The Connecticut Science Center in Hartford CT has fast become one of the premiere family destinations in New England.  More than 150 exhibits feature hands-on experiences that incorporate building, playing and experimenting into a visit.  The center also includes a state-of-the-art 3D digital theater with stadium seating that can fit up to 200 people.  This is one of the best things to do with kids in Connecticut. Even better, the destination is part of the city’s newly developed Front Street District which includes hotels, a convention center, restaurants, shops and more.

Connecticut Science Center round window

Family fun at Connecticut Science Center. Photo Credit: Sarah Cody

Looking for Interactive Fun? Find it at the Connecticut Science Center

An angular, modern behemoth perched over the Connecticut River, the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford has fast become one of the premiere family destinations in New England.

Opened in 2009, the center – housed in a nine story, 154,000 square foot building – aims to be an area resource for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning.  More than 150 exhibits feature hands-on experiences that incorporate building, playing and experimenting into a visit.

The center also includes a state-of-the-art 3D digital theater with stadium seating that can fit up to 200 people.  This destination is part of the city’s newly developed Front Street District which includes hotels, a convention center, restaurants, shops and more.

Science is more than test tubes and chemistry sets at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford CT.

Nature abounds at the Connecticut Science Center. Photo credit: Sarah Cody.

All Age Appeal

Like the famous Museum of Science in Boston, this spot is filled with exhibits ranging from geology to astronomy.  Walk into the Science Center and be greeted by KidSpace, a bright room for children under 7 years old.  Just the sight of it equals FUN.

When my boys were small, they were obsessed with this room.  Kids don aprons and play in water, watching balls swirl and jump in mini-waves or building dams with blocks.  The center truly appeals to kids, teens and adults alike. We all manage to find something to do at this spacious, comfortable destination.

Science is more than test tubes and chemistry sets at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford CT.

Ben enjoys the water fun in KidSpace. Photo credit: Sarah Cody.

Permanent Exhibits

Exhibits are varied and creative.  At Forces In Motion, visitors can tinker with mini-sailboats, watching the affects of wind direction on the small sails.  Also, they can stand in front of a cone, emitting a stream of air, and use it to guide a beach ball through the air and into a hoop.  My son Sam – the athlete of the family – was particularly intrigued by this activity.

Sight and Sound allows kids to run across an illuminated floor and make noises with their feet.  My boys love leaping in the air – to have their motion frozen in time – while making a Freeze Frame 360 video that can be viewed on the spot.

Exploring Space has a cool, relaxing vibe as folks can actually make a moon crater by pushing a button and sending a ball into sand.  Also, we were able to spy a real-life NASA spacesuit and lay back in a pod to witness the wonders of the galaxy.  Invention Dimension invites kids to be inventors while building creations with LEGO.  Move models of parts of the body in Picture of Health – which illustrates how our muscles and bones work.  Families also learn about good nutrition and digestion.

Sports and Science

Welcome to another exhibit enjoyed by Sam – the Sports Lab.  A “south paw” leftie pitcher – he winds up and takes the speed pitch challenge with an enormous smile on his face.

Find my other son, Ben, hitting the slopes in the ski simulator.  And, both boys enjoy performing “crash tests” on helmets to see how much force they can withstand.  It’s interesting, sure, but there’s also something about the loud noise and dramatic visuals that captures their interest.

Ben and I each put on a head band to engage in a race involving a rolling ball – moved only by our brain waves!  Completely wild!  I thought I was winning…then realized I was losing…but, it didn’t matter, we had a lot of fun and the experience certainly inspired conversation!

Science is more than test tubes and chemistry sets at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford CT.

Sam experiences Forces In Motion. Photo credit: Sarah Cody.

Science In Nature

A visit to the center is not all about test tubes and chemistry sets. There is a real focus on nature and the realities of the world we live in.

  • In the Planet Earth exhibit, small kids love to dig for fossils and see the movements of an animatronic dinosaur.
  • My guys love to step inside the hurricane simulator and feel the effects of the gale-force winds.  Folks also have the chance to record their own weather forecast in front of a green screen.  Always a big hit with this news lady’s sons!
  • River of Life – focused on the Connecticut River – is one of our favorite spots.  This exhibit takes visitors on a virtual tour of New England’s largest river – both beautiful and educational, as it details the importance of the river on our history and economy.
  • My Ben, always the animal lover, rushes to the touch tank to check out the various crustaceans on display.  He also loves the tanks of fish, snakes and turtles.

The design of the Connecticut Science Center is a feature in itself.  Visitors can gaze out large windows and take in the actual river, as they learn about it.

Science is more than test tubes and chemistry sets at the Connecticut Science Center. There are things to do with kids and fun stuff to keep parents engaged as well -- not to mention great restaurants nearby.

Nestled in a Cool Area

Connecticut is full of cool destinations and since it’s a small state, you can hit a few spots in a weekend, for sure.  Check out the Peabody Museum in New Haven or the incredible Thimble Islands in Branford.

The Connecticut Science Center is easy to get to, right off the highway.  Families can park in an on-site garage, attached to the center.  While you can find food inside the center – at Subway or Froyo World – it’s great fun to explore the newly developed Front Street District which includes eateries The Capital Grill and Ted’s Montana Grille.

This area is also home to Infinity Music Hall & Bistro, the Spotlight Theatre and a newly renovated Marriott Hotel.  So, don’t just cruise through Hartford on your way to Boston or New York!  Make it a destination – and get your “science” on!

FIND MORE CONNECTICUT SPOTS FOR SCIENCE-INSPIRED FUN and check out these free things to do in Connecticut