Do your kids love learning about animals? Are you looking for a place where they can meet wild animals, farm animals, or even prehistoric ones? Below is a list 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 more regular farm animals to see, including a barn to feed goats and sheep. Near the entrance is a big playground and picnic area for kids to run around and play, so pack your lunch and make it a day trip!
Ambler Farm: Wilton, CT
This beautiful farm in Wilton, surrounded by historic buildings, is a great place to visit or participate in its many learning programs. Come see the farm animals, visit the farm stand on select Saturdays, roam the beautiful gardens, or participate in learning programs throughout the year. There is also a weekly farm stand to purchase fresh veggies, strawberry plants, and maple syrup.
Blue Button Farm: Easton, CT
If you have a group that wants to visit, you can plan a private event with this local farm. For $10 per person/hour, you can participate in a “pet and play,” where you get to visit and feed the farm animals, or a “nature goat walk,” where you go on a 0.6-mile hike.
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, including a play area next to a few animal exhibits.
The Beardsley Zoo: Bridgeport, CT
This local zoo continues to grow and add exhibits, making it a great spot to visit various animals in a very manageable setting. Exhibitions include wolves, anteaters, alligators, otters, farm animals, prairie dogs, an Amazon animal area, and the zoo’s signature animal – tigers! There is a spot with plenty of tables near a playground, so pack your own lunch or grab something at the café. A carousel runs during the day, which is always a hit with the kids. The Glow Wild Lantern Festival is now back through December 2, Thursdays through Sundays from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Featuring 53 large-scaled illuminated displays and hundreds of beautiful individual and interactive lanterns, this family-friendly event is one not to be missed! Tickets must be purchased online before visiting.
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, but it is 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 a zipline, a huge playground area, a bouncy tent, and in summer, the biggest splash pad in New England.
Earthplace: Westport, CT
This destination is great for the five 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 the birds of prey exhibit and different hiking loops. There is also a large indoor play area with toys and exhibits geared to teach children about animals and their habitats (check the website for hours as the indoor area may be closed).
The Maritime Aquarium: Norwalk, CT
This is a great rainy-day destination, and the Maritime Aquarium has made some big changes if you haven’t been in a while! Highlights include a shark and ray touch tank, a reimagined seal area, a HUGE shark tank, a touch a jellyfish exhibit, a coastal Connecticut touch tank, and a 4D theater. We have visited many aquariums, and this one remains one of our favorites. A family membership could save you money if you think you will visit a few times during the year.
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, a tractor slide, and a small maze. Fun for the younger set, this farm also has peach-picking in summer and apple-picking in the fall. Be sure to wear farm-appropriate footwear!
Stamford Museum and Nature Center: Stamford, CT
This beautiful farm has many domestic animals for kids to visit and a large playground with a HUGE slide, wooden “nest” viewing areas, and a sandbox. Walking trails through the woods include a wooden walking trail that is great for stroller or handicapped access. So many fun events happen here throughout the year, so check out the website before you visit.
Goldilocks Farm Sanctuary: Southport, CT
This location offers farm visits by appointment only. This farm rescues animals that have been neglected or abandoned and gives them a second chance at life. In addition to farm visits, they offer backyard birthday parties and farm-to-school visits. They are happy to help celebrate any other milestone that may be upcoming! They have mini ponies, horses, Shetland sheep, bunnies, chickens, Alpaca, Guinea pigs, and goats!