free activities · library

The Branford library

Having been to the new haven library many times, I started to wonder what other libraries would be like in towns around here. So a couple years ago I took my little ones to check out the Branford library. I’m so glad that I did!

The Branford public library locates on the main street, although it is much easier to get to from the side road. The building is very beautiful, and looks like it is made of marble stones. It has a free parking lot. If it fills up, you can always park in the front or side road. We never had problem parking when we went there.

The children’s room is all the way on the top of the building. You could use the elevator, or you could walk up the spiral winding stairs. The children’s room is the whole ring of space up on the top. It has books, some computers, some video/audio rentals.

What’s amazing is the room with picture books. Of course there are many beautiful colorful books you could easily see and reach. There are also many extra things that you don’t usually see in a library. First it has a reading-hub that looks like a space-shuttle. If you want some quiet time, you can go hide in the hub and read some book. Then it has a full-size doll house with furnitures. Going in further, there is a cooking station with all the accessories, tea-sets, vegetables, desserts, bread, pie, cooking pan, plates, etc. It also has a lego station, a train table, a castle (or maybe it meant to be a puppet show place) that fits 3 kids, and several other toys on the shelf.


25811713320_7d29901c46_oIt also has two comfortable couches in the middle of the room, and a row of padded benches along the wall. It is very easy for the parents to just sit and relax, and the kids can play! The only downside would be, the room can probably comfortably fit 5-6 kids. More than that might feel a bit crowded.

It’s a wonderful little place for kids to have fun and to learn more about books.

free activities · park · playground

Josh’s Jungle Playground in Hamden

I heard of the playground from Out and About Mom. Then my next door neighbor mentioned it to us too.

The playground is conveniently located next to the Hamden Library. They share the same parking lot. (The first we went, it took me some turning around to realize that.)

Right in front of the playground are two giraffes. My kids love to ride on them! Although they could be very hot during the summer. The playground is completely fenced-in, and looks brand new as of our last visit in the spring of 2017. It is like a giant maze, with many intertwining paths, and has slides, tunnels, climbing ladders, towers. Sometimes I have trouble locating my kids! It is a perfect place for toddlers who just learned how to walk, because there are walls along the path that kids could hold on to. Big kids enjoy it too because they could play hide-and-seek.

The playground has very little shade. It is inside of a large park that has lots of green. You can easily do a picnic under a tree in the park.


free activities · playground

The Stony Creek playground in Branford-the pirate ship!

We saw the playground when our family went on the Thimble Island Cruise at Stony Creek, Branford. It is in a small park in the neighborhood. For parking you can only park along side of the street. Fortunately every time when we went there was no problem parking. The small park has a gazebo, a small lawn (probably size of a kids-soccer field), and a fantastic playground.

The playground themes around a pirate ship! First there is a spinning-dome for holding the flag maybe. Then there is a circle watching tower that has two levels. Kids could hide in the bottom level, or go up on the top and steer the ship. Then there is a large horizontal rope course shaped like a giant ship for kids to climb through. There is another higher tower, which suits for big kids to climb and it leads to a large slide.


The playground literally connects to some house’s backyard. Sometimes we saw cats coming out looking at us. The playground is not under the shade. Oh it has several swings. I guess swings are a must-have for playgrounds, even though they might not fit the theme.

The playground looks completely new and very colorful as we last visited summer of 2016. If you walk up the road from the playground, you also reaches the public beach in Stony Creek, which is super nice as well.

free activities · playground

Bodie’s place in milford

Updates on 201708, they just recently renovated the tennis courts. Now they have 6 brand new tennis courts!

I still first heard of the playground from the Out and About Mom. After we went, another friend of us also mentioned the place, and said it was like a “Disney World”. Ok, that would be an exaggeration. But this is a playground you don’t want to miss!

The playground could be tricky to spot because it could be hiding behind some trees but the flashing light warned me. It has its own parking lot. (Last time we went in 04/2017, it seemed like they were getting rid of the tennis court to put in more parking). The playground is completely fenced-in. And it is quite large.

The playground is divided into two parts (in the same fenced-in area). The first part is closer to the front gate, and it is mostly under the shade from a large tree that is in the middle of the part. It has a cute metal-wire school bus, a large sand box, several rocking animals, two spinning plates, one mom-and-baby swing, three regular swings and one tire-swing. It also has a fun small play-set for smaller kids.

The other part is built on a slightly lower level, that has a large play-set for bigger kids, two spinning rods, and a median-sized rope-climbing pyramid. The large play-set has tree-trunk to climb on, lili-pad obstacle course, ladder, game, tunnel, more climbing towers, very fun.



It is a really large playground and partially under the shade. Sometimes it can be really crowded, such as the spring break week. It has physical bathrooms and water fountains. But I’m not sure whether they only work after memorial day.


free activities · hiking · museum · park · playground

The Ansonia Nature Center

I want to give my very first blog to the Ansonia Nature Center. We got to know this place in 2016 and we felt in love with it. Even though it’s not in the city of new haven, the drive to ansonia probably takes less than 20 minutes for most areas in new haven.

It has an awesome playground. It was built in 2016, and renovated in 2017 (in which they removed the cool hill slide). The playground is mostly made of wood, like a rise-up platform with wooden bridges connecting little chambers. It has a median sized tunnel slide, a cool spinning plate that can hold 5-6 kids, a sandbox, a tire swing. Kids from toddler to maybe 8 would have great fun here. It has several picnic tables and rows of benches to sit on. The only downside of the playground might be that the sandbox is the only place that is in the shade.


Although not being in the shade is not a problem for the center, because it has a whole building for playing inside! The nature center itself as a full bathroom, which is such a plus for some pregnant moms who are not fans of porta potties. The center has several resident animals, a very cool-looking owl, a bunny, a genie pig, a bird, several snakes, turtles, fish, bees (in a safe hive) etc. Kids can just walk in (during the center hours) and admire the animals. The center also has a play room with stuffed animals, a puppet show frame, and X-ray pictures, an activity room with books and crafts. All the stuff, unless they are reserved for some events, you can just walk in and play!


Let’s go back to the outside again. There is a little pond near the building, and once we saw many lazy turtles bathing under the sun. There is also a soccer field right next to the playground, which brought great entertainment for my kids’ birthday party in the pavilion right next to the field. (I was first disappointed that we couldn’t use the field, then I found out that the little kids rather watching the big kids play soccer).


And all the fun is free! (except the birthday parties). What’s more, the center does a lot of kids activities throughout the year. It even has a summer camp. You should really check out the website, which is constantly updated with new activities. And the website itself is very respectable in the modern tech world.

I just realized I never really took good pictures of the playground itself. So I’ll come back with some pictures.

free activities · park · playground

The Bassett Park in Hamden

The Basset Park is located a little bit deeper in Hamden, maybe a 10-15 minutes drive from new haven. I stumbled upon the park when I got lost on the way to the Rascals Gym to pick up my daughter. Then I saw this beautiful playground right next to the road. Then I started bring my daughter over after her camp for a picnic lunch in the park.

The playground is right next to the parking lot and right next to the street. The playground is really big, and stretched in a long way. It has a sandbox with many toys. Then it has a play-set for kids to climb and grab. It has a spinning rod. It also has a gazebo for sitting in.

Then you walk a few steps to go to the playground that is under the shade. Spread out over on the right side of the playground, it has 2 regular swings, 2 baby swings, and 1 tire swing. It has a low-monkey bar for toddler’s size.

I didn’t see the water fountain. But since I have only been there a couple times I could be wrong. Half of the playground is under the shade.


free activities · playground

The John P. Denicola Park in Hamden – a great playground in the shade

The playground located right next to the new haven – hamden border so it is easy to get to. We first noticed this playground when we were on the way to monkeyjoes. It was a playground covered by so much shade that I couldn’t even make out what was in it. A playground under shade is a huge deal for the summer. So we came back again and again.

The playground is large, and also completely fenced in. When you first get in, there is a little rope climbing challenge right in front of you. After you pass the challenge, you see the nice playground with wood chips covering the ground.

It has four swings, two rocking animals on spring, a chu-chu train for some kids to go in, and for most kids to go on top of. It has a big rock in the center of the playground, with the name of the park on it, and is also often used for kids to climb and sit on. It has a big rocking boat (with one broken bar as of summer of 2017). It also has a wooden play-set that has a draw-bridge, connecting to some monkey bars, rock climbing and slides.

The playground has lot of trees, which brought the shade. It is very spacious so kids can safely run around. My kids have made good friends in the playground. It does not have bathrooms. In 2016 I have seen porta potties, but not in 2017. It does have water fountain and free parking.


free activities · hiking

The Farmington Canal Trail – the vertical park

I didn’t know about the Farmington Canal Trail at all even after 10 years living in New Haven. My husband recently discovered it because he was taking a walk around the doctor’s playground (waiting for the rest of the family to be done with the playground). Then he saw signs for going on the trail. He went on and walked a couple miles, and couldn’t wait to share the news with me.

The trail was built on abandoned railroads and canals. It can last for 84 miles and go all the way from New Haven to Northampton, MA! It is generally sized, with a width of 1-2 car’s width. It is nicely paved, with trees on both sides. So most of the trail is in the shade!

While in New Haven, the trail has to cross streets from time to time. Once it goes to Hamden, it goes long without any stopping. Since it was built upon used railroads and canals, the path goes through neighborhood, commercial district, farms, woods etc. On the section of the path that is parallel to Dixwell Ave, it is hard to believe, that right next to the busy street, there is such a peaceful oasis for people to enjoy the nature.

It’s a great place to walk, jog, and especially to bike! It doesn’t have bathrooms, but you can hop out from to nearby stores for bathrooms. It doesn’t seem to take up much space at all, because it is a long linear path. But it seems like infinite amount of space. It’s the vertical park.

free activities · playground

The Ella B Scantlebury playground in new haven, next to Yale Health

We have been to the playground many times. Since it is conveniently located right next to the building of Yale Health on 55 lock street, it is much easier to convince the kids to pay a doctor’s visit. I had to look up its name today. Our family call it ‘the doctor’s playground’.

There might be street parking around, but most of the time I just parked in the garage of the doctor’s building. It is free for the first 90 minutes, or after 5pm.

It has all the features of a nice ordinary playground. It has 4 regular swings, 2 baby swings and 1 tire swing. (I don’t why I always count the swings. They are just so classic and forever loved by my kids). It has two play-set, one for big kids (5-12) and one for smaller kids (2-5), with the latter fenced in.

What is unordinary is that, during hot hot summer, it has a splash pad! I have seen splash pads in paid parks, but this one is completely free! It features water guns, water buckets, water spraying snakes, fountains, all the things you would see in a fun splash pad.

The playground also has a basket-ball field, large area of green, picnic tables and benches. It has a drinking fountain and is not in the shade. Bathrooms can be found in the doctor’s building.


free activities · playground

The playground in the Foote School– a wonder in the shade!

My friend living in Prospect Garden first introduced me to this playground. It belongs to the Foote School. I fell love with it immediately.

The playground is only open to the public when the school is not in session, like after hours or over the weekends or summer. When you get there, first there is a little wooden shed you can go through, then you are facing a wooden play-set that has slides, climbing rope, climbing rods, a barrel-tunnel like slide, a real tunnel slide, etc. The structure is also connected with a tree log path to test your balance. The whole thing is almost completely made of wood, and uses the natural wood color, so plain and so natural. Our family call it ‘the wooden playground’.


But the most eye-catching thing in the playground is the giant climbing structure. It has mesh wires covering the whole outside. And inside it has big lily-pad shaped platforms that rise up one after another. The kids climb in from the bottom of the structure, then climb upwards inside of it. It is so high up that it looks scary. Although with the mesh wire outside and the supports inside, there is no risk of falling. Such a great design!


If this one is too challenging, (like when my boy was 3), there is another smaller tower thing nearby. It has two ways of getting to the top layer. You could use the staircase in the middle of the tower, or you could climb and squeeze in the secret holes between the levels. I have never seen anything like those two climbing structures anywhere else!


The playground has 4 regular swings and one tire swing, a big spider web thing, a sandbox, and a decent sized green field. It even has a real boat, (got donated to the school at some point). What’s more precious, it has lots of shade! The big trees in the middle and around the playground give everybody a cool place to enjoy the summer. The only issue would be that, since it is not really a public playground, there is no bathrooms or water fountain.