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Friday, March 31, 2023

Connecticut Science Center - visiting with a toddler

Connecticut Science Center

After one trip to the Mystic Aquarium, we quickly realized a membership was the way to go.  For around $200, we have unlimited access to the aquarium for our entire family (we also now have zero guilt just going for a quick hour with a tantrum two year old). But another great benefit we didn't realize was the reciprocal benefits with other museums and exhibits in the state. Our Mystic Aquarium membership allowed us free access to the Connecticut Science Center for the entire month of March. I had always wanted to check out the Science Center, for myself and to bring Whitney. The month was ending and so was my membership perk so I grabbed my mom and we took the kids to the science center, a first time for all of us. 

Connecticut Science Center
Water Table at KidSpace

First Impressions

Beautiful museum in an impressive building easily accessible/right off the highway in Downtown Hartford. The museum is mostly focused on school aged children but there was plenty to see and do for my just turned 2 year old (admission is also free for kids under 3). It was the perfect way to spend a few hours with a toddler, or an entire day for older kids. The museum offers over 100 exhibits and a 3D theatre. While it is on the more expensive side ($25 per adult) kids under 3 are free and a membership is worth it for cost and the additional reciprocal benefits for other museums and exhibits in the state. 

Connecticut Science Center Forces in Motion
Forces in Motion Exhibit

Our Visit

The museum is set in a gorgeous window filled building with a beautiful view of Hartford and the Connecticut River. I was really taken back with how beautiful Hartford appeared from here, and how gorgeous the building itself was. While it is certainly geared at school aged children, there was plenty to see and do for my just turned 2 year old. There is a water table area specifically for four and under right at the beginning (bring extra dry clothes!) which he loved, and plenty of exhibits that littles will love. Whitney's favorites were obviously the water area and any exhibits with cars or balls. The museum is distributed over four floor of the building and while you can bring a stroller, a carrier is recommended for smaller children. 

We went during the week and quickly realized we were going to be among large field trip groups of kids. The elevators can be pretty slow and busy so be prepared to hoof it up the stairs or pack some patience. There is a cafeteria on the first floor where you can stop for lunch, or you can pack your own lunch to enjoy outside along the river at the Riverfront Plaza and river walk. There are a few exhibits that require an extra fee: the butterfly exhibit and the movies, both offered at specific times. Tickets can be purchased at the main entrance for these extra add-ons. The butterfly exhibit was a little disappointing as the area is small and there weren't a ton of butterflies (they also really weren't flying around at all). The rooftop garden was also closed for the season but I'm sure that's a great exhibit as well. 

We had a two year old who naps around 1 so we managed to stay for a few hours before having to head home. If I had older kids, I could have easily spent the day here, spending the morning at the exhibits, enjoying lunch outside, and then catching one of the 3D movies in the afternoon. 

Connecticut Science Center Forces in Motion
Block Cars at the Forces in Motion Exhibit

Exhibit spaces (March 2023)

Level 1: 
Ticketing, Theatre, Gift Shop, Subway 
KidSpace (*Toddlers), Science Alley (throughout all floors) 

Level 4: 
Engineering Lab
Forces in Motion
Sight and Sound
Butterfly Encounter 
Animals of the Rain Forest (*Traveling Exhibit) 

Level 5:
Exploring Space
Invention Dimension
Genome in Me
Hartford Healthcare Health Lab

Level 6:
Energy City
Our Changing Earth
River of Life 
Rooftop Garden (*Seasonal)

Connecticut Science Center butterfly exhibit
Butterfly Exhibit


Open Wednesday through Sunday (closed Monday Tuesday)
Standard hours: 10am - 4pm
Summer hours: 9:30am - 4:30pm
Butterfly exhibit (extra fee item): 11am - 3pm
Movies (extra fee item): See specific showtime schedule 

** Upgrade any single General Admission visit ticket towards the purchase of a Membership within 30 days of your visit. You MUST have the original receipt (sorry, we can not look it up) from your visit to take advantage of an upgrade. 

Changing Earth Exhibit

Best toddler exhibits:

KidSpace, Science Alley, Engineering Lab, Forces in Motion (Whitney's favorite), Butterfly Encounter , Animals of the Rain Forest (live animal demonstrations), River of Life 

Connecticut Science Center Toddler Area
Water Table at KidSpace


250 Columbus Blvd Hartford, CT 06103

Science Center/Riverfront Garage is located at the corner of Bob Steele Street, formerly Grove Street, and Columbus Boulevard, underneath the Science Center building (a public garage). If this garage is full, we recommend the Connecticut Convention Center garage located across Bob Steele Street, formerly Grove Street. Members receive $5 flat-rate parking in the Science Center and Convention Center garages when visiting the Science Center. We were there from 10:20 to 12:00 and paid $5 for our visit. 

Connecticut Science Center
View of Hartford from the CSC

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