Family Fun

5 Hands-on CT Museums for Kids

Hands-on learning at the CT Science Center
Written by Timothy Stobierski

Now that the cold weather is here to stay and the days are starting to get wet and gloomy, parents are looking for activities that will keep their kids busy without having to spend time outside in the rain and snow. This is where museums come to the rescue!

Now that the cold weather is here to stay and the days are starting to get wet and gloomy, parents are looking for activities that will keep their kids busy without having to spend time outside in the rain and snow. This is where museums come to the rescue!

The museum world has changed a lot since we were kids. Gone are the dusty old displays and docents walking around saying “Shh!” Today’s kids have museums specifically tailored to their needs, with hands-on exhibits that allow them to interact with various subject matters. The kids love it because they’re having fun, but the parents love it because they’re learning.

Here are 5 Connecticut museums with the best hand-on attractions for kids.

1) Imagine Nation

Imagine Nation in Bristol is a unique hands-on museum and early learning center for kids. It consists of 3 floors broken into 12 different “Museum Studios,” which focus on topics including Theatre, Art, Farm to Table, Design and Engineering, Light Reflection & Technology, Multicultural Experience, Outdoor Learning, Science and Energy, Water, Wellness, and Wildlife.

The Museum Studios are open Wednesday through Saturday from 9:30am–5pm and cost $10 per person (including parents). Children under 1 year of age are allowed in free.

2) Discovery Museum and Planetarium

The Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport features exhibits designed around interaction and hands-on learning. With 3 floors of exhibits on topics ranging from physics to energy to aerospace, technology, and the stars, there’s something here to engage children of all age levels.

The museum regularly hosts science-based events that allow for deeper dives into certain topics.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am–5pm. Admission is free for children under 2, $8 for children ages 2-17, and $10 for adults.

3) Connecticut Science Center

The Connecticut Science Center in Hartford is every science nerd’s dream come true: it boasts more than 165 hands-on exhibits for children to learn through interaction.

Some exhibits cater specifically to children under 7, where they can experiment with water, legos, colored balls, and various soft-surface items. Others are better suited for older children and explore themes like motion, sight and sound, space, health, sports, and so much more. Adults too will learn from some of their exhibits, like this one featuring 40 of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions brought to life.

The center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am–5pm. Admission is free for children under 3, $14.95 for children ages 3-17, $21.95 for adults, and $19.95 for seniors (ages 65+).

4) KidCity Museum

KidCity in Middletown caters to children ages 1–7. The exhibits are handmade by local artists and centered around different themes including an interactive simulated fishing pond, a space-age roadtrip, a miniature medieval village. Toddlers under 2 can join in the fun at the Toddler Sea Caves, where they can wave scarves to mimic the ocean waves and dance with mermaids.

The museum is open Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday from 11am–5pm and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9am–5pm. Admission is $9 per person (adults and children); children under 1 are allowed in for free.

5) The Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum in West Hartford has a mission of filling children with a love and understanding for science and nature.

Some of the many exhibits they boast include: an animal sanctuary where children can see critters of all kinds up close and personal; Conny the Whale, a 60-foot sperm whale replica (going on 40 years old!); Now Eye See It, where children will learn all about the colors that we can see, and those we can’t; and others focused on electricity, engineering, and space. A number of animal exhibits like Turtle Town, Lizard Lair, and Winged Wonders makes this an exceptional cross between a museum and a zoo.

The center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9am–4pm and Sunday from 11am–4pm. Admission is free for children under 2, $13.75 for children ages 2-12, $14.75 for anyone over 12, and $13.75 for seniors (ages 63+).

About the author

Timothy Stobierski

Tim Stobierski is a Connecticut native and a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a number of publishers including Taunton, Abrams, and Yale University Press. He has written for Grow Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Hartford Courant, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other publications. His first book of poetry, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer was published in 2012 by River Otter Press.

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