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Sunday, October 30, 2022

Visiting the Beardsley Zoo - Bridgeport, CT

Some things are just so much sweeter through the eyes of a child. I have always loved zoos and aquariums as an adult and visited my fair share before Whitney. I majored in Marine Science and completed an internship at the Mystic Aquarium, working with the beluga whales, sea lions, and penguins, learning the ins and outs of a research-based zoo/aquarium facility. 

Zoos and aquariums often get a bad reputation when visitors see animals in their enclosures. As someone who has seen the ins and outs of these operations, I have a different appreciation for research and non-profit-based zoos and aquariums. I understand that these establishments are needed, captive subjects are researched and studied which in turn helps the larger wild populations. Beyond that, kids (and adults) need to see these animals up close and personal to care. It's one thing to read about a polar bear in a book, it's another thing to see one in real life and truly care about its existence, or possible lack thereof.

I hope Whitney grows to love animals, the kinds in our home, and in the wild. I hope he grows into a curious little boy with a respect for nature and everything in it. What better way to start than your local zoo?

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit owned and operated by the Connecticut Zoological Society. The zoo's mission involves education, recreation, and conservation. There are numerous indoor and outdoor exhibits fun for kids and adults of all ages. There is also a cafe, gift shop, and indoor historic carousel which is a must-visit while at the zoo. It was the perfect size for a toddler and we spent about an hour and a half walking around the exhibits, learning about the animals, and riding the carousel. There was some construction during our visit but we still had a great morning at the zoo. 

We showed up first thing Monday morning and were happily surprised to enjoy the quiet zoo on a beautiful fall day. We even had a sneak peek at the lanterns set up for the after-hours event in the fall called "Glow Wild". Glow Wild runs every Thursday - Sunday from September 15- November 27, from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm. The event includes 35 large-scale illuminated displays of lanterns and has been quite the hit this past year. 

Tickets: Tickets can only be purchased online and must be purchased prior to your visit.

Members: Zoo members do not need to reserve tickets prior to their visit.

Hours: The Zoo is open daily from 9:00am - 4:00pm. The zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day (closing at 12pm on the days before these holidays) *Hours are subject to change due to weather and operational capacity.

Adult Admission (ages 12 & older) = $19.00
Child Admission (ages 3 -11) = $15.00
Senior Admission (62 & older) = $15.00
Under 3 years = FREE
Zoo Members = FREE

Covid-19 Protocols: Masks are required for all indoor exhibits (optional outside)

Address: 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06610

Contact: 203-394-6565 /

Friday, October 21, 2022

Soapstone Mountain/Shenipsit State Forest Loop Hike, Somers, CT

Every year, I head up to the beautiful northern New England states for some kind of leaf-peeping fun. Whether it be mountain biking in Vermont or hiking in the Whites, I love to experience the glorious month of October up north. This year, it just didn't happen and I had to keep reminding myself, we are just in a different season of life. Things have been hectic between babies, renovations, colds, and the dogs and we just never found the time to make it north. 

The good news is that my lack of travel meant I had to soak up all the color right here in Connecticut. Forced to slow down and explore a bit around here, I was pleasantly surprised at just how lovely the foliage was this year. From our own backyard to northern parts of Connecticut, the nutmeg state has a lot to offer come mid-October. I originally planned to head to the quiet northwest corner of Connecticut but after a bit of research, wanted to try somewhere a bit different. A quick search on google led me to the northern border to hike Soapstone Mountain in Shenipsit State Park in Somers, Connecticut. Short family and dog-friendly hike in a state park to a scenic vista with an observation tower to enjoy the views. What's not to love?

Monday, October 17, 2022

Sleeping Giant State Park (Tower Trail) - Hamden, CT


Sleeping Giant State Park is a well-known landmark here in Connecticut and has been since 1924. Named for the five ridges that form a "sleeping giant" in the 2-miles of the mountainside and is known for its climbable towers that offers sweeping views of the valley. The park has public restrooms (at the bottom and at the tower), a rentable picnic area, fishing options, and a lot of scenic hiking trails (30 miles). 

The tower trail is a very popular gravel trail 1.5 mile trail (one way) to the scenic tower and is family and fido friendly. If you want time to yourself, there are miles of other trails throughout the park that are far less traveled. Truth be told, I hadn't been to hike Sleeping Giant since 2006 while a freshman at Quinnipiac University. The campus is conveniently located directly across the street and you can often find college students, family and friends sporting their bobcat gear on the trail. 

Monday, September 26, 2022

Hackensack Mountain Hike - Lake George Area

If you find yourself in the lower Adirondacks, the Lake George area to be precise, you are almost always guaranteed to be in a crowd. This popular summer tourist spot keeps bustling through the fall season as leaf peepers and balloon festival-goers flock to the village. Things slow down for a bit in November, kick back into gear for holiday festivities in December, and turn into ice festivals/winter carnivals on the lake in February. All this to say it's a busy area with lots to do, see, and eat. If you are in the area for one of the area's famous events, it's nice to sneak away from the crowds and enjoy one of the best things ADK has to offer, a beautiful hike with a bit of a workout. 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Northeast Fall Round Up

New England's best season is fall. Fall is when the culture, color, and character of this area all collide. After a hot and humid summer, the cooler days are more than welcome and New Englanders head outside in various shades of flannel. The season is short and weekends in September and October are jam-packed with fairs, hikes, scenic drives, orchards, and haunted houses. This is just a handful of options for any fall fanatic finding themselves in New England during the glorious months of September and October.

New England and New York Fall Road Trip

A road trip that takes you to some of the highlights of New England and New York. It basically covers all of my highlights below in one convenient post. I even included a sample itinerary/route. It includes a few highlights from each state as you make your way through the northeast. 

New Hampshire

Kancamagus Highway

A New England must! The famous Kancamagus Highway is one of New Hampshire's National Scenic Byways, running east to west through the White Mountains. This 34.5-mile road climbs to 3,000' at the summit of Mount Kancamagus. There are great hikes right off the highway or scenic pull-over spots to get out and stretch your legs. It's a stunner and should be at the top of your list. 

Rated one of the best day hikes in New England, the Franconia Ridge Loop is at its prime in the fall. The cooler temps are welcomed on the ridgeline walk as your make your way across some of New Hampshire's 48ers. 

Mount Tecumseh 

This may be the most stunning fall hike I had ever been on in New Hampshire. You can hike up the trails and down the ski mountain trails which overs the most insane views of the Whites. Time it with the foliage and you will not be disappointed. 

Applecrest Farm

What's a fall festivity without a visit to a farm? Applecrest farm has it all - restaurant, orchard, pumpkin patch, wagon rides, store, and even a petting zoo. The perfect fall family-friendly stop on your way up to the Whites to hike. 

Northcountry Hard Cider

What says fall like cider? But let's make it hard cider for all the grownups in the group. They have a lot of fun different flavors featuring local produce like squash and habanero peppers. It's the perfect place to hang out and try a sampling of cider. 



Northwest Connecticut

Northwest Connecticut is a fantastic fall destination. It's bucolic and quiet, quaint apple orchards, lovely hikes, and the cutest decorated downtowns. Here's a weekender's guide because a day up in this corner of Connecticut just isn't enough. If you are looking for a hike or two, here are some of my favorites: White Memorial Conservation CenterPine Knob LoopRand's View
Bear MountainMacedonia Brook LoopRound MountainHenry David Thoreau Footbridge (Hidden Valley Preserve), or Meeker Trail Loop Macricostas Preserve

Bishops Orchard

Bishops orchard in Guilford, Connecticut is a shoreline gem. You can pick your own apples, stop at the pumpkin patch, head into the grocery store for supplies, and try some of their fruit wines. It's a fun local stop and one of my favorite options for apple picking in the fall. 

Housatonic River


Northeast Kingdom/Kingdom Trails 

One of my most favorite fall traditions was loading up the mountain bikes and heading north to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Stowe gets a lot of attention (and for good reason) but you will see all the mountain bikers heading to a slice of fall mountain biking paradise called Kingdom Trails. The town of Burke offers quaint inns and B&Bs, a ski mountain that offers a great hike, and an amazing network of trails. It offers some of the best fall foliage I have ever seen and pair it with a day on our bikes... New England fall at it's best. 

Stowe is a 4 season destination and I can't exactly decide which is my favorite. Fall is in the running as you get the warm sunny days followed by the crisp cool nights. You can head out to some of my favorite hikes colored in crimson, and spend the afternoons at the busy breweries and restaurants. Stowe Pinnacle is a great fall hike that gets you some pretty spectacular views without the long mileage. 

Cute town, lakefront, a fantastic hike, sign me up! Mt. Pisgah and Lake Willoughby take you into northern Vermont to a place I had never even heard of but quickly fell in love with. 

Vermont's tallest peak truly shows off in the fall. Claim one of the New England high points while enjoying the show of color that Vermont is famous for. Bring the dogs but maybe leave the kids behind and enjoy this special Vermont hike. 

Fall Camping Tips 

I love to camp just when the warm summer nights give to chilly fall evenings. There's something about snuggling up with someone you love in the quiet of the woods and that hot cup of coffee in the morning. One of the best ways to enjoy fall in New England is a cute BnB or a camping trip at one of the state parks. This guide is a gem for knowing a few important tips before heading out to camp in the fall.