The warm weather’s here and it’s the perfect time for a day trip. If you want to visit some exciting places and don’t mind traveling a bit, put these Connecticut destinations on your To-Do list:
PEZ Candy Inc.
35 Prindle Hill Road, Orange
The world’s largest Pez dispenser is on display at the Pez Visitor Center (www.pez.com/visit_us). Learn about the “interactive candy,” a mainstay of American pop culture since 1927, as you take a self-guided tour of the colorful 4,000+-square-feet of space that houses the largest, most comprehensive collection of PEZ memorabilia in the world. On weekdays, through factory windows and a video monitor, you can watch the candy and dispensers being made. The center offers fun activities, including a touch-screen PEZ trivia game, an interactive historical timeline, and a factory store. Receive a free Pez souvenir lanyard with paid admission.
Danbury Railway Museum
120 White Street, Danbury
All aboard! Trains are the highlight at the Danbury Railway Museum (www.Danbury.org/drm). On weekends, April through November, hop on a vintage train for a 20-minute tour of the 10-acre railyard. Also includes a ride on the original New Haven operating turntable which is over 90′ long. Historic 1903 downtown railway station features restored trains, over 70 pieces of antiques railroad equipment and industry artifacts, and model trains. Museum also has four different interactive model train layouts and a gift shop. The station and turntable are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
New England Air Museum
36 Perimeter Road, Windsor Locks
Explore the history and technology of aviation, from pioneering balloons and early flying machines to the jet age and beyond at the New England Air Museum (www.neam.org), the largest aircraft museum in New England. Three large hangars are filled with aircraft, exhibits and artifacts in addition to outdoor displays. The museum offers hands-on, climb-aboard experiences, flight science demonstrations and build-and-fly activities. Take control of one of the many flight simulators, or climb into an actual aircraft cockpit. For younger children, there’s a flightgear dress-up area, coloring tables, scavenger hunts, and pedal powered bi-planes. It’s all about adventure, discovery and thrill of flight!
Flanders Nature Center and Land Trust
5 Church Hill Road, Woodbury
Kids can experience nature in all its glory. Flanders’ Van Vleck Farm Sanctuary, its main campus in Woodbury, as well as several other area nature preserves under its management, are open to the public for hiking and outdoor recreation opportunities at no charge from dawn to dusk. Family-friendly trails and a variety of picturesque surroundings make them very popular community spots. Find trail maps, information on their new Letterboxing hiking series, and a schedule of children’s environmental programs at www.flandersnature.org.
New England Carousel Museum
95 Riverside Avenue, Bristol
Learn about the fascinating art and history of the carousel through interactive exhibits and demonstrations at the New England Carousel Museum (www.thecarouselmuseum.org), a 33,000-square-foot restored hosiery factory. It is also home to the Bushnell Park Carousel. For $1.00, take a 3½-minute ride on a restored 1914 vintage carousel on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is only one of three remaining carousels in the world made by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein, it features 48 hand-carved, brightly-painted wooden horses and two chariots. A Wurlitzer band organ plays old-time classics. Watch a master carver and painter at work; the restoration workshop is open to the public by appointment.
It is also home to the Museum of Fire History, filled with antique fire-fighting items. Also on the premises is a small Museum of Greek Culture, the Glo Sessions Fine Art Gallery, a children’s craft center, and a gift shop.
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo
1875 Noble Ave, Bridgeport
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is one of Connecticut’s top family attractions. Spend an hour or the whole day and see more than 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Come learn about our many endangered and threatened species, which include the Amur (Siberian) tiger, Andean condor, Ocelot, Red wolf, Maned wolf, Giant Anteater and Golden lion tamarin. Grab a bite at the Peacock Café, enjoy an outdoor lunch in the Picnic Grove and take a ride on our colorful carousel.