Stamford Museum and Nature Center
Head for the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, a 118-acre retreat where you might spot wood ducks, painted turtles, and frogs along miles of nature trails. The center is also home to 10-acre Heckscher Farm, a traditional New England farm where kids can watch workers milk goats and shear sheep. Special seasonal programs include maple sugaring (March), baby animals (May), and apple cider making (October). Kids can burn off energy at Nature’s Playground, a wooded wonderland including a human-size spider web, tree-house with lookout tower, tubular slides, and a sandbox filled with faux fossils.
Afterwards, stop in Easton at Silverman’s Farm, owned by the same family since the 1920s. On the farm, you’ll meet buffalo, llamas, and long-horn cattle. You can also pick your own fresh fruit, or feast on homemade pie from the Farm Market. Fruit of the forest, Dutch apple, and peach berry are just a few of the scrumptious selections.
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport features more than 300 animals, including Amur (Siberian) tigers, ocelots, red wolves and prairie dogs. There are plenty of creature comforts: a Victorian-style hand-carved carousel, a petting barnyard with goats and bunnies, and the onsite Peacock Café. Before you go, print out one of several themed scavenger hunts from the website (www.beardsleyzoo.com), bring it to the zoo, and see who can complete the challenges first.
Action Wildlife Foundation
Go wild at Action Wildlife Foundation in Goshen. The 116-acre sanctuary is home to 350 exotic animals from around the world, including potbellied pigs, Japanese sika deer, wild boars, fainting goats, yaks and zebras. You can feed some creatures in the petting barn, hop on a hay wagon for a guided tour, or drive your own vehicle through a 50-acre fenced-in-tract.