beat or two. In that spirit, we've rounded up 50 of our very favorite free indoor activities to checkout across the state. We bet there's at least a handful of nearby events that are news to you—and which you should pass on to others!
Latest posts by Makayla O'Keefe
Kids might say presents are the best part of the holidays, but we parents know that special experiences are the stuff of lasting Christmas memories. Here in Connecticut, there is no shortage of amazing opportunities to make one-of a kind holiday memories or start new family traditions, from Nutcracker shows to a reindeer festival to a holiday hayride to Santa's house. Tap into the magic of the season at any one of these ultimate holiday experiences throughout the state.
For an extra-special weekend trip in November or December, see our list of 30 Must-Do Christmas Events and Activities in New England with Kids.
As close to a shoreline as most Connecticut families are, a fun boat ride with kids can make for a perfect day trip. Whether you’re looking for a scenic ferry cruise, an interactive sailboat adventure, or an educational marine experience, there's a boat ride to suit every kid who's looking to get out on the river or sea this summer.
We have rounded up some of the best tours and interactive sailing adventures across the state. For more fun on the water, be sure to check out our Connecticut Beaches and Water Fun Guide and the best places for canoeing and kayaking with kids in Connecticut.
We've all been there. You've only been seated for three and a half minutes in your booth (we only go to restaurants with our children that have booths) and you're already playing referee between who gets the blue crayon and who gets the yellow. Two minutes later and a cup of ice water is knocked over into your lap. And then there are the tears. And you think quietly to yourself: why did we even leave the house?
Believe it or not, there are actually some pretty wonderful seafood restaurants, pizza joints, and even posh cafes where we parents can enjoy delectable food (while it’s still hot) and the kids play (and not just stack up the sugar packets and silverware.) These 12 eateries have created spaces and activities with families in mind, from movie screens to playgrounds to a selection of lawn games.
If you have active kids, you’ve probably visited an indoor trampoline park—they've been popping up all over Connecticut in the past decade. These super-fun facilities are recognized by their wall-to-wall, quilt-like patchwork of trampolines. But then, there’s Urban Air Adventure Park. Marketed as a trampoline park “on steroids,” Urban Air's 84,200 square feet of indoor space also includes go-karts, a zip line, laser tag, a "Ninja Warrior"-inspired play area, a colossal climbing playground, and more. After a recent visit with my kids, I can tell you whether Urban Air is worth the trip; what what not to miss if you go.
These rattling, toot-tooting relics are truly treasures across New England landscapes. Each time those vintage diesel locomotives come to life, you can hear that pitter patter of those train-loving little souls of ours. Their dome-cars with padded seats offer the ultimate views for the leaf peeper in all of us and a stop at the pumpkin patch is sure to delight those littles in tow. Here is a roundup of historic Connecticut trains and trolleys to climb aboard this fall. And, for more autumn adventures, check out our CT Halloween Guide for Kids.
You don’t have to venture to Cape Elizabeth or Portland for classic New England lighthouse vistas because Connecticut has quite the maritime history. With the very first lighthouse museum in the nation, a half dozen lighthouse tours, and even some lighthouse hauntings, we've rounded up seven Connecticut lighthouses worth a visit with your kiddos.
If you're lucky, you might find Coke-bottle aqua or Milk-of-Magnesia Blue. Maybe once in a lifetime you'll unearth rare ruby red. Most often you'll find beer-bottle-brown and wine-bottle-green. But if you ask my kids--it's all treasure no matter what color or size. My very favorite memories of summer were made walking the beach with my kids gathering up every glittering shard of beach glass we could find like a magical treasure hunt. Ground smooth by the ocean and transformed from transparent to translucent by the sand, these tiny bits of sea glass are found scattered (scarcely) on the beaches throughout the state. Here's our roundup of the best beaches to hunt for these precious pieces of treasure washed ashore.