Sometimes all it takes to feel like you’re “getting away” is crossing the state border. That’s why we’re so lucky to be living within less than an hour from many family-friendly Connecticut attractions. It may just be a day trip, but when I see the sign on the highway that says “Welcome to Connecticut,” I almost feel like I’m on vacation. Here are a few of our favorite CT places to visit.
Greenwich Beach (30 min away)
We visited this charming little beach for the first time this summer and found it to be worth the steep entrance fee and hassle of obtaining a parking pass. The kids loved the shallow waters of the Long Island Sound, the concession stand with a view, the touch tanks at the small nature center, and the low tide after lunch that revealed horseshoe crabs all the along the coast. Here are more details on visiting Greenwich Beach, including how to obtain the necessary passes.
Bruce Museum (20 min away)
If trekking all the way out to the Museum of Natural History isn’t in the cards this summer, consider a 20-minute drive over to the Bruce Museum instead (our full review here). There’s a little bit of everything at this small and manageable museum, from fossils and minerals to tanks filled with live sea creatures, and even an art collection. The Bruce Museum also has a bunch of youth and family programs for all ages. And across the street is the Bruce Park playground, a huge, awesome playground that’ll keep your kids busy for a long time.
Maritime Aquarium (40 min away)
There’s a lot to love about this well-run and manageably sized aquarium, which is geared toward young kids (our full review here). Among the numerous activities are seal feedings, a huge petting tank of baby sharks and stingrays, arts and craft workshops that are actually worth the additional price, and several IMAX movies playing each day. The aquarium’s location in South Norwalk also makes it easy to spend the whole day in town, having lunch at one of the many excellent restaurants and strolling the streets of downtown.
Stamford Museum & Nature Center (30 min away)
If you’ve done the Greenburgh Nature Center and Muscoot Farm to death, Stamford Museum & Nature Center is an excellent alternative – sort of a combination of the two, set on even larger grounds. With picturesque farm scenes, animal feeding programs, an awesome playground that includes two giant slides, hiking trails, and even an observatory that’s open to the public on Friday evenings, you could definitely spend an entire day here and still not do or see it all.
Kent Falls State Park (80 min away)
Kent Falls State Park is technically more than an hour away, but it’s such a nice day trip that I had to include it. The park’s main attraction is a quarter-mile uphill hike along a stone stairway, following the waterfall. It’s wonderfully scenic and easy to do, but a bit steep (definitely no strollers). You’re not allowed in the water at any point, but at the top, there are some rocks to scramble over. Then you can either follow the same stairway down, or cross a bridge and take the marked dirt trail down. After your hike, head back to the cute town of Kent (less than 10 minutes away) for a meal or some ice cream. We loved the sandwiches from J.P. Gifford and the scoops at the Annie Bananie general store.