School Vacation Ideas- Part 2

This is the continuation of Miles’ 2 week school vacation; if you missed Part 1, be sure to check it out here.   April vacation is right around the corner, so hopefully these posts will inspire some day trip activities of your own!

Note: All addresses, hours of operation, and exhibits listed below are those at the time of this posting and may change, so please double check before you make your plans!

* Also note that this is supposed to be a vacation; our clean-eating rules were largely ignored on outings!

Day 1

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, 281 Greenfield Road (Routes 5 & 10), South Deerfield, MA

Open: Daily 9am-5pm

Cost: Adults- $14, Children- $10 (under 3 is free)

Miles is big into butterflies.  After doing a butterfly unit last year in school, he begged me to get some caterpillars and watch them turn into butterflies at home (side note: very cool, but a bit gross when they emerge from their cocoons).  He had been to Magic Wings for a field trip before, but I knew he would love it again.  I was right!  There are so many different types of butterflies and they are literally all flying around you.  I am kind of glad the Nanna had to take this one, as I am sure I would be flinching at every wing that brushed by me!  A couple of tips: It is indoors and in order to maintain the proper climate for most of these exotic butterflies, it is pretty hot, so dress accordingly.  Also, they have a cafe on site if you want to eat lunch there; Miles got a PB&J sandwich shaped like a butterfly!

Trying to get the butterfly to land on him!
Photo Credit: Barbara Fleno
After trying hard all day, one FINALLY landed on him!
Photo Credit: Barbara Fleno
butterfly stowaway
A butterfly stowaway!
Photo Credit: Barbara Fleno
Day 2

Connecticut Science Center, 250 Columbus Blvd., Hartford CT

Open: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm

Cost: Adults- $24, Children- $19 (this is the price of admission plus the movie)

We have been to the Science Center before and it really is a lot of fun for kids of all ages (and don’t tell me that you adults didn’t get in on the fun too!).  I always feel like we get our money’s worth when we go there and while there are some mainstay exhibits, the changing ones are always entertaining and keep the kids busy exploring.  My mom said that, as expected, there were not a lot of people there and that those who were had mostly toddlers in tow.  But that meant that a lot of the big kid activities were free and Miles could spend as much time on them without feeling like other kids needed a turn too.  He also got some one-on-one attention from a volunteer (who may have been a former science teacher) in the physics section.  We have never watched the movies before, but the movie this time was about meerkats; he loved them so much at the Norwalk Aquarium I though he would enjoy the movie.

science center
Learning something on vacation?!?! The HORROR!!!
Photo Credit: Barbara Fleno
Day 3

On this day, my mom had to head back to NH and my Dad was heading down to take over.  I figured that this would be a good day to head to the Lutz Museum in Manchester since it would be on the way in and out of CT.  This part of the plan worked out well, however, once they got inside they spent about 20 minutes in there and declared it a big-kid dud.  I have heard really great things about the museum, but from what they told me there was not a lot to do for the big kids and was much more geared to preschoolers.

BUT, this gave them a chance to head over early to the lunch place I had planned:

Shady Glen Dairy Stores

Open: Year-round, but call ahead for times

Cost: Varies, but they are a CASH-ONLY operation!

shady glen
THAT…is a cheeseburger!
Photo Credit: Shady Glen FB page

When I was searching for a place near the museum on Yelp, I came across the rave reviews for this restaurant.  They serve typical diner food and have lots of homemade ice cream, but the Pièce de résistance is the cheeseburgers.   According to the photos I saw this is not just a cheeseburger; at Shady Glen they slap four pieces of cheese on a cooking burger and let the four corners get all chewy and crispy on the grill before serving it up on a bun.  I’m told it was delicious and am looking forward to the time I can make my way there!

After Shady Glen, my mom headed off back to NH and my Dad’s plan was to take Miles to Laser Tag in Berlin.  However this turned out to be another bust since they are closed during normal school hours.  So they made a trip to Chuck E. Cheese and Stew Leonard’s to round out the day and Miles was happy nonetheless.

Day 4

Submarine Force Museum and the Nautilus, One Crystal Lake Road, Groton

Open: Everyday, except Tuesdays, 9am- 4pm

Cost: FREE!

My dad was a bit hesitant about this day trip as submarines contain pretty close quarters and can be very claustrophobia-inducing.  However, they were able to tour the ship with no problems and see all of different facets of the sub without it feeling too closed in.  There were some more hands-on parts to the museum itself and Miles got to touch and explore them all!

Hey Papa, think I can get this thing to really work?!?
Photo Credit: John Fleno

Before heading to lunch, Miles and my Dad made their way to Olde Mystick Village for some shopping.  This really translates to “they went to the old time candy stores and bought chocolate!”  But even that before-lunch snack couldn’t ruin their appetites for what was next!

Open: Daily 11pm- 9pm

Cost: Varies

Both my dad and my son LOVE ribs, so what better place to send them for lunch then a BBQ joint?!?  And they were not disappointed!  They both chowed down on some ribs, mac&cheese, and cornbread and were even nice enough to bring home some leftovers!  Definitely on the list of places to go back to with the whole family!

Photo Credit: John Fleno

So this concludes two weeks of vacation fun!  I really think that Miles enjoyed this time more than any other school break.  He got to see and do some pretty cool things and got to spend some great one-on-one time with us and with his grandparents.  Thanks again to my folks for taking the time off and helping us out!


9 thoughts on “School Vacation Ideas- Part 2

  1. yumm – I love Shady Glen!! and now all I can think about is the cheeseburger (even though I don’t eat meat anymore, haha, but love that crispy cheese!!)
    Thanks for the tips!


  2. Thank you for doing this series! We are always looking for things to do on the weekends with our toddler in tow. BTW, I went to the submarine museum on a field trip in the 5th grade – it was the best trip ever!


    1. Miles thought it was pretty cool, and it is close enough to Mystic that you can do it all in one day (especially with the warmer weather coming)!


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