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Museum Mania

  If you fall asleep and dream about sunny skies, sandy beaches, warm breezes and basically anything that doesn’t involve winter coats, boots and snow shoveling, you are not alone. Right about now summer seems very far away, and you are quite over the beauty of a winter wonderland — which has turned into a dirty slusherland.

  And if the winter blahs aren’t bad enough, your kids are going to be home on vacation this month, and within five minutes will either have their heads immersed in Minecraft or complaining that they are bored and there is nothing to eat!

  Sounds pretty dismal, right? Wrong! There is a whole world of fun that is waiting for you right here in Connecticut and beyond. There are lots of museums, activities and programs that are waiting to be discovered! Forget those winter doldrums, use the “brisk” winter weather as a wake-up call to get out and start exploring. You still might need your cold weather gear, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking your family on some wild winter adventures!

  Kids can have fun during February vacation, especially when they come to Hartford for Connecticut Science Center’s Vacation Exploration Camps on Monday, February 20 and Tuesday, February 21.

  Dive right into adventure when you come to Under the Sea on Monday. Is the seaweed always greener? Discover the secrets of the deep blue sea, and create your own ocean floor. Then, challenge your fellow campers to map it. You can even design a submarine to retrieve lost treasure!

  On Tuesday, uncover the world of Mythical Beasts. Did Bigfoot, dragons or the Loch Ness Monster ever really exist? Have they just become extinct, or were they simply just creatures of the imagination? Investigate how scientists discover and classify new species. Are you up to the challenge? Study the footprint of a legend or a blurry video of a mythical beast in order to decide what is fact or fiction!

  The Vacation Exploration Camps are for students in grades 1-6. They run from 8:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and pre-registration is required. The cost is $62 for members; and $68 for non-members.

  The Connecticut Science Center is located at 250 Columbus Boulevard. For more information, call 860-520-2177 or visit www.ctsciencecenter.org.

  There’s magic in the air — or maybe it’s just an illusion! Find out when you come to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme on Saturday, February 11 for Magic Show: Abracadabra!!! Be dazed and dazzled by the mesmerizing magic of Brian Miller. He performs a unique blend of jaw-dropping magic that’s mixed with laugh-out-loud comedy guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Show times are at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

  Come back to the museum on Sunday, February 12 from 1-5 p.m. for Cows, Cocoa and Crafts. Warm up in the Education Center and celebrate the work of Matilda Browne, a renowned bovine painter. Sip some hot cocoa while you create cow-inspired crafts.

  Both programs are free with museum admission, which is $10 for adults; $9 for seniors; $8 for students; and free for kids 12 and under. The Florence Griswold Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street. For more information, call 860-434-5542 or visit www.florencegriswoldmuseum.org.

  Now it’s time to “moo-ve” on up and become a jet-setter. Take off to the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks and get your head up into the clouds! The museum is committed to presenting the story of aviation, the human genius that made it possible and the profound effects that it has had on the way in which you live.

  The museum has more than 65 aircraft on display in three large exhibit hangars and in an outdoor display area (open depending on weather). The collection covers all eras of aviation from the first pioneers to the jet age. It also has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of aircraft engines in the country.

  Make sure you visit the museum on Saturday, February 18 for Open Cockpit Day. Climb aboard and get a pilot’s eye perspective from the cockpit by exploring the controls and flight instruments of select aircraft within the collection. Try hands-on Build and Fly Challenges and check out some special air craft that will be available to visitors during the day. 

  The museum is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed on Mondays until May, except for February 20. Admission is $12.50 for adults; $11.50 for seniors (65 and up); $7 for kids, ages 4-11; and free for ages 3 and under. Visit the museum at 36 Perimeter Road. For more information, call 860-623-3305 or visit www.neam.org.

  The best things come in small packages and that’s what you’ll discover when you come to The Children’s Museum in West Hartford! Students, in grades 1-5, will enjoy a very hands-on experience, learning while having plenty of fun, during Vacation Science Camp on Monday, February 20. The theme is Tiny Animals, and campers will meet the small creatures that call the sanctuary home. Say hello to sugar gliders, pigmy hedgehogs and other baby animals. In addition to activities, games and crafts, campers will explore the museum and get a unique behind-the-scenes look at the exhibits and wildlife sanctuary.

  Looking for some slithery fun? Come out of your shell because Reptile Camp on Tuesday, February 21 is for you. Meet some scaly friends, including turtles, lizards and snakes. It will be “hisss-torical!”

  Vacation Science Camps runs from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The cost is $60 for members; and $70 for non-members. The Children’s Museum is located at 950 Trout Brook Drive. For more information, call 860-231-2830, ext. 44 or visit www.thechildrensmuseumct.org.

  It’s time to go outside for some winter fun and there is no better place to do that than at the Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton. And It’s Snow Wonder! — a vacation program for kids in grades K-5 on Monday, February 20 and Tuesday, February 21. From 9 a.m.-noon on both days, have fun with snow and ice. Try animal tracking and, depending on the weather, try your hand (or feet) at snow shoeing. If you’re lucky, maple sugaring will be part of the fun — now that’s a sweet deal.

  Pre-register for the program that costs $35/day for members; and $40/day for non-members. The Roaring Brook Nature Center is located at 70 Gracey Road. Call 860-693-0263 or visit www.roaringbrook.org for more information.

  If you really want to get away from it all, you don’t have to go far for some new experiences. It’s just a quick hop to visit our neighbor to the north — Massachusetts. There you will find the Springfield Museums and the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden in Springfield. One admission ticket is all you need for entry to the four museums filled with art, science, history and family fun. Pick a day or come everyday. There is always something going on! Go on a Family Science Adventure on Saturday, February 18.  From 11 a.m.-2 p.m., explore the Science Museum and find the Roving Scientist —- you never know what kind of demonstrations and hands-on activities you’ll find! Then visit the Planetarium. For an additional fee, you can check out The Night Sky, Magic Sky, Oceans in Space or Mystery of the Disappearing Dinosaurs.

  Visit their website for a complete list of programs. The museums are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $18 for adults; $12 for seniors and students; $9.50 for kids 3-17; and free for children 2 and under and members. The Springfield Museums are located at 21 Edwards Street. For more information, call 413-263-6800 or visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.

  While you are in a Massachusetts mood, head back to the Bay State for some fun of historic proportions! Even if your ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower, you can see where it all began when you visit Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA.

  Plimoth Plantation, a Smithsonian Affiliate Institution, has been delighting visitors of all ages for nearly 70 years. A visit to this museum puts you in the story as you explore the history of two distinct cultures in the 17th-century. Through interpreters, you’ll learn about the lives of the English Colonists — or Pilgrims — who arrived in New England in 1620, and the Wampanoag people, who have lived in the region for more than 10,000 years.

  Visit Plimoth Plantation and go on board the Mayflower II to imagine her 66-day transatlantic voyage. Or experience the Plimoth Grist Mill, a reproduction of the grist mill built in 1636, where organic corn is ground into delicious cornmeal on a 200 year old French Buhr millstone.

  And, you can spend your February vacation at the plantation because there is a Makers’ Marathon going on from Monday, February 20 through Friday, February 24. Spend your break in the 17th century and make history! Kids of all ages can pinch a pot, pound corn, learn a dance, dip a candle and more.

  Don’t get your self in a knot! You can return to Plimoth Plantation on Tuesday, February 21 and Thursday, February 23 from 1-2:30 p.m. for Twist & Shout! Make Your Own Pilgrim Pretzels! During this Pilgrim Pretzel Party, shape pretzels with ingredients and techniques inspired by the 17th century. Need to spice things up? Try your hand at 17th century mustard. This is a perfect activity for families. Pre-registration is required, and the cost is $10 for members and $12 for non-members. For more information and to purchase tickets for both programs, call 508-746-1622, ext. 8359.

  Plimoth Plantation is located at 137 Warren Avenue. For more information, call 508-746-1622 or visit www.plimoth.org.

  Looking for a bright idea? Come back to Connecticut and spend some time at The Energize CT Center in North Haven. It’s an energy efficiency resource center and a hands-on learning laboratory for children offering educational tours, seminars, special events and the latest energy efficiency and renewable technologies — all focused on teaching you how to use energy wisely without sacrificing comfort or style. Exhibits showcase the benefits of energy efficient choices. Go on a guided or self-guided tour and learn about energy sources, electricity generation, the important role energy plays in daily life and ways to use energy wisely.

  The center offers monthly Family Nights that feature entertainment for kids of all ages and their families. Those nights educate everyone on the impact energy consumption has on the planet and ways to be more energy efficient. Make sure you come for STEM Night on Friday, February 10 from 6-8 p.m. After a visit to the center, everyone, young and old, will be empowered to make smart energy choices at home, at work and in their community.

  A visit to the Energize Connecticut Center is free and located at 122 Universal Drive North. The center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call 203-799-0460 or visit www.energizect.com/center.

  Looking to spark your interest in science, technology, engineering or math? Pay a visit to The Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport. This is a museum for all ages with a full-dome planetarium and telescopes. Enjoy over 100 exhibit areas and galleries featuring interactive, hands-on explorations of science, technology and ideas.

  Little ones can check out the stars Sesame Street-style with One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure and older kids will love Back to the Moon for Good. There’s also The Skies Tonight, From Earth to the Universe, The Little Star That Could and more.

  Can you feel the power? The Energy Network is a new interactive exhibit designed to boost understanding of key STEM concepts related to energy. The hands-on activities explore energy sources, uses and choices around energy use through unique activities. This exhibit was developed in a partnership between the Discovery Museum and Energize CT.

  If you have a child that is always tinkering and taking things apart to see how they work, then STEM Days @ Discovery: Engineering Day is a must-do activity! Visit on Monday, February 20 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. when local engineers, scientists and staff members will lead hands-on engineering-themed activities during the day. Enjoy a cool live science demonstration on simple machines, a special planetarium show schedule and live Science on a Sphere demos.

  The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (and Monday, February 20). Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors and kids, ages 2-17; and free for children under 2 and members. The Discovery Museum and Planetarium is located at 4450 Park Avenue. For more information, call 203-372-3521 or visit www.discoverymuseum.org.

  There is a reason why February is considered the month of romance!

It’s not just hearts, flowers and Valentine’s Day. It’s rediscovering your passion for excitement, learning and fun. Whether you reach for the stars, step back in time, see what makes things tick, or get lost in a world of magic, you have the power to make your winter break one for the record books — a vacation that everyone will absolutely love! 

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