Before I begin this post, I just want to take a moment to comment on the terrible tragedy that occurred at the Boston Marathon yesterday.
I could go on and on about the sadness I am feeling and I can go on and on about the fact that I can’t believe there is another major tragedy happening in the Northeast. But that isn’t the point of this blog and that isn’t why you are reading this post.
I just want to say that the people of Boston and all those affected by yesterday’s terrible tragedy are in my (and I know Shawna’s) thoughts and prayers today. May we all give a few extra kisses and hugs to our family and be thankful that we live in a country where when a bomb goes off you see more people running to help than running away.
We love hearing from our readers and we LOVE getting their outing suggestions (we really have some awesome readers!) As soon as we get a suggestion, either Shawna or I add it to this ever-growing list of places we want to go. Then, when we are at a loss as to where our next outing adventure should be, we can just go to the handy-dandy list and pick a spot.
Well this past weekend I took one of our reader suggestions (actually several readers suggested this destination) and went to check out Northwest Park in Windsor, Connecticut.
The park is pretty easy to find. It is located somewhat near Bradley Airport and is just a few miles off of 91. I think Shawna’s post made me shy away from using Google Maps to find a park destination, so I went straight to the source and just followed the directions on the Northwest Park website 🙂
Here is the quick and easy directions for your reference:
Take Interstate route 91 North to Exit 38. Turn right. After 1.5 miles, turn left on to Prospect Hill Road. Go 1 mile and at the rotary, turn right. About one mile ahead you will see the Park on your left.
When we arrived, the entrance sign informed us that there is a lot to do on this 473 acre property.
We had also brought our dog, Radley (his real name), on this outing and were extremely excited to see that there is a dog park located right outside the main park area. Score!
So we got a chance to get a little extra exercise for the pup before we headed in (sometimes I wonder if my dog or my toddlers have more energy!)
You will notice that my kids are standing outside the dog park fence. They were too little to go inside. I think Radley was missing them, though, and he wasn’t interested in staying for too long . . .
After Rads was done at the dog park, we made our way into Northwest Park.
Not surprisingly, our readers were right. This place is beautiful and has a lot to offer for visitors, but especially for kids. The park has so many features, including:
- a Pond,
- Animal Barn,
- Nature Center,
- Walking Trails,
- and more
We decided to hang a right and check out the Animal Barn.
At the door we were greeted by a sign letting us know that Radley could not come inside. Completely makes sense. Just make sure you are aware if you decide to go solo with a dog and a kiddo (or two or three).
The inside of the barn was very nice. Of course it had that good ole’ animal barn smell, but I think that just goes with the territory.
Right inside there was a dispenser where you could purchase feed for the animals. It was 25 cents, so make sure you bring a few quarters with you. There are signs on each of the animal pens indicating whether or not they could be fed. I really think I only saw a feeding option for the sheep (and they had a little feeding tube you could use). Fortunately they also had a hand sanitizer dispenser as well!
The animals located inside included rabbits, turkeys, sheep, goats and donkeys (at least I think there were donkeys. I never saw them, but I heard them.)
Not far from the Animal Barn is the Nature Center and Gift Shop. This building is open from Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (It is also often open on Sunday, but call (860) 285-1886 for Sunday hours.)
This building is a great way to warm up on chilly days and cool down on hot days. It is also a perfect spot to learn more about the park and this beautiful area of our state. The Nature Center has several exhibits that you or your kids may find of interest and it also has a few spots where the kids can play.
There is a little room at the front where the youngest visitors can hang out and there is a spot in the back where they can do a little climbing and exploring.
The Nature Center is also the hub of the Northwest Park grounds. Here you can find out information on the Park’s classes, summer camps and events. During the winter months you can rent snow shoes for use in the Park.
Year-round you can find restroom facilities at the Nature Center which are open 24/7.
Now I once again completely forgot to check out the restroom options during my visit, but I called they park and they confirmed that not only do they exist, but they have a baby changing table inside.
When the Nature Center is open, the restrooms can be accessed by going inside and past the exhibit area. When the Nature Center is closed, the restrooms can be accessed from the outside by going to the back of the building.
After visiting the Nature Center, the kids bee-lined it to the playground.
Like most of the playgrounds we visit, this one had two play structures, one for the younger crowd, and one for the older crowd. It also had a swing set area that was enjoyed by all.
I love the pictures below where my husband is pushing the kids on the swing and keeping up with his email at the same time. That is some Daddy talent!
And I love this picture my husband took of me and my baby girl. He must have read my post about Mommy’s getting in the picture 🙂
Before we left, I did take a quick look at the trail map. The trails are a whole other adventure available in this park, but we just didn’t have time to explore them the day we visited. I’m hoping some of our readers have been on the trails and will give us the scoop, but here is the trail map.
Routes are listed as taking from 15 minutes to an hour to complete. Some routes even go down by the Farmington River which I’m sure is beautiful. When I asked at the park about whether or not a jogging stroller could be brought on the trails, they said some parts of the trails would make it difficult. They suggested little ones be brought in a baby carrier instead. On their site, there is also a Frequently Asked Question section which includes a lot of information on the various trails.
Apparently the easiest trail is the Bog Loop. I will keep that in mind for our next visit!
There is so much more to explore at this park. Besides the trails, there is a tobacco museum, kids classes, a country Fall, a pancake breakfast in the late winter, and a coffee house concert series. I have a feeling there may be a few more blog posts from this destination.
Have you been to Northwest Park? What is your favorite activity? Have you been to any of their events? Have you hiked the trails? Share your stories in our comments section below. We love to hear from you!
- The Park is closed from dusk to dawn
- The Nature Center is open Monday – Saturday from 8:30am – 4:30pm (it is also sometimes open on Sunday)
- Convenient parking near the park entrance.
- Public restrooms open 24/7: Restrooms are located in the Nature Center. If you are visiting when the Nature Center is open, you can access the restrooms from inside. If the Nature Center is closed, you can access the restrooms from the rear of the building. There is a changing table for the babies in the restroom as well.
- Playground which includes:
- Baby swings
- Playscape for kids age 2-5
- Playscape for kids age 5-12
- Picnic tables
- Ground cover of bark chips
- Trees (recently planted so not yet providing a lot of shade, but some day!)
- Walking trails with posted trail maps
- Pond with fish
- Animal Barn
- Nature Center
- Tobacco Museum
- Maple Syrup House
- Dog Park
- Variety of events and activities
- Sneakers are appropriate footwear for the nature trails.
- Dress for being outside. On sunny days, make sure you bring suntan lotion, hats, glasses, etc.
- Use a wearable baby carrier to tote your non-walking baby on a nature hike.
- Bring your dog if you want them to enjoy the dog park. But remember that for the main park area, all dogs must be on a leash and they are not allowed inside the Animal Barn.
- Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it on the property.
- Bring a stroller if you have a non-walking munchkin and are not going on the walking trails. We easily got it around the main park area.
- Bring quarters if you want to purchase food to feed the animals.
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