10 Ways to Explore the Connecticut River Museum

The Connecticut River runs over 400 miles from the Connecticut Lakes near the Canadian border down through Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut to Long Island Sound in Old Saybrook. The Connecticut River Museum began as a volunteer organization in the 1970s, housed in a 1870s Steamboat Warehouse, and has since expanded into a museum with an impressive collection of artifacts and art, a replica sailing ship, a combat submarine, and a calendar filled with special events, programs, and workshops.

The museum is spread out over three floors of exhibits: a rotating exhibit on the 3rd floor and permanent exhibits on the first and second floors. There is also a small display in the boathouse room. We found the exhibits engaging and informative and appropriate for upper elementary aged students and older. Toddlers might have a hard time not touching everything and won’t be able to read all the informative signage; however, ALL ages will LOVE the train show (so bring kids of all ages to the train show and hold on to toddlers closely).

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Submarine Force Museum and HS Nautilus, Groton Connecticut

When I mention I live in Connecticut, many people will exclaim “Oh you must know a lot of maritime and submarine history having the sub base nearby.”  I’ve driven by Groton for the past 38 years and yet, until recently, I had not visited the area, known as the “Submarine Capital of the World.” On a spring break trip to nearby Mystic, Connecticut we stopped for the morning in Groton to finally explore the Submarine Force Museum, and tour the HS Nautilus.  While the actual Naval Submarine Base in New London is closed to the public, keep driving past the base until you hit the waterfront: On the left is the library, museum, and gift shop; straight ahead is the HS Nautilus; and to the right is the parking lot and various memorials.

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Mystic Seaport in Connecticut

My family has recently been on a nautical kick, with a weekend in New Bedford, Massachusetts and the New Bedford Whaling Museum. During a visit to Mystic, Connecticut a couple of weeks ago, Connecticut we thought we would continue to broaden our sealife knowledge with a visit to the Mystic Seaport.

Mystic Seaport, the largest maritime museum in the United States, was founded in 1929 and now welcomes almost 300,000 visitors and hundreds of school groups each year. It’s conveniently located one mile off Interstate 95, right on the water, in the picturesque town of Mystic, Connecticut. Mystic offers tons of family fun, such as the Mystic Aquarium (check out my post here). Spread out over 19 acres, the Seaport recreates 19th century life in a seafaring village with over 60 different exhibits, buildings, boats and areas to explore.