Travel into history or celebrate the great outdoors with activities in this historic town
At Historic Wethersfield, it’s the best of both worlds: historic collections to see in museums and homes, and plenty of events, walks and activities for lovers of the great outdoors. Inside, visit historic houses with 18th-century furnishings and artwork, learn about the town’s 17th-century West Indies trade participation in the maritime museum and step inside homes where George Washington really did visit. Outside, picnic by the town’s pretty cove, stroll along the 3-mile Heritage Walk, or pedal the Heritage Way Bike Trail. Hike through woodlands and meadows in one of the area’s many parks, which also feature everything from beaches and pools to bocce, tennis and basketball courts, accessible playgrounds, sledding hills and ponds perfect for fishing and ice skating.
67 Main Street, Steamboat DockEssex, CT, 06426Phone: 860-767-8269
From cruises to hands-on exhibits, there’s a lot to do at this vibrant river museum
At the Connecticut River Museum, a cultural center for river-related activities and exhibits about the river and the river valley, you can do everything from taking a cruise down the river to checking out artwork and artifacts that document its role in the area’s economy and history. Watch a sunset from the deck of the Onrust, a replica of a 1614 Dutch sailing vessel, or see an osprey or eagle from the deck of the RiverQuest, a 64-foot eco-tour boat. Check out an operational model of the Turtle, the first submarine ever to be used in combat in 1776. Enjoy live entertainment from the Thursdays on the Dock series. Drop the kids off for hands-on Summer Fun Days.
Come see the 19th-century home where Mark Twain created Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer
Explore the Mark Twain House & Museum and reconnect with one of the nation’s most beloved authors, who wrote about Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer in this very house. Daily tours take visitors through the richly decorated rooms in the Victorian home, many featuring the exotic interiors of Louis C. Tiffany & Co. Museum artifacts include period furniture, photos, paintings and books by Darwin, Hawthorne and others with margin notes written by Samuel Clemens. Visitors can see a film by Ken Burns, check out rotating exhibits, shop in the well-stocked museum store and sample local food in The Nook Farm Cafe. Go to the website for children’s activities including coloring pages that correspond to the home’s rooms, mad libs, word searches and other games.
Wadsworth Presents a Mix of Art and Entertainment
The marvelous Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford is a grand place to visit, particularly after the mid-decade overhaul of the galleries. Permanent and changing exhibits are always worth a fresh visit. This museum leads the way in providing events and entertainments to showcase and enhance exhibits. These may include films, talks, live music, even Sunday brunches. There’s always something to enjoy. 860-278-2670.
Beautiful Oasis in the City
on Trinity Street in Hartford is a wonderful public sanctuary that merits a full-day visit. The park is home to a carousel that dates from 1914 – the golden age of these structures that combine artistry, magic, and simple fun. For people who love the artistry of nature, Bushnell Park is an urban arboretum of rare and native trees. Visitors can pick up a brochure and take a self-guided walk of magnificent trees from many parts of the world. The park also has beautiful fountains, statues, a pond, and a performance pavilion. The park offers free tours of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch and hosts many public events. Open: May to mid-October. Phone: 860-232-6710.
Historic Aircraft on Display at Air Museum
The New England Air Museum at 36 Perimeter Road at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks is New England’s largest aviation museum and one of Connecticut’s most interesting attractions. It houses more than 80 aircraft and an extensive collection of engines, instruments, aircraft parts, uniforms and personal memorabilia. Within this collection are the Sikorsky VS-44A; a B-29 Bomber; the Silas Brooks Balloon Basket (1870); the Bunce-Curtiss Pusher (1912); the Sikorsky S-39; and a Kaman K-225 helicopter. The museum hosts lots of special events, many of them welcoming to children. Open year-round.
Year-Round Fun in Nature and a Coffeehouse, Too
Located on Lang Road in Windsor, Northwest Park & Nature Center is a 473-acre recreational facility that has the virtue of staying open and lively throughout the year. There is a nature center, 12 miles of trails to enjoy during the winter and summer, maple sugaring, a Coffee House Concert Series that brings live music to listeners, and more. Annual events include Country Fair, pancake breakfasts, maple sugaring demonstrations, owl prowls, holiday wreath-making workshop and other forms of fun for all ages. Nice outdoor activities for parents and kids. Phone: 860-285-1886