Places to Go Out And About (Safely) in and around Hartford this Winter
Your family could really use a fun outing, but you're committed to social distancing. You've already walked your neighborhood, and many of your usual destinations are too crowded for comfort. If you haven't been motivated to get outside in the winter in the past, make this your year to explore new places and try new things, all while staying a safe distance from others. If you can, switch your schedule and do your outings on weekdays to avoid weekend crowds. KidsOutAndAbout offers a few suggestions you may not have considered, and all of them nearby.
Maple sugaring events are a great activity to do while you're socially distancing. Enjoy the great outdoors, meet local farmers and businesses, learn some science, appreciate the often-unappreciated season of late winter, and of course, taste some delicious maple goodness!
Because maple sugaring is weather-dependent, it's a good idea to call ahead and confirm that an event is still taking place before heading out.
There's never been a better time to learn a new winter sport. Staying at home all the time is tedious, and we're all hoping that we can make this winter fly by. If you're not sure where to get started, begin with our Embrace the Winter article that offers an overview of some outdoor sports you might like to try. Of course the most popular is downhill skiing and snowboarding, and we've got a list of places within driving distance. Remember, different resorts may be following different protocols, and you may need to pay attention to crossing state lines as well. Currently many states aren't welcoming out-of-state visitors, but you can still enjoy skiing in Connecticut at Ski Sundown, Powder Ridge Park, Mohawk Mountain, or Ski Mount Southington. Be sure to click on the ski resort's website to get all the details before setting out.
When Staying Home is Your Only Option
We know that things are changing quickly, and whether it's new local regulations or your own family's need to isolate, even the safest "out and about" options may not be appropriate for you at some point this winter. If that's the case, keep in mind that we've got plenty of ideas to keep life interesting while you're at home.
Go on a Hunt
Kids love a good hunt! There is something very motivating and satisfying about seaching for something, whether it's treasure or not. One fun way to lean into that impulse is to go geocaching. Did you know that little treasures are hidden all over the place? If you've never tried geocaching, it's a wonderful opportunity for kids to get some activity outside while using using their deductive skills. There are also tons of companies that offer virtual scavenger hunts, either for items that you can find just about anywhere, or region-specific hunts that provide a tour of a special place. Both activities offer the chance to safely explore while keeping a distance from others.
Sculpture parks offer the opportunity to take in some sculpture while enjoying outdoor space. You can enhance your experience by bringing along sketchbooks or cameras to see how the sculptures can inspire your own compositions. The sprawling grounds allows kids to be a bit more relaxed than in a typical museum, and best of all, it's easy to keep distant from others. It's likely that you already know about the Bushnell Plaza Sculpture Garden in downtown Hartford, but if the kids liked that visit, you may want to go farther afield, to the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden in Springfield, MA, or to Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme, CT.
Thinking of taking your kids on a hike nearby? It's great exercise, it lets you connect with nature and each other, and best of all, it's free. Put away the phones (except for cool activities like geocaching, looking up new plants, or making a photo collage or map) and head out to the trail! Click the link below for nearby options, and also check out our article of tips and tricks for making the most of the experience and avoiding whining.
Zoos and Nature CentersFauna and flora in our corner of the world
While you're staying away from crowds of people, now's a great time for some animal encounters and the peace we find in the natural world. Your local zoos and nature centers offer just what we all need right now: space. Many have created brand-new programs designed to accommodate safety procedures while still giving visitors the opportunity to interact with meaningful parts of our world with room to breathe. As of mid-December, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is still open.