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.)


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.


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.


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!



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.


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.



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!)


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.


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.

free activities · hiking · playground

Fort Hale Park at the east shore in new haven

The Fort Hale Park is the park that is almost next to the East Shore Park that holds the Hannah’s Dream playground.

The playground has free parking. It is not under the shade. It is right next to a fishing pier that got destroyed in a hurricane, and was said would get fixed soon. The playground is tiny, with a tiny play-set, and only two swings.

However the two swings might be the best I have ever seen. The are tall, adult sized swing. And they face the ocean. When I push my kids up on the swings, they always shout that they were flying over the ocean! It is just so nice to swing high up facing the ocean feeling like you are flying.

You can take a small hike from the playground. It brings you on a little hill, around a small dog park. The top of the hill has fences. When you stand near the top of the hill, you can look down at the rocky beach watching the waves rushing on to the shore. At the end of the hike is another surprise. It is the Seewall park!

I can’t recall very well, maybe in the middle of the hike, you also pass a large green area that holds a very large pavilion. Behind the pavilion there is a secret patch of lawn that drops down from the ground level, and surrounded by bushes, a perfect picnic spot for us.

free activities · playground

The Wooster-square playground in new haven, another shade in the summer!

We first went to the playground in 2015 to have a play day with a friend who lived nearby. I surprisingly noticed that it was completely in the shade! What a big plus for the hot summer days!

The playground locates in the Wooster Square area in new haven. It’s right in front of “Little Italy”. It is a neighborhood playground, so parking can be a bit tricky. Just make sure not to park on the side of the street that has zone limits which are only for the residents of that area. Since most people who go to the playground live nearby, so we never had much trouble finding street parking.

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The playground itself has sufficient equipment to make it fun. It is fenced-in. On the left side of the playground, it has two baby swings and two regular flat-bottom swings. On the other side, it has a play-set that features a rock-rope climbing wall, a tower-climbing wall, a twisty slide and two smaller slides. It also has a metal bouncy ring that can fit at least 4 kids.

There is more green space in the playground, so kids can run around. The playground is often visited by the residents who are always very friendly.

Across the street, there is a coffee shop called “Fuel”. I have heard people saying good things about it before I ever went in. One day I had to go in, because my kids needed to use the bathroom. So we went in and used the bathroom. After that, when I was trying to pick some food to buy to compensate for the usage of bathroom, the owner of the shop took out two hot-coco and gave them to my kids, for free! He said that he had kids too. That was a wonderful experience.

free activities · playground

The East Rock playground in New Haven

Almost forgot about this one. The East Rock playground is located at the bottom of East Rock. You can usually easily find street parking along the park on the orange street, and maybe coldspring as well.

The playground is inside of a large park. It is really special to have such a large green area in such a population density region in new haven. The park has lots of super-tall trees. It has areas that can be used for soccer fields. It has a basket field as well.

It has a fenced-in playground, which features a large play-set and a large sandbox. The sandbox has a rocking turtle for kids to ride on, and a car for kids to climb in and “drive”. It also has a little house that you can send sand through the pipes along the wall. There are seating along the whole playground. The sandbox is mostly in the shade.


A bit away from the playground, there are four baby swings. Some more distance away, there are four regular flat-bottom swings. They are the best swings I have ever been on (except maybe the ones in the “rainbow playground” in the Fort Hale park), because they are so tall! I don’t think they are made for kids per se. They are probably meant for teenagers and adults. Although my 3 and 5 yrs are not afraid of the swing. When I push them high up, their go over my height and swing “all the way to the moon”!

The park is very nice and peaceful. It has water fountain and lots of shade. (Even though part of the playground is not in the shade). It has bird feeds, even though squirrels would try to steal the food. Chipmunks are often seen dashing across and into the bushes. It is a popular destination for families live in East Rock. I think it is also the place some community summer camp happens. Some organizations also hold soccer class there.

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.