Finding the Fun

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The day trip is a summertime institution that dawns with hope and high spirits and ends, if all goes well, with satisfaction, a pleasant sense of fatigue and sticky hands from the after-dinner ice cream stop. The “all goes well” part is where we step in. With school bells about to toll their last, this guide advises you on where to go and what to do at destinations that require no more than two hours in the car. We also dispense sage advice on your closest, best vendors of ice cream, fried clams, pizza and other kid-friendly fare. It’s summer — get out there and enjoy!


Thrills and Spills

Roller Coasters, River Rafting and Other Ways to Make a Splash

Farmington River Tubing, New Hartford
ages: 10 and older, for good swimmers over 4-feet, 5-inches tall and 50 pounds
Most of the 2.5-mile ride is a lazy float but three sets of rapids will send you spinning (with lifeguards posted where the water is whitest). There’s just one outfitter, Farmington River Tubing, dispensing the big yellow tubes, along with rules and waivers (visit the website so you go prepared). After that, you and your kids are on the river for a couple of hours, so wear sunscreen and a hat.
Prices: $20 per person on weekends and holidays; $18 on weekdays (cash only). (Follow signs to the Satan’s Kingdom State Recreation Area, off Route 44; the tubing outfitter sits in the parking lot; 860-693-6465;

Greenwich Community Sailing, Greenwich
all ages
Get out and enjoy the Sound for the day on your choice of boat — from ocean kayaks to canoes to several kinds of catamarans. Prices start at $18 per hour for a kayak and up to $60 per hour for the super-spiffy Vanguard Nomad that holds five. Summertime brings a full schedule of instructional programs for adults and juniors. See website for class descriptions and schedules. (Old Greenwich Yacht Club;

Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison
all ages
A two-mile-long sandy beach, wooden boardwalks, clear, cool water — and bathrooms! What more could you ask for in a Sound beach? This 1,100-acre shoreline park even maintains campsites for families who aren’t ready to leave after the sun sets over the Sound
(extra fee assessed).
Admission: $10 on weekends for cars registered in the state of Connecticut; $15 for out of state. (I-95 North to exit 62, then follow signs; 245-2785;

Hot-Air Ballooning, Southington

ages: at your discretion
Got an urge to splurge? At $325 per person, ballooning does deflate your bank account, but your spirits will soar, we promise. The official website for Connecticut Tourism recommends a dozen companies (go to but highfliers we know, such as Berkshire Balloons in Southington, offer sunrise flights over the Valley. Call to reserve one to two weeks in advance. Cost: $325 per person (cash only), for balloons holding four to six passengers; private balloons also available. The office is based in Southington, with launch sites varying, depending on flight-day weather. (250-8441;

Lake Compounce, Bristol
all ages
Parents actually love Compounce because it’s a pretty place — superclean and landscaped, with charming Victorian-era storefronts for shops and arcades. Kids head straight to Boulderdash, a wooden roller coaster that makes a mad and clattering dash through the woods that leaves some parents weak of leg and stomach. Cooler still are the rides and slides in the water park, which includes Clipper Cove, famous for its overhead 300-gallon bucket of water that dumps its load periodically. Parking: $6; Admission: $34.99 if you’re 52 inches or taller; $25.99 for shorter people; $17.99 for those 60 years and older; children under 3 years are free. Includes free soda. (Route 229; 860-583-3300;

Sheffield Island, Norwalk
all ages
For an easy, breezy way to spend an afternoon on the Sound, hop the ferry at the Seaport Dock adjacent to the Maritime Aquarium in South Norwalk. Arrive a half hour before sailtime, as seating is first come, first serve (except for groups of ten or more). The ride delivers you to the island — with nature trails for rambling and a charming lighthouse to climb. Inquire about Thursday dinner on the island, featuring lobsters, clams and mussels. Prices: $20, adults; $12, children ages 4 to 12; $5 for children 3 and under; dinner is $45 per person. (Corner of Washington and North Water Streets in South Norwalk; 838-9444;

Whitewater Rafting, West Cornwall
all ages
There’s rafting to be had all along the Housatonic River, but for ease and beauty, nobody beats Clarke Outdoor Sports in Cornwall, which rents canoes, rafts, kayaks and the hybrid sit-yak. Call in advance to reserve your preferred vessel (though you may luck into something on a same-day basis). Clarke hauls you and your stuff upriver in a van, then picks you up some ten miles downstream.
Prices: $27, adults on weekends, $24 weekdays; $20, 15 years and younger on weekends; $17 weekdays; instruction and guided tours available. (163 Route 7; 860-672-6365;
While you’re there: Route 7 runs through the village of Kent, some fifteen miles south of Clarke Outdoor Sports, which makes for a perfect stop for sustenance on your way home. There’s a good bakery and kiddie candy store, but drive a block further south to find Belgique Patisserie et Chocolatier in a big yellow house, featuring fabulous truffles, tarts, ice cream and more. (Corner of Route 7 and Route 341, 860-927-3681)

{ Outside of Connecticut }

Six Flags, Springfield, Massachusetts
all ages
Our closest, biggest theme park, Six Flags makes for a long (and exhausting) day but, to be honest, what self-respecting venue of this ilk doesn’t? It’s home to the Superman Ride of Steel and something called The Mind Eraser, which we didn’t dare get
on (if you do, call and tell us all about it). Admission: $41.99 if you’re 54 inches or taller; $31 for shorter people; children under two years are free. Season passes are available for $74.99. (Route 159, with its exit marked off I-91; 413-786-9300;


Greenwich Agenda

  • Bach With Verse

     @ First Presbyterian Church Greenwich

    BAch With Verse concert event on Sun., Sept. 14 at 4pm with recception to follow at the First Presbyterian Church, Greenwich. Hour-long concet...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • Information Fair

     @ YMCA

    Our Annual Information Fair - This event showcases non profits , community businesses, schools and  services in the Greenwich...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • Isaia Fall Trunk Show

     @ Richards

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Nam Cho Trunk Show

     @ Richards

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...

  • Puttin’ On The Dog Festival

     @ Roger Sherman Baldwin Park

    Puttin’ On The Dog Festival Greenwich, Connecticut the place to be on September 21st for dogs and their owners...

  • Candy Fairies Book Reading

     @ Imagine Candy

    SCARSDALE, NY, Imagine Candy brings the acclaimed children's author Helen Perelman, the writer of the wickedly sweet Candy Fairies book...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • "Israel and the U.S."

     @ New Canaan Library

    The public is invited to attend a World Affairs Forum Great Decisions event featuring Seth Anziska, Columbia University. Mr. Anziska will speak...

Show More...

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