Science and nature attractions in Hartford CT can enrich your vacation
Copernican Space Science Center
Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT
Open: Call for show times, also by appointment
This planetarium and observatory is home to one of the biggest telescopes in the country. Programs and events for children and adults are held there throughout the year. Admission: $3.50 adults, $2.50 seniors and children.
Flanders Nature Center
Many special programs are scheduled here. Visitors can enjoy nature walks that feature wildflowers (seasonal), a bog and an arboretum made up of nut trees. The Center's trail house features nature exhibits and a gift shop.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
191 Farmington Avenue
This park is home to a farm, a collection of exotic animals, a system of trails, science exhibits and programs led by the New Britain Youth Museum. Open year-round, Tuesday-Friday, 1-4:30 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $4; seniors, $3; children ages 2-17, $2
Connecticut Science Center
250 Columbus Blvd.
Hartford, CT, 06103
A visit to the Center is a high-impact learning experience in a green, clean, bright, and stimulating environment. Adults and children alike will find entertainment and educational value in hands-on, engaging, and exciting exhibits and programs that emphasize current science and science you can use every day. Open year-round.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $21.95; seniors above age 65, $19.95; youth ages 3 to 17, $14.95.
Oak Grove Nature Center
Oak Grove Street
This 52-acre nature preserve and nature center is operated by the nearby Lutz Children's Museum. The property has a pond, a covered bridge, and two easy walking trails totaling about 3 miles of walking distance on dirt paths.
Hours: Trails are open dawn to dusk. Center open for museum activities and by arrangement.
East Granby, CT
Open: Year round
This trail is blue-blazed and extremely popular with hikers.
400 West Street
Rocky Hill, CT
Dinosaur Park features authentic dinosaur tracks that are 200 million years old. These are protected under a dome, which also houses exhibits and special programs that are held throughout the year. Visitors with their own materials are permitted to take plaster casts of the tracks.
Hours: Grounds are open year-round, daily, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Trails close at 4 p.m. Exhibit Center is open year-round, Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is wheelchair accessible.
Admission: Admission is charged for the Exhibit Center only. Adults over age 13, $6; youth age 6-12, $2.
Granger Lane off Route 177 (Unionville Avenue)
This park was established in 1989 as a wetland conservation area, when plants, animals, and soil were moved here for protection from nearby construction. Wildlife you can see here includes various species of turtles, reptiles, and amphibians; a wide variety of bird species; and mammals such as raccoons, white-tail deer, and the muskrat. Native flora includes alder, maple, cattails, umbrella sedge, pickerelweed, ferns, blue and sweet flags, yellow pond lily, and arrowhead. Information: http://bit.ly/1b6nVBb
Season & Hours: Dawn to dusk, March 15 - November 15
Connecticut Audubon Center
1361 Main Street
Open: Tues-Fri, 1-5 pm; Sat, 10 am-5 pm; Sun, 1-4 pm; Closed the last week in December.
Maintained by the Audubon Society of CT, this science and nature center features exhibits on area wildlife and plants, and a hands-on area for children. A gift shop and programs are available year-round. The center is located next to Earle Park, a 48-acre outdoor setting with numerous walking trails.
The Pratt Center
163 Papermill Road
New Milford, CT
Nature preserve with hiking trails and river walks. There are also special programs scheduled throughout the year, and live farm animals on the premises in the spring, summer and fall.
H.O.R.S.E of Connecticut
43 Wilbur Road
Open: Year-round, Friday - Sunday, 8am - 4pm
This equine rescue organization houses horses it has saved, holds information events, treats injured animals and even offers animals for adoption. Visitors can take a tour of the facility and feed horses. Trail rides can be arranged with advance reservations.
145 Lang Road
This park has 473 acres of land and recreational facilities, including an interpretive nature center, 12 miles of trails, and seasonal maple sugaring. This park is a birdwatcher's paradise: Recent bird sightings include Grasshopper Sparrows in Long Field, a Merlin Falcon near the windmill; an Eastern Phoebe in the woods behind the Organic Garden; a Turkey Vulture above the picnic site; and an American Bald Eagle on Pond Trail. A Red-headed Woodpecker has been spotted by the ravine; this bird is endangered in Connecticut.
Open: Year round.
Several blazed hiking trails are situated on this site.
Roaring Brook Nature Center
70 Gracey Road
This nature center features walking trails, live animals and an Indian longhouse. Classes and special programs are also scheduled periodically throughout the year.
Hours for the Center: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.; closed Mondays except July and August. Trails open dawn to dusk.
Admission: Adults, $6; seniors, $5; children, $4
McLean Game Refuge
Route 10, Salmon Brook Road
Open: Year round.
Enjoy a hiking and cross-country skiing on refuge trails. The area provides ample observation areas for both general nature study and birding in particular.
Enders State Forest
West Granby, CT
Open: Year round.
This wildlife sanctuary features a walking trail that leads to beautiful, scenic waterfalls.
Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area
Visitors to this natural preserve are treated to a beaver marsh, an observation tower, and a waterfall. Walking and hiking trails feature information signs and demonstrations of wildlife management practices.
Hours: Year-round, dawn to dusk.
Wethersfield Nature Center
30 Greenfield Street
Open: Saturdays, 10 am - 1 pm
This nature park features educational and hands-on exhibits, including live animals and scheduled programs. A log cabin on the site has a library and gift shop.