Though Connecticut is a small state, it's packed with cool educational activities that will have your kids both learning and having fun. We've got the Long Island Sound, old whaling ships, the oldest cider mill, and a functioning steam train. Connecticut is a family-friendly state for a staycation or family trip.
1) Starting in Hartford, the capitol of Connecticut, head to the Connecticut Science Center, where you can do hands-on activities in STEM sciences including physics, geology, ecology, and astronomy to name a few. Got a sports fan in the family? Let him or her explore their physical strength or build a bike in their awesome Sports Lab.
2) The Children's Museum in West Hartford is also amazing and great for children of all ages. When I visited over the summer with Baby ISO, there was a temporary exhibit of very large, soft building blocks. It was excellent. There was also an outdoor garden, rescued animals, engineering, a baby room, and butterfly house.
3) From West Hartford, head south to Oakdale for The Dinosaur Place. All kids love dinosaurs, right? At the Dinosaur Place, you'll be face to face (or face to knee-height) with 40 life-size dinosaur models hidden in nature trails. If it's hot out, head over to their splash pad, which is the largest in New England.
4) Make your way to the shoreline with a stop at the Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut located in Niantic. Perfect for younger children, the museum focuses on imaginative play.
5) Following the shoreline, head over the bridge into Mystic, where you could spend several days exploring the town, shopping in Olde Mistick Village, and watching the drawbridge raise and lower -- just throw in an ice cream from Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream and call it a day. If the weather is crappy, head over to the Mystic Aquarium, where you can see penguins or get your hands wet in the touching tanks. I've never seen a kid not have the best time at the Mystic Aquarium -- they will be thanking you for days for taking them!
6) Next up, walk aboard old whaling ships or learn about being a blacksmith at Mystic Seaport. Stepping into the barn where they build and restore tall ships will blow their minds. Make sure to point out how small the beds are in the boats -- they'll feel so much taller!
7) Take a break from the teaching and let your little ones learn from experts at the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic. Sign up for any of their classes or activities that are designed to get little ones thinking about nature and conservation. This is perfect for the budding scientist.
8) Open seasonally, B.F. Clydes Cider Mill is the oldest steam powered cider mill in the US. While the kids learn about making apple cider, the adults could easily sneak some 'adult' hard apple cider -- the kids will be none the wiser. Don't forget to stuff your face with their incredible apple treats (the donuts are my favorite). Go ahead, have more than one, it's only open for a short time each year!
9) Travel back in time to learn about New England from the Ice Age until today at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. See Native American artwork that depicts creation stories and see dioramas and videos of the lives of Native Americans.
10) Follow the shoreline to Essex, a picture perfect waterfront town where you could easily spend half a day visiting shops and checking out the cute cafes. When the kids start to get antsy, take a ride on the Essex Steam Train, which has been around since 1868!
11) End your tour of education activities in Connecticut at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Learn about human origins, see skeletons of dinosaurs, and learn about birds of Connecticut. Piggy-back off of what you learned at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in the Hall of Native American Cultures, which is easily my favorite exhibit.
What else do you suggest doing in Connecticut with children?