It’s almost time for that last bell of the school year to ring and send the kids running home, eager for summertime fun. Whether your kids are going to camp or staying home, there are bound to be times when boredom sets in. When that happens try some of these Connecticut activities that are not only engaging and educational, they’re also free!
Bow Tie Cinema’s Free Kids Club Film Series From June 19th to July 15, get free admission to your choice of three Connecticut theatres. Doors open at 9 and the movies start at 10. Films in this series include Happy Feet, Happy Feet 2, Yogi Bear, Dolphin Tale and more. Seating is limited and is on a first come, first serve basis.
Colchester Day Pond A big attraction for fishing as it is stocked with trout, Day pond is also a favorite of swimmers. The shallow waters and sandy beach are perfect for small children. There are also picnic tables as well as hiking trails. Admission is free on weekdays.
Colchester Spray Park Located in a recreation complex on Old Hebron Road, the spray park offers a great way to cool down in the heat of the summer. Kids can splash and play in a contained area while you sit close by under the shade of an umbrella and take advantage of the park’s free wireless internet. Nearby you will find picnic tables as well as a playground with swings and a play scape. The spray park is open from 9am to 9pm.
Fish Family Farm One of Connecticut’s few remaining dairy farms that milk, pasteurize and bottle their own milk. They offer self-guided tours where the kids can observe the milking and bottling process, pet the cows and then enjoy a taste of some homemade ice cream. The farm is open Monday- Saturday 8-6 and admission is free.
Ray of Light Farm Located in East Haddam just minutes from Gilette Castle, Ray of Light farm is a perfect day trip where kids can visit a variety of animals including a half donkey half zebra named “Fancy Pants.” Their website says, “Ray of Light is an Animal Rescue facility. We are involved in the rescue and care of neglected, injured, discarded or abused large animals. We also facilitate adoption and placement of some of those animals into new permanent homes. The stories behind the rescues are diverse; but in every case, the former owner willingly transfers custody of the animals to Ray of Light, knowing that we can offer the animals the safe haven they deserve.” The farm is open from 10-3, Thursday through Tuesday. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum Founded in 1964 by Larry Aldrich, this museum is “dedicated to fostering innovative artists whose ideas and interpretations of the world around us serve as a platform to encourage creative thinking.” They exhibit cutting edge art from a variety of artists. Admission is free on Tuesdays. They also offer free family art adventures on select Saturdays. Please visit their website for more details.
Dinosaur State Park Boasting one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America, Dinosaur State park offers a variety of exhibits as well as more than 2 miles worth of hiking trails that contain over 250 species of plants that lived during the time of the dinosaurs. Free admission for 2 adults and 4 children is available by reserving a day pass through the Russell Library.
Gillette Castle Straddling the towns of East Haddam and Lyme and perched high with a great view of the Connecticut River, Gillette Castle was the beautiful yet quirky former residence of William Gillette. Visitors can tour the interior and learn all about its history. Gillette Castle is open from 10-5 and admission is free with a day pass from the Russell Library.
Beardsley ZooCelebrating its 90th Birthday this year, The Beardsley Zoo offers exhibits of over 300 animals. It’s located in Bridgeport and is a “wild” experience for children and adults! Russell Library Pass admits up to 2 adults & 4 children for one day.
Wadsworth Atheneum The oldest public art museum in the United states, it has a history of innovative art collection. It was the first to begin collecting contemporary American art, first to state a retrospective of Pablo Picas and first to exhibit and purchase works by Surrealist artists. It continues to offer works by relevant artists. Admission for children under the age of 18 is free and they offer free admission for the entire family on every 2nd Saturday of the month if you arrive before 1pm.
Hammonasset Beach State Park The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says, “A visit to Hammonasset Beach State Park, is more than just another day at the beach.” It offers bicycling, camping, boating, fishing, nature center programs and exhibits, picnicking, saltwater swimming and walking trails. Free parking passes and admission can be obtained through the Russell Library.
Fairchild Wildflower Garden This sanctuary is a 135 acre natural garden was donated to the Greenwich Audubon in 1939. It’s an excellent spot for bird watching and for observing a plethora of beautiful species of plants and flowers. It's free to the public.
The Devil’s Hopyard Don’t let the name scare you. This picturesque state park is a nature lover’s dream. It offers hiking, camping, stream fishing, bird watching, bicycling and picnicking along with gorgeous landscapes including the “mini falls.” Season passes that are good for all of the state parks are available for $67 but day passes area also available through your local library including the Portland Library and Russell Library.
Peabody Museum Free admission is being offered on Thursdays (2-5pm) through June to this natural history museum. They are currently featuring an exhibit called “Big Food: Health, Culture and the Evolution of Eating” and their regular business hours are Monday-Saturday 10-5pm.
Connecticut State Museum Of Natural History “Located in the heart of the UConn campus, the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History is an important part of the University's broad educational vision--a vision focused not only on passing knowledge to future generations, but on applying this knowledge to solve problems and improve the quality of people's lives.” The museum includes anthropological collections as well as an archeological center. They are open Monday- Friday 10-4 and admission is always free although donations are appreciated.
Having a great time this summer doesn't have to mean breaking the bank. With all the other expenses of summer, like vacations and camp, it's good to know that there are options for good family fun that don't cost a thing.