Science and the natural world are at the heart of this educational and fun-to-visit aquarium
Science is at the heart of the Mystic Aquarium, where visitors can learn about everything from the latest marine conservation efforts to how to protect Beluga whales. Visitors can observe the whales in the Arctic Coast, the country’s largest outdoor beluga whale habitat. They can also watch seals and sea lions, feel stingrays and sharks in touch habitats and get up close and personal with an African penguin in a scheduled animal encounter. The Covanta Cove game shows how marine debris can be converted into clean energy, and the interactive Discover Long Island Sound exhibit includes a touch experience with horseshoe crabs. Nature’s most fascinating creatures like the Giant Pacific Octopus and Giant Japanese Spider Crabs are highlighted in the Weird and Wonderful exhibit.
Ledyard Glacial Park and Avery Preserve
Entrances at Avery Hill Road, Avery Hill Extension, Whalehead RoadLedyard, CTPhone:
Hiking trails dot the landscape of this nature conservancy. Great for bird watching.
Route 197Union, CTPhone:
Yale University uses this forest for study and field work. Fishing is available in the forest. The blue-marked Nipmuck trail runs through the forest for hiking.
This wildlife conservation area is popular for enjoying nature, birdwatching, walking, and deer hunting, in season. It includes several interest ecosystems, including forests, salt marsh, and wetlands, Four miles of trails are available for hikers and walkers. Interpretive signs help educate visitors about the coastal region of Connecticut.
The Nature Conservancy maintains this two-mile trail, which is an old farm road, through former farm property. It is now mainly a forest of oaks, The Route passes a beaver pond and returns by way of Old Kings Highway, a grass-covered walk. Also a good site for cross-country skiing and bird watching.
Hours: Dawn to dusk.
Albert E. Moss Forest
Junction of Routes 195 and 275Mansfield, CTPhone:
This wildlife sanctuary is used as an outdoor laboratory by the University of Connecticut. Open to the general public.
Pudding Hill Wildlife Area
Route 97Scotland, CTPhone:
Wildlife area with fishing, hiking and small game hunting.
Trolley Trail and Two Rivers Trail
Cady LanePlainfield, CTPhone:
These one mile trails are terrific locales for bird watching. The trails are on the site of the Quinebaug Valley Trout Hatchery.
Can light be bent? Can sound waves be seen? Young and old can explore hands-on exhibits that will answer these questions... and more. Even have a birthday party or bring a group. Located in Connecticut Collage Arboretum with hiking trails and picnic tables. Open Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 8 pm and Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm. Members FREE. Non-members: Adults $6, children under 12 and senior citizens $4.
Discover live owls, turtles, frogs, and snakes in new natural history exhibits. Experience “A Night in the Meadow” theater, hike up to 8 miles of trails on beautiful 300-acre sanctuary, and view birds of prey in outdoor flight enclosures. Excellent birding; picnic areas; wildflowers; gift shop.
Hours: Year-round, Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $6; children, $4
Kenyon RoadHampton, CTPhone:
This farm was owned by naturalist and author Edwin Way Teale. There are many nature programs held at the site, as well as three miles of trails for walking.
Center at Pomfret (Audubon Bird Conservation area)
218 Day RoadPomfret Center, CTPhone: 860-928-4948
Maintained by the Connecticut Audubon Society. Designated trails run throughout the property. The Audobon Society hosts frequent guided birdwalks and workshops on gardening and area wildlife. The Center at Pomfret manages the 168-acre Trail Wood Sanctuary. See Santuary Map on Center's website
Hours: Trail Wood Sanctuary, year-round, daily, dawn to dusk