Calling All Kids Last Updated 8/16

There’s just no end to all the things kids can do in Connecticut, either just plain fun or attractions that engage their creativity and imagination. The best combine both.

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Lake Compounce Theme Park, Bristol

Rock and roll on the Zoomerang or the Boulder Dash—voted the #1 wooden roller coaster in the U.S. by Amusement Today. It’s carved into the mountainside and features a breathtaking 115-foot drop. Lake Compounce’s 50 rides and attractions, including Splash Harbor Water Park, make this a must-do for kids and adults.

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Connecticut Science Center, Hartford

Hartford’s premiere kids’ destination will keep the kids dazzled with more than 150 hands-on exhibits, a 3-D theater and Kidspace for the seven-and-under crowd. Fly to Mars, live in 4D, design a heliflyer and explore wind power, solar energy, robots and brainwaves.

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New England Air Museum, Windsor Locks

Fasten your seat belts as this museum in Windsor Locks propels you into the history of aviation. View the 80 aircraft—from historic warbirds to modern jets—in three huge hangars. Your little ones will love the pedal-planes, while bigger kids typically gravitate toward the computer flight simulators. Look for “Open Cockpit Days.”

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The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Norwalk

A 110,000-gallon shark tank keeps these fascinating creatures behind four inches of glass. Two touch tanks give the kids hands-on excitement, and feeding time at the seal pool always draws an exuberant crowd. Otters, turtles, jellies and other amazing animals from Long Island Sound make this a great family day. There’s a 6-story IMAX theater, too.

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Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, Essex

The 2 1/2 hour journey starts on a 1920s steam locomotive that chugs through the Connecticut River valley and ends with a scenic riverboat excursion. But be warned: After such massive means of transportation with all the bells and whistles, the kids might get bored in the minivan.

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Stepping Stones Museum for Children, Norwalk

With kid-pleasing exhibits such as Rainforest Adventure, Toddler Terrain, Color Coaster, Healthyville and Build It! this museum in Norwalk is a crowd-pleaser. More than 100 hands-on activities tickle the fancies of the 10-and-under set.

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USS Nautilus & Submarine Force Museum, Groton

Featuring more than 80,000 artifacts, documents and photos, the biggest draw for kids at the U.S. Navy’s official submarine museum in Groton may be the working periscopes. Walk the decks of the world’s first nuclear-powered sub — the first to reach the North Pole and to journey 20,000 leagues under the sea.

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Mystic Aquarium, Mystic

Go nose-to-nose with a beluga whale. Meet a 1,000-pound sea lion at the rollicking Sea Lion Show. Explore ancient shipwrecks. Search for piranhas, tarantulas and poisonous dart frogs in the rain forest. And get creeped out by the Deep Sea 3D Motion Ride.

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Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, Bridgeport

Home to more than 300 animals, primarily from the Americas. Let the kids roam the New England Farmyard with goats, pigs and sheep. An aviary and tropical rain forest also please. The pop-up viewing areas at the prairie dog exhibit get a lot of laughs.

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Mystic Seaport, Mystic

Climb aboard historic tall ships. Stroll through a re-created 19th century coastal village with enchanting shops around every corner. Check out the working shipyard and planetarium. There’s a lot of ground to cover here, but tell the kids about the tugboats and water taxis, and they’ll come around.

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Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum, Rocky Hill

Track dinosaurs in Rocky Hill with one of the largest collections of preserved Jurassic tracks on the continent.

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Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven

Marvel at the mounted skeletons in The Great Hall of Dinosaurs at this museum ion the Yale campus in New Haven.

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The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village, Oakdale

Meet Monty, the teenage T-Rex, as he greets visitors to his home in Montville. 25 concrete and steel dinosaurs roam the grounds.