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Wander in a Winter Wonderland

  Life is pretty hectic right about now. You probably want your holiday wish-list to include a few more hours in the day! There are presents to buy, ornaments to find, trees to decorate and who can forget all that baking and cooking? You’re probably thinking the bears have the right idea — curl up in a cave somewhere and hibernate until the craziness ends!

  But, stop what you’re doing, put down the tape and cookbooks — it’s time to take the show on the road! This time of year is filled with holiday extravaganzas, delights and just plain fun things to do! Go on, get out with your family and do something you’ll all enjoy — no stress, no mess just a wonderful adventure. And put the “win” back in winter! 

  The temps have dropped the snow is falling — what to do? Go skiing of course! Grab your skis and snowboards and head over to Powder Ridge in Middlefield for the perfect outdoor experience. Powder Ridge features 19 trails and four terrain parks, with multiple lifts for the beginner and advanced winter enthusiast. Whether skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snow biking or mountain biking, this is the place to be! And if you don’t know how, but always wanted to learn, the staff is dedicated to teaching you the ropes, so you’ll be schussing down the slopes in no time. 

  From ski slope newbies to those that are a bit rusty, their terrain-based learning methods reshape skiing and snowboard education. Beginner skiers and riders are learning faster, have more fun and get up on the mountain sooner. The coaching staff offers group, private, half-day and six-week programs. Powder Ridge is the only ski area in Connecticut offering terrain-based learning techniques for all lessons. Using this method, students slide on a slope that has been groomed and shaped, providing a positive experience.

  If you prefer private lessons, they can be custom tailored to your ability. A coach will work with you at your own pace to meet your personal goals.

  Powder Ridge specializes in working with kids who are 3-5 years old. There is a special Burton Riglet Park that makes this a safe and fun learning environment for little ones.

  Are you ready to make history? Then become part of the world’s largest ski and snowboard lesson on Friday, January 6. First time riders and skiers will meet with coaches at 1 p.m. who will introduce you to a great winter sport, while making an attempt at the Guinness Book of World Records!

  Powder Ridge is located at 99 Powder Hill Road. For more information, call 866-860-0208 or visit powderridgepark.com.

  If skiing isn’t your favorite activity then go take a hike — literally! Bundle up and visit the Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton for a brisk walk in the woods. Spend a cozy winter afternoon on Sunday, December 11 with a winter story time and short guided hike, followed by hot cocoa to warm you up.

  It’s the last supermoon of 2016, so celebrate and go on the Under the Cold Moon Family Night Hike on Wednesday, December 14 from 7:30-8:45 p.m. You won’t need your telescope to see the moon because it will be at its closest approach to Earth looking larger and brighter than usual! 

  Ready for some Frozen Fun? From December 26-30 make six-sided snowflakes, learn how animals survive winter cold, hike the trails to find frozen treasures and go on a scavenger hunt. And, talk about Frozen, welcome in 2017 on Saturday, December 31 with Breakfast and Story Time with Anna and Elsa.

  There’s even more chilly adventures waiting for you in January. Pack up the family for the Wolf Moon Hike on Thursday, January 12 from 7:30-8:45 p.m. You won’t actually hear any wolves, but listen closely for owls and other creature of the night. You’re off from school on Monday, January 16, so come to the nature center and have Snow Much Fun! Go on a guided hike looking for tracks and other signs of animals who spend the winter in Werner’s Woods. And see who pops up on the Groundhog Day Hike on Sunday, January 29. Uncover the mysteries of wildlife habits in winter, take the groundhog day quiz and make your own predictions!

  Roaring Brook Nature Center is located at 70 Gracey Road. For more information, call 860-693-0263 or visit www.roaringbrook.org.

  Bet you’re looking for some inside fun right about now. You’ll hit the jackpot when you come to Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket during Kids Week on Monday, December 26 through December 30. From noon to 5 p.m., Foxwoods is loaded with free activities for everyone in the family. There are movies, face painting, arts and crafts and balloon characters. Go large and play oversized Jenga and Connect 4! Whoosh down the giant slide, it’s a toss-up at cornhole, get a kick out of foosball and try Xbox and PlayStation games.

  Go on a scavenger hunt at the Tanger Outlets and don’t miss kid-friendly decorating with Cake by Franck. Need some fresh air? Head outside for some ice skating (for a fee) and glide around the rink. 

  Foxwoods Resort Casino is located at 350 Trolley Line Boulevard. For more information, call 800-369-9663 or visit www.foxwoods.com.

  Get ready to mix things up a bit with some hands-on experimental fun when you visit the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford. These are the last days to visit their traveling exhibit Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion and Saturday, December 17 is the last time students, in grades 3-5, can come to the Saturday Youth Workshop: Paint Masters. DaVinci made his own paint, and you can too! Use safe, non-toxic materials to mix multiple paints together. Create your own colors, and paint like the master himself. Choose either the 10:30 a.m. or 1 p.m workshop. Call 860-520-2109 to register.

  After the last visitors leave and everyone goes home, what happens at the science center? Find out when you come to Overnight Excursion: Secret Agent Science on Saturday, December 10. Learn stealth tactics, uncover tricks and guide your way through a top secret laser maze — all before bedtime!

  If you’re looking for something fun to do on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, then the Vacation Exploration Camp: Magic School Bus on Monday, January 16 is for you. Miss Frizzle took her class on a trip to the science center, but now the Magic School Bus is broken. The bus left clues and challenges based on past adventures on earth and in space for you to complete. Become a science detective and help solve the puzzles to fix the broken bus!

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

  There’s lots of holiday cheer at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven. The 16th annual Christmas Tree Festival opens on Saturday, December 3 and runs through January 29. The creativity of students from 24 elementary schools throughout Connecticut is showcased. Their handmade ornaments and trim decorations adorn the museum’s trees with German Christmas themes. Make sure you cast your vote for the People’s Choice tree. When you visit on December 3, you’ll be in for a treat, because they have opening celebration festivities planned from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. There will be children’s crafts and refreshments, along with a visit from St. Nicholas and live music from the Yuletide Carolers. And, the award-winning trees will be announced.

  Come back to the museum on Saturday, December 31 from 2-5 p.m. for Christmas Family Day. There will be children’s crafts, refreshments and live festive tunes from Joyful Noise. While you’re there, don’t miss the Creches of Germany: Tradition and Faith exhibit.

  Admission is free to the Knights of Columbus Museum, which is located at 1 State Street. For more information, call 203-865-0400 or visit www.kofcmuseum.org.

  The sky’s the limit when you pay a visit to the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks this season. Santa will leave his sleigh at home and meet with children in a Sikorsky helicopter on Saturday, December 3 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. He will give a special gift to each child, and everyone will be able to make holiday cards for members of the U.S. military. Other activities include hands-on Build and Fly challenges, Aircraft Quest scavenger hunts and computerized flight simulators. 

  Let your sense of adventure soar when you come back for the school vacation week activities on Monday, December 26 through Friday, December 30. Explore three giant exhibit hangars filled with more than 60 historic aircraft, and experience the wonders of flight through hands-on activities. Special daily events include: Aviation Art Station on Monday; Aeromodeling Workshop on Tuesday; Rocket Balloons on Wednesday; Frisbee Flight on Thursday; and a LEGO® Flying Machine Contest on Friday. 

  The New England Air Museum is located at 36 Perimeter Road. For more information, call 860-623-3305 or visit www.neam.org.

  Take a ride into the past and visit with the jolly man in red when you come to Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland at the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven. Check out the antique trolleys decorated for the holidays, nibble on cookies and sip hot chocolate to chase away the winter chill. All children receive a small gift when they meet St. Nick. Don’t forget your camera, so you can take a picture of your little one sitting on Santa’s lap. Make sure you come back later, because in the evening the museum transforms itself into a wonderland of festive holiday lights. Many of the trolleys, buildings and sites in the yard are decorated for the season adding a wonderful soft glow reminiscent of holidays from long ago.

  Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland takes place Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from December 2 through December 18 from 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors 62 and up; $6 for kids, ages 2-15; and free for little ones under 2. The Shore Line Trolley Museum is located at 17 River Street. For more information, call 203-467-6927 or visit www.shorelinetrolley.org.

 Wouldn’t it be fun to pile the family into to the car and go on a little trip? You won’t have to go far when you visit the Springfield Museums because they are located right in Springfield, MA!

  Little ones can have fun during Holiday Cheer on Mondays, December 12 and 19 from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Don’t forget to pre-register your kids, ages 3-6, so they can enjoy hands-on activities, interactive gallery games, crafts and a visit to the special exhibit, Holiday Magic.

  Get your menorahs and dreidels ready when you come to the Illuminating Gallery for A Celebration of Hanukkah on Sunday, December 18 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. You’ll see a real olive press in action and learn how olive oil is made. Then decorate a Suf Ganiyot, a round jelly doughnut. Learn how to play dreidel, the traditional game, and see if you can win chocolate gelt! There’s a live animal demonstration where you can meet the reptiles that live in the animal center. You can try your hand at the Candle Rolling Station and make your own beeswax candle — then visit the bees that call the museum home. Then, use card stock and frosted paper to make a Stained Glass Star of David that captures the sunshine to make the holiday really glow. Don’t miss the Caravan Puppets when they perform Latkes for Everyone at 1 p.m. All of these activities are free with museum admission.

  Did you know every animal has the power to be a superhero? During Animal World Experience on Wednesday, December 28, kids can meet several animal friends and learn about their special abilities. Come back to the museum the next day, Thursday, December 29 when the Tanglewood Marionettes perform Perseus and Medusa. Take a trip back in time and go along with Perseus on his personal trials and glorious quests!

  Looking for something to do in January? Don’t worry, kids, ages 7-10, can come to The Jungle in You on Saturday, January 28. Dive into the very crowded secret pool of life inside your body! Meet the good bugs that keep you healthy and the bad ones that may make you sick. Discover cells (DNA) that make you — you! The cost is $22-$26.

  The museums are located at 21 Edwards Street. Museum admission is $18 for adults; $12 for seniors; $9.50 for kids ages 3-17; and free for children 2 and under. For more information, call 413-263-6800 or visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.

  Take a trip to a far away continent when you visit the Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk in December. The monthly Around the World series takes you to Vietnam, where you can learn all about this exotic land. On Saturday, December 3, kids can decorate a bamboo dragon fly balancing toy during Creative Kids, and see Vietnam: Mua during the Performance Series on Saturday, December 17. Listen to the story, The Crystal Heart, during Show Me A Tale on Sunday, December 18.

The Mandarin’s daughter did not really see the boatman who sang from the river, but she’s sure he’s her destined love. Kids will then create their own woven miniature basket boat.

  You can also travel to Korea when you make Illuminated Sutra Scrolls on Sunday, December 11. Join a local Korean-American artist for a closer look at this country’s culture. Then, illustrate a story in the style of the ancient Korean monks who used gold and silver on dark paper scrolls.

  And if you need to get moving, come to Zumba Kids every Wednesday. All ages can join in this fitness party, dancing to a healthy future.

  Stepping Stones Museum for Children is located at 303 West Avenue. For more information, call 203-899-0606 or visit www.steppingstonesmuseum.org.

  It’s too early to give in to the cabin fever blues — and no need to with so much to see and do. Treat yourself and your family to some great, cool memories — wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air! 

Photos courtesy of Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort, Roaring Brook Nature Center and New England Air Museum.

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