Stay-cationing in Connecticut

It’s that time of year! The time of year when, at least around here, everyone’s telling me all about how their grand Spring trips went or gushing about the glamorous places they’ll be heading off to in a couple of months.


I don’t begrudge them– I truly don’t. But, the fact of the matter is, with three children and a pretty strict budget, we can’t go jetting off on a lot of exotic trips. But that’s okay too!


Fortunately, there are lots of wonderful things to do, right in our backyards. Last summer, rather than drop a bundle heading off somewhere, my husband took a week off work and we resolved to have a fantastic staycation without ever leaving our homestate of Connecticut. And you know what? It was awesome!


Here are some great ways to spend your days if you find yourself in Connecticut:



Get wet.

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The southeastern part of our state is shoreline and, since the state is the third smallest in the nation, it’s not hard to get there, no matter where you reside. But, even if you don’t feel like making that drive, the odds are very good that lovely, natural water is within reach. We live on the western edge of the state, but are blessed with abundant lakes (some with sandy shores), rivers, streams, and gorgeous waterfalls. Too often, during the grind of daily living, we don’t stop to explore and enjoy this beauty.



Amuse yourself!

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Where you live in the state might influence where you choose to go but, regardless, there will be an amusement park within reach. Quassy, Riverside, and Lake Compounce are all easy day trips. Keep your eyes open at local supermarkets and shops for specials and deals. Our children are young, making Quassy an excellent (and more affordable) choice, at this point. Any of these will offer plenty of entertainment to keep the whole family occupied!



Swim with the fishies.

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Okay, maybe you won’t swim with them. But you can definitely learn a ton about them! We have two phenomenal aquariums here in Connecticut– one in Norwalk, and one at Mystic Seaport. There are shows to see, animals to investigate, and touch tanks to captivate little ones. Aquariums are such a lovely place to visit for all ages, thanks to the abundance of quiet, dim-lit space. Even babies seem content and calm in these peaceful rooms.



Go hiking or, even better, letterboxing.

Connecticut’s landscape is truly stunning and we have more than our fair share of gorgeous forests and hiking trails. Easily marked, these trails are wonderful to explore as a family. A decent pair of sneakers and a regular old backpack with some basics like water, snacks, and a first aid kit are really all you need to get out there!

Letterboxing takes it a step further by providing a tangible goal in the small box and stamp you seek through clues and hints– this is a wonderful way to involve all generations in the hike and exploration.



Get your urban on.

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I’ve been known to point out that Connecticut is NOT “one big city” like some of my midwest and southern friends seem to think. On the contrary, much of the state is full of trees, grass, mountains, water, and wildflowers. Still, if you want to explore some culture in the city, we’ve got that practically at our fingertips, too. New York City is no more than an hour and a half from any point in Connecticut. Boston is scarcely more than three hours, even taking a little traffic into account.

We have our own legitimate cities– like Hartford and New Haven– but you can hit some of the largest metropolises in the entire nation as a day trip. There’s something fun about having breakfast by a babbling brook and lunch in Manhattan!



Get historical.

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Connecticut is no newbie state. We have towns that were settled in the 1600s. History is rich around here. Will a museum reveal much of that? Sure! But don’t stop there. Explore small town hall records. Go antiquing. Wander through state forests and ponder all the crumbling stone walls and the property lines they once marked. Study the layout of the towns– we’re not based on grids, here in New England. Our villages were once built up around central greens and that format remains many places. Ever wonder why driving in Boston is such a nightmare? That’s why!



Connecticut is small, but it’s a powerhouse of a state. Opportunities abound and it’s no trouble at all filling many days with fun and exciting activities.



Have you ever been to Connecticut? What was your favorite thing to do here?


[Not from, or anywhere near, Connecticut? Not planning on heading out this way anytime soon? No worries! We have suggestions for ways to have a fabulous stay-cation no matter where you're at. C'mon back tomorrow for the full round-up!]

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4 comments to Stay-cationing in Connecticut

  • Celine

    There are so many fabulous places to go and see in Connecticut. Many at a very reasonable price. This can be even more reasonable for State Residents if you head to your local library and check out the selection of passes you can borrow that will give you reduced or free admission options. We have been to some fabulous places this year through my daughter’s school which does Classroom Family Events during the year at night or on weekends.

    • Yes! There are definitely some good discounts to be had if you look around and pay attention. Lots of businesses and towns have “discount days” at local attractions, too, so that helps. :)

  • Cassie

    There are some fantastic places for families with little ones to visit in CT! I’ve taken my 3 little ones (under 4 1/2) to the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, the New Children’s Museum (West Hartford), KidCity (Middletown), Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, Stepping Stones (Norwalk), The Dinosaur Place and Ray of Light Horse Sanctuary in East Haddam…. and I’d go back to any of those places! We love going to visit the grandparents there ;)

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