15 Free Things to Do with Kids throughout Connecticut this Summer

We officially moved to the Nutmeg State back in 2002 and have enjoyed exploring dozens of its 169 cities and towns, many of which border New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the Long Island Sound. We’re working on an updated master list of all the places we’ve visited and all of our travel tips for later in the summer, but this index, this list, and this list are good places to start. You might also like our City Guides featuring Mystic and Coastal Connecticut. As summer nears and temps rise, we wanted to share 15 FREE things to do this summer (really, all year, but summer offers some additional perks and better hours) and a few bonus spots we’re hoping to check out ourselves this summer.

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City Guide: Sag Harbor, New York

The village of Sag Harbor, located on the northern part of the South Fork of Long Island, is typically home to under 3,000 year round residents but swells during peak summer months, as the area is a popular vacation spot. Considered part of “The Hamptons” (which includes the towns and villages of Westhampton, South Hampton, Sagaponack, Sag Harbor, East Hampton, Amagansett, and Montauk), the area is under two hours from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan (or a short ferry ride from Fairfield County, Connecticut). Sag Harbor became a US port of entry in 1789 with a growing population involved in servicing whalers and West Indian trade ships. and became a thriving whaling industry in the 1800s. There are many historic homes, museums, outdoor recreational areas, and dining and retail options throughout Sag Harbor and the surrounding towns that the whole family will enjoy.

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10 Ways to Explore the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center in the Hamptons

One of the highlights of our recent trip to the Hamptons was the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center in Bridgehampton, New York. What started as a small space to protect the Eastern Tiger Salamanders, now an endangered and protected species that were found to have inhabited the area, the center opened in 2006 on three acres of property on the 1100 acre Long Pond Greenbelt Preserve. While most of the 1100 acres is protected, untouched land, the museum and nature center also include three ponds (one of which is a “teaching pond”), and walking trails.

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10 Ways to Have Fun at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Quechee, VT

The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) in Quechee, Vermont is a 47 acre complex that includes indoor and outdoor exhibits, the Forest Canopy Walk, three hiking trails, a Meadow Walk, a Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation, adventure playscape, and plenty of classrooms and exhibition spaces. Opened in 1972, the programs featured at VINS focus on conservation, preservation, and rehabilitation of wildlife. The center is the perfect, family friendly way to explore nature and learn about the local wildlife.

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10 Ways to Have Fun at The Wild Center in New York

Located in Tupper Lake in northern New York, The Wild Center is part natural history museum, part aquarium, part series of nature trails, part massive outdoor playground, and 100% FUN! We first read about The Wild Center when Wild Walk opened in 2015 and it has been on our bucket list until last week! During our visit to the Lake Placid area (The Wild Center is about 30 miles west), we enjoyed a busy morning on campus and wished we could have stayed all day!

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10 Things to Do at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History

Cape Cod, located in the southeastern part of Massachusetts, was first formed 6,000 years ago with rising seas that eroded the glacial sands that made up the area. It is a popular vacation spot year round, but especially comes alive during the warmer summer months. There are dozens of beaches, golf courses, clam shacks, ice cream shops, and plenty of hands on activities the whole family will enjoy. The area is also rich with historical sites, and my family recently revisited (it had been many, many years) the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. The museum complex includes 400 acres of land in Brewster, midway on the Cape, Wing’s Island, salt marshes, a beach directly on Cape Cod Bay, a large indoor museum and aquarium, exhibition space, and educational spaces for camps and children’s programs.

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