12 Things To Do With Family In Meriden, Connecticut

Last Updated on March 4, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Meriden, Connecticut is a charming mid-sized city with an interesting history and plenty of surprises. Nestled in picturesque central Connecticut, it has developed into a hidden gem over the years, although it remains off the beaten path for most tourists.

There are ample opportunities for family-friendly outings in Meriden, with its mixture of historical sites, natural areas, attractions, dining and entertainment. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, there’s always something new to experience in this unassuming community. Read on for 12 can’t-miss activities for families visiting Meriden.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Hubbard Park

Hubbard Park offers wonderful opportunities to explore Meriden’s natural beauty. The 184 acre park was donated to the city over a century ago by Walter Hubbard, who wished to preserve a scenic area along Mirror Lake and East Peak for public enjoyment. The park has many features that make it perfect for families, including picnic areas, hiking and biking trails, and opportunities for birdwatching.

The green, rolling hills provide a beautiful backdrop throughout the seasons, whether you’re hiking in the summer sunshine or sledding on fresh snow. Along with recreational opportunities, Hubbard Park hosts special events like festivals, races, and summer concerts at the bandshell.

Individual highlights within the park include Castle Craig, a stone observation tower with panoramic views atop East Peak, as well the Merimere Reservoir—part of the original design conceived by the famed Olmsted Brothers firm. Families will love spending a day taking in all that Hubbard Park has to offer in a gorgeous natural setting right in Meriden’s backyard.

Get Adventurous at Penwood State Park

Just north of Meriden’s city center lies Penwood State Park, a beautiful wooded setting with trails galore. Families can choose from over 10 miles of trails, catering to all ability levels. Little ones will love the gentle terrain of the 1.3 mile Beach Park Trail, which includes interesting footbridges and interpretive signs about the park’s trees and plant life.

For more experienced hikers who want to burn off some excess energy, the 3.8 mile Lake Short and Lake Hogan trails provide a steady incline up Round Mountain—with rewarding views from the top. In winter months, several trails at Penwood convert to cross-country ski tracks, while others are open for snow-shoeing. Pack a nutritious picnic lunch to enjoy on your outdoor adventure through scenic Penwood State Park.

Step Back in Time at Hanover Pond

For a unique glimpse into Meriden’s past, visit Hanover Pond—a living museum that reconstructs life in a historic mill village. Costumed interpreters guide visitors through the early 19th century industrial community, including stops in a one-room schoolhouse, the company store, and workers’ cottages. Kids will especially love opportunities to dip candles, participate in craft demonstrations, and play traditional games.

Special events like harvest festivals, lantern tours and hands-on history days make Hanover Pond particularly fun and engaging for little ones. Families will come away with an appreciation for the ingenuity and hard work that built communities like Meriden, as well as some old-fashioned hands-on fun.

Tour Hubbard Museum of the American West

Located within Hubbard Park, the Hubbard Museum of the American West is another top attraction for families. Walter Hubbard’s son founded this museum to preserve fine Western art and artifacts—from Native American culture through the early frontier periods.

Visitors are treated to an outstanding collection of baskets, beadwork, pottery, paintings and more that bring indigenous life and early Western expansion to light. Kids will marvel at full-sized teepees, totem poles, and an expansive rare firearms exhibit.

The museum also shows classic Western films and hosts educational events for children, like Native American storytelling and reenactments of cavalry demonstrations. After exploring the galleries, families will gain meaningful insight into the history and spirit of the American West.

See a Show at Meriden Daffodil Festival

Each April, Meriden celebrates the coming of springtime with its gorgeous Daffodil Festival. Over 6 million daffodils bloom across Hubbard Park, making the ideal backdrop for this popular community event. The highlight for most families is attending a show at the Daffodil Festival Performing Arts Center.

Talented student and community theater groups put on full musicals and plays during the run of the “Daffodil Celebration.” Enjoy a classic like “Mary Poppins” or “Annie” with your kids as part of this heartwarming seasonal tradition. Before or after the theater, families can marvel at the golden daffodil displays, shop for handicrafts at the arts and crafts fair, or simply enjoy a picnic surrounded by dazzling flowers.

Roar at the Dinosaur Place

The Dinosaur Place is southern Connecticut’s very own Jurassic Park, with over 40 life-sized dinosaur models spread out in a natural outdoor setting. Families are transported back in time as they walk trails to encounter familiar favorites like Triceratops and T-rex, as well as lesser known ancient creatures like Edaphosaurus. Informative signs describe details on each dinosaur model, from their size to their dining habits.

An indoor discovery center expands learning, with several interactive exhibits about fossils and the Mesozoic Era. Popular highlights include a working paleontology lab, a dig pit for kids, and an immersive video theater. Special events like scavenger hunts and junior paleontologist classes make this an especially fun outing for inquisitive young dinosaur lovers.

Have a Ball at Quassy Amusement Park

When it comes to family-friendly attractions, it’s hard to beat an exciting amusement park like Quassy. This lakeside park has delighted kids and adults alike for over a century, packing in rides, games, food and entertainment. Family favorites include the Wooden Warrior roller coaster, Reverse Time scrambler, and Free Fall adrenaline towers.

Little ones love gentle options like the Grand Carousel, trains and boats in the kids “Qubed” area. Arcade games, mini golf, paddle boats and Saturation Station round out the offerings. Summer concerts add to the festive atmosphere, while fall events like Fright Nights and Winterfest give Quassy year-round appeal. With affordable pricing and so much action, Quassy Amusement Park promises an unforgettable experience for families.

Get Active at Whiting Street and Ryan’s Field

Meriden has several sprawling parks that are ideal for sports, games and family recreation. Whiting Street Park offers beautifully maintained baseball and softball diamonds for year-round play. Soccer and football fields give kids plenty of room to stretch their legs. There’s also a playground, picnic areas perfect for afternoon birthdays and barbecues, plus a splash pad to cool little ones in summer.

Nearby Ryan’s Field has additional ballfields for leagues and sports teams, with more playground equipment overlooking a scenic pond. The large open lawn here is just right for flying kites, playing catch or enjoying an impromptu game of tag or frisbee. Both parks have walking loops that make it easy to squeeze in some exercise while kids play.

Learn Local History at Curtis Memorial Library

Meriden’s public library is a wonderful resource for research and programs tied to local history. The Curtis Memorial Library’s reference section contains several books and files detailing Meriden’s growth from Colonial days through the industrial boom. Kids will have fun looking through photographs and news clippings tracing how the city took shape over time.

The library also offers walking tours highlighting historic buildings downtown, often stopping at Hubbard Park and Hanover Pond. Seasonal events like cemetery tours in October and reenactments of famous Meriden residents bring history to life. Families can even find their own ancestors in Meriden using the library’s genealogy section and online newspaper archives. It’s easy to see why the Curtis Memorial Library makes history more compelling for visitors of all ages.

Savor Ethnic Eats on East Main Street

Families can literally eat their way across the globe without ever leaving East Main Street in Meriden. The city’s proud ethnic heritage is reflected in its incredible array of small family-run eateries representing cuisines from all corners of the world. Little Italy Bakery and Deli is a treasured spot for fresh-pressed paninis, specialty desserts and authentic Italian pastries.

Carniceria Grecia prepares Salvadorian pupusas, burritos and other specialties in colorful, family-style surroundings. Tony’s Apizza puts its own spin on Connecticut’s famous thin-crust, coal-fired pies. Other dining destinations might feature Brazilian churrasco, Lebanese kabobs, or Vietnamese pho noodle soup, all in a cozy neighborhood setting. After a day sampling Meriden’s globally-inspired flavors, families will gain both full bellies and newfound culinary knowledge!

Bowl and Play the Night Away

When evening rolls around, head to Divinity Family Bowl for hours of entertainment under one roof. This huge complex has 40+ bowling lanes equipped with bumpers and lightweight balls for kids. Giant video screens play music videos while colorful neon lights pulse to the beat. The massive arcade features cutting edge virtual reality experiences plus over 100 redemption games for tickets to trade for fun prizes.

Air hockey, billiards, skee-ball and basketball shooting games round out the options in this action-packed facility. While the kids play, parents can grab drinks and food like wings, nachos and pizza from the Highway 61 Grill. With so much to keep families occupied at Divinity Family Bowl, no one will mind staying out past bedtime.

Catch a Show at Palace Theater

Meriden’s elegantly restored Palace Theater is the perfect venue for a family-friendly performing arts show. Originally opened in 1917 as a vaudeville house, The Palace still exudes old world charm with its ornate interior, velvet seats and balcony views. Today it hosts concerts, plays, dance performances, films and other events year-round, including many child-centered shows.

Parents will swoon over the intimate, historic setting while kids gleefully watch Dinosaur Train Live, PJ Masks or Peppa Pig take the stage. The theater’s award-winning Arts in Education program also performs charming fairy tale musicals specifically for school field trips. For an unforgettable night taking in cultural experiences together, families should add the Palace Theater to their Meriden outing.

Conclusion

Meriden has no shortage of memorable activities where parents and children can gather lasting memories together. From the great outdoors at Hubbard Park to the state-of-the-art thrills at Divinity Family Bowl, there are interactive opportunities to match any style or age group.

Families can equally enjoy quiet moments like candle-dipping at Hanover Pond or laugh-filled occasions cheering on an amusement park ride. Meriden’s cultural diversity shines through in historic attractions, authentic cuisine, and performing arts.

When it comes to keeping kids happy and engaged, this small Connecticut city thinks big. Visitors repeatedly rediscover why Meriden makes the perfect playground for family fun.

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