Fun for children and families, from riverboats to dinosaur hiding places

Family activities in Connecticut include things as diverse as tracking evidence of dinosaurs to exploring a shipbuilding village of 1830 to visits with Beluga whales. There is lots to do, indoors and out, in all seasons of the year.

1 Crystal Lake Road Groton, CT, 06340 Phone: 800-343-0079

Been on a submarine? Come explore the Nautilus!

Come aboard, you won’t be bored as you tour the world's first nuclear powered submarine at the only museum dedicated to the science, courage and history of the US Submarine Force. Whether you’re a kid or a history buff, there’s something here of interest for you.
  • Sit in the control room and experience hands-on what submariners had to manage.
  • Explore the memorabilia of historical interest about the submarines rich place in history.
  • Tour the world's first nuclear powered submarine and experience where the crew ate, slept, trained & played.
Live their adventure beneath the ocean’s waves. Our admission is always free. The experience is priceless!

1650 Hartford-New London Tpke. (Rt. 85) Oakdale, CT, 06370 Phone: 860-443-4367

The dinosaur place to be and see

Get away from the computer and the phone and step into nature with the family at this fascinating dinosaur themed park. There’s a bevy of outdoor and indoor hands-on activities sure to please kids of all ages and their grownups too. Stand close to 40+ life-sized dinosaurs on 1.5 miles of easy walking Dinosaur Trails. Get lost in the mammoth sized Amazeasaurus and connect with real wildlife at Raptor Bay. Step up and up at Monty’s playground while Splashpad®, New England’s largest, has waterfalls, water cannons, a spitting Stegosaurus and more. Look for gems, pan for gold or unearth fossils together and take part in cool hands-on science activity at Discovery Depot. Exercise, explore and learn in a fun filled atmosphere of high adventure. Dinosaur themed party packages are available.

One Railroad Avenue Essex, CT, 06426 Phone: 860-767-0103 Toll-Free: 800-377-3987

Much more than a Choo Choo

Hard to think of a better way to spend a family outing than traveling by steam train and riverboat into one of the most scenic and inviting areas in southern New England. Kids will love the adventure and Mom and Dad will love the good things they can all learn and enjoy together. There’s history and ecology and wonderful things to see in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley. Take a 12-mile, narrated round-trip journey through the remote and picturesque countryside. At Deep River Landing, board the Becky Thatcher riverboat and cruise along the Connecticut River with its wetlands and natural habitats for wildlife and water birds. Then “steam” back to Essex Station. Plan a special birthday party and take part in themed programs hosted by the EST&R. All Abooooooooard!

96 Lyme Street Old Lyme, CT, 06371 Phone: 860-434-5542

Hours: Krieble Gallery and Griswold House open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Chadwick Studio and Rafal Landscape Center open mid-May through October.

Admission: Adults, $9; seniors, $8; students, $7; children age 12 and younger admitted for free.

This 11-acre riverfront campus calls itself the Home of American Impressionism, for its service in the 1910s as a summer boarding house to artists of the Lyme Art Colony. The Krieble Gallery hosts changing exhibitions of American art. The permanent collection includes works by Church, Cole, Twachtman, Hassam, and others. The Griswold House contains a remarkable collection of painted panels and doors left in their original places by the artists who stayed at the Florence Griswold House. Museum offers many seasonal events and activities for children.
Visitors today understand immediately the site's appeal to the artists who stayed with Florence Griswold. Her house, gardens and river view were favored subjects of her boarders. Walking the grounds, one is delighted by the same trees and gentle bend in the river. Visitors stand at the site of Childe Hassam's favorite spot, stroll Miss Florence's lovingly restored old-fashioned garden.

Schooner Wharf - 15 Holmes Street Mystic, CT, 06355 Phone: 860-536-0416

Haul Away! Bring the whole family sailing.

Sail away aboard the traditional sailing schooner Argia for a journey into the past. The adventure begins with a tour by water of the famous Mystic Seaport Museum and its Tall Ships. Join the crew, if you like, to raise sail the old fashioned way or lend a hand steering the ship. Pass through Mystic's Historic Bascule Bridge, a national historic landmark, as you slide down the Mystic River. Morgan Point Lighthouse and the quaint fishing village of Noank greet you at the river’s mouth, followed by islands and peaceful sailing. Snacks and iced tea or lemonade are provided.

May 1st through late October, choose a half-day or sunset cruise aboard ARGIA!

1225 Ocean Avenue New London, CT, 06320 Phone: 860-447-3031 Toll-Free: 800-510-7263

Rated one of the best beaches by National Geographic

There’s family fun and more at Ocean Beach Park. New this year is our Splash Park for kids under 8. For more water fun we have the ocean, of course, an Olympic-size swimming pool and triple waterslide. Our award-winning lifeguard staff is on duty for your safety. For more fun we have rides, mini-golf, and a Family Fun Center with a video arcade. Kids can enjoy our playground and adults can work out in the health club. The nature walk and observation deck let you enjoy our natural beauty. When all the activity makes you hungry you have dining choices; our full-service restaurant, a food court, or ice cream stands. Ocean Beach Park can also accommodate picnics and corporate events. Our nightly entertainment schedule includes Classic Car Cruises on Mondays; kids movies on the beach Tuesday; live magic on Wednesday; Sock Hop on Thursday; and live bands on Friday.

55 Coogan Boulevard Mystic, CT, 06355 Phone: 860-572-5955

Visit New England’s Hands-On Aquarium

At Mystic Aquarium, enjoy hands-on fun for the whole family. Roll up your sleeves and feel the fin of a cownose ray or watch our playful sea lions show off their talents in the Foxwoods Marine Theater. Visit with New England’s only Beluga whales during one of our face-to-face encounter programs, or hold onto your seat for a virtual adventure in the 4-D Theater. Keep the adventure going and visit our all-new exhibit, Scales & Tails, to get your hands on some creatures that are cold-blooded and seriously cool. And be sure to check out our calendar for one-of-a-kind events like family overnights and a summer concert series. For more, visit mysticaquarium.org.

1355 Boston Post Road Guilford, CT, 06437 Phone: 203-453-2338

Find fantastic family fun and support your local farmer

Almost nothing beats family fun like picking up fresh produce right from the farm. Open year-round, Bishop's Orchards continues a 140-year tradition on 313 acres where you can pick strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, apples, and pumpkins. The farm market has grown from a roadside stand to a wholesale supplier of fruits and vegetables to New York and New England. It’s also a thriving retail market, fully operating bakery, specialty food grocer and most recently, a winery. The kids will love the llamas, alpacas and goats and the G-Scale train with cars from the NYNH Railroad circling overhead. Get your farm fresh produce and an authentic farm experience at the same time. Look for the "big red apple" known far and wide.

Beardsley Zoo

1875 Noble Ave. Bridgeport, CT, 06610 Phone: 203-394-6565

This zoo exhibits hundreds of animals, from tigers to monkeys and everything in between. Habitats for children to explore include a South American rainforest and a New England farmyard. For quite time, there is a picnic grove, carousel, Victorian greenhouse, and café. Summer programs include Animal Tales and A Day at the Ocean.

The Bushnell Park Carousel

Jewell Street at the Memorial Arch Bristol, CT, 06010 Phone: 860-585-5411

Kids and adults both are entranced by this hand-carved carousel with 48 horses, two chariots, stained glass windows, mirrors reflecting 800 twinkling light bulbs, and a Wurlitzer band organ. Open May to October, Tuesday to Sunday; September and October, Thursday to Sunday. Call for seasonal changes in hours.

Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk

10 North Water St. Norwalk, CT, 06854 Phone: 203-852-0700

Kids and parents can visit nose-to-nose with sharks, seals, river otters, wrinkly sea turtles, and stinging jellyfish. Educational public cruises, changing exhibits, a working boat shop, hands-on touch tanks, toddler play area, and an IMAX movie theater with a screen that’s six stories tall make this a place of seafaring adventure.

Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center

10 Deerfield Lane Ansonia, CT, 06401 Phone: 203-736-1053

This nature center is a wonderful place for kids to run, play, climb, explore, and also learn about nature. There is a large variety of interesting activities. Open daily, year-round. See full description of Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center.

The Children’s Museum

950 Trout Brook Drive West Hartford, CT, 06119 Phone: 860-231-2824

Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

The Children’s Museum provides rich learning experiences for children of all ages and their families. This science and nature museum has hands-on exhibits, more than 100 live animals, digital planetarium shows, and educational programs, the Wildlife Sanctuary and Roaring Brook Nature Center.