When the drilling of Leduc #1 turned out to be a game-changing discovery of crude oil, it surprised a whole lot of people and essentially put Alberta on the world's map. That was in 1947. Five decades later, Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre was created to showcase the site and its ingenuity, as well as Canada's oil industry.
Here, science and discovery blend into one exciting experience stretched across 80 acres of exhibits, artifacts, and displays. Visitors can feast their eyes on award-winning films, get their hands dirty in an interactive lab, and even take a virtual ride in the world's largest drill bit, which is expected to replace family minivans in the near future. Additionally, tours with industry veterans provide insider facts, and stops to the gift shop ensure memories last long after visits end.
Schooner Inc began in 1975 as a means to highlight the plight of the Long Island Sound and to help amplify the positive difference that the Clean Water Act was starting to make in US waters. Today, the company connects more than 8,000 people each year to the beauty and history of New Haven Harbor via public sails, summer camps, and educational programs.
For the last 23 years, the Quinnipiack?central Connecticut's only traditionally rigged tall ship?has hosted hands-on marine experiences for kids and adults. The New Haven mayor has officially decreed the schooner to be the city's flagship, as well as the ship Most Likely to Wear Couture Sails. The spacious boat was named to honor the Native Americans who inhabited the region and is helmed by an experienced and friendly crew.
Parents and children gaze at Curious George's antics on a movie screen, which is situated amid the same stencil work, pews, and fixtures that have decorated Charter Oak Cultural Center's building since its construction in 1876. Once the first synagogue to be built in Connecticut, it currently hosts the center's theatrical performances, film showings, and gallery exhibits, which all center around the idea that art is sustenance for the mind. With a belief that open and equal access to the arts fosters the community as a whole, it aims to enrich minds through four key activity types—artistic, cultural, educational, and historic preservation—that are often free. Its youth arts institute is endorsed by the Hartford Public Schools superintendent’s office and aims to supplement curricula with programs before, after, and after-after school. In adult-learning workshops, instructors advise on topics such as what to consider before going back to school, while the center's Homegrown Dance movement supports seven local companies.
Stamford Museum & Nature Center has come a long way since its founding in 1936. Over the decades, its sprawling grounds have grown to include areas focused on nature, agriculture, astronomy, art, and history. On a hill lies the Henri Bendel Mansion. This once-private residence echoes classic British manor houses with its lead-framed glass windows, half-timbered walls, and stone gargoyles that speak in cockney accents. Visitors can view the ground's sculptures before going inside to gaze at the museum galleries and rotating exhibitions, which explore topics in art and pop culture.
Back outside, more than 80 acres of nature trails wind through the trees. One such trail leads to Nature's Playground, where kids soar down slides and play in a treehouse. Elsewhere, the accessible Wheels in the Woods trail lets people of all abilities explore the forest.
Crossing over Bendel's Pond brings visitors to Heckscher Farm, where kids learn basic animal care. The New England?style farm, which stands next to an otter pond, home to otters Bert and Edie, encompasses structures such as the Cheshire Barn, which was built in 1750 and houses heritage-breed animals, including chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, cows, and llamas. The Stamford Observatory sits west of the farm and offers visitors an opportunity to peer into a 22-inch research telescope (on Friday evenings, weather permitting), to view the night sky.
Fascia’s Chocolate began nearly 50 years ago as a family endeavor and it remains so today, whipping up white, milk, and dark-chocolate delights in small batches using a superior Swiss-style chocolate. Sink saccharine-seeking teeth into traditionally salty snacks made sweet, such as chocolate-covered potato chips and pretzels ($7.95+), while assorted truffles and cordial cherries make easy friends with even the most standoffish of taste buds ($16.95 for 8 oz.; $29.95 for 16 oz.). For a classic romantic gesture, pick up a medley of milk and dark-chocolate morsels in varied shapes and designs, some stuffed with timeless fillers such as caramel, nuts, creams, and more ($13.95 for a 15-piece box; $24.95 for 32-pieces), or, for truly special relationships, like the one between an irresponsible driver and a bribable parking enforcement official, are strengthened with a gift of specialty Fascia’s goodies, such as pecan turtles, truffle meltaways, and buttercrunch toffee ($14.95 for 8 oz.; $26.95 for 16 oz.). Moms deserve edible recognition with chocolate-dipped strawberries, especially on May 8, a holiday known to sneak up until it’s too late to get anything but a lame greeting card and a pet rock for the woman who brought you into this world ($19.95 for eight-piece box).
Home to more than 1,000 marine animals, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk entices visitors of all ages with glimpses of the Long Island Sound’s rich ecosystem. Pintsize adventurers thrill at the touch tank, which puts friendly rays and other inhabitants of the Sound at arm's reach. Sharks swiftly navigate a glass-enclosed exhibit, giving visitors an up-close view of the powerful creatures without having to disguise themselves as bigger sharks. The friendly staff members feed seven harbor seals three times a day, inviting landlubbers to watch and ask questions as the whiskered inhabitants chow down. A six-story screen displays larger-than-life images in the IMAX theater, as educational tales of seafaring critters and jungle dwellers inspire folk ballads about the family cat. The behind-the-scenes tour steers visitors through the jellyfish nursery and fish kitchen before piloting toward the Open Ocean exhibit, where participants can toss in fish to feed the sharks, and then after-dinner mints to curb the indecorous effects.