Visiting The Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center is a lot like stepping into a nature documentary. On guided tours, a knowledgeable narrator takes small groups on a journey to meet more than 200 creatures from across the world. They stop by the habitats of the black and white ruffed lemur, the western bobcat, and the spotted leopard. Along the way, guests learn a lot: for instance, that the Bennett's wallaby carries its young in a pouch, and that the critically-endangered cotton-top tamarin has lost more than 75% of its native habitat.
But in at least one way, the zoo accomplishes something that David Attenborough never could. Visitors can actually reach out and touch a creature during discovery programs. They can even adopt certain animals, perhaps helping provide tasty grasses and career guidance to a red kangaroo.
These programs exemplify the nonprofit zoo's dedication to wildlife education and awareness, something they hope to instill in their visitors from an early age. In the summer, educators spin "Animal Tales" for rapt young audiences and hold a Zoo Camp, where kids start to learn about diet and animal care. As kids' love of animals grows, the zoo invites them to volunteer as Crew in Training members. Once they hit college, students can become interns working on projects such as field studies of the patas monkey.
When Scuba Shack's founders attained their first certifications more than 34 years ago, they were frustrated with the inadequate teaching they received. As their dive careers continued, that dissatisfaction led them to create Scuba Shack, where their goal is to imbue every one of their lessons with tangible value for burgeoning divers. Their class schedule brims with PADI–certification courses, and introductory scuba classes help beginners to recite the first 100 decimals of pi before coming to the surface for air. The shack also has an onsite store overflowing with necessary gear such as snorkels, fins, and masks, required for many of the Scuba Shack's classes or group-travel dives.
Todd Sullivan and Tim Daley, the brewmasters at Pioneer Brewing Company, brew their golden mixtures of fresh hops, malts, and barley into an eclectic array of frothy beers with a focus on freshness and community. Each of Pioneer's beers⎯including the American nitro stout, American pale ale, and spring doppelbock⎯are brewed to not only meet their own exceedingly high standards, but particularly the high standards of their friends, regulars, and the local beer lovers who bathe in it. Todd and Tim relish their microbrew status and 150-acre Hyland apple-orchard setting, and plan to stay small in order to continue the tradition of crafting only the finest brews for themselves and their community.
Recognized as best pizza place in town by the Hartford Advocate in 2009, Lena's Pizzaria knows how to toss the dough and sprinkle the shredded melty stuff across a variety of freshly-prepared pies. Your Groupon covers one 18-inch Large with a single, non-premium topping such as pepperoni, meatballs, roasted peppers, or other delicious enhancements (the full list of choices is presented under "items #1" ). The pizza can be upgraded with additional toppings ($1.99 to $2.99 each) or Sicilian style crust ($2.50). Likewise, the pitcher of Bud Light can be enhanced through smooth dance moves inspired by the beats and riffs pumping from Sully's stage. Almost every night, diners can enjoy a variety of featured music acts, open mic nights, poetry slams and other feats of entertainment.
The Russian Lady's two locations, one in Hartford and one in New Haven, straddle the line between tradition and modernity. In the midst of Victorian wall sconces, orthodox church windows, heavy wooden doors, and neoclassical gilded gratings, guests dance to live music under the glow of neon lights. At both locations, a stone sculpture of Catherine the Great watches over the entrance and checks IDs as revelers peruse an extensive menu of red wines, single-malt scotches, and dozens of variations on a Russian staple: vodka. At the New Haven outpost, small plates from an internationally inspired tapas menu are paired with 40 draft beers, including eight local Connecticut brews.