Maple_syrup_bucketWhen the poet E.E. Cummings wrote “The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful” he could’ve been describing early spring in Connecticut. But even in mud-season, there’s plenty of outdoor family travel adventures in the Nutmeg state. So grab your boots and check out these four family travel ideas:

Place your bet on ice — For the last 33 years the Volunteer Fire Department in the town of Kent, Connecticut, has hosted the annual Ice Watch fundraiser. Each year a tripod is placed on the frozen Housatonic River. A rope attaches the tripod to a car clock on the bank of the river. When the ice breaks, the tripod is forced downstream, tripping the clock. For $ 2 a ticket your family can have fun guessing the date, hour and minute when the ice will break.

Slurp up some sugar-on-snow — For many New Englanders February and March are synonymous with maple sugaring and throughout the region festivals abound that celebrate this seasonal rite. Local sugar houses, the New Canaan Nature Center and the Audubon Nature Center in Sharon all offer tours, syrup and sugar making demonstrations, tree tapping, story time for kids, and more.  At the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Connecticut, your family can learn how Native Americans made and used maple syrup.


Go Fishin’ — At the annual Fishing Derby in Riverton, Connecticut, novice and experienced anglers can fish for rainbow and brown trout in the Farmington River. The river, designated as one of the nation’s “wild and scenic rivers,” purportedly offers the best fly fishing in Connecticut. While the event is free, you’ll need a Connecticut Fishing License and your own fishing gear to participate. Children, twelve and under, can drop their lines in a specially-stocked area. When your family has tired of all the wet fun, head over to the Riverton General Store for a bowl of chili.

Race a duck — With the snow and ice melted it’s a perfect time for a race. And who better to paddle downstream than a duck? Several river towns throughout Connecticut hold annual fundraisers where ten of thousands of rubber ducks race to a watery finish line. For a nominal fee families can purchase a duck sponsorship certificate and a chance to win prizes.

Justine Ickes, a contributing writer for Washington Parent, writes about travel, culture, education and people making a difference.