Two days. It took two days from when the last bell of the school year rang until your kids spoke those two dreaded words: “I’m bored.” Faced with free time, which can seem like endless hours and no agenda, parents might find themselves wondering what they can do with the kids right now. Read on for a few ideas for passing the day in Fairfield County. Consider part of your parent’s summer survival guide.
- Explore. If you have a child, you’ve been to SoNo. And you go because if offers so many ways to pass an afternoon. Thanks to the Sound of Summer Program, good through Labor Day, you can also save money. Pay full price at one participating attraction, get discounts for the others. You need the card; find it at visitsono.com. Attractions include: Center for Contemporary Printmaking; historic sites, such as Norwalk Historical Society Museum; Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum; The Maritime Aquarium (Family Sleepover, ages 5 and up, for dinner, tour, IMAX move and crafts, is July 15-16); Music Theater of Connecticut; Sheffield Island Lighthouse Tours; Pedego Sono electric bike rentals; Stepping Stones Museum; Sono Switch Tower Museum; and three hotels (Courtyard by Marriott Norwalk, Even Hotel Norwalk, and Hotel Zero Degrees Norwalk). Download the mobile audio guide app.
- History. Check out Fairfield Museum and History Center’s new Museum Commons (fairfieldhistory.org), which lets you step back into the late 1700s. Its renovated Sun Tavern (c. 1780) and Victorian Cottage and Barn (c. 1888) have hands-on learning for children that will interest parents, like sitting at a tavern table, reading from a 200-year-old newspaper, standing trail for counterfeiting, or learning about farming techniques. Open until Labor Day.
- Music. Head to Fairfield’s Sherman Green for free summer concerts (fairfieldct.org/summerconcerts). Otherwise, take in the Summer Music Series at Pequot Library (pequotlibrary.org) in Southport. These free concerts wrap up on August 29, 6 p.m., with the Hungrytown Folk Concert on the Great Lawn. Pack a picnic and bring a lawn chair. For ticketed events, consider classical pianist Alex Beyer on Thursday, August 24, at 7 p.m., $10-$20. Otherwise, try the Levitt Pavilion (levittpavilion.com), which offers more than fifty nights of free music under the stars in Westport. Go to the evening concerts at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park and Binney Park.
- Movies: It’s raining or the kids are tuckered out. Movie time! Bow-Tie Cinemas (bowtiecinemas.com) just got a makeover, with luxury recliners (by reservation), full bar and restaurant fare (chicken and waffles, Philly cheesesteak egg rolls, artisanal pizza and such), and summer blockbusters. Choose Royale 6, 542 Westport Ave., Norwalk, or Regent 8, 64 North Main St., South Norwalk.
- Take in a show. Options include The Ridgefield Playhouse (ridgefieldplayhouse.org), which has a Family Series. Its Shakespeare on the Green on August 12, 7 p.m., is “Love’s Labour’s Lost” by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Free!
- Art: Drop in to Grace Farms (gracefarms.org) on Saturdays, between 10:30 and 2:30 p.m., for self-guided, hands-on activities, such as building drums. $5/child. For free fun, head to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (aldrichart.org) for family workshops led by artists and educators and inspired by the exhibitions on view. Every Third Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Also, the Westport Library (westportlibrary.org) is having a Teen Photo Contest, which gets your older kids’ creativity going. Entries due by July 15. For ages through grade 8, try Storytime@Longshore, Thursdays until the end of August, 10:30-11 a.m., with stories and songs at Evan Harding Point in Longshore Club Park.
- Fitness. Burn off energy at Chelsea Piers in Stamford. This massive place will keep them busy all day, with trampolines, swimming pools, soccer fields, basketball courts, the ever-popular batting cages and more. Little ones will crawl all over the indoor Jungle Gym, with slides, tunnels, and bridges, at Ole Soccer ($5-$10; http://olesoccerct.com/jungle-gym) in Fairfield. Adventure Park (adventurediscoverypark.org) in Bridgeport, near Sacred Heart University, will get older kids jumping and climbing.
- Carousel. Head out for free outdoor yoga, Zumba and more at Mill River Park Fit Club, but the little ones will enjoy a picnic followed by a spin on the new carousel (millriverpark.org) in Stamford.
- Nature: Feed chickens at Sport Hill Farm (sporthillfarm.com), or pet and feed animals at the Silverman’s Farm petting zoo and then go pick some fresh berries (silvermansfarm.com). Otherwise, check out the trails at Earthplace (earthplace.org), then drop inside to see the nature center. Listen to a story with the animals, Monday through Friday, at 10 a.m., then stay for animal feeding at 10:30 a.m. The birds of prey feedings are on Saturdays at 3 p.m. Also, check out New Canaan Nature Center (newcanaannature.org), which has special events, like Reptiles of the World (July 28, 7-8:30 p.m.) and Creatures of the Night Hike (August 28, 7:30-9 p.m.) as well as ongoing programs, such as Wednesday Crafternoons in July, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Drop in for free nature-inspired crafts.
- Crafts. Check out retail stores for crafts. For example, Terrain and sister store, Anthropologie, offers crafting (shopterrain.com), click on “events” for the Westport store). Find more classes at Michaels, which is well-stocked with supplies and kits (michaels.com, click on classes in Westport). Also, check out Creation Station, which offers do-it-yourself arts and crafts in ceramics, painting, seasonal, jewelry, LEGO, paper, embellishments, at Giant Steps (giantstepstoys.com) in Fairfield.
- Splash. When not beachside, consider Fairfield’s Lake Mohegan splash pad/sprinkler park (fairfieldct.org). Otherwise, get them out on Long Island Sound by ferry. Non-Greenwich residents can get day passes at Town Hall or Eastern Civic Center; check on service before making plans (greenwichct.org). Otherwise jump aboard the US Navy launch boat Chief for the Historic Harbor Cruise out of Captains Cove Marina (captainscoveseaport.com), July 23, 11:15 a.m.-1 p.m.; tours given Sundays through August, too ($6-$10). Older kids will enjoy taking kayaking/paddle board lessons, or renting equipment. from Downunder (downunderct.com). At Weed Beach, boats are on the beachfront, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., until Labor Day.
- Hike. Free hiking at Lake Mohegan in Fairfield, and gorgeous trails (kids love the wooden catwalks) at the Audubon Society in Fairfield (ctaudubon.org/center-at-fairfield). Enjoy the Audubon Greenwich and look for special events, like the Family Fire & Bushcraft Fun night, on July 13, 7:30-9 p.m. (greenwich.audubon.org/events/family-fire-bushcraft-fun). Learn tricks for building a safe fire, especially for s’mores, as well as bushcraft wilderness survival techniques. For all ages; $5-$8. Reservations requested.