Travel - Make 'em learn without realizing it!
June 19, 2008 9:42 AM   Subscribe

My family will be in New Canaan, CT next week. We plan to visit the Big Apple but what other sites are "must see" in the area?

We enjoy the outdoors but would also like to soak up as much history as we can. We are from the NW and don't have the rich repository of history like the eastern seaboard. Is West Point worth the time? The Catskills? Along the Hudson River? Give an 11 y.o boy and a 15 y.o. girl and their parents something to remember.
posted by Northwest to Travel & Transportation around New Canaan, CT (10 answers total)
Go up I-95 and go to Mystic Seaport.

If you like Asian cuisine, you have to go to Ching's in town. Make reservations. It's on Main St. (in New Canaan, not Mystic). It's ok to take the kids there, too.
posted by Zambrano at 10:05 AM on June 19, 2008

Frankly, New Canaan itself doesn't have a whole lot to offer. I grew up there and can't think of a single attraction worth recommending to visitors. They did recently open Philip Johnson's famed Glass House to the public, but I think it may be difficult (if not impossible) to get tickets due to high demand.

If you're up for a Hartford-area road trip, the Mark Twain House and the Harriet Beecher Stowe house are practically right next to each other in Hartford about an hour-and-a-half from New Canaan. Old Newgate Prison is near there in East Granby, and the Basketball Hall of Fame (if you're into that sort of thing) isn't too far from there in Springfield, MA.

On the way to Hartford, stop for lunch in New Haven and get some pizza at Pepe's or Sally's, both of which are orders of magnitude better than anything in the northwest.

If history's really that important, you probably want to at least think about an overnight trip to either Boston or Philadelphia. That's where most US history began, after all.
posted by dersins at 10:19 AM on June 19, 2008

They did recently open Philip Johnson's famed Glass House to the public, but I think it may be difficult (if not impossible) to get tickets due to high demand.

You can drive by and see the gates and one of the buildings.

Their visitor center that's downtown has some good displays too.
posted by smackfu at 10:40 AM on June 19, 2008

We have no problem with a road trip, day long or overnight. I love the suggestions, keep them coming.
posted by Northwest at 11:32 AM on June 19, 2008

In downtown Hartford you can visit The Wadsworth Atheneum which is a pretty decent art museum (for Hartford at least).

About 15 min from Hartford you can visit Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill CT and see preserved dinosaur tracks and go for a short walk though the woods on some trails they have there (Dinosaur park is at most an hour or so long visit).
posted by Captain_Science at 2:40 PM on June 19, 2008

You must must must make a trip out to Playland in Rye, NY, which is about halfway between New Canaan and NYC. It's one of the last of the old-timey amusement parks, full of historic rides and complete with a boardwalk (where one of the final scenes from Big was filmed). It's not only fun, but has plenty of history to go with it.

The Mystic Aquarium is said to be worthwhile, but there is also a closer aquarium in Norwalk that boasts one of 44 existing great white alligators.
posted by brina at 2:59 PM on June 19, 2008

I've always wanted to check out Gillette Castle State Park and the Peabody Museum.

If you're looking to head up the Hudson...Hyde Park and the Culinary Institute of America are pretty close to each other. Lyndhurst is on the way up, in Tarrytown. West Point is about an hour back from Hyde Park/CIA toward New Canaan, but (and this is important) on the other side of the river.
posted by gnomeloaf at 4:12 PM on June 19, 2008

The Peabody Museum is great. So is Mystic, which has both the aquarium and Mystic Seaport. The Norwalk Aquarium is pretty small, though it is in SoNo - a fun, walkablke part of Norwalk with lots of great little stores and restaurants - Chocopologie is worth a visit if you do happen to go to Norwalk. You could head up to Northwestern Connecticut, where it's hilly and scenic and there's a lot of great hiking. If you want culture, there's the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival [full disclaimer: I used to work there], and New Haven has the International Festival of Arts & Ideas going on now, with a really interesting schedule of events.
posted by bassjump at 8:22 PM on June 19, 2008

Thanks everybody, we're leaving tonight and will explore some of these sites. Happy summer to all.
posted by Northwest at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2008

We have just returned from CT and had a wonderful time.

Walked across the Brooklyn bridge, viewed Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty from a private boat, did the boulder scramble at a place called Mohonk Mountain House (fantastic!) in the Hudson River Vally, enjoyed a play and generally had a great week with family who are good friends.

Visited Groton , Mystic and Stonington - very beautiful. The peacefulness of Stonington is a direct contrast to the hustle and bustle of NYC.

The kids recognized many places from the news, TV shows and movies. Spent time in the Museum of Natural History and Central Park. Took everyone on the subway and commuter trains.

Didn't make it to Chocopologie, Mark Twains' home or the Glass House (sold out for the rest of 2008).

Many thanks for the suggestions, it was a great trip.
posted by Northwest at 12:34 PM on June 30, 2008

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