Year in Review: Highlights of 2021

Even though 2021 was the second year impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic, we feel blessed to still have had many amazing adventures. We spent most of the winter in Connecticut exploring many local spots; the summer road tripping across Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, and Wisconsin (did we mention the number 4300 miles?!?!); and the spring and fall revisiting some of our tried and true favorite spots for new activities. This post is always one of our favorites each year, as it’s fun to go back down “memory lane” and reflect on the best parts of each adventure. So here is a recap of our (documented, publicly shared) 2021 adventures:

10 Things to Do at the Institute for American Indian Studies

Located in Washington, Connecticut in the heart of Litchfield County, the Institute for American Indian Studies celebrates the largely unknown Indigenous history of New England. Opened in 1975, the 15 acre complex includes indoor exhibits, an outdoor replicated Algonkian Village, hiking trails, and even a Wigwam Escape Room experience. The Algonkian people inhabited much of the northeastern United States up until the 1700s and includes over 100 distinct groups and communities. The museum is very hands on and docents are eager to share anecdotal stories and explain the significance of artifacts on display. (Definitely ask for an atlatl demonstration!)

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5 Reasons I Love State Parks

This past weekend Connecticut celebrated Connecticut Trails Day with almost 200 events in and around many of the 142 state parks, forests, and beaches. Overseen by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, state parks, forests, and beaches cover 255,000 acres of public space and thousands of trails for hiking and biking. One perk of 2020 and 2021 has been our family’s focus on spending more time outdoors, exploring many of these public spaces. To date, we’ve visited about 30 state parks and you can read about our adventures (and trail recommendations and travel tips) in this post focused in Fairfield County, this post focused in western Connecticut, this post focused on central Connecticut, and this post focused on the Mystic area. We’ve also started to amass proper hiking equipment (headline: you’ll want more than just sneakers) and you can read about our hiking supply post here.

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City Guide: 20 Ways to Have Fun in Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic, Connecticut is a quick, hour long drive along the coast from our home that our family enjoys making several times a year. The seaside town is home to many popular family friendly spots, and the nearby towns and cities of Stonington, New London, East Lyme, Norwich, and Niantic offer plenty more to see and do. Mystic was one of our first City Guides back in 2018; we have recently discovered some new-to-us places and thought we would update our guide.

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12 Ways to Explore the New England Air Museum in Connecticut

Located in the same area as Bradley International Airport and the National Guard base, the New England Air Museum has 90,000 square feet of exhibition feet spread across 3 hangars, and an additional outdoor space, to display 60 of the 110+ aircrafts in the museum’s collections. The museum library includes a collection of over 6,000 aviation related books, over 10,000 aviation manuals, and thousands of pieces of artwork, drawings, blueprints, and photographs.

The museum has tons of open space to spread out and explore the 60+ aircrafts at a leisurely pace. Guests are able to peer through, look under, and sit in many of the aircrafts. However, what is most impressive, and truly priceless, are the docents, many of whom are veterans who flew the aircrafts on display. They are eager to share their adventures and explain how the aircrafts work, and they are incredibly patient with children.

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10 Ways to Explore Coastal Connecticut during the Summer

Coastal Connecticut is the title often given to the area spanning from Branford to Old Lyme, which includes the towns of Branford, Guilford, Madison, Clinton, Westbrook, Killingsworth, Essex, Deep River, Old Saybrook, Lyme, and Old Lyme. The area is beautiful all times of year, but especially comes to life during warmer summer months. Conveniently located along Interstate 95 (which runs from the New York to Rhode Island state lines), many of the towns border the Connecticut River or Long Island Sound and offer plenty of riverfront and beachfront activities and open spaces. The area is also known for its numerous contributions to the arts and many museums and educational institutions honor the legacy of famous residents.

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