Year of the Staycation: Celebrating Connecticut!

I pretty much grew up in Connecticut; I lived here from fifth grade through my senior year in high school.  I can remember very happy times, but I also recall being eager to leave, to get OUT, to find excitement elsewhere.  And I did.  College found me on the gulf coast, early marriage in South Florida.  I gave birth to my first child in Virginia and my next two babies in Indiana.

 

Now?  I’m back in Connecticut in a crazy twist of events, living in the same town from which I graduated high school.

 

So what can you do here in Connecticut?  How can I entertain my family without having to break the bank on travel costs?  Here are just a few ways to keep the whole crew satisfied if you’re hanging in the Nutmeg State…

 

The Woods

 

We have abundant woodland here in Connecticut.  Long, meandering strolls through pretty forests can be a great way to spend a day.  Pack a lunch and make a day of it.  Hiking is so very common in our state that well-marked trails are easy to find.  Trees bring shade and cooler air, making the woods a lovely place to spend a hot day.

 

 

The Beach

 

Ours is such a small state (the third smallest in the nation), that even if you live on the very west coast, the ocean is still only an hour or so away.  Obviously, that’s not a drive you want to make everyday, but it’s a very reasonable day trip!  And, if you feel like splashing around in between visits to the sea, our lakes, streams, and waterfalls are abundant.

 

 

The Zoo

 

The Beardsley Zoo is fantastic.  It is the perfect size for a young family and not overwhelming for children.  Like many smaller zoos, it is less crowded and the employees are more accessible than they may be at larger ones.  We love seeing the tigers and giggling at the peacocks that regularly follow us around.  For a change of pace, though, we can always make the drive to the very famous Bronx Zoo; it’s well under two hours away, no matter where in the state you live.

 

The Aquarium

We are fortunate to have two well-known, excellent aquariums in our state- the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and Mystic Aquarium.  Both boast a wide array of sea creatures to examine and explore in addition to fun shows and displays.  Aquariums are delightful because, unlike zoos, they’re good bets even on rainy days.  Also, I’ve found that my babies and toddlers often love the dim, soothing atmosphere that aquariums provide.

 
Mystic Seaport

 

Not only does Mystic have a fabulous aquarium, it also boasts a beautiful lighthouse, ships rich in history, and really fun shops.  It’s very easy to spend an entire day meandering through Mystic, checking out all the neat places this seaside gem has to offer.

 

 

The Mountains

 

The Appalachian Trail runs through Connecticut and, you can bet on it, we have some mountains.  They are beautiful to look at and provide more challenging trails for the accomplished hiker, trail runner, or trail biker.  Again, these higher elevations provide much appreciated cooler temps as the mercury rises, too!

 

Letter Boxing

 

Similar to geocaching, letter boxing is a bit like a “hiking scavenger hunt.”  The basic premise is that you follow directions you can print from online and try to find a “letter box” hidden somewhere, usually off the in the woods somewhere.  In the box, you’ll find a stamp and a notebook.  You use the stamp to stamp your OWN notebook and you leave your own mark in the box’s notebook.  It is an absolute delight to do with children and a simple search will reveal letter boxes of all difficulty levels.  This is cheap, healthy fun!

 
Picnics on Greens

 

New England towns were established around central greens, unlike our neighbors to the west with (more logical) grid systems.  The result?  Difficult driving, but pretty downtowns.  Many (if not most) towns still have these green spaces right in their hearts.  Ours is lined with small shops, the library, and churches… all old, beautiful buildings with rich history.  There is a bandstand there, benches, trees, flowers, and monuments.  It is a purely lovely place to go to have a picnic lunch.  The church bells charm all of us and, oftentimes, some young musician can be found softly strumming a guitar and singing.  Budding artists and photographers gather there to capture the beauty.  It’s a wonderful way to spend a beautiful day and, really, as local as it gets!

 

Major Cities

 

Finally, if you just can’t find a single thing to entertain you in Connecticut, you can rest easy knowing that both New York City and Boston are easy day trips.  Museums, art, shopping, shows, and more abound in these booming metropolises, and, if you can’t find something to entertain you, then I can’t help you. ;)

 

Staycation opportunities abound in our small state!  Planning a fabulous getaway doesn’t need to involve tank after tank of pricey (well over $4- ouch!) gas.

 

 

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16 comments to Year of the Staycation: Celebrating Connecticut!

  • Lyn

    I just linked over from Life as Mom. One thing we love to do in CT is go to Mohegan Sun. The kids love KidsQuest. It’s a babysitting service with lots for the kids to do. The kids can even eat there if you like. My husband and I drop the kids off and then go have dinner at one of the nice restaurants alone. Then we’ll stroll through the shops and maybe listen to some free live music. We don’t gamble, but enjoy a fun date night-or afternoon.

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  • Oh, now I want to travel to Connecticut!! Okay, I always wanted to travel to CT, but now I REALLY want to. You made it sound so appealing!!

    Loving this Year of the Staycation project… I’m learning so much about so many fantastic places!!

  • More CT suggestions from a CT Mom:

    1. Tour the first nuclear submarine in Groton at the submarine museum. There is a small museum showing the history of the sub from “The Turtle” used during the American Revolution. The best part is going onto “The Nautilus” a real, retired sub. Down the hatch on ladders, you get to see the bunks, small showers, radio room, etc.

    2. Wood craft projects at the Eli Whitney Museum in Hamden but really right on the town line with New Haven on Whitney Avenue. The Eli Whitney museum runs FABULOUS summer camps including design and build your own Adirondak chair from scratch. They also offer wood craft projects kits for “walk-in” visitors. There is usually a variety of kits for ages from very young to teens. These are fun & educationally-oriented kits.

    3. Pick your own fruit – there are many places across the state to pick strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, apples, and pears.

    4. Thimble Island cruise in Stony Creek/Branford – pirates used these islands to hide treasure a couple hundred years ago. There are fascinating houses to see by water.

    There’s lots more – have a great vacation!

  • Patty Marr

    I am glad I found your blog. We are doing a staycation instead of going to Maine due to older kids having jobs etc. Thanks for the many suggestions.
    May I add that many towns have Shakespeare plays that are often free. Flock Theatre in New London is putting on King Lear and A Comedy of Errors for free. It is casual, and you can bring a picnic and the kids. I brought them down to about age 9.
    The Coast Guard Academy also puts on free band concerts.
    So many choices when you really check things out in your own backyard!

  • Celine

    Don’t forget to contact your local library for passes to many different attractions. Some offer free admission though most are reduced admission. A great way to enjoy the aquarium, science centers, other kid activity places.

    Action Wildlife in Goshen is another great place to visit. http://www.actionwildlife.org/

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  • [...] Connecticut after having spent four years where my hubby hailed from– North-Central Indiana. I really, really like it here in New England and very much enjoy all it has to offer. Still, there are parts of Indiana I really miss and I will always cherish the memories of my older [...]

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  • [...] Connecticut – Parenting Miracles Boston, Massachusetts – ‎ Maven of Savin’ Manchester, New Hampshire – Common Sense with Money Western Maine – Bubblegum and Lollipops [...]

  • [...] Connecticut – Parenting Miracles Boston, Massachusetts – ‎ Maven of Savin’ Manchester, New Hampshire – Common Sense with Money Western Maine – Bubblegum and Lollipops [...]

  • [...] Connecticut – Parenting Miracles Boston, Massachusetts – ‎ Maven of Savin’ Manchester, New Hampshire – Common Sense with Money Western Maine – Bubblegum and Lollipops [...]

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