12 Things To Do With Family in Stratford, Connecticut

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Stratford is a charming New England town located along Connecticut’s coastline, just a short drive from major cities like New Haven and Bridgeport. Known for its rich history and natural beauty, Stratford offers visitors plenty of family-friendly activities, attractions and recreational options to enjoy throughout the year.

From exploring historic sites and scenic parks, to hands-on museums and wildlife encounters, Stratford has something to delight travelers of all ages. Outdoor enthusiasts will love kayaking along the Housatonic River, hiking trails among vibrant fall foliage, or even stand up paddleboarding at one of the nearby beaches. Families can also take advantage of child-oriented activities like mini golf, bowling and arcade games at some of the top entertainment centers and arcades in the state.

When you’re looking to entertain multiple generations during your Stratford getaway, consider including some of these top things to do with family:

Explore the Fascinating Grounds of Boothe Memorial Park

Stretching over 130 pristine acres, Boothe Memorial Park offers families ample opportunities for recreation and learning within its vast expanse of gardens, woodlands and open spaces. Wander through themed gardens like the Shakespeare Garden overflowing with floral inspiration from the English bard’s poems and plays.

The park also features Boothe Homestead, a historic house museum that provides a glimpse into 19th century life. Families can pack a lunch to enjoy on site or sign up for one of the park’s seasonal events, like weekend yoga sessions on the great lawn.

Marvel at Over 500 Species at Beardsley Zoo

Known as Connecticut’s only zoo, Beardsley Zoo is home to over 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Walk through the Western Plains to spy bison, wolves, mountain lions and black bears in naturalistic habitats.

Check out the rainforest-themed South American exhibit to view everything from giant anteaters to endangered monkeys like golden lion tamarins. Don’t miss out on the zoo’s endangered Amur tigers and leopards, as well as its beloved African lions. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, enjoy a ride on the colorful carousel, and even schedule private events.

Get Up Close with Butterflies at the Pantheon Theater

Once a vaudeville-era movie theater, the Pantheon Theater is now home to an indoor butterfly conservatory that doubles as a special events venue and educational center. Visitors enter a tropical landscape filled with flowering plants, trickling waterfalls, koi ponds and hundreds of freely flying butterflies from North, Central and South America, Asia and Africa.

Children will love observing monarchs and swallowtails feeding on fruit, flowers and tree sap. Guests can take self-guided audio tours to learn more about butterfly anatomy, metabolism, migration patterns and life cycles. The theater also hosts kids’ birthday parties.

Bowl Strikes & Enjoy Fun Games at Stamford Lanes

When your family craves action-packed fun, head to Stamford Lanes for hours of entertainment across its 72 bowling lanes. Rent lane time to play rounds of glow-in-the-dark bowling beneath dazzling disco lights. Challenge each other in the arcade featuring classic ticket redemption games and prize claw machines.

Adults can grab craft beer and burgers at the Stadium Sports Bar & Restaurant while supervising kids on lane bumpers. Stamford Lanes also has billiards tables, sports simulators and holds themed events for holidays like Halloween. Perfect for birthday celebrations or rainy day adventures.

Tour the Campus Life of Yale University

Take a day trip over to New Haven, Connecticut to explore the hallowed grounds of elite Yale University. Family tours provide access to parts of the campus normally closed to the public, allowing you to view imposing architecture like Harkness Tower and Ingalls Rink.

Guides share fascinating historical facts and anecdotes while pointing out major sights like shops and dining halls. Get unique photo ops outside school buildings or dramatic stages like the Yale School of Drama. Families can grab eats from the famous food trucks around campus or have a post-tour meal downtown on Chapel Street. Don’t forget to visit Handsome Dan XVII, Yale’s beloved live bulldog mascot.

Paddle Alongside Harbor Seals on a Kayak Eco-Tour

See Stratford’s coastline and wildlife from an entirely new perspective by embarking on a guided kayak eco-tour. Paddle your tandem kayak along the scenic Lewis Gut while spotting harbor seals sunning themselves along rocks and native marsh birds like egrets wading along banks.

Friendly guides identify plant life and talk about the ecology of this protected saltwater inlet. Tours generally last around two hours over a leisurely 3-mile route, so most ages and skill levels can participate. Wetsuit and shoe rentals are available for colder months. Post-kayak, warm up by a beach bonfire complete with s’mores kits and hot chocolate.

Experience Classic Arcade Gaming at Quassy Amusement Park

The lakeside Quassy Amusement & Waterpark first opened way back in 1908, making it one of New England’s oldest trolley parks. While known for its thrill rides like wooden roller coasters, families with young children can stick to gentler attractions like tea cup-style spins, flying elephants and a musical carousel.

When you need a break from the midway, head inside Quassy’s massive arcade packed with over 60 classic games. Test your skills on pinball machines, driving simulators, basketball shoots and ticket redemption games. Treat the kids to carnival fare like foot-long hot dogs, funnel cake fries, and salt water taffy from the Sweet Shoppe.

Enjoy Shows Under the Stars at Stratford’s Shakespeare Theatre

Bring some culture into your family vacation by grabbing tickets to an open-air production at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Theatre. Designed to mimic London’s historic Globe Theatre, guests sit on long wooden benches under the stars during spirited performances from May through September.

Popular family-friendly picks include musical adaptations of Shakespeare plays like “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” or “Twelfth Night”. Arrive early to browse through the on-site gift shops stocked with unique drama-themed items and snag globally-inspired bites from the Festival Marketplace.

Learn Local History at the Boothe Homestead Museum

Within Boothe Memorial Park sits Boothe Homestead, offering families a glimpse into 19th century life through its fully-restored period rooms and historic outbuildings. Costumed interpreters guide guests through the circa-1740 farmhouse, explaining how cooking, cleaning, farming and other daily tasks took place.

Kids will love getting hands-on during special programs like candle dipping in the colonial kitchen, pumping water at the recreated well, and playing traditional games on the grounds. Stop by the visitor center afterward for old-fashioned treats like ginger snaps baked over the open fireplace. The museum also hosts seasonal events like harvest festivals and an annual sheep shearing day each spring.

Watch Aircraft Soar at the New England Air Museum

Perfect for kids obsessed with aviation, the New England Air Museum displays over 100 aircraft spanning the entire history of flight. Marvel over rare planes like a Sikorsky VS-44A Flying Boat and the triangular Convair F-102 Delta Dagger.

Enter aviation’s hall of fame filled with memorabilia honoring legends like Amelia Earhart. Interactive exhibits let kids climb aboard airplanes while the Children’s Learning Center keeps little ones entertained with toys and costumes for imaginary play. Family visitors can also enroll in the museum’s summer aviation day camp. Don’t forget to experience the flight simulators before you depart!

Saddle Up for Trail Rides Along Shoreline Vistas

Trade cityscapes for lush forests and rocky overlooks by joining a guided trail ride along Stratford’s coastline scenery. Several local stables offer one to two hour group toursideal for first-time riders, including families with older children.

Friendly guides match up riders with gentle, experienced horses before leading you down wooded paths and across open meadows. Soak up panoramic vistas of Long Island Sound and watch shorebirds circling over quiet marshlands. Wranglers supervise participants every step of the trail to ensure a smooth, enjoyable experience amidst picturesque natural scenery.

Go Back in Time at the Sterling House Underground Railroad Museum

Learn about a pivotal period in American history by touring the Sterling House Underground Railroad Museum in Stratford. Walk through the 175-year old home that once operated as a safe house for runaway slaves along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad route through Connecticut. Guides dressed in period attire explain how escaped slaves were sheltered in hidden rooms and attics before being transported north to freedom.

Exhibits showcase secret coded letters, photos of abolitionist heroes, and tools used by freedom seekers navigating by the stars. Families gain profound insight into the network that relied on the bravery of both black and white Americans fighting against injustice.

Conclusion


With its magnificent parks, intriguing museums and wealth of family entertainment options, the coastal community of Stratford offers the ingredients for an amazing vacation built around quality time spent with loved ones. From active adventures paddling local waterways to opportunities for hands-on play and discovery, Stratford’s family-friendly attractions deliver fun and wonder for guests both young and young at heart.

The town’s vibrant arts scene, regional cuisine and historic landmarks also provide families the chance to immerse themselves in true New England culture. Visitors return year after year to uncover new sights, create lasting memories, and deepen connections through shared experiences. For your next family getaway, choose the small town charm and big appeal of Stratford, Connecticut.

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