Connecticut spans just 110 miles from east to west. And 70 miles from north to south. There is plenty to see right in our state for those who do not have big summer travel plans.
Here are a few family fun options on the other side of state (from trills and beaches to dinosaurs) that we recommend “Western Connecticutians” explore and make the best of the summer “staycations.”
Lake Compounce Theme Park
New England’s Family Theme and Water Park has more than 50 thrilling rides and attractions, including Crocodile Cove, Connecticut’s largest waterpark and Boulder Dash, voted the #1 wooden coaster in the world.
186 Enterprise Dr., Bristol, CT 06010
Hours: Call for hours.
Connecticut Science Center
Explore more than 165 hands-on, minds-on activities and exhibits in 10 galleries, a state-of-the-art 3D digital theater, four educational labs, plus daily programs and events, gift shop and cafe at the Connecticut Science Center.
250 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, CT 06103
Hours: Tue.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open Mon. in July and Aug.
New England Air Museum
Imaginations soar at New England Air Museum, the largest aviation museum in the northeastern United States, with 80 aircraft featured in three display buildings
36 Perimeter Rd. (Off Rte. 75), Windsor Locks, CT 06096
Hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Closed: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Essex Steam Train & Riverboat
Timeless. Beautiful. Captivating. This year, step back in time to historic 1892 Essex Station and embark on an unforgettable 2.5-hour journey into the heart of the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley. A steam locomotive pulls vintage coaches on a narrated round-trip through the quintessential New England towns of Deep River and Chester.
1 Railroad Ave., Historic Essex Station, Essex, CT 06426
Contact: (860) 767-0103, (800) 377-3987
The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village
Encounter over 40 Life-Sized Dinosaurs on 1.5 miles of pristine nature trails. Make a SPLASH in New England’s largest Splashpad*(a zero–depth water playground). Navigate through a”MAZE”asaurus and slide through the mouth of a T. Rex! Slide, climb and play on Monty’s DINO-Sized Playground Explore the giant, one-of-a-kind T. Rex Tower Playscape. Satisfy your mammoth appetite at Monty’s Munchies or the Ice Cream Shop.*
1650 Hartford-New London, Turnpike, Montville, CT 06370
Hours: Mon – Sun, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Contact: Nature’s Art Village & The Dinosaur Place: 860-443-4367
Explore the depths of our ocean planet like never before, as you travel through Mystic Aquarium’s indoor and outdoor exhibits and visit with thousands of creatures, from New England’s only beluga whales to the endangered African penguin, rescued seals to colorful fish and more.
55 Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, CT 06355
Jan. 2-Feb. 16: 10-4:50. Feb. 17-March 31: 9-4:50. April 1-Sept. 3: 9-5:50. Sept. 4-Nov. 30: 9-4:50. Dec. 1-24: 10-4:50. Dec. 26-Jan. 1: 9-4:50.
*Once inside, guests may visit for an additional 10 minutes. Hours subject to change without advance notice.
Ocean Beach Park
Voted one of the best beaches by National Geographic, this New London beach and boardwalk not only offers a spectacular view but also boasts rides, waterslides, a mini golf course, an arcade with retro games, an Olympic-sized pool, cafe, food court, nature walk, picnic areas, health club and more.
Special events held throughout the year include beach blanket movie nights, concerts, classic car cruise nights and fireworks.
New England Science and Sailing offers guided kayak tours of Alewife Cove.
Pricing: Parking $18-$24. Parking fee includes admission. Pedestrian walk-in $6. Special rates during events.
Other Amenities: Bus Parking, Meeting/Event Facilities, Special Rentals
Dates of Operation: Memorial Day-Labor Day.
98 Neptune Avenue, New London, CT 06320
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
SOURCE: Connecticut Office of Tourism. For more information visit: http://www.ctvisit.com/