Please note: Some of the venues on this list are current or former sponsors of Out and About Mom. No additional compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% our own.
So summer vacation starts soon (it’s even started already for some of you!) and although the season only spans a few short months, it can look pretty looooooong when you’re staring down an expanse of empty, unstructured days with young kids at home. That’s the reason we first introduced our Summer Bucket List back in 2014. We thought it’d be the perfect incentive–maybe even a challenge–to get out & about and exploring the many fantastic, family-friendly destinations in (and around) Connecticut.
And judging by the overwhelmingly positive response that first Summer Bucket List received (that post got a record-busting 50,000 views, which back in 2014 was a number we were more used to seeing as total views for all the posts on our site combined! Haha!), you all thought it was a pretty nifty idea too 🙂
And so the Summer Bucket List became a beloved annual tradition here at Out and About Mom.
As I sit here putting together our 6th annual Summer Bucket List for the Connecticut Mom, I’m realizing how much more difficult it’s become to pull out just 50 outings from our treasure trove of activities. Highlighting only 50 of our favorite summertime-worthy destinations suddenly feels like a lot of pressure! Because although it’s all about summer fun, we take this list very seriously. We know you are going to read it and bookmark it and use it to help you plan out your summer adventures, and we want to ensure that it represents a range of experiences so there’s something for everyone in your crew.
This year, we’ve tried to include some of the perhaps lesser-known destinations alongside those annual summer staples. Sure, we’ve got Mystic Aquarium (some outings just never get old!) and Ocean Beach Park (nothin’ says summer like a stroll on the boardwalk!), but we’ve also got a kayak excursion you can take with your preschooler, a playground with its own app (yes, you read that right), a zoo with a chair lift that carries you dozens of feet above animal habitats, and an ice cream stand that’s been around for half a century.
On this year’s list you’ll discover art programs for the whole family, mini golf outings that feel like a trip abroad, encounters with friendly farm animals and Go Karts both indoors and out. Plus plenty of beaches, parks, playgrounds and walking trails (of course).
And as always, I hope it goes without saying that although we title our post “A Summer Bucket List for the Connecticut Mom,” we know that there will be just as many dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and nannies searching this list for outing inspiration (“A Summer Bucket List for the Connecticut Caregiver” just doesn’t have the same ring to it–haha!).
So without further delay, I give you the 2019 Summer Bucket List for the Connecticut Mom. I hope it brings you many wonderful memories of this special and yes, all too short, season.
(Listed in no particular order)
1. Wave to a beluga whale at Mystic Aquarium.
2. Explore the Black Hall River on an Eco Tour with Black Hall Outfitters in Old Lyme (or Westbrook).
3. Enjoy a cone in the Cuddle Car at Cowlick’s Creamery in Waterford.
4. Take a spin in the Go Karts at Sonny’s Place in Sommers.
5. Splash in the tidal pools at Harvey’s Beach in Old Saybrook.
6. Ride the Skyfari to get a bird’s eye view of all the wildlife at Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, MA.
7. Enjoy toppings and trains (of the real and model varieties) at Pizza Works in Old Saybrook.
8. Go retro at a family-friendly movie at the Southington Drive-In.
9. Explore the East Coast Greenway and stop for some playtime at Charter Oak Park Playground in Manchester.
10. Pet the chickens and check out the Children’s Garden at Open Farm Day at Common Ground in New Haven
11. Chug over to Thomas Land in Carver, MA.
12. Grow a green thumb at Heirloom Market in Wethersfield.
13. Stroll the boardwalk at Ocean Beach Park in New London.
15. Be part of a century-old tradition when you indulge in your favorite summer foods at Harry’s Place in Colchester.
16. Hunt for ocean treasures at East Beach after visiting the Nature Center at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
17. Keep your cool on the shady greens of Hidden Valley Miniature Golf in Southington.
18. Encounter dozens of life-sized dinos along the nature trail at The Dinosaur Place in Montville.
19. Discover perfectly pint-sized hikes (and lots of frogs!) along the trails at the Connecticut Audubon Society in Glastonbury. (Post coming soon!)
21. Find out what happens when technology meets playscape at Butternut Hollow Park in Middletown (hint: there’s an app for that!).
24. Dig in the animated sandbox at Imagine Nation in Bristol.
25. Ride the historic trolley cars at the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor.
26. Scale the climbing walls and fly on the Sky Rider at Urban Air Adventure Park in Orange.
27. Spend a day by the shore at Hole in the Wall Beach in Niantic.
28. Discover the beautiful (and easily accessible) waterfall at Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middletown.
29. Get creative with your kiddos at Glazed Pottery Painting & Art Studio in Glastonbury.
30. Have a family game day at Nomad’s Adventure Quest in South Windsor.
31. Pick delicious fruit (and pick up some delicious baked goods) at Dondero Orchards in Glastonbury.
32. Plan a playdate at Jonathan’s Dream playground in West Hartford.
33. Grab a sweet treat at the Durham Dari Serv, one of the oldest ice cream stands in the state.
35. Have a life-sized LEGO adventure at LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Westchester, NY.
36. Feed the friendly animals at Manfredi Farms in Westerly, RI.
37. Bring your camera and take some family photos in the gorgeous gardens at Wickham Park in Manchester.
38. Take a dip at Stratton Brook State Park in Simsbury.
39. Sample an ice flight at Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard in Rocky Hill (and other locations).
40. See thousands of butterflies at Magic Wings in South Deerfield, MA.
41. Picnic at Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam.
42. Beat the heat with indoor activities at Lessard Lanes in Plainville.
43. Conquer the world’s largest indoor ropes course at IT Adventure Ropes Course in New Haven.
44. Get in a New York state of mind with lunch at the famous Rein’s Deli in Vernon.
45. Introduce your kiddos (and yourself!) to a lifelong skill at Hartford Stitch in West Hartford.
46. Have a playdate at the hayloft playscape then pick-your-own fruit at March Farm in Bethlehem.
47. Ride bikes or stroll along the Air Line State Park Trail in Hebron and nearby areas.
48. Enjoy the beach and let the kids be entertained by passing trains at Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme.
49. Devour a lobster roll at Lobster Landing in Clinton.
50. Climb the extremely tall tower at Pease Place Playground in Woodbridge.
Don’t forget to let us know about your summer adventures with the hashtag #OAAMSummer on Facebook and Instagram!
Pssst! Love exploring but feel like your summer could use a little more structure? Check out these amazing summer camp programs for kids ages 3 and up from our sponsors, the Mandell JCC and Renbrook School Summer Adventure.
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