There’s nothing worse than a rainy day when you’re a kid: Stuck inside all day, the usual toys and games just don’t seem as appealing. And what’s worse, all of that pent-up kid energy eventually either turns into a fight between siblings or a struggle when it comes time to go to bed.
Here are 15 places that you can take your kids on the next rainy day to keep them entertained. There are options for hands-on learning, physical activity, and unique experiences that will last a lifetime.
For Hands-on Learning Fun
1) Peabody Museum of Natural History
If you grew up in Connecticut, then the Peabody in New Haven was most likely a part of your childhood. Between class trips, family outings, and interest alone, I must have visited the museum at least 12 times in my life, and I learn something new every time.
With everything from dinosaurs to cultural artifacts from around the world to animal exhibits (remember the dodo bird?) and a never-ending schedule of rotating exhibits, there’s something here to wonder and amaze children (and adults) of all ages.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am–5pm, and Sunday from Noon to 5pm. Admission is free for children under 3, $6.00 for children ages 3-18, $13.00 for adults, and $9.00 for seniors (ages 65+).
2) New England Air Museum
The New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks was another favorite from my childhood. Its collection boasts over 100 aircrafts ranging from early flying machines to supersonic jets, with special exhibits dedicated to various innovators including the Wright Brothers.
A visit to this museum makes for the perfect rainy day activity for children amazed by science, engineering, and the wonder of flying. I visited a number of times as a Cub Scout and always came away loving the time I had spent there.
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am–5pm, except for on holidays. Admission is free for children under 3, $7.00 for children ages 4-11, $12.50 for those 12 and older, and $11.50 for seniors (ages 65+). Veterans receive a 10% discount, and active members of the military receive a 20% discount.
3) Railroad Museum of New England
The Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston is home to a wide collection of historically significant railroad equipment—including trains!—that are representative of the industry in New England, including diesel locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars, and cabooses from all eras.
You and your kids can learn all about the history of locomotion while you ride aboard a restored train and see how people of bygone times used to get around.
The museum is only open when they have events going on, which tends to be on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, both during the day and night. You can check the schedule of events for more information about upcoming features and prices.
4) CT 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+).
5) Barker Character, Comic, and Cartoon Museum
The one-of-a-kind Barker Character, Comic, and Cartoon Museum in Cheshire is home to more than 80,000 antique toys and collectibles related to cartoon characters and comics. Collections include a set of the earliest “automaton” toys, dedicated displays to Popeye and Betty Boop, Looney Toons, Star Wars, the early days of Disney, and even The Beatles.
Pose with a larger-than-life display of the Simpsons family sitting on their iconic couch, and stroll through the museum with your kids to relive a bit of your childhood as you see the toys you used to play with—or the ones you always wanted, but could never have.
The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon–4pm. Admission is free for children under 3, $3.00 for children ages 4-17, $5.00 for adults, and $4.00 for seniors (ages 65+).
For Active Kids
6) Soarin’ Indoors
Soarin’ Indoors in Manchester is an aerial adventure center for kids. This mega-sized obstacle course features challenges of balance and skill including rope bridges, climbing cargo nets, zip lines, and much more—perfect for kids who like to stay active (and for parents who grew up watching Legends of the Hidden Temple).
The facilities are split into 2 courses: a low course (2.5 feet off the ground) and a high course (12 feet off the ground) meaning that adults too can challenge themselves. Everyone is safely harnessed for ease of mind.
The course is open Monday, Wednesday through Saturday from 10am–8pm, and Sunday from 11am–6pm (closed Tuesdays). Admission is $13.95 for children under 13 and $18.95 for anyone 13 and up.
7) Prime Climb
Prime Climb in New Haven is a great way to sneak some physical activity into your kid’s rainy day without them realizing—they’ll be having too much fun climbing walls, nets, and other obstacles to notice that they’re working up a sweat.
If you’re worried that your kids might not have the experience for something like this, don’t worry: everyone is safely harnessed in, and the Mountain Fun course is designed to be kid-friendly.
The kids climbing facilities are open Monday 4pm–8pm, Tuesday 2pm–7pm, Wednesday through Friday 2pm–8pm, Saturday from noon–8pm, and Sunday from noon–6pm. One hour of kids climbing costs $10 on Monday, and $20 every other day of the week, along with $5 for equipment rental.
8) Nomads AdventureQuest
Nomads AdventureQuest in South Windsor, quite frankly, a free-for-all of kid-friendly fun. With an arcade full of games, a billiards room, black-light mini golf, laser tag, bumper cars, rock climbing, bowling, and more, you can keep your kids busy for hours on end. They’ve even got built-in food options, making it easy to spend your time having fun instead of searching for something that everyone will want to eat.
I’ve been here as a kid and an adult, and I can confidently say that it was loads of fun both times that I went. Because the facilities are so large, this might be a better trip for a group of kids that all know each other (friends, cousins, etc.). Otherwise, it may be possible for the kids to be left out of group activities if you’re unlucky enough to have gone on the same day as a group of bad apples.
Nomads is open Monday through Thursday from 4pm–10pm, Friday from 4pm–midnight, Saturday from 10am–midnight, and Sunday from 10am–10pm. Costs are dependent upon which activities you decide to do.
9) On Track Karting
On Track Karting in Brookfield and Wallingford is the perfect indoor go kart experience for young adrenaline junkies. Kids 7 to 14 can participate in the “Junior Karting” experience, which features karts that top out at 25mph and adjustable seating for ease of use. A lot of parents might be nervous about this kind of activity for young kids, but it does make for a fun-filled day for kids (and adults) of all ages.
This attraction tends to be a bit pricy—at $20 per race, it adds up fast, so it definitely isn’t an everyday thing. Both the Wallingford and Brookfield locations are open Monday through Thursday from 4pm–10pm, Friday and Saturday from noon–11pm, and Sunday from noon–8pm.
10) Launch Trampoline Park
Launch Trampoline Park in Milford and Hartford is another great way to spend a rainy day while also burning through some of your kids’ pent up energy. With more than 12,000 feet of connected trampolines (forming one gigantic surface to play on), angled trampoline walls to bounce off of, and other indoor sports, it’s easy to spend an entire day here waiting for the rainclouds to pass.
The Milford Launch is open Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3:30pm–8pm, Friday from 3:30pm–10pm, Saturday from 10am–10pm, and Sunday from 11am–7pm. They are closed on Tuesday. Costs are $9 for 30 minutes of jumping, $15 for 1 hour, $20 for 1.5 hours, and $24 for 2 hours. Kids 4 years and younger get 1 hour of jumping for $10.
The Hartford Launch is open Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3:30pm–8pm, Friday morning from 10am–noon for toddler time and then again in the afternoon from 3:30pm–9pm, Saturday from 10am–9pm, and Sunday from 10am–7pm. They are closed on Tuesday. Costs are $8 for 30 minutes of jumping, $14 for 1 hour, and $10 for each additional hour. Kids 2 years and younger get to jump free with a paid parent.
For Lasting Memories
11) Escape New Haven
Escape New Haven is bound to be something that your kids remember for years to come. The premise is simple: You and your friends are trapped. (Depending on the scenario you are playing, it could be in an Art Gallery, a Space Station, a Crypt, or something else). You need to use your brain to decipher clues, break riddles, work creatively, and find your way out.
The scenarios are switched out a couple of times a year so that new ones can be created, which makes this a must-repeat activity, whether with your kids or alone. But I will say from experience that the scenarios can be a bit tricky, even for adults. The organizers suggest that you call ahead and ask them which scenarios are best suited for children, since some of the themes can get a bit dark (like The Crypt). They assured me, though, that teens, tweens, and children as young as 10 have been able to participate in all of the scenarios without worry.
Hours vary by day, so you should go online and book some time before heading down. Cost to play through a scenario is $22 for children between the ages of 10 and 17, and $26 for adults 18 and older. Children younger than 10 are not allowed to participate.
12) The Bushnell
A trip to The Bushnell Theatre in Hartford is a great way to spend a rainy weekend day. I firmly believe that no Connecticut childhood is complete without at least one trip to the theatre, and there are so many options for what you can bring your kids to see. There’s everything from family-friendly fun (including shows for younger children and older kids alike), the Hartford Symphony, film showings, and musicals. Teens and older kids would likely get a kick out of the shows oriented more towards adults, for which there are plenty.
Times and dates vary by month, with some shows available during the week, but most weekends have a number of shows to choose from. The box office has told me that most shows don’t sell out, which means that even if you decide you want to go on the day of the show (for example, on a dreary rainy day) you shouldn’t have trouble finding something that’s available. Kids shows, they told me, rarely sell out.
Times and ticket costs vary depending on the show, so just check the schedule online or call the box office (860-987-5900) before going to see what shows are available and what tickets would cost.
13) Discovery Depot at The Dinosaur Place
Discovery Depot at The Dinosaur Place in Montville, CT, will turn any rainy day into an exciting day full of dinosaurs. Spend time digging for real gems in a candle-lit “silver mine,” pan for fool’s gold as you learn about the California Gold Rush, dust sand and dirt off of a fossil pit, watch geodes being cut right before your eyes, and make some beautiful sand art, spin art, or glitter tattoos at the “Trading Post.”
The best part is, you get to keep any gems, or fool’s gold that you find, and if you participate in the fossil dig, you can take home an authentic fossil kit with you when you leave. This was something that I always wanted to do when I was little, and never got to, so it’s my mission to make sure that parents understand that it is a.) educational, b.) fun, and c.) comes with built-in souvenirs. It’s a win-win on all counts!
Discovery Depot is open weekends year-round from 10am–5pm (though double check on holidays) and is all located indoors, making it the perfect rainy day excursion. Each activity has its own price: $9.49 to pan for gold, $12.99 to dig for gems, and $12.99 to dig for fossils. It’s all reasonably priced, and if you’re going to opt for all three anyway then just but the package for $30.00 and save yourself five bucks.
14) Beardsley Zoo
I know what you’re thinking: Why on earth would I go to the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport of all places on a rainy day? Well, for a couple of reasons. For starters. The zoo is open rain or shine for 262 days of the year, whether or not any visitors actually show up to see the animals. That means that if you’re willing to brave the rain (just wear a raincoat!) then you and your young’uns will be treated to a zoo that is practically empty—just you and the animals.
And the other reason is that, if you don’t want to really brave the weather, you can just stick to the different buildings to keep yourself dry while keeping your kids entertained (just bring an umbrella for walking between buildings). There’s a greenhouse, a wolf observation facility, the Rainforest Building, Reptile House, Bug House, Aviary, and more. Why deal with lines on a day with beautiful weather when you can have the whole zoo to yourself just because of a little rain?
The zoo is open daily from 9am–4pm and is closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The Rainforest Building is open 10:30am–3:30pm. Admission is free for children under 3, $12.00 for children 3 to 11, $15.00 for adults ages 12 and older, and $11.00 for seniors (62+).
15) Maritime Aquarium
The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk was one of my favorite haunts as a child, and is still one of my favorite trips to take as an adult. Between the freakish deep-sea jellyfish and other critters, the daily IMAX showings, and the touch-tank full of stingrays, there’s enough for you to do that you can spend the whole day here without getting bored.
The sharks are fed daily at 10:45am, and the seals are fed twice daily, at 11:45am and again at 1:45am (if you used to go to the aquarium as a child, you’ll be pleased to know that the seals here are long-lived; some of them are the same seals I used to see when I went as a kid).
The aquarium is open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, from 10am–5pm. Admission is free for children under 3, $15.95 for children ages 3 to 12, $20.95 for children ages 13 to 17, $22.95 for adults 17 and older, and $20.95 for seniors (65+).