With three floors of interactive exhibits, Imagine Nation keeps tykes aged 2–10 and their parents engaged for hours of synapse-firing fun. Tunnels filled with natural decor await youngsters in the museum's indoor jungle-themed playscape, where they can shake excess energy out of their bounding legs in preparation for naptime or hibernation season. In the ESPN center, kids can pretend to be sportscasters as they sit behind the desk of a model TV set, replete with real equipment from the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
The museum also boasts a health exhibit in which children can don hospital attire and explore a model newborn nursery and an operation table, ideal for parents trying to nudge their child toward a career as a hypochondriac. After whippersnapper's minds have been blown learning about the cosmos at the space exhibit, they can unwind with drinks and snacks at the old-fashioned soda fountain, which winds the clock back to the 1940s with the help of a player piano.
American Clock & Watch Museum’s staff and visitors never have to worry about keeping track of time. Inside a Federal-style home originally built in 1801, curators display more than 1,500 clocks and watches from a collection of more than 5,500, making it one of the largest in the world behind the legion of wristwatches glued together to form Big Ben. Guest curators showcase timepieces from different eras and manufacturers, from antique clocks to art deco accessories made in the Jazz era. Visitors can admire clock maintenance in action on the first and third Friday of each month when the “Ol’ Cranks” wind more than 70 of the museum's historic items. Visitors can also learn more about their own antique treasures by consulting with the museum staff during scheduled evaluation events.
Once, antique wooden carousels dominated parks around the country, delighting kids and adults with jaunty music and exquisite craftsmanship. Today, the experts at the New England Carousel Museum preserve those bygone playtimes for future generations, acquiring and restoring old-fashioned carousels and carousel memorabilia to educate the public on these vintage treasures. In addition to its restoration and exhibition work, the museum also houses an art gallery hosts educational programs for families that can include visits from collectors of other pieces of Americana such as quilts and dolls.
Thirty acres of rolling, grassy meadows provide ample space for equestrians and their mounts to learn, practice, and compete at Avon Valley Show Stables. Indoor and outdoor arenas light up at night, providing riders with an array of options of when and where to ride, no matter the season, weather, or time of day. Led by a team of accomplished trainers, lessons in the English Hunt Seat style of riding are offered to students of all ages, experience levels, and proximities to an original copy of Black Beauty. Children as young as 3 can climb into the saddle and get acquainted with the ins and outs of equestrianism, with the opportunity to even join the competitive team for kids in grades 6 through 12.
Nestled in the charming and historic suburb of Farmington, the Hill-Stead Museum hosts a mixed-medium menagerie amidst a sprawling, 152-acre Colonial Revival estate. Hill-Stead's dynamic collection includes French Impressionist works by Monet and Degas, as well as notable works by Manet, Cassatt, and Whistler, as well as a bounty of prints, photographs, ceramics, furniture, and archival documents. Along with unlimited complimentary admission to the museum, members enjoy reduced admission to museum programs, a 10% discount on Museum Shop purchases, and a one-on-one painting lesson with the cheery spirit of museum founder Alfred Atmore Pope. Join other new members on Wednesday, June 8, for the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, where poet Tony Hoagland will pluck audience heartstrings with poignantly funny stanzas about life and heartache.
Hoyts Simsbury Cinemas enthralls cinephiles and periodic moviegoers alike with the latest Hollywood fare screened in Dolby Digital surround sound. A concessions stand nourishes viewers with delectable noshes, and the theater's stadium seating comfortably harbors audience members waiting their turn to give an acceptance speech for Best Movie Viewer. In addition to its usual cinematic offerings, Hoyts Simsbury Cinemas screens biweekly sensory-friendly showings––for families with youngsters affected by autism and sensory disorders––during which theater lights remain on, the volume is turned down, and patrons may opt to dance, sing, and hop throughout the film. Private showings for mothers and babies invite parents to enjoy movies without worrying that their child's clamor is bothering other audience members. Birthday-party packages treat celebrants to a movie-themed birthday area with a snack pack and helium balloon for each child, and private presentations or VHS support groups welcome up to 50 attendees.