free activities · hiking

The Silver Sand beach in Milford

The Silver Sand beach in Milford is about 20 – 30 minutes drive from New Haven. It is completely free, with free parking. It is beautiful and massive. The only catch is that you need to walk 15 minutes from the parking lot to the beach, giving you plenty of time to admire the massive marsh land and the numerous crabs under the bridge.

Besides the beach, you can also walk on the long trail near the beach that connects to the Walnut beach in milford. The beach is also connected to Charles Island. When the tide is low, you can even walk to it. But it is a bird preservative place, so you can’t go to the inner parts of the island except for on the offseason.

13894724370_fddac2b872_o13894785350_460149f494_o

free activities · hiking · park

Wadsworth Falls in Middletown

This park is located in Middletown, and is not too far away from Lyman Orchards. So it is about half an hour drive from new haven.

It is a beautiful park for hiking, and for picking leaves in the fall.

It also has a waterfall. There is also a strange beach area. I think in the summer time, the rain accumulates into a swimming hole, in which we even found tadpoles. But the rest of the time it was just a giant sand box.

10555176885_10d540d61a_o

10555540573_67138eb37f_o10548502985_e85cb7e61a_o10555221254_fb62f41988_o

free activities · hiking · park · Uncategorized

Edgerton park in new haven

It is a very quiet park and usually only has a few people in the entire park. It’s located on Whitney avenue, almost cross the street from the hike entrance of the Easter Rock trial. It’s a quiet paradise that’s still so close to the city.

We first heard of the park in 2007, when my friend kindly gave us his ownership of a patch of land in the community garden. At the rear entrance of the park, there is half an acre land of community garden. So people living in apartments could still enjoy planting something and watching it grow. People plant amazing things there. Giant sunflowers that were 10-feet tall, beautiful flowers that I don’t know the names. And of course vegetables, like tomatoes, squashes, pumpkins. We rented the garden for two years till we moved farther away from the area.

If you go in from the rear entrance, you will pass the garden, then just lawns and trees. When you find your way towards the front entrance, you will see this humongous grass area with a long hill. It’s so large that it makes you feel so small.

13666097523_eab9fe746f_o22431138251_126f405549_o22407051592_fd25901d54_o

free activities · library

The public library in New Haven

We have been to the library many times especially when the kids were little. Last I knew, the library has two mornings that each has an hour or so sing-and-play with babies and toddlers. Make sure to check the website for various activities. Kids get to listen and sing some sounds, do some dance movements, and even play with simple instruments.

For older kids, they have lego club and chess club. For even older kids, they have computer related activities too. It’s a nice hub for family with kids in the middle of the city.

9328354214_4a6568035b_o9328339842_bbb163b989_o

free activities · park · playground

The Esplanade Playplace in Boston, MA

We were in Boston and looking for things to do. Then I found this unique playground, probably the most unique I have ever seen, the Esplanade Playplace. If you happened to be in Boston, go check it out!

35335998270_1e47c3502d_o

The only trick is that it was a pain to find parking. The playground is along the side of Charles river, so it would be very convenient for residents to walk by, but a pain for out-of-towners to drive in. It is sort of close to Boston Common and the government and commercial center, probably a 10-15 minutes walk most, and there are plenty of parking there (for a fee or free). But we are dragging two small kids, so I decided to try to park nearby in the neighborhood. The parking signs were confusing. Some meters said not to park, but I saw many cars parked under. Finally we found one available meter not too far away. Then you would have to walk to a bridge that goes over the traffic to the river side. Then you are there!

I was stun when I got there. It has a gigantic climbing structure composed by only ropes! My 5 yrs immediately went in the middle of the rope puzzle and started climbing. But it seemed like he wasn’t big enough to go up! Then he saw another kid climbing from the side, which would be the same idea as climbing a ladder! This time he quickly got up! Then you slide down on a tunnel slide to get back for another run. Eventually my 5 yrs learned how to climb up from the middle. My 3 yrs’s legs were not long enough to do so, but had no problem climbing up from the side. There was also a little hammock connected to the climbing structure, perfect for babies.

34894775583_8fd3233f09_o

Then the playground has a zipline! We only had ziplines in paid activity center. And this is completely free! (Discounting the fact that you need to drive to Boston and find parking around there) The zipline is not far above from the ground, from 0.5 to 2 feet probably. It has a sturdy rubber rod to hold on and a rubber seat to sit on. You start from the 2-feet high platform, and then go zip! down to the end which is about 0.5 feet.

35335933940_71608a5f16_o

It has a rock climbing wall on a fake mountain. It has a swing that can take a couple kids. Although most kids don’t like to share the comfy swing. It also has a spinning plate that holds a few kids.

35554143182_333102aa07_o

The day we went was right before July 4th, and we later heard that that was where they have fireworks at night! There is a little cart nearby with drinking water, but I’m not sure whether it is there just for the festival. If you are tired of the playground, go over to the river side and look at the beautiful Charles river and enjoy the wonderful breeze.

35554161412_9491d63aec_o

I love this playground. It truly made me think how we could design play elements that are both innovative and fun.

free activities · park · playground

The lighthouse park– a corner of the ocean

The Lighthouse Park locates at the end of the stream of parks, following East Shore Park, Fort Hale Park and Seawall Park. It is a New Haven city park, so if you are not a new haven resident and want to come between memorial day and labor day during the day, you’ll have to pay to drive in. (It will still be free if you take the bus, or bike, or walk to go in.)

34857698150_901ce28e81_o

It has large areas of green for any space-required activities, and it has many picnic tables and a lot of them are under the shade. It has a long beach-line, very peaceful during the off-season.

29640419000_fd619ca5a8_o

It has a medium-sized playground on the sand that features a large play-set for 5-12 yrs and a small play-set for 2-5 yrs.

34857621020_402e68d474_o

You can swim in the ocean. There is a safeguard in the summer. You can walk on the jetty out to the ocean. You can pick some snails, or hermit crabs. It’s also a perfect place for watching sunset.┬áIt has a large sprinkler park! In the hot hot summer day, what’s better than cooling off in the cold sprinkler!

33883804804_6790ced72d_o

29899593396_b302e8ae59_o

Over the weekends during the summer, it also has a fancy indoor carousel for 75 cents a ride! (But it only runs every half an hour from 12 to 4 on weekends last time I heard in 2016).

There are also stores open in the summer selling food drink and ice cream! I have seen many families spending the entire day in the park, grilling, swimming, playing, resting and have a all-day fun!

Over the summer it has regular bathrooms. Otherwise it may have potter-potty. The playground is not under the shade.

free activities · park · playground

The Veterans Memorial Park in Bethany — a little paradise

The Veterans Memorial Park in Bethany is beautiful, peaceful and fun. It is a little out of the way from new haven, taking us almost half an hour drive. But it is worth the drive when you want to take the kids out for a safe summer swim! (And it is free!)

We first heard of the park because one of our friends had a birthday party there. The party was great. The food and decorations were awesome. The playground was big and had everything. After the party, you could jump in the lake and have a real swim!

When you first arrive the park, you would see this beautiful lake. It is a quite large lake, surrounded by a trail that has a little bridge. We haven’t gone on the trail, but we have seen a few times that a horseman walking on the trail gracefully.

36639256865_b92c9b8230_o

Next to the parking lot, there is a tennis field, a pavilion, and a playground. The playground has a fun fishing-bone stairs to climb on, and a spiral slide. It also has a small rock climbing wall, and plenty of place to run on and off. There is a big spinning plate that can make 10 kids screen. There is a smaller play-set for smaller kids, a decent-sized sand-box. Two baby swings and two flat-bottom swings. It also has a rocking crocodile between the slides and the play-set.

35162235723_a21bddebae_o

35930930636_27b364607a_o

Next to the playground, there is a large soccer field. Then it comes the swimming area! During the summer time maybe over the weekend, there are even life guards there. The deepest water inside of the swimming area is probably 3 feet. So my 5-yr-old can mostly tip-toe most of the way. (It would be a great way to persuade him to take the swimmie off and learn real swimming!)

35839638091_2c63ae547f_o

Also, adults could swim outside of the swimming area, on your own risk of course. My husband and I have done it a few times. It is just so nice and so rare to be able to swim in the nature.

What’s more fun is that the park seems to have some animal residents as well. A herd of geese always swim around the lake or pecking around the fields. They are NOT afraid of humans. Actually we told the kids not to mess with the obvious baby-geese who were protected by the parent-geese.

35839696211_947db16ee6_o

If you go in the water, you’ll happily encounter some fish. They once even gave my husband a small pinch. All the kids LOVE to see the fish.

Even sometimes with a birthday party, so maybe the playground and pavilion can be a bit loud, since the majority of the space in the park is the lake and the soccer field, the whole park still feels very peaceful. It is a little paradise that isn’t known by many.