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.
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.
The experts at Yarnover help knitters of all skill levels learn basic and advanced techniques in knitting classes, as well as help those comfortable enough to knit by themselves navigate the shop and secure buttons, needle cases, and colorful royal alpaca, mulberry silk, or baby llama yarn. During the hands-on classes, students progress at their own pace as they take in wisdom and pointers from experienced teachers and broaden the knowledge of their hands and muscle memory. Guests can also stop by to sharpen their skills and talk trash about crocheters at a free knitting circle held every Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m.
Mal-sun Marletto has dedicated decades to the sport of fencing. A passion of hers since the age of 10, Mal-Sun has not only competed in five countries, but she's also a World Cup competitor and Connecticut Women’s Champion in foil, épée, and saber. At Farmington Valley Fencing Academy, where she is both owner and head coach, Mal-sun draws on her vast experience and US Fencing Coaches Association–certification to instruct students of all ages and skill levels. She designed a variety of programs and membership packages that include instruction in foil, saber, and épée, and include additional perks such as discounts on equipment and gear.