A Quick Trip to CT — by Robin
(Shark Tank at the Maritime Aquarium)
To break up the holiday week break from school, we decided to go away for two nights. Not far. Just to get a change of pace. We picked Norwalk, CT, and it was a good choice.
We stayed comfortably at the Doubetree Hotel Norwalk conveniently located on Connecticut Avenue….a stones throw away from my favorite stores TJ Maxx and Home Goods. So, of course, I was happy to visit both and get in my shopping fix.
We walked around the South Norwalk “SoNo” area, with some eclectic shops and restaurants. And, ate in a totally stellar dinner spot called Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar. Recommended by a partner in my husband’s office, the Spanish food was excellent. They served both Tapas and entrees….and we shared both. Calamari, a humus-type dish, and wonderful paella. I wish there was a branch on Long Island. I’d be a regular. They have various Connecticut locations, and I’d love to return one day. It only took us 50 minutes to get to Norwalk from our house, so if the spirit moves us, it is even a feasible day trip. http://www.barcelonawinebar.com
And, it was a fine restaurant for Seth…so suitable for kids.
Aside from shopping and eating, we went to Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk. http://www.steppingstonesmuseum.org/
Learning and fun go hand-in-hand at Stepping Stones. Their exhibits and educational programs help expand a child’s world by engaging them in fun, playful exploration. With four main galleries, a toddlers-only gallery and over 100 hands-on activities, Stepping Stones offers children ages ten and under plenty to explore and discover.
He particularly adored the Build It exhibit…..where he befriended other children and played with all kinds of construction tools, blocks, bricks, ….etc…..as he wore his hardhat and other attire. It took me back to his earlier days when he was a little Bob the Builder in-the-making. We spent over two hours there, and he found a cool wooden firehouse in their gift shop, which made the visit complete.
Another day we went with two other “later mom” families to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. http://www.MaritimeAquarium.org
It was a perfect destination, given the cold, blustery weather. We were lucky the snow wasn’t more significant when we were there.
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk offers a window into Long Island Sound at the gateway of New England. Located just off Interstate 95, the Aquarium combines entertainment with education, offering living exhibits, interactive touch tanks and educational activities. It has the first and largest IMAX® theater in Connecticut, showing classic nature documentaries and Hollywood features on a screen six-stories tall. A new exhibit “Go Fish” opens in February and Meerkats arrive in June 2010.
More than 1,500 animals on display at the Aquarium represent the amazing life of Long Island Sound, plus other water habitats of significance from around the world. Seven harbor seals are fed thrice daily in a special presentation. Two river otters romp and play in a rocky exhibit. A column of jellyfish float in a serene setting. Exotic frogs and reptiles have their own exhibit. Big sharks swim inches from visitors in an 110,000 gallon tank. Visitors get even closer to animals with two touch tanks, one for shoreline animals and another where they can pet a stingray.
Gulf Stream visitors are represented by coral reef tanks, a sea turtle exhibit and other special tanks. Important habitats beyond Long Island Sound are represented by changing exhibits. For 2010, Africa is highlighted with the African Underwater Safari which shows some of the weird adaptations of African fish, including the lungfish that can live more than a year out of water. The Africa exhibit also includes snakes, geckos, penguins and Meerkats.
There is also an interactive dophin (not real dolphins) ride-film and a dedicated play space for young children.
All in all, Norwalk was a worthwhile, easy destination to get to from New York, and it was worth the trip.
PS — Thanks to Stepping Stones and the Maritime Aquarium for hosting our visits.