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.
Washington Square Art Gallery's precision framers preserve diplomas, sports memorabilia, and prints with custom frames, acid-free backing boards, and UV-protective and plexiglas that prevents keepsakes from fading. Specializing in custom framing, picture professionals craft plastic, wood, metal, and stone squares that average around $200 a project, depending on size, materials, and framed objects' ticklishness. Replace novelty kitten posters with a diploma framed in wood ($150–$225), and including a double matte, dry mounting and plexiglas. In addition to fencing in renegade memories, Washington Square Art Gallery will happily restore wilted photographs to their former glory. The helpful staff also delivers and hangs wall decorations at no additional cost, and on-site parking provides visitors with a safe place to leave their car or saddled ostrich.
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.
Stepping Stones Museum for Children encourages kids to learn through play with permanent and traveling exhibits tailored to different age levels and activities designed to develop growing brains. The newly renovated 22,000-square-foot space—which boasts five main galleries with more than 100 hands-on activities—was founded in 2000 to expand children's minds through an interdisciplinary mix of subjects, including art, culture, literacy, and string theory. Because kids learn best by doing, the museum's interactive exhibits are perfect for improving cognitive function. Tykes 0–36 months explore the multidimensional Tot Town, and the futuristic Energy Lab powered by wind, water, and sun keeps older kids conducting experiments amid an array of vibrant colors and textures. Outside, the museum's gigantic open-air tent known as Celebration Courtyard hosts an oversized checkerboard and big foam building blocks. A community garden teaches little ones about butterflies and edible plants, and Healthyville employs computer games to educate kids about nutrition, the body, and why you shouldn't eat fake fruit.
The Rye Historical Society, founded in 1964, is dedicated to preserving and celebrating Rye's unique historic heritage. The Society has restored both the Square House and the Knapp House and serves the community through school visits, educational programs, lectures, exhibits, tours and family events.
Backyard Sports engages young athletes in a series of weekly skill sessions, including baseball and basketball sport camps, taught by teachers, coaches, and varsity athletes. One-hour spring baseball sessions for pre-kindergarten through 2nd-graders, which take place on Sundays from May 8 to June 19, are tailored toward appropriate skill levels. Novices learn basic rules of the game, fundamental catching and throwing skills, and how to kick dust when arguing a call. More experienced athletes can hone fielding, hitting, speed and agility, and how to interpret an endorsement contract.