Day Trip Ideas for Families


day trip ideasAs the weather warms up for the summer season, many families are ready to explore and plan trips. This is especially pertinent this year in light of the fact that businesses are opening their doors, and restrictions are relaxing. While many are planning trips to far destinations, I decided to focus on quick getaways. 

Day trips are a great way to spend quality time as a family before the busy summer season sets in with camps and other family trips.

Since we have a week between the end of school and the start of sleep away and other camps, I want to plan a least a few days of fun with my kids. Here are some ideas.

Most are outside of Fairfield County but easy to navigate as day trips within Connecticut or New York. Some of these places we have been to before, but some are new to us.

I hope this list gives you some ideas for you and your families. I included activities and day trips for various ages since I have an 11, 9, and 4-year-old:

1. Mystic Aquarium: Fun for all ages; this is a place we have always wanted to go to but have not found the time. Especially interesting to us are the animal encounter program and Marine Theater with sea lions; sharks, African penguins, seals, and whales are other highlights.

2. Yale University Art Gallery: Now that my daughters are a bit older and more mature, they will appreciate a day at an art museum. Only about an hour drive for some great culture and a learning experience for all. The gallery is open to the public on Fridays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Highlights for us as we explore the website are the Modern European Art collection and Japanese Woodblock Prints.

3. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art: Located in Hartford, this is a further drive but looks to be well worth the trip. Some exhibits open for viewing at the time of this writing include contemporary art; “A Remarkable Friendship” (Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril); Design in the American Home 1650-1850; and “Reflections: 48th Annual Hartford Youth Art Renaissance” digital exhibition.

4. Alice in the Village Tea Room: My daughters and I took a trip here a few years ago for late afternoon tea and dessert in an Alice and Wonderland-themed tea room and gift store. We had so much fun we have often spoken about returning. Located in Mystic, Connecticut, you can combine this with the aquarium and make a full day of it. Reservations are required online in advance as the tea room is currently seating at fifty percent capacity.

5. Nature’s Art Village/The Dinosaur Place: Geared toward my younger (4-year-old) son; however, I think my daughters will have a great time as well. This is a 60-acre outdoor adventure park which includes over fifty life-sized dinosaurs that you view while walking nature trails. A great activity to be outdoors for the day. There are no advance tickets and no reservations required. Other attractions include an outdoor maze, playground, and splash pad. Check the website for hours for the above-listed activities. My son loves dinosaurs, and while we have not visited yet, it has been on our list for quite some time.

6. Connecticut Air and Space Center: Again, this is something my son will be extra excited about, and while it might not be my daughters’ first choice, I think they will enjoy it. It is located in Stratford, Connecticut, and includes various aircraft, helicopters, and vehicles detailed and listed on their website.

7. Railroad Museum of New England: My daughters may have little interest, but my son will be in his element. He is a lover of trains, so this looks like it’s worth a trip to check in out with him. Located in Thomaston, Connecticut, and will reopen in July 2021. The website lists several restaurants in the area and other local attractions to make it a full day trip experience.

8. Hudson Valley trip at Cold Spring, New York: One of our favorite towns to venture out to when we lived in New York City as it is accessible by train, it has continued to be a favorite spot to occasionally visit for day trips. It is a charming small town with great shops, restaurants, and ice cream. It is also has hiking trails that we can do as a family with great views.

9. New York City Central Park Zoo or Bronx Zoo: Sometimes, we love to plan a trip into the city with the kids, but find it works best for us if we have a plan to be outdoors. The zoos offer a full-day experience, and our youngest still gets very excited about seeing all of the animals.

10. New York Botanical Garden: Another trip to the city without having to drive too far in, and it allows for outdoor fun for the whole family. Currently, there is a sculpture exhibit by a contemporary Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusma. There are many excellent restaurants on Arthur Avenue nearby to enjoy lunch or dinner.

While we will not have time to explore all of the above places this summer, we are so grateful to have time to plan a few day trips as a family and some quality time together.

What are your favorite day trip destinations?


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