Do your kids love learning about animals? Are you looking for somewhere that they can meet wild animals, farm animals, or even prehistoric ones? Below is a list of some of our favorite places to explore around Connecticut.
Action Wildlife Foundation: Goshen, CT
This is a petting zoo and farm like no other. You can drive your car through the park, stopping to get out and see and feed exotic animals like zebras and bison up close. There are some more regular farm animals to see too, including a barn to feed goats and sheep. Near the entrance is a big playground and picnic area for kids to run around play, so pack your lunch and make it a day trip!
Admission: Adults $10, Children $8, Children under 4 FREE
Connecticut Audubon Society: Various locations
There are several places in CT that you can visit, but one of our favorites is still the Fairfield Audubon Society on Burr Street in Fairfield. Inside, you can look at animals from cockroaches to snakes and turtles, and outside is a rescue area for birds of prey. In addition, there are walking trails of varying distances where you can explore on your own. Check the website as there are opportunities for toddler classes, encounter programs, and even camps in the summer for avid nature and animal lovers. Another Audubon site worth visiting is The Coastal Center at Milford Point. It’s much smaller, but great for toddlers as it includes a play area next to a few animal exhibits.
Admission: Free with Suggested Donation
The Beardsley Zoo: Bridgeport, CT
This local zoo continues to grow and add exhibits, making it a great spot to visit a wide variety of animals in a very manageable setting. Exhibits include wolves, anteaters, alligators, otters, farm animals, prairie dogs, an Amazon animal area, and the zoo’s signature animal: tigers! (Visit now to see 2 baby tigers!). There is a spot with plenty of tables near a playground, so pack your own lunch or grab something at the café. There is also a carousel that runs during the day which is always a hit with the kids. This is one of our favorites to visit again and again. If you buy a family membership, it easily pays for itself in just a few visits.
Admission: Adults (over 12) $15, Children (3-11) $12, Children under 3 FREE
The Dinosaur Place: Montville, CT
Technically, this spot doesn’t include live animals, but it is about as close as you will get to ever seeing a real dinosaur. This destination is a longer drive (about an hour and 15 minutes from Fairfield), but it is DEFINITELY worth the trip. The 45 impressive, life-sized dinosaurs scattered throughout the park are amazing. You can walk an easy 1.5 mile loop and meet a variety of dinosaurs along the way as well as pass a smoking volcano. Other exhibits include a large fenced maze that you can escape through a T. Rex slide, at T. Rex Tower Playscape including two obstacle filled towers and zipline, a huge playground area, bouncy tent, and in summer, the biggest splashpad in New England. This is one of our absolute favorite summer destinations. Definitely check it out!
Admission: Varies according to season, but in peak summer Adults $23.99, Children over 2 $20.99
Earthplace: Westport, CT
This destination is great for the 5 and under set. There are daily animal feedings and animal reading/encounters during the week. Inside is a room filled with amphibians, lizards, bunnies, and birds. Outside is a birds of prey exhibit. There is also a large indoor play area, with toys and exhibits geared to teach children animals and their habitats. This is a great spot to visit on a rainy morning.
Admission: Adults $7, Children over one $5
The Maritime Aquarium: Norwalk CT
This is a great rainy day destination. Highlights include a shark and ray touch-tank, a HUGE shark tank, a touch a jellyfish exhibit, a coastal Connecticut touch tank, and IMAX theater. We have visited many aquariums, and this one remains one of our favorites. There is also an expanded indoor play area for kids 5 and under that need a few minutes to run around. Again, if you think you will visit a few times during the year, a family membership could end up saving you money.
Admission: Adult (13- 64) $24.95, Children (3-12) $17.95, Seniors (64+) $22.99
Silverman’s Farm: Easton, CT
This petting zoo is a great size for a morning or afternoon trip. When you enter the gated area, you can purchase food to feed goats, llamas, cows, chickens, and pigs. There is a wooden train set that kids can play on and a tractor slide, as well as a small maze. Fun for the younger set, this farm also has peach-picking in summer and apple-picking in the Fall.
There is an admission fee for adults and children.
Stamford Museum and Nature Center: Stamford, CT
This beautiful farm has a great variety of domestic animals for kids to visit, a planetarium, museum with rotating exhibits (the LEGO exhibit was one of our favorites), and a large playground with a HUGE slide, wooden “nest” viewing areas, and sand box. Walking trails through the woods include a wooden walking trail that is great for stroller or handicapped access. There are so many fun events going on here throughout the year, so definitely check out the website before you visit.
Admission: Adults $10, Children $5, Children 3 and under FREE