Top 20 Places To Take Kids In and Around Hartford
Connecticut's Best for Kids in Hartford - 2022
2022's Top 20 Places to Take Hartford Kids, as voted by KidsOutAndAbout.com readers! This year, it's the TOP 21 in honor of KidsOutAndAbout.com's 21st birthday! Our Top 20 results page includes a list of your top picks, including winners in special categories like Favorite Arts Educator, Favorite Sports Educator, and Favorite STEM Educator! Use this list as your starting point, then browse our calendar, sign up for our weekly e-newsletter list of things to do, and be sure to visit our Everything Free page!
1. Connecticut Science Center
With 165 interactive exhibits, the Connecticut Science Center provides fun exploration of physics, forensics, geology, astronomy and much more! During your visit, you can also explore Live science demonstrations, experience our tropical Butterfly Encounter or watch a movie in our 3D theater.
2. Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo creates wonderfully wild experiences for children and families all year 'round. Connecticut's only zoo, celebrating its 98th anniversary this year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Guests won't want to miss our critically endangered Amur tigers and leopards, and Mexican and red wolves. Other highlights include the new Farmyard, Spider monkey habitat, the prairie dog exhibit, plus the Pampas Plains featuring maned wolves, Chacoan peccaries and Giant anteaters. Guests must buy tickets in advance at www.beardsleyzoo.org, and bring and wear a mask. Children under two do not need masks. For more information, visit beardsleyzoo.org.
4. Mystic Aquarium
Mystic Aquarium has more than 300 species and an extensive collection of marine mammals, including New England’s only beluga whales. Mystic Aquarium has been a pioneer in offering guests a variety of up close encounters with a wide range of marine animals. Mystic Aquarium held the #2 position last year, too!
5. Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
The nationally recognized aquarium focuses on the fascinating marine life in Long Island Sound and its watershed, including prowling sharks, curious seals, rambunctious river otters, stately sea turtles, pulsing jellyfish and thousands of other animals. The Aquarium also offers: educational programs, including public study cruises out onto the Sound; changing special exhibits; community-science opportunities; and a new 4D movie theater with sensory-enhancing special effects. The not-for-profit attraction is the centerpiece of the popular South Norwalk (or “SoNo”) neighborhood, with fun shops, nightclubs and restaurants.
6. My local library
Of course, our local library system is not really ONE place, it is MANY places... but it's important to emphasize how valuable libraries are for family learning and fun. The libraries in our area are wonderful about posting their events to the KidsOutAndAbout calendar so you always can get ideas for free things to do with your kids that celebrate education and imagination. KidsOutAndAbout.com takes this opportunity to salute the wonderful children's librarians who serve our community with such dedication.
7. Old Sturbridge Village
Old Sturbridge Village, the largest outdoor history museum in New England, depicts a rural New England town of the 1830s. Step inside more than 40 original buildings, and explore homes, meetinghouses, a district school, country store, bank, working farm, three water-powered mills, and trade shops – all situated on more than 200 scenic acres. Talk with authentically costumed historians and see heritage breed farm animals. Discover the endless ways to immerse yourself in the Village.
9. Bounce Town
There are 6 bounce houses, a new, three level playscape, an interactive eye play system & arcade. There is public open play, private play times & private parties. Weekend hours vary.
10. Dinosaur State Park
We are one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Beneath our geodesic dome, you will find an exceptional display of early Jurassic fossil tracks that were made 200 million years ago. Surrounding our Exhibit Center are more than two miles of nature trails and the Dinosaur State Park Arboretum, containing more than 250 species and cultivars of conifers, as well as katsuras, ginkgoes, magnolias and other living representatives of plant families which appeared in the Age of Dinosaurs.
11. Flamig Farm
Flamig Farm is a magical petting zoo located in West Simsbury, CT. It was established in 1907 and is now run by 4th and 5th generation farmers! We have tons of different kinds of farm animals – such as horses, goats, sheep, chickens, bunnies, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, ducks, emus, pigs, and more! Our petting zoo is open 9-5 everyday (weather permitting) and we offer pony rides & birthday parties on weekends, a fun-filled summer camp, a “Halloweeen” Walkthrough at our zoo, Visits with Santa, and so much more! Come stop by and visit our family-run farm, perfect for people of any age.
13. Lake Compounce
Celebrating its 174th season, Lake Compounce is the Premier Family Theme Park & Water Park in New England and the oldest continuously operating amusement park in North America. What makes us the best amusement park in Connecticut for family-friendly fun and excitement? We're home to the top-rated wooden roller coaster in the world, Boulder Dash, as well as the best water park in Connecticut!
Enjoy our classic rides, thrilling coasters, and several attractions you won't find anywhere else in New England. Lake Compounce is your family's destination for special events, family dining options, and a whole season of fun!
14. Chuck E. Cheese
15. Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park
Cool off at Connecticut's #1 Water Park - Zip Lines, Wakeboards, Rock Climb, Rope Swing, Water Slides, Inflatable Water Obstacles, Scuba and Swim.
16. Quassy Amusement & Waterpark
Quassy Amusement Park, is an amusement and waterpark in Middlebury, Connecticut, USA. It has 20 rides on its 20 acres. Quassy is considered "home to the award-winning Wooden Warrior roller coaster." In addition to a variety of fun-filled classic and newer theme park rides, Quassy also has Splash Away Bay waterpark for the whole family to enjoy. We specialize in catering private parties for school, church, camp, sporting & corporate events and birthday parties.
19. Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat has outdoor adventures for the whole family including train and boat excursions along the Connecticut River, Pirate Adventures, Murder Mysteries, Private Parties, Pumpkin Patch Trains, Elf Academy, North Pole Express, and more! Their mission is to keep alive the rich mechanical, industrial, and transportation heritage of our state through the continual operation of vintage steam and diesel locomotives and passenger coaches. New for 2020: Pedal a Rail-Bike on a round trip adventure over easy terrain with stunning scenery along the CT River! 4, 6 and 9.5 miles excursions are on sale now!
20. Hammonasset Beach State Park
Connecticut's largest shoreline beach. Kids can swim in the salt water, collect shells, build a sandcastle, sunbathe, relax, and walk along the 3/4 mile boardwalk, gazing upon Long Island Sound. Launch a carry-in boat, take a canoe trip, or fish from the stone breakwater. Summer activities include nature talks, bingo, movies, horseshoes, bocce and volleyball. The children's play area offers a pirate ship, swings, and slides. Visit Meigs Point Nature Center and experience the hands-on saltwater touch tank or search for the hundreds of bird species present at the park.
Winners in Special CategoriesIn the second part of our survey, we asked readers to select their favorites in several categories. Here are their choices.
Top Arts Educator: Village Center For the Arts
Our mission is to provide a nurturing environment for artistic creativity and development through educational fine art programs and events for all ages.
Top Sports Educator: YMCA
The YMCA of Greater Hartford is a charitable association open to all and committed to helping people develop their fullest potential in spirit, mind and body. This commitment is reinforced by our belief in living out universal values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
Top STEM Educator: Connecticut Science Center
With 165 interactive exhibits, the Connecticut Science Center provides fun exploration of physics, forensics, geology, astronomy and much more! During your visit, you can also explore Live science demonstrations, experience our tropical Butterfly Encounter or watch a movie in our re-opened 3D theater.