8 Reasons for Families to Explore the Other Side of the State this Summer

Connecticut spans just 110 miles from east to west, and 70 miles from north to south. There is plenty to see right in our state for those who do not have big summer travel plans.

By Emanuela Palmares

Here are a few family fun options on the other side of state (from trills and beaches to dinosaurs) that we recommend “Western Connecticutians” explore and make the best of the summer “staycations.” 


1 -Thrilling Theme Park

Lake Compounce Theme Park

New England's Family Theme and Water Park has more than 50 thrilling rides and attractions, including Crocodile Cove, Connecticut's largest waterpark, and Boulder Dash, voted the #1 wooden coaster in the world.


186 Enterprise Dr., Bristol, CT 06010

Hours: Call for hours.

Contact:(860) 583-3300




2- State of the Art Science Center

Connecticut Science Center

Explore more than 165 hands-on, minds-on activities and exhibits in 10 galleries, a state-of-the-art 3D digital theater, four educational labs, plus daily programs and events, gift shop and cafe at the Connecticut Science Center.


250 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, CT 06103

Contact: (860) SCIENCE

http://www.ctsciencecenter.org, info@ctsciencecenter.org



3- One-of-a-Kind Museum

New England Air Museum

Imaginations soar at New England Air Museum, the largest aviation museum in the northeastern United States, with 80 aircraft featured in three display buildings.


36 Perimeter Rd. (Off Rte. 75), Windsor Locks, CT 06096

Contact: (860) 623-3305




4- Timeless Adventure

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

Timeless. Beautiful. Captivating. This year, step back in time to historic 1892 Essex Station and embark on an unforgettable 2.5-hour journey into the heart of the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley. A steam locomotive pulls vintage coaches on a narrated round-trip through the quintessential New England towns of Deep River and Chester.


1 Railroad Ave., Historic Essex Station, Essex, CT 06426

Contact: (860) 767-0103, (800) 377-3987 




5- Time Travel at its Best!

The Dinosaur Place at Nature's Art Village

Encounter over 40 Life-Sized Dinosaurs on 1.5 miles of pristine nature trails. Make a SPLASH in New England’s largest Splashpad*(a zero-depth water playground). Navigate through a”MAZE”asaurus and slide through the mouth of a T. Rex! Slide, climb and play on Monty’s DINO-Sized Playground Explore the giant, one-of-a-kind T. Rex Tower Playscape. Satisfy your mammoth appetite at Monty’s Munchies or the Ice Cream Shop.


1650 Hartford-New London, Turnpike, Montville, CT 06370

Hours: Mon – Sun, 10:30 AM - 6:00 PM

Contact: Nature's Art Village & The Dinosaur Place: 860-443-4367


6- Under the Sea Discoveries!

Mystic Aquarium

Explore the depths of our ocean planet like never before, as you travel through Mystic Aquarium’s indoor and outdoor exhibits and visit with thousands of creatures, from New England’s only beluga whales to the endangered African penguin, rescued seals to colorful fish and more.


55 Coogan Boulevard, Mystic, CT 06355



7- Good Old Day at the Beach!

Ocean Beach Park

Voted one of the best beaches by National Geographic, this New London beach and boardwalk not only offers a spectacular view but also boasts rides, waterslides, a mini golf course, an arcade with retro games, an Olympic-sized pool, a cafe, a food court, a nature walk, picnic areas, a health club and more.

Special events held throughout the year include beach blanket movie nights, concerts, classic car cruise nights and fireworks.

New England Science and Sailing offers guided kayak tours of Alewife Cove.

Pricing: Parking $30-$35. Parking fee includes admission. Pedestrian walk-in $10. Special rates during events.
Other Amenities: Bus Parking, Meeting/Event Facilities, Special Rentals
Dates of Operation: Memorial Day-Labor Day.


98 Neptune Avenue, New London, CT 06320

Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Contact: 860-447-3031 


8- Country Fun for the Whole Season


Fairs Across the State

Connecticut also has a long and rich tradition of country fairs, from early summer through autumn. These are among the ones you don’t want to miss:


Lebanon Country Fair, July 29-31: Lebanon Lions Club Country Fair Grounds, 122 Mack Road, Lebanon, CT


Bridgewater Country Fair, Aug. 19–21: Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department Fair Grounds, 100 Main St. S., Bridgewater, CT


Brooklyn Fair, Aug. 25–28: Brooklyn Fairgrounds, 15 Fairgrounds Road, Brooklyn, CT


Terryville Lions Country Fair, Aug. 26–28: Terryville Fairgrounds, 171 Town Hill Road, Terryvile, CT


Woodstock Fair, Sept. 2–5: Woodstock Fairgrounds, 281 Route 169, Woodstock, CT


Goshen Fair, Sept. 3–5: Goshen Fair Grounds, 116 Old Middle St., Goshen, CT


Durham Fair, Sept. 22–25: Durham Fair Grounds, 70 Maple Ave. No. 64, Durham, CT


SOURCE: Connecticut Office of Tourism. For more information visit: http://www.ctvisit.com/