PLEASE NOTE: This post was originally written in in 2015. While it should still give you a great idea of the overall experience, it is also possible that some information may be outdated. Please visit their website for the most up to date information, especially for details like hours and pricing. If you notice something in this post that needs to be updated, please feel free to leave a comment with the updated information, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to make the updates. Hey, it takes a village, right? 🙂
Thank you to the Stamford Museum & Nature Center for providing me and my family with complimentary admission. All opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.
Last week was spring break for my kids and while it is always a little overwhelming having all three at home, it is also nice to not be on a schedule and have the freedom to get out and venture to new places. So to kick off our spring break week (and take advantage of the gorgeous weather) I convinced a few friends to join us down in Stamford as we checked out the Stamford Museum & Nature Center.
This destination has been on my outing list for quite a while. One of the main reasons is because it is one of the destinations on the list of museum passes at my local library. With the library pass, up to four people can visit the museum for free — a great opportunity to check out a new spot.
But I had also come across a lot of information about the Stamford Museum & Nature Center as I researched outing ideas in Connecticut. I would constantly come across beautiful pictures of the property and see information about all of their great events. I was so happy that we were finally getting a chance to go.
The Stamford Museum & Nature Center is situated on 118 acres (Mom translation: This place is huge and I definitely need to bring a stroller!).
The property is the former estate of Henri Bendel (you know, the fancy store in New York City) and includes a variety of activities from a farm, to trails, to a playground, museum, planetarium, and more. It could easily be a full day outing so come prepared.
When you arrive, you pay for your entry at the front gate. They accept cash or credit cards.
I mentioned that the property is huge, right? Take a look for yourself.
There were several parking areas on the property and we picked the first one we saw (to the right as we entered).
Everyone in my group brought along a double stroller, lunch (they sell snacks and drinks but no meals on property), and all of the basic supplies you need when venturing out with 7 kids under 4 years old (RE: Snacks, snacks, and more snacks).
Overbrook Nature Center & Gift Shop
The first stop on our visit was to the Overbrook Nature Center & Gift Shop. I had heard there was coffee inside the building and my kids had heard there were some cool backpacks they could check out so that was definitely a good first stop.
My kids made themselves at home while I checked out what the nature center had to offer.
First thing I noticed was coffee. Yay! The nature center doesn’t open at the same time as the farm so if it is closed when you visit you can just leave your money in the bird house. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate were $1.
In the corner of the nature center were the explorer backpacks that visitors could check out (for no additional charge). There was one for the farm and one for the nature trails. We grabbed a farm version which included animal checklists and some fun questionnaires. Backpacks could be checked out by signing them out in the gift shop.
The gift shop was right inside the same building. It contained toys and other souvenirs along with snacks and drinks available for purchase.
We didn’t need anything from the gift shop right then (besides my coffee of course!) so we gathered our backpack and headed towards the farm.
We made our way past the pond and over a little bridge to get to our next stop, Heckscher Farm.
On one side of the bridge was the first exhibit to explore, the river otters. You could watch them from the viewing area on the bridge or step inside for a closer look. Each day there is a public feeding of the river otters at 1:00 pm which is a fun activity to catch if you are visiting during that time.
Spring had definitely sprung on the farm the day we were visiting. We saw flowers beginning to bloom and we learned that there were several baby animals who had recently been born. Sparkles got herself prepared for our farm visit by finding the animal checklist in her backpack from the nature center. She was ready to go!
There was a lot to explore on the farm and the kids (and Moms) had a fun time checking out the property and seeing the variety of animals living there.
Also located in the farm area was a new exhibit, Heckscher Wild. This one made my skin crawl a bit, because it was full of tarantulas, lizards, snakes and more. Not my cup of tea, but all the kids (of course) loved it. Note that this exhibit has it’s own schedule and isn’t open all of the same hours as the farm. Details can be found here.
After we finished with the farm it was time for everyone to eat. There were picnicking areas located throughout the property, but lunch in the meadow next to Bendel’s Pond had been recommended to us so that is where we went. As I mentioned before they sell drinks and snacks in the gift shop, but no meals. We knew this and therefore planned ahead and brought our own packed lunches.
Lunch at a picnic table, overlooking a pretty pond, on a gorgeous day was rather nice. But I think the thing the kids loved most about this spot was running up and down the mulch piles located in the same area. Our contact at the museum had told me that they purposefully leave these piles out so that the kids can play. Brilliant. I actually got to finish my sandwich on this outing.
Once everyone was finished with lunch, it was time to head over to Nature’s Playground so the kids could burn a little more energy. The playground was located on the hill right behind the nature center. Because we all had strollers with us, we had to make our way up the hill via the road to the first parking area. There we found a path that we could follow with the strollers and access the playground area.
Check this place out. The whole playground is built into the side of this hill. There was a large playscape for the older kids and a smaller play structure for the younger ones. Plus, there was a great spot where all of the parents could sit and keep an eye on the kids as they played.
These kids had a little bit of fun 🙂
It was a big effort to get all of the kids in our group to finally leave the playground. I couldn’t blame them, the place was full of fun areas to explore! I ended up having to bribe them (great parenting I know) but it wasn’t too bad because my bribe was letting them take a different way back. They could see these cool nature trails and bridges from the playground area and I promised them if they got there stuff together and left that we could take that way back to the main entrance. And it worked!
Wheels in the Woods Trail
The bridges were part of the property’s Wheels in the Woods Trail which is designed to be fully accessible. We only tried out a small section of it, but this is definitely an area I would like to explore more on our next visit.
By the time we were done with our mini-nature walk, we had spent almost five hours at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center! That is a long time for a crew made up of seven kiddos ages 4 and under! It was time to go and the kids were starting to get a little loopy which always means it is Nap Time (woo hoo!) There was still a lot of the property we had not gotten to see but those cool things (including all of the trails, the Museum and Bendel Mansion, and the observatory & planetarium) would have to be saved for another trip.
It was a beautiful day at a beautiful destination and I was so happy that we were able to find time for a visit and that we got to share the day with great friends. The Stamford Museum & Nature Center has a lot to offer its daily visitors but that is just the start of things to do here. They also have many wonderful programs and events for visitors to enjoy as well. Their next big event is actually coming up soon, Spring on the Farm happening May 16th and 17th.
I hope it isn’t too long before we get a chance to visit again.
Phone: (203) 322-1646
Open year-round except for closures on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
In terms of hours, most things are open from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm each day but there are several variations to that schedule. You can find the latest information on hours here.
- General Pricing
- Adults: $10
- Seniors (65+): $8
- Students (18+): $6 (with valid ID)
- Children (4-17): $5
- Members: Free
- Children 3 and under: Free
- Those who arrive on the city bus and are holding bus passes or bus transfer tickets are admitted free.
- Adults $5
- Children $3
- Ages 5 and up.
- Members are admitted free.
- Range in price from $40 – $175
- Stroller Friendly: YES. The property is huge. I would definitely recommend bringing a stroller.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: YES. Plus coffee is available for sale in the Overbrook Nature Center.
- Restroom: YES. There is one on the farm, one at the Nature Center, and one in the museum. During our visit the Nature Center restroom was not in operation.
- Baby Changing Station: YES. There was a changing area in the two restrooms we visited: the one on the farm and the one in the museum.
- Parking: YES. There are several areas to park and no additional charge for parking.
- Food for Sale: YES. Reasonably priced snacks and drinks are available for sale in the Overbrook Nature Center.
- Outside Food Allowed: YES.
- Cash Required: NO. All major credit cards are accepted.
- Dress Code: NO. But I would definitely recommend comfortable shoes!
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES. Open on weekends.
- Discounts: YES. Many libraries have a pass to this destination as part of their museum pass program. The pass allows for free entry for up to four people.
- Birthday Party Venue: YES. Find all of the details here.
- NEW New England Air Museum – Located in Windsor Locks, CT, NEAM houses dozens of historic civilian and military aircraft and memorabilia in two giant hangers that visitors can tour. A family-friendly destination, the museum also hosts a variety of fun and educational events and activities for kids. Check out their 2015 April vacation activities from 4/13-4/17 & 4/20-4/24! (Read the OAAM post on this destination here)
- Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – The state’s only free-standing hospital that offers comprehensive, world-class health care to children. Based in Hartford, Connecticut Children’s also provides services at several locations throughout the state.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT, this private pre-school, elementary and middle school serves families from over 20 communities.
- Mandell JCC – The Mandell JCC, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT, welcomes and serves families and individuals of all ages, stages, backgrounds and faiths. Our fitness, wellness and recreation, arts and culture, camp, early childhood education programs, classes, clubs and services are open to all. You Belong Here!
- Marie-Chantal Luxury Children’s wear – Giving one lucky reader a chance to WIN $500 to spend in their online store. Marie-Chantal is a global lifestyle brand creating unique and beautifully crafted designer children’s clothes and gifts for boys and girls from newborn to 12 years old.
Want to keep up with things to do with kids in Connecticut?
Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we dish up more Momsense for getting out and about with your little ones. Don’t have time to check back in? Let us send you an automatic notification of new posts straight to your email inbox by signing up here. Also, you can like us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest posts and get some extra tidbits we share only through those sites.