Whether in the frigid temperatures of winter, or the sweltering heat of summer, these local Milford and Orange establishments offer great learning and creative outlets for kids of all ages. After the great response to 13 Active Indoor Play Places for Kids last week, today I have compiled a list of indoor play places that educate and inspire creativity in young children.
Learning & Creative Indoor Play Places
From museums to art studios, libraries and nature centers, I’ve put together a list of all our local and nearly local venues. And while they may not offer active entertainment, there is still plenty to do and engage growing little minds at all of them.
Museums aren’t just for grown-ups. And you don’t even have to tiptoe around silently! These area museums are specifically for children, or offer special children’s programming throughout the year.
Peabody Museum of Natural History
The main attraction for my girls at the Peabody is definitely the dinosaurs! Though they also enjoy seeing the evolution of animals, the sparkly gems and rocks, and be sure not to miss the Discovery Room, just for kids. The live, leaf-cutter ant colony even fascinated me!
The Peabody also offers After School Programs, Winter Camps, Summer Camps, Birthday Parties and annual special events. My personal favorites? A Night at the Peabody Museum and Dinosaur Days! Watch our events calendar for the latest fun at the Peabody.
Stepping Stones Museum for Children
The best part about Stepping Stones is we always seem to run out of time before the girls are done playing. Two years ago, my mother-in-law got us a family membership for Christmas – it was definitely the gift that gave all year long. The toddler and crawler play area was great for Lil’ M when she was smaller, and Big M could play in the Energy Lab for days. This summer, the Build It! exhibit was a great hit as well. And they both love dancing in the ‘room with the light up floor!’
I like it because it has a great lunch area with healthy, kid-friendly food choices. We spend a morning at the museum, grab lunch and everyone passes out in the car for the ride home! Stepping Stones has regular, weekly scheduled programming, as well as special events, like the Children’s Winter Ball. See the latest on our event calendar.
Imagine Nation – A Museum Early Learning Center
Imagine Nation is both a children’s museum, as well as an early learning center. The museum offers 12 interactive exhibits, geared toward children ages 2 – 8 years old.
Discovery Museum and Planetarium
The Discovery Museum features space and science exhibits, as well as a science education center. In addition to exhibits, the facility includes a 124-seat planetarium, which was recently upgraded, and offers shows daily both for very young children, as well as children 8 and up.
Connecticut Science Center
A longer drive, but worth the trip. The Connecticut Science Center offers 150 hands-on exhibits, a 3-D digital theater, educational labs and daily programming and events for children, teens and adults.
Animals & Nature Centers
While some components of these facilities are outdoors, the indoor facilities, exhibits and activities are still worth a visit and offer great learning opportunity during the winter months.
Connecticut Audubon Society
Center at Fairfield | 2325 Burr St. | Fairfield, CT
The Connecticut Audubon Society has facilities throughout the state, including the Coastal Center at Milford Point and the Center at Fairfield. Both provide educational programming for children and families, summer camps and birthday parties featuring native animals and more. They also coordinate with local schools to provide programming within schools.
Both facilities are open to the public, at no charge (donations are welcome). Animals are on display in aquariums, as well as telescopes for observation, and a small gift shop.
The Maritime Aquarium
Smaller than its neighbor to the north, the Mystic Aquarium, the Maritime Aquarium is entirely housed indoors, making it the perfect trip for a blustery day. Featuring animals, special exhibits and an IMAX theater, there is no shortage of entertainment. The Aquarium also facilitates cruises of the Sound for bird and seal watches. For elementary-aged children, vacation and summer camp programs are available. And be sure to check our events calendar for Aquarium special events, like the annual Chocolate Expo.
Creative Indoor Play Spaces
Entertain your budding Picasso at one of these great creative centers. In addition to open hours for crafting, most also offer scheduled programming, classes and even evenings of adult entertainment for parents’ nights out.
The Giggling Pig
Winners of Playground Parkbench’s 2015 Best Birthday Party venue, The Giggling Pig is an awesome art studio space for kids and grown-ups alike. It offers a regular class schedule for children as young as 3, up to age 16, as well as evening Parent & Child paint sessions, Paint & Sip sessions for adults, summer camps and more.
Be sure to meet Hannah, the owner, and have her sign a copy of her children’s books for you! Catch their latest event dates, times and cost on their events page!
Teri Anna’s Ceramic Studio
Teri Anna’s offers something for everyone… classes for kids and adults, kids camps, birthday parties, canvas painting and open paint hours. Teri Anna is a gracious hostess – and when I showed up pregnant and with an 18 month old to paint mugs for family gifts – she went out of her way to help us every step of the way, and didn’t look at me like I was crazy for bringing a toddler into a shop full of breakables! Paint local!
Creative Arts Workshop – A Community Art School
A not-for profit, the Creative Arts Workshop (CAW) has served the Greater New Haven area as a visual arts education center since 1961. Classes begin for children as young as 2 years old and continue through for adults of all ages. In addition to classes, CAW also offers one day workshops (also for all ages). For more details, to see their latest offerings and register, please visit their website.
Everyone knows Michael’s as the craft store. But did you also know they have a weekly Kids’ Club? For just $2 you can complete a craft in-store on Saturday mornings! See our events calendar for all the details.
The local library offers an amazing place for kids to do so much more than just check out books. Both our area libraries offer play areas, story times, awesome children’s programming weekly, as well as special events. Be sure to check our event calendar for the latest from both Milford Public Library and Case Memorial in Orange.
Milford Public Library
Case Memorial Library
Did we miss one of your favorite places? Leave us a comment below. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy 13 Active Indoor Play Places in Southern Central Connecticut. You can find all of these, as well as other fun area finds on our Family Fun in Connecticut board on Pinterest.
Coming up next… Preschools! If you are in the hunt for a preschool for your 3, 4 or 5 year old, you won’t want to miss our round-up of all the area preschools. If you would like to see your local business featured here or in a future post, please visit our Sponsors page for details on how to submit your information.