QUESTION: Do you have any information on day trips within the state of Connecticut?
ANSWER: No matter where you are in Connecticut, you'll find plenty of family fun close by.
In the Mystic and shoreline area, head to Mystic Seaport. It's America's largest maritime museum, covering 17 acres.
Hop a ride on a horse-drawn carriage through the re-created 19th-century seaport village. Costumed interpreters throughout the village demonstrate old-world skills, like boat building and woodcarving. There are plenty of hands-on workshops and shows, and a small children's museum for the youngest in your group.
Though you could easily spend all day at the seaport, save time to explore the Mystic Marinelife Aquarium, home to more than 3,000 marine animals, like dolphins, sea lions, whales, sharks, and more. And downtown Mystic has a seafaring charm of its own. There are several nearby state parks to romp about in, and plenty of whale-watching excursions.
Science, Art Museums and More
Head to the Hartford/central Connecticut area to visit a topnotch science museum, an art museum with terrific children's programs, and a park where you can follow 185-million-year-old dinosaur tracks.
Stop first at the Science Center of Connecticut, with its indoor/outdoor zoo, planetarium, touch tanks, and computer laboratory. Up next: the Wadsworth Atheneum, America's first public art museum. The kids will love the mummies and the tours on tape specially designed for little ones.
When it's time to get the wiggles out, stop at Bushnell Park in downtown Hartford, where the kids can hop on an antique carousel and grab a refreshment from a pushcart vendor. Just south of Hartford, you'll find Dinosaur State Park, where you can follow fossil tracks and nature trails. You can even make your own cast of a dinosaur footprint.
Visiting the postcard-pretty Essex and Connecticut River Valley is like stepping back in time. This is the place to take a ride on an authentic riverboat or tour the valley on a steam train with the Valley Railroad Company. The Gillette Castle State Park is a great place to picnic, fish, or rent a canoe. If it's a hot day, consider tubing down the serpentine Farmington River or swimming in Long Island Sound at the Hammonasset Beach State Park.
The southwest corner of Connecticut offers attractions aplenty for visiting families. The Discovery Center in Bridgeport features more than 115 hands-on art and science exhibits, simulated space missions, a planetarium, and more. The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a top destination in the area, as is the Stamford Museum & Nature Center, a 118-acre complex that includes a 19th-century working farm and zoo.
Finally, the quaint and picturesque Litchfield Hills area of Connecticut is studded with state parks, perfect for outdoor fun. Don't miss the White Memorial Foundation and Conservation Center, with a 4,000-acre sanctuary on Bantam Lake. You can rent boats, hike the more than 35 miles of trails, swim, fish, and more. Litchfield Hills is a great place for horseback riding, biking, kayaking, and canoeing (there are several places to rent equipment). Sound too wholesome for your brood?
Head to Lake Compounce, for some old-fashioned amusement park fun, or to Lime Rock Park, where pro national and amateur road racing events are held.
For more information, call (800) CT-BOUND (www.ctbound.org)
Please note that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are subject to change.