Advice Needed: School Vacation Activities

So this weeks post is my call for help!

Miles is in second grade, so the last 2 years, during school vacation weeks we would sign him up for some fun camps or activities during those off days.  Most of our family lives out-of-state and the best times to take vacations and spend time with them is in the summer months.

This year, however, we made the decision to send Miles to a private school and the calendar is MUCH different than it is for public school.  While most school kids have a week in February and then another in April, we have 2 weeks off in March.   We knew this when we signed up, and my parents graciously offered to take some time off themselves and come on down to CT for some quality time with their first grandchild.

As the time is getting closer I am at a loss for activities to set them up with to do!  While Miles would probably be very happy watching endless shows on Netflix or playing video games, that’s not exactly how I want him spending his vacation (or my parents vacation days)!

Young Boy (8-10) Sitting on a Couch Playing a Video Game
While some screen time will happen, I don’t want ALL of vacation to look like this!
Photo Credit: Office images

Besides setting them up with some arts and craft projects, I have a few ideas of day trips they can make – the library, KidCity, the Science Museum, and if he plays the puppy dog eyes for my mom, a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.  But, there are only so many times you can do those things (especially that last one – gah!).  The other problem is that many activities that these places would normally have during the day will be geared towards families of small children, not a family trying to entertain an almost 8-year-old!

So dear readers, what suggestions do you have?  What kinds of cool things would you do (or have you done) on a random day off with a school-age kid?  I’m looking for fun, cost-effective activities, that my parents could easily drive to in a reasonable radius of Central CT (they probably won’t be making the trek to the Bronx Zoo).



24 thoughts on “Advice Needed: School Vacation Activities

  1. After reading all these…I WANT TO BE MILES! These are awesome options!! Love them! If all else fails, he can come be a mother’s helper here (for pay!) and entertain my boys while I do job application cover letters 😉


    1. Hahaha! I’m starting to want to take the whole 2 weeks off too- though there will be a couple of days that Phil and I will have to cover- so maybe I’ll get to have some fun too!) I will keep the job offer in mind too- though he will probably charge a lot more jelly beans than Nate! 🙂


  2. -classes at the library
    -Mystic Seaport might be fun, especially if he likes history
    -NB Museum of Art (we just took the littles to the MFA and did an art scavenger hunt-they loved it!)
    – building class at Home Depot/Lowes
    -cooking class at Chef’s Equipment, Sur La Table, or Williams-Sonoma, or maybe just learn to make one of your parents specialties at home


  3. Here’s my additions:
    – Groton’s USS Nautilus submarine. It’s right off the highway and there are signs leading you ( It won’t fill a whole day but it’s pretty interesting especially to an 8 year old boy and will definately fill a couple of hours. He gets to go on the sub and there’s lots of real equipment in the museum that he gets to touch! Bonus: it’s free! (but there is a gift shop).
    – Mashentucket Pequot Indian Museum ( Also really cool but beware, there are some bare chested female wax figures! Tastefully done but may lead to giggles and questions.
    – Mystic Seaport is also cool and right near the Mystic Aquarium. But take my advice you can’t do both in the same day.
    – Hiking is nice and doesn’t have to be challenging if your parents aren’t hikers. We like to stroll around the lake at Chatfield Hollow in Killingworth but there are tons of places to hike in CT. Your Park Rec Center might even have hiking maps, ours does.
    Good Luck! Nothing’s worse than an bored 8 year old!


    1. Ooohh… submarines! He would LOVE that! Great tips, though my mom is not much for hiking- maybe he could do a couple of trails with my dad!


  4. We’ve done the ‘open bounce’ at Bounce-U in Rocky Hill and the kids love it. My 2nd grader loved having friends over to play during our Feb. break. The Lutz Museum in Manchester is fun and not expensive. They’re doing some activities in March that might work for him.


    1. I wonder if the Bounce places will be open during the day on what it a school day for the majority of kids? That’s was my biggest problem coming up with things, because everything I thought of it thought, they probably won’t be open during the school day. I’ll check the Lutz out for sure!


  5. Another Fairfield County resident here…and I second the Maritime Aquarium and Stepping Stones with lunch in South Norwalk. A really fun day trip!


  6. Come down to our neck of the woods!! In Norwalk, there’s the Maritime Aquarium and the Stepping Stones Kids’ Museum – you could pretty much do both in one day – spend the morning at Stepping Stones, have a late lunch in South Norwalk (lots of great restaurants), spend the afternoon at the Aquarium and then take a sunset boat ride on the Long Island Sound. Stop at the Cracker Barrel in Milford on your way back for dinner. It’s a jam packed day, but I bet it would tons of fun.

    There’s also the basketball museum in Springfield, MA. Or even take a day trip up to Boston.

    I definitely second the Peabody Museum, too. Such a great place.


  7. I was going to suggest the pottery places as well and there is actually a Groupon today for one. Also, you have Yankee Candle and the Butterfly places in MA, the basketball hall of fame in MA, Dinosaour State Park, there is a place over by Waterford,CT that has a walking trail, Dinosaurs, and rock mining inside (can’t remember the name right now), Essex Steam Train, one of the 2 or 3 Trolly Museums in CT, indoor ice skating (there are a couple places around CT), indoor mini golf (there use to be a few places around), indoor roller skating, or tubing at one of the local ski resorts.


    1. We LOVE the trolley museums. There’s one near New Haven that is just so charming. It’s a bit tired and if you’re looking for super adventure, you might be let down, but I am so taken by the fact that it’s so raw and that the volunteers clearly do it because they love it. We also love the Danbury Railway Museum, but that’s pretty far for you all.


  8. Ok, Dena- here’s my list!
    -Mystic Aquarium- you can go to your library and see about the free passes they have. I’m sure they will have some available now, as it’s not the height of summer
    -Old Mystic Village is right there in the parking lot, and it’s fun to poke around there after the aquarium
    -Hungerford park in Berlin- they may even have classes during the week
    -Check your local and neighboring libraries for classes or programs offered to kids
    -Stew Leonard’s sometimes has cooking classes for kids
    -Paint your own pottery! I love this stuff! There’s shops in Plainville, West Hartford Center, and Evergreen Walk in South Windsor.
    -Pez factory in Orange, CT has tours! and they may be free…?
    -Kidcity museum
    -CT Science Center in Hartford
    -Peabody Museaum in New Haven- DINOSAURS!
    -Oakdale Theatre- there may be kids shows going on those weeks. I’d check their schedule!


    1. Marie – I love you for all of these ideas!! And I second the Aquarium – it’s definitely worth the trip down, and also if you go to Old Mystic Village you can feed the ducks at the little pond. Fun times.


      1. I think the Aquarium will definitely be on the agenda! We’ve been there in the summer, but never in the winter. I was worried about how many things are outside, but will check it out!


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